Sister Joni Luna: What does it mean to you to be a Catholic Sister today?
Note: Here is the second blog in our series celebrating Catholic Sisters Week, which concludes on March 14, 2020. During the week, many sisters will share here on our blog what being a sister means to them. Sister Joni Luna has written the second of such blog posts below.
The other day, I wrote the following prayer in my journal using a picture I had created in Sister Rosemary Schmalz’ Art and Spirituality Retreat:
Sit with me …..
It is in the darkness that I see more clearly.
It is in surrendering that I find my strength.
In offering that I receive YOUR blessing.
The language of GOD is total silence.
Oh! Sacred Love, sit with me at this moment.
I realized after writing this prayer how much becoming a Sister of Providence has transformed my life. These past seven years have awakened in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is. I have come to embrace the invitation to live the gospel values by emulating Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness, His unbounded inclusivity and to serve in a mission greater than myself.
In Matthew 10:39, Jesus tells us, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Becoming a Sister of Providence gave me the Sacred space and support to look deep within my restless soul and connect to the God who dwells within me. It was here that I rediscovered the authentic person God had created me to be. You see, I had buried myself in a rubble of powerful social/cultural expectations and norms that bombarded me with messages that I was not enough. These social/cultural expectations led me to believe that there was something wrong with me or better yet, that the most important aspects of myself were my looks, what I owned, who my friends were or how much money I had in the bank.
I sometimes jokingly say, “The Sisters of Providence have ruined my life.” These past years, I have struggled to peel away and let go of old patterns and expectations of myself that no longer serve the good of all creation. In these past years, my eyes and heart have been opened and touched by Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness. I have been sensitized to pay attention as I seek to serve with the unconditional love and forgiveness that Jesus served with. I now notice inequities of all types. I am much more aware of the disparities in our communities, churches, and our government that oppresses, demeans, takes advantage of and excludes people because of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity, and the list goes on.
Being a member of the Sisters of Providence has given me the opportunity to share in a mission greater than myself. I have chosen to say, “Yes,” to living my life counter to what our culture demands. I say, “YES,” to be a witness to our charism of love, mercy, and justice among “ALL” people. I say, “Yes,” to the Sisters of Providence, a community of faithful, strong, resilient women who create sacred spaces of faith and inclusion where all are welcomed. I say, “Yes,” to me, to you, to Mother Theodore, to Jesus and to my Creator who formed me and loved me from before I was born.
Being a Catholic Sister means I have chosen to devote my life to God’s mission. I have chosen to meet people where they are without judgement … to love and care for all creation wherever there are needs. Being a Sister gives me the freedom to respond and move more freely. There is freedom in our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They declare that although we do not belong to any one person, we are free to meet and love the stranger in abundance. They declare that like Saint Mother Theodore, we are choosing to live our lives in a way that invites others to join us in helping to create a just and hope-filled future of love, mercy, and justice.
I invite you to sit with this image and listen.
How is God nudging you in this critical moment to respond?
Perhaps you can write your own prayer and share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us in celebrating Catholic Sisters Week by sharing your own memories