This is the sun coming up at Annunciation Motherhouse in Glen Morris…at 6:00 am in the morning!!
How do you get up so early? (5:30 am)?! I struggle to get up even at 7 am! Is there anything that helps you to get up early, and to keep going when you’re tired during the day?
This is a great question!
Love can make us do crazy things…even wake up at 5:30 am!! One of our Sisters says it is one of her great joys in Religious Life to ring the bell and knock on the doors to wake us up for Chapel!!! We see this as “God’s call” to us. When we hear the bell or hear the knock, we are called to respond immediately, “Thank you!” Some communities say, “Deo Gratias” which is fine to say too! In saying “Thank you” we are not only saying thank you that it is a new day, but we are also saying “Thank you” that God has called us to a fresh new day where we can love Him. In the Gospels, we hear a few times how Jesus would pass through the whole night in prayer to His Heavenly Father. Jesus offered the sacrifice of sleep to the Father, so out of imitation of Jesus we do the same. Also, we wake up early because we love our Spouse and we desire that the whole day be sanctified through, with and in Him. Waking up is a sacrifice which we offer to God for the salvation of souls. Jesus’ question “Will you stay awake and watch one hour with me?,” can be accompanied with “will you rise up early out of love for me?”
What gets me up in the morning is remembering that Jesus is in the tabernacle waiting for me, and I don’t want Him to wait too long!!
With all that said, in Religious Life, we need to take care of our spiritual needs (our life of prayer and sacramental life) as well as our bodily needs. Having enough sleep at night, eating healthy, exercising are all very important elements of our life that help to keep us in balance. Balance is so key in Religious Life!! Of course, we might feel tired during the day, but that is also an offering that we can make to God for the salvation of souls. Jesus got tired too! Remember the Gospel account where He was sleeping in a boat during a storm…remember Him carrying the Cross in His Passion…but He kept going out of love. Sometimes it is a good idea when we are really tired to just take some time of silence throughout the day, open up the Scriptures and meditate on it for a few minutes. That can really help in energizing us to keep going!
The main thing is to remember that as Spouses of Christ we are seeking union with our Spouse. Love always entails sacrifice and a giving of oneself and so in the morning, we hear that bell, or the knock and our response is one of love: “I am coming Jesus!!!”
How does one learn to live in community, with all the tensions and different dispositions? I know at times it can be difficult, but what helps you live community life faithful to your call? What helps you in times of conflict/misunderstanding with your dear Sisters?
This is a wonderful question!!!
It might be helpful if we begin with the reasons why Religious live a common, community life. Remember that Jesus called 12 men and lived with them for three years! They all got to know each other really well! And I am sure that it was not all cherries and cream…however they persevered because they loved the one who called them. In the same way, we love the one who has called us and we are all on the same journey, union with God and we are in it together!!! In community life we have the ability to have an intense prayer life private and communal. I really believe our prayer life is intense because we desire union with God and also for the graces we need just to live together! Also, community life provides us with a social life and a support in living the Evangelical counsels. Believe me it is wonderful to have support from your Sisters! These are wonderful women who are trying to give their lives for God as well as they can through living poverty, chastity and obedience. Community life allows us to strive to live an authentic Gospel life in imitation of the first Christians! Our community life should be a life of joy, because the Gospel itself is rooted in joy! Finally, living community life is a witness to the world, but not only that, we Sisters are witnesses to each other. When people see us, they should see love and when they see love, they see Christ. But we are also a witness to each other. There are times where we learn from each other…and our witnesses of Christ to each other in our prayer and work.
You are absolutely right that just like in any family, tensions and conflicts can arise. This is due to our fallen nature. It is good to come to Religious Life knowing that we are not perfect…and that our Sisters in community are not perfect. Just knowing this fact can really help in those times of tension. I also think it is important to remember that we are all on the same journey…we are all trying to follow the Lord and love the Lord as best as we can so we need to cut each other some slack!!! Also, if a tension or conflict comes up, it is a good idea to pause and think about what is good and beautiful in that Sister, even just the mere fact that she is created as a beautiful daughter of God and that God has been merciful to her just has He has been merciful to me. Prayer is a very good idea as well…we should pray for our Sisters in community every day…that we will all have the grace of forgiveness, no matter what. The words “I am sorry” should come up frequently in community life, and just as frequently, the words: “I forgive you.” Also, having a good confessor and spiritual director can help you to speak about hurts that have come. Finally, learning about different temperaments is very helpful! That way you will discover patterns in your Sisters: what they like, what they don’t like…how they speak…what it means when they don’t speak…what makes them laugh…or cry….understanding all those things can really help!!
I really believe it is essential to pray everyday for a greater love for our Sisters in Community. Jesus, help me to love my Sisters…help me to see them as you see them and to love them as you love them…Amen!