Sunday, October 25, 2020

Goals for 2020-2021

People often set goals for themselves. We see it often in New Year's Resolutions. Goal-setting is often sparked by occasions-- milestone birthdays are another common time to set them. In the spiritual life, we also set goals for ourselves. We choose virtues or behaviors that we aspire to, so that we will grow into the best version of ourselves. These are more spiritual goals. By doing this, we become more like Jesus, who we follow. 

Each year, those of us who are young in religious life set goals for the year. It's part of a program that we follow in the community to help us continue growing. We set them at the beginning of the year and evaluate them at the end. Did we follow them? What did we learn? I enjoy the support for my spiritual growth, and will probably continue to do this when I'm past this stage of my religious life. 

These are my goals for this year:

1.       Connections: Pursuing, Maintaining, Benefitting

When I’m connected to key aspects of my life, it’s a generative experience. Being involved in my local community, field of ministry, the province, and world events engages me in the present moment. Plugging into day-to-day situations and long-term relationships with friends and family nurtures me. I want to take opportunities to be connected and keep those connections going, so that I can be blessed by them.

2.     A More Intuitive Approach to Personal and Spiritual Growth

I want to have a more contemplative approach to personal and spiritual growth. I believe that by living fully, engaged in my life, God will shape me into who He intends me to be. He uses life’s events and circumstances to inspire reflection and growth, and if I embrace what these have to offer, I will journey with Him as I become the best version of myself. The quest is not a new one for me, but yielding control to God will open me up to how He is working in my life and ultimately, to His will. It will also make the process more Spirit-driven and less intense than setting goals and making plans for myself.

3.     A Centered Approach to Balance

The attainment of better balance in my life is also not a new goal, but this approach is a shift for me. I can remain connected without devoting time to each aspect every day. There are limits to my time and energy. I’ll only try to do the most important, the ones that are central to my values, on a daily basis. These are: involvement in my local community, personal prayer, exercise/healthy habits, and ministry. I’ll continue to seek connections in other ways, but less regularly. This will relieve some pressure that I feel and help me to live from my heart in a simpler, more genuine way.

May God bless these endeavors as I continue my journey with Him! 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Day at the Races (at the convent)


The prizes! Everyone got one!

The horses! Each was assigned to a state that the sisters were from, with a number. When that number was picked, that horse went up a step. That's how the game worked!

The sisters cheered as their state's horse moved. The big winner was #5, New York. It even had its own winner's circle. 

The sisters from New York celebrated their win!

The sisters enjoyed a fried chicken dinner and apple pie a la mode. 

It was so much fun!!!

The Enneagram


This month, I've been praying with the Enneagram. 

Here's some information about it: It describes basic personality types, with their own characteristic virtues and vices. It is a guide to our personal development, providing insight into ourselves and others. It helps us to understand our fears, desires, and anxieties, as well as our capacities and strengths. This leads to us leading happier and more productive lives. Everyone emerges from their childhood with one personality type, which doesn’t change as we grow into adults. We take on healthy aspects of other personality types as we mature, though. There are nine personality types, each divided into nine levels that range from healthy to average to unhealthy. Individuals move from having a healthy ego to being integrated and from an unhealthy ego to disintegration. As we become more integrated, we balance our strengths and grow in virtue.

The types (and some traits) are:

 One: The Reformer—rational, principled, orderly, perfectionistic

 Two: The Helper—caring, generous, possessive, manipulative

 Three: The Motivator—self-assured, competitive, narcissistic, hostile

 Four: The Arist—creative, intuitive, introverted, depressive

              Five: The Thinker—perceptive, analytic, eccentric, paranoid

              Six: The Loyalist—likable, dutiful, dependent, masochistic

              Seven: The Generalist—accomplished, impulsive, excessive, manic

              Eight: The Leader—self-confident, forceful, dominating, combative

              Nine: The Peacemaker—receptive, reassuring, passive, neglectful

To find out which you are, you can take this online quiz:

There are three basic Enneagram stances, based on the central mode of operation. Types 2, 3, and 4 operate from their heart; types 5, 6, and 7 from their head; types 8, 9, and 1 from their gut. The first is the feeling triad, the second the doing triad, and the third the relating triad. There are three stages to working with the Enneagram. The first is self-observation as we identify which type we are. The second is self-understanding; we comprehend the type description as it applies to our lives. The last stage is self-transformation, in which we grow in our unhealthy areas.

When I took a quiz, I determined that I am a 4. I have traits from across the spectrum. I am a healthy four in many ways: I’m introspective, self-aware, sensitive, intuitive, compassionate, tactful, and enjoy being alone. I also have average traits: I can be moody and inclined to self-doubt and self-consciousness. I even experience the unhealthy aspects of this personality type; I can be mentally confused or emotionally blocked when I get overwhelmed.

              This method of self-discovery and development is old, with roots in the Sufiism of Islamic tradition. These days, it is commonly used in psychology, though there is strong spirituality in the goals of embracing virtue and transcending ourselves. From a Christian perspective, the Enneagram is a tool for growing in union with God: we increase life within us as we integrate and become a source of life for others, which brings us closer to the Creator of all life. The three Enneagram stances of feeling, doing, and relating reflect the Divine aspect that is most ours. Individuals in the heart or feeling triad are more like Jesus, those in the head or doing triad are more like God the Father, and those in the gut or relating triad are more like the Holy Spirit. Our growth, then, strengthens the ways we are like God, making us holier.

              In another way, the Enneagram also invites us to accept ourselves. We don’t need to change our personalities to grow. Vice and virtue aren’t as different as they seem; vice is often virtue that is twisted and brought to a degree of compulsion. Each person’s call from God is personal, and our individual personalities are part of that. We are called to become healthier versions of ourselves, and to bless others with what we specifically have to offer! When I started to pray with the Enneagram, I thought I would see how I needed to grow or change. I think I was looking for that. But this experience has taught me that who I am is key to becoming who God wants me to be!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Summer Reflection



As the summer was ending, I brought in a spiritual harvest. I read over the entries from my prayer journal, which I use for my morning meditation and Examen at the close of the day. In the morning, I meditate on the readings of the day's Mass, applying them to my life, going from the Gospel to life and from life to the Gospel. In the evening, I reflect on the Holy Spirit's presence in that day, recognizing its joys, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. 

I found patterns in the takeaways, themes that emerged with repetition over time. This revealed the personal growth and spiritual blessings of the summer of 2020. 

I grew in a few ways. I became more creative and flexible, focusing more on the journey than on outcome. I tried to be more open and was blessed by my efforts to embrace newness. I also grew in assertiveness, engaging with the messy emotions of daily life and dealing with them more directly. Another area of personal growth was self-acceptance, as I became more gentle with myself and respectful of my nature. I noticed my needs and sensitivities, and how they touched all aspects of my life. 

There was spritual growth, too. I experienced consolation in the encouragement and peace I received from God. My prayer life nurtured my union with God, inspiring me and bearing fruit in my life. I adjusted my sense of balance, as the aspects of my life shifted. I also benefited from the relationships I had and the connections I have, finding God at work in multiple, powerful ways. 

I hope to take these gifts and graces into the fall with me, as I continue the journey with my God, my community, my family, and the world.