About a week before I professed my final vows, in the summer of 2015, I had a crisis of faith. Staring into the expansive mystery and intensely aware of my human limitations, I felt my spirit stir with anxiety and tension. How could I possibly submit myself to a life centered on God if I am not completely sure what God is? How can I say "yes, forever" if the future feels frightening?
In Horizons, younger sisters reflect on their lives, ministries, spirituality and the future of religious life.
We Christians have just celebrated Christmas Day, an opportunity to celebrate the in-breaking into our wounded and divided world of Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace. The radical message of Christmas tends to get lost among the decorations, festivities and general commercialization of the holiday.
It seems silly that in this season of Advent all I have been able to think of is the Easter Vigil. A vision of darkness lit by the tiniest of candles: I recall in my mind's eye the deacon in my home parish pacing back and forth as he preaches. I must have been about 15 years old, and now, a lifetime away from that moment, his words echo in my ears: God works in darkness.
The season of Advent has always been one of my favorites. It is a time to be quiet and to commit more time to listening; a time to revel in the power of simple flames atop purple candles, casting out the darkness; a time to really ponder all the ways God's presence in our midst reveals itself; a time to prepare for the coming of Christ in ways unexpected, beautiful and ordinary.
The past month has been a time of questions. In my ministry as a community organizer, I meet daily with folks who are asking questions about how the recent election will impact them: "Will my family be separated? How can our church provide a safe place for our people? How can my children feel safe in their black bodies?"
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! So begins Psalm 84, a favorite of our community's founder, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli. As the story goes, he prayed this psalm at the dedication of every church he helped build on the American frontier — and he built a lot of them. In his final days, he again found solace in reciting the familiar words.
What is an immigrant to do now that Donald Trump has been elected? While well-meaning people encourage us to think positively or wait it out, many among us don't have that luxury. The new administration is poised to directly and significantly alter the lives of certain groups of people. My fellow Guatemalan parishioners are in that group, and they're deeply troubled.
Decades ago, as a child growing up in the rolling hills of Northeast Iowa, I would daydream of simpler times, of the days when people were pioneers and steadily establishing their families and homes and building communities upon frontiers. I left the small town in the late 1990s shortly after my high school graduation. I began to develop friendships with people who didn't look like me.
Our democracy is in need of some intensive tender loving care. As citizens, we have a responsibility to vote according to our informed conscience, but our civic responsibility cannot end there. On a good day, we the people are responsible for establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.
What does it mean to be truly connected in this day and age? For one, it means being a part of a much more realistic worldwide web than the one on my phone or computer screen. It means connecting with real people and recognizing that those connections have implications and expectations.