What Kind of Sacrifice Does the Lord Have in Mind for Us?

Saint Angela invited her daughters to place themselves at the foot of the cross. As we prepare to celebrate the season of Lent, I ponder her words.

Jesus did the unthinkable! He wedded authority with selfless service and with loving sacrifice. Authority without sacrificial love is brutish and self-serving. Jesus also used stark language to explain what kind of sacrifice he had in mind. It was a bitter one involving crucifixion. What kind of sacrifice does the Lord have in mind for us?

For some such a sacrifice entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom. But for many, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations. We strive to be ready to lay down our life each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required.

An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression: to serve is to reign with Christ. We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service as Jesus did for our sake. Are you willing to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did? Are you ready to place yourself at the feet of Christ crucified?

Does Life in the Convent Ever Become Boring?

Welcome to our “Ask The Nun” series of informal videos. Today’s questioner wonders if life is ever boring for a nun. Sister Norma Raupple shares her answer.

I speak for myself in saying that I have never been bored with convent  life. Most of us have to decide how we are going to get everything done that we have planned to do. There is always something going on… something to do… somewhere  to go … someone to help…

I sometimes  decide to stay home and take  some quiet time for myself instead of filling up my week with activity.

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Sister Darla Jean Vogelsang

In a recent Community gathering, we became acquainted with the usefulness of our Community WEB page and the tab “Becoming a Nun” in introducing today’s questioning young women to our Ursuline way of life.

I began to reflect – what made me pursue becoming a nun fifty years ago?   Was it the inspiring HM and OSU women religious of my formative elementary and high school years back in the fifties?   Was it my love for

Sister Darla Jean Vogelsanchildren and a desire to be a teacher that drew me to the Youngstown Ursulines? Was it my appreciation for the Church’s liturgy, especially Eucharist, sparked in seventh grade religion class? Was it an inner urge to prepare for an adult life that had purpose and meaning? Was it God’s providence - God’s call? Whatever the inspiration, I began the process of becoming a nun right after high school graduation with a sense that this is what God wanted me to do. In the beginning of my “becoming”, I was totally unaware of what “being a nun” meant – but I was ready and willing to enter the process and soon learned it meant a life time of prayer, growth, formation, discipline, sacrifice, and a new way of being in relationship with God, with my family, my Community, the Church and the world at large. My life as an Ursuline Sister has been formative, enriching, rewarding and I am still “becoming a nun”.

In my reading, I grab hold of quotes that inspire me and use them for spiritual snacks.   A recent quote I have been chewing on applies well to the process of becoming a nun.  It is from the memoir of Margaret Brennan, an IHM sister from Monroe Michigan:  “What Was There For Me Once”.  Margaret, a 70-something nun,  states that religious life is primarily a call to reclaim a way of life organized to pursue the human quest for God.    “To keep the question of God – and God’s questions – high on the horizon of the world is worth the gifts of our lives.” My quest for a deeper and more sustaining relationship with God, a way of living my life in response to God’s questions and call to make life better for others – is worth the gift of my life.   And so, in my becoming, I keep on giving and in the process get back so much more.

To women curious about “becoming a nun”, allow your curiosity to take you to that deep level of questioning your relationship with God and how you answer the God-questions that come to you in your journey of becoming who God intends you to be.  If you are drawn to a particular religious community, assess the members and their ministry and ask:    “Is this group a good fit for me?  Are they still becoming?  And can I be a part of the gift of their lives ?”

The Bread From Heaven

Don and Annie were “empty nesters” as far as their children were concerned. However for twelve years Annie’s mother had been living with them. At first, she was a great help but as the years rolled by age was not kind to her and she began to diminish in energy and enthusiasm. Then she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She had only a short time to live and wanted to die in familiar surroundings. Annie and Don agreed to round the clock care. Annie and Don continued their loving care. Their heartaches were many – the pain, the constant demands, family obligations, work obligations. However the biggest heartache was expressed by Annie when she shared with me her longing for Eucharist. She had not been to Mass for so long because she didn’t want to leave her mother nor did she have the energy to get to Mass. Little did this overburdened daughter know that eucharistic acts are as common as bread and wine, as common as the self-sacrificing love we freely give to others.

In our Gospel today, Jesus’ self-giving is now made present in the Eucharist. Our eating this bread and drinking of this cup draws us into the mystery of self-giving. And in sharing in this bread and drinking of this cup, we become Eucharist for others. Annie and Don became Eucharist for their family.