Vocation Discernment Retreat Encourages Good Lenten Waiting

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

February 27, 2016

Is God calling you to our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Discernment of Spirits Retreat March 11-13, 2016 or May 27-29, 2016?  We share recent bulletin comments from Father Nathan Reesman, Shared Pastor at Immaculate Conception and St. Frances Cabrini both in West Bend, WI.  His words may find a home in your heart.

Having a hard time waiting for things?

Praised be Jesus Christ!  Humans have a hard time waiting for things.  It is amazing to consider how effective we have become in the modern world about speeding up processes so that a variety of things can get done more quickly and so that the frustration of waiting can be minimized.
Microwaves have made cooking faster.  Smartphones have made communication instantaneous and continual.  Computer programs and new apps run faster and faster.  In Wisconsin, we have even raised the speed limit so that we can drive faster.  On and on the list of examples can go.
Franciscan Sister Jacqueline at vocation exhibit at diocesan event copyThe sum of all these efforts, interestingly enough, has not led to the creation of a peaceful, leisurely culture as was once promised at the dawning of the modern age of invention.  On the contrary it has fostered an ever deepening spirit of anxiety, waste, carelessness, impersonal attitudes, and a tremendous intolerance for even the smallest amount of waiting for anything.
It also breeds and deepens a spirit, or a disposition, of continual anticipation.  We are trained these days to always look to the next thing, rather than learning to sit with the present reality. It makes for a very restless and fast-paced daily existence for many of us.  There is an art to just sitting, and today we seem to have lost it. As usual, this is yet another way that Catholicism is so dramatically counter cultural and therefore has to continually fend off multiple temptations to efficiency offered to us both from in and outside of the Church.

There is nothing efficient…

There is nothing efficient about Lent, for example.  Every year it takes the same amount of weeks to get all the way to Easter, whether we like it or not.  In the spirit of today’s Gospel of the Transfiguration, there is nothing efficient about the journey to Jerusalem, to the cross, and then to the desired end point of glorification.  One must pass through all the steps without omitting any if true transformation is to be achieved.  In short: it’s a long climb up both the Mounts of Tabor and of Calvary.

Franciscan Sister Anne Marie Lom facilitated a prayer day 'Can You Drink the Cup' during Lent.
There is nothing efficient about Mass.  There is nothing efficient about conversion and the effective changing of the human heart.  There is nothing efficient about the fine-tuning of the will and of the steady cultivation of virtue, or of good habits.  There is nothing efficient about baptism for that matter, even if on one level the results (washing away sin) seem instantaneous. The fact is that it takes a lifetime to become well-practiced in living it out to the degree of perfection that God desires.
Discerning a call to be a Franciscan SisterThere is nothing efficient about growing the Church, either.  Frequently we are promised full churches, or full schools, or full seminaries if we simply adopt a certain catechetical program, or preach in a certain way, or adjust our hymn choices, or elect a friendlier pope.  All of that is an illusion.
Sometimes in life there is nothing wrong with inefficiency.  Maybe, as we embark upon the second full week of Lent, with a lot of the season yet to go, we can resolve to give up our ache for quick solutions and instant results?  All of that makes giving up chocolate look easy.  Onward we go toward Jerusalem and toward Easter.

Click here for more information on the Discernment of Spirits Retreat.

To read more of Father Nathan’s pastoral reflections, click here for his blog entitled Exsulare.

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