Ask Sister

AS235 Ask Sister - Grudgingly glorifying God, how to dispose of holy objects, nuns’ vows vs. marriage vows

Podcast Recorded: August 19, 2021
Ask Sister Podcast with Sister Shannon and Sister Maxine
Description

AS235 Ask Sister – Grudgingly glorifying God, how to dispose of holy objects, nuns’ vows vs. marriage vows

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Show Notes

(1:30) Highlights of Sister Shannon’s first 100 days in office in OSF leadership

(3:40) Sister Maxine describes the IHM Sisters’ 175th Anniversary celebration that took place in August

(6:00)  Listener question: Does God care if we offer things up, like eating cooked spinach? What does it matter if we do things we really don’t want to?

(12:30)  Transformative dimensions of offering it up

(15:45) Listener question: Someone broke my statue of Mary, out of anger. I’ve gathered the pieces but how do you dispose of holy objects?

(17:00) Sacramentals vs. sacraments

(19:00) Broken statue, broken relationship

(23:00) Catholic Church’s teaching on respectful disposal of holy objects

(24:32) The Child of Prague planter incident

(28:30)  Listener question: Why do Catholic sisters take vow twice instead of just once, like married couples do?

(30:00)  Stages of entering religious life: candidate (or postulant), novice, first professed, final professed

(31:45)  The process of growing in relationship: religious life and married life

(35:19)  If vows are meant to be permanent, how can there be “temporary” (first) vows?

(37:20)  Professing final vows “for the rest of my life”

(38:30)  Sister Shannon’s 50th jubilee as a Sylvania Franciscan – words of advice about commitment and relationships

(42:00) Exciting future of religious life

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Transcript (Click for More)+

Sister Maxine  

From the studio of A Nun’s Life Ministry, this is Ask Sister, a program where we take your questions about prayer, faith, community, ministry, and everything in between. I'm Sister Maxine here with my co- host Sister Shannon Schrein.

Today on Ask Sister, a daughter asks if God really cares if she eats her spinach. What's to be gained if we offer it up and do things we don't want to? Then a listener is brokenhearted because her statue of Mary is in pieces, and she wonders how do you respectfully dispose of holy objects. And finally, a listener asks why sisters take vows twice instead of just once, like married couples do.  We get lots of questions from our listeners, and if you have one, please send it in. Just go to the contact page on our website at aNunsLife.org. We also want to give a quick shout-out of thanks to our awesome sponsors for supporting the Ask Sister podcast. And you can help, too. Just visit aNunsLife.org and click the Donate button.

Shannon, it's great to see you again and to be in the studio together again!

Sister Shannon  

Yes, I was looking forward to this! I always enjoy our conversations.

Sister Maxine  

The last time we talked, it was right around the time you had been elected to leadership. So, how's it going? I think this must be the first 100 days of the new Franciscan administration. What's happening over there?

Sister Shannon  

We have been so busy! Our new congregational minister is one of those kinds of sisters that generates idea after idea. We've gathered as a community, in a format that we're calling the community room, like the old days when all of our communities had a room where we gathered. We are looking at renovating a portion of the building in which our offices are located as a gathering space for the sisters. We're just all into what's next and where do we go from here.

Sister Maxine  

Sounds like it has been a busy first 100 days! Have there been any life-changing decisions or policies made?  

Sister Shannon  

We are currently awaiting Rome's review of our revised Constitutions. The revision happened in the last year, prior to this leadership team taking over, but we were a part of sending it to Rome and getting approved. So we're waiting with bated breath, as they say, to hear. So that's a new thing, and also a proposal came out of our chapter called Crossroads, where we're examining the nature of religious life in this century--what it means and where do we go from here.  

Sister Maxine  

That seems like a conversation that might go on for quite a while!

Sister Shannon  

I think it will. I have a lovely committee of sisters that are working with me and we're just researching--we're talking to other congregations, asking them about what they're doing and how their life is emerging and we're looking at all of the research and work of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). In fact, we just participated virtually in the recent LCWR conference, essentially on the same topic of looking at where we are being transformed as congregations. I thought that was pretty exciting.

Sister Maxine  

It is exciting! For us—the IHM congregation—we met in August with the two IHM congregations in Pennsylvania and the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore, which is where our foundress came from. We had our 175th anniversary, and all four communities got together online for a couple of days of conversation and study. The event was on the topic of racism. It is a topic that we have dealt with as communities for several years. Our foundress, Theresa Maxis Duchemin, her father was a British military officer and her mother was Haitian. She came to Michigan and, as they say, passed as white. Some people were like, “A 175th celebration--why would you take on a topic that can be so difficult?” You know, it was the perfect way to celebrate our foundress for these 175 years, and to really do so in a way that was honest and direct with one another. It seemed like the perfect celebration!

Sister Shannon  

I would connect it directly with Holy Father’s recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti (Brothers and Sisters All). We have to look at the diversity within our lives and in our congregations, and we're called to a culture of encounter with one another.

Sister Maxine  

And it really is an encounter of joy in the diversity and of getting to know one another.

Sister Shannon  

Congratulations!

Sister Maxine  

Thank you. 175 years--it's pretty amazing to be part of that!

Sister Shannon 5:23

Speaking of congratulations, I'm going to celebrate my Golden Jubilee, 50 years of Franciscan life, so I'm excited about that!

Sister Maxine  

Oh my goodness—congratulations!

Sister Shannon  

There are nine sisters in my class. There are five sisters celebrating 60 years and there's one sister  celebrating 75 years.

Sister Maxine  

Congratulations and lots of prayers and blessings!

Sister Shannon  

Thank you.

Sister Maxine  

And in other amazing things, we have some amazing questions from our listeners.

Sister Shannon  

They're always fascinating--the questions that come to us.

Sister Maxine  

Our first one comes in from Kaylee in Nebraska, and Kaylee writes: “Hello nuns. When my great aunt was visiting us for dinner, mom cooked spinach, which she likes but I think it's disgusting. I'm mostly polite so I said, ‘No, thank you,’ but I had to take some anyway. Then my great aunt said I could offer it up for the glory of God. I don't get it--why would God care? Because you are nuns, maybe you can tell me why, or if it's really true. Thank you.”

Kaylee, this is a great question. First of all I want to say I do empathize with you. While I like raw spinach, cooked spinach…not so much. And since you mentioned that you find it unpleasant, I'm guessing this wasn't the first time that your mom served it. But I'm also glad to hear you're very polite about it. Good manners mean a lot.

Sister Shannon  

The idea of why would God care and what does it mean to offer it up--it connects with a lot of the practices that we've had traditionally. If you think to the season of Lent, for example, when we choose to give up something, it's a similar kind of choice to make in order to discipline ourselves, in order to draw attention to those who have less than we do. So I think that emerges from those kinds of concepts but it has the potential of really taking on new meaning today. It’s acknowledging that there are times in our lives when we are called on to do things that are more difficult or that please us less: is there any value in making that choice? So, you're being polite to your great aunt and recognizing that your mom spent time cooking that meal. But how does that connect with bringing glory to God.

Sister Maxine  

Yes, because “offering it up” and “glorifying God”-- it's kind of a mash up.

Sister Shannon  

Yes, there are a couple questions. First of all, if I do something that I don't really care to do but I offer it up for the glory of God, how does that affect me? Does it make me a better person, a more disciplined person, a more polite person? What is going to help to transform me as I grow as a human being.

Sister Maxine  

It’s sort of like a cultivation of the virtues, in a sense.

Sister Shannon  

That’s right.  We form good habits, we practice virtues, we do these things and some we choose not to do. For example, now that I'm 70 years old, I don't usually eat things I don't want to anymore because I don't have to. I do think there is a way of seeing how that might have a positive effect on yourself personally. But how does it give glory to God?

Sister Maxine  

The one way I could see it is like this. I imagine sitting around the table, watching Kaylee as she's facing a plate of spinach, saying to herself, Here I am, with two people who obviously know me and my attitude toward spinach, who love me, and I am being invited into this relationship. And I think when we can go to those places and just look at the glory of the relationship, I think we see the glory of God.

Sister Shannon  

While you were talking, I was thinking a little bit about when you enter into a loving relationship with another person and this person has become quite significant to you, maybe even going steady or you're engaged, whatever the terminology is today. And you get invited to their mom and dad's house. Mom and dad are serving a meal which you are just really not going to enjoy. But why do you eat it. One reason is politeness, but the other is that you do it for the sake of this person that you love.

Sister Maxine  

Shannon, as you said that I just had a flashback to my childhood! I grew up with four sisters and a brother. My oldest sister, who is now a spectacular cook, was just learning back then and she would try wonderful experiments with food. My dad, who had a cast iron stomach, bless his heart, could pretty much eat anything [laughter]. I remember looking at some of that food--I don't even know if I could have offered that up. So I'm glad to say that my sister has become a great cook. But back in the day, I mean I can totally get where we're Kaylee is coming from. The idea was, for my dad, that wanted to encourage us to try different food, and mostly to be in relationship.

Sister Shannon  

Supporting your sister!

Sister Maxine  

Yes. Somebody is trying to do something good for you. So you're supporting your sister, you smile, and you eat the food.

Sister Shannon  

That's right. And there's the solidarity piece, right! That's really the transforming dimension of offering something up. We do it in order to be in relationship, as you said, with another person, to make them feel good about themselves, to support them in their decisions. That spinach was not prepared just to upset you, Kaylee. That spinach was prepared because Mom must have known that your great aunt enjoyed it. Don't we usually make a meal based on the person that we're serving. We want to please them. When we are in a loving relationship with other people that is the same as our loving relationship with our God, it pleases us, it pleases those individuals, and it pleases God.

Sister Maxine  

We do have to remain true to ourselves. And in that truth, we can step outside of our own likes and dislikes and enter into somebody else's joy, and I think that can be very freeing.

Sister Shannon  

A dear sister friend in my community loves kale. She eats it for breakfast, and I tried it because I love her, and she thought it would be good for me. I probably won't eat it again, and I definitely will never have it for breakfast. But I tried it out of love for her. I wanted her to see that if it was important to her, then okay, let me give it a go.

Sister Maxine  

Was it like a kale and oatmeal thing?

Sister Shannon  

It was just kale, like in a salad. It was only kale, and then other ingredients but no other forms of lettuce.

Sister Maxine  

So let me ask you this, Shannon. Let's take ourselves back to the table of the mom, the great aunt, and Kaylee. There's Kaylee, looking at the spinach she has politely accepted. If you were Kaylee, would you eat the spinach?!

Sister Shannon  

Yes! I’d wash it down with my coffee or milk but I’d eat it.

Sister Maxine  

I would, too! Kaylee, I think that you showed some real graciousness and maturity there. Maybe when your great aunt isn't there, your mom will be like, Yes, I know you don't want to eat it, and that’s ok, it’s not a big deal.

Sister Shannon  

God was pleased with you, Kaylee, because of your good heart, and therefore, it gives glory to God.

Sister Maxine  

Amen! Thank you again, Kaylee, for the question, and we'll keep you and your mom and your great aunt in our prayers.

Sister Shannon  

I have to tell you, Kaylee, that when I read your question, I was thinking about Popeye. When I was a kid, that was a major cartoon—Popeye the Sailor Man was strong to the finish because he ate his spinach.

Sister Maxine  

[laughter] That’s right! He developed the virtues.

[Brief break, with music]

Sister Maxine  

Our second question comes in from Jackie in Pennsylvania. Jackie writes, “I had a statue of the Blessed Mother that a few days ago, someone broke on purpose, out of anger. I am beside myself with sadness. I have gathered her pieces but I haven't thrown her away yet. I'm not sure what to do. I feel terrible even at the thought of throwing her away, but she is beyond repair. I guess I'm looking for guidance as to the proper way to dispose of Marry. Thank you, sisters.

First of all, Jackie, I am so sorry to hear about the statue and the circumstances that led to the broken Mary.  As you say, someone did this on purpose. The intent was to cause you pain by breaking something that means a lot to you and I think that's a very hurtful action, and the statue of Mary got caught in the middle of that. Shannon, maybe first we can talk about the statue and what the Catholic Church says about disposal of sacred objects, and then we could talk more about the situation that Jackie finds herself in.

Sister Shannon  

Let me add my thoughts to that as we begin. Jackie, I too felt terrible when I read the story of what has happened to you, so I want to respond to you in a way that helps you to mend relationships. In regard to the statue of Mary, in Church tradition it would be referred to as a sacramental. It is something that helps us to recall who God, to recall God's presence in our lives. It brings light, it brings joy, it reminds us to pray--all of those things that make it a gift that comes from our Church.

Sister Maxine  

It’s also probably all of those things, Jackie, that helped this statue be so meaningful for you.

Sister Shannon  

The Church calls a sacrament an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace, and sacramentals come in that same category. Although they don't have the significance of the seven sacraments of the Church, they still become for us an outward sign of God's grace. Traditionally, the Church has said, when a holy object is going to be disposed of, either because of its condition or because of what happened in the case of your statue being broken, the best way is to take the pieces and to bury them in the ground. Some objects are burned. If you have a scapular, for example, it is recommended that it be burned and then buried as a way of returning it to the earth and recognizing its sacredness. But I think there could be another, more creative way to dispose of the pieces of the statue. You might think about doing some piece of art with the pieces. Or place them in planters--we oftentimes put little pebbles underneath the soil so the plant will grow well. You could also place those statue pieces in your garden.

Sister Maxine  

Those are great ideas Shannon! The image of the garden is one of growth and regeneration and new life. And with that image in mind, let's talk about the situation that brought about the broken statue--the relationship of Jackie to the person who broke the statue and the possibility of healing in that relationship. Jackie, you didn't mention if the person was an adult or a child, or what exactly the relationship is. But I was so taken by the image of the broken Mary and the parallel with the image of this relationship, which also has suffered a break.

Sister Shannon  

And Jackie said it was done in anger, which to me makes it even more significant. If in the midst of an argument, something gets knocked over, there's not the same kind of intent as purposefully doing it out of anger.

Sister Maxine  

Yes, and I think about Mary, who certainly was no stranger to anger in the world around her, to violence, to relationship struggles. As you were saying earlier, maybe there are some ways to deal with the statue that could help to keep the spirit of Mary present to Jackie—maybe, Jackie, you would find that very healing. Mary was a woman who picked up the pieces more times in life than… I don't imagine how she could even keep going!  

Sister Shannon  

Indeed! There's power in finding the value in an action that was so negative in your life, to help you to begin to transform your spirit. Maybe looking for a way to forgive the person who caused this pain. It causes me to think about what was in the heart of that individual: what had happened that they were so angry, or angry specifically with you, Jackie, if that's what this was grounded in--we don't know all the details of the story. How do you bring healing to the relationship, how do you bring healing into your own heart after such a violent action. And then how do you, if you choose to, bring healing to the person who in anger destroyed something that was meaningful to you.

Sister Maxine  

The “if you choose to” part is really significant because sometimes when we are called to look deeply at our relationships, it may be that the calling doesn't take us toward the relationship, but away from it, and we need to be able to do that. But I think what the statue of Mary, and what the spirit of Mary can remind you of is that you're not going to be alone in these processes. Mary was known for being able to hang in there with people!

Sister Shannon  

I think about the story in the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus was preaching to a large crowd in a house and his mother and brothers and sisters showed up and wanted him to come out. He asked the question, “Who are my mother and brothers and sisters? Those who do the will of God.” And while Mary would have understood the universalness of that call to make us all brothers and sisters, I don't wonder that it was a hardship in her life to have her son respond that way instead of to just come flying out of the house and give her a hug. And she had those kinds of experiences, as Sister Maxine said, over and over throughout her life--facing the violent action that happened in Jesus's life and being there to witness that, and yet she brought healing.

Sister Maxine  

And her own healing had to be part of that! Jackie, as I was thinking about ideas for what to do with this broken statue of Mary, the statue that you love and has value, it might be that you just rearrange the parts. Sometimes if we go through the motions of what we need to do in our life--and I’m not saying you need to rearrange the parts of your life--but if it's helpful, if you feel like that's what you are called to do, then going through motions that can that can help you physically engage in the process of rearrangement, that I have found that my own life to be very helpful.

Sister Shannon  

Another thing that you said, Jackie, was that it made you very, very sad. I think more than anything about how the statue touched your heart, and maybe in your own prayer, in your own transformation through this action, you can find a deeper way to get to know Mary and see the significance of her role in your life, and the comfort that she can bring to you.

Sister Maxine  

As we've been talking, I was thinking back in my own life about objects that have broken and I have felt this way about. One was a Child of Prague planter. We found it at a garage sale and for whatever reason we loved it. We took care of it, but then somehow it got knocked over. It wasn't intentional, as in Jackie’s situation. But it got knocked over and his head fell off. We were like, “Now what?” We ended up gluing the head back on, but it was not a perfect job. You can definitely see that an accident occurred. But every time I see the planter, I think about how much it means to me, especially because of my friendship with a sister who loved to do garage sales, so I’d go with her. She delighted in things like the Child of Prague planter, and that made me happy too.

Sister Shannon  

I don’t know where you got the statue, Jackie, if it was a gift from someone or you saved your money and purchased it, if it connects with your schooling or your education, or with a family member. Another possibility in all of this is to go back to the origin story--where did the statue come from in the first place and what the significance of the relationship between you and whomever gave you the statue. I have a little statue that's about three inches tall that my grandmother gave me when I was nine years old. There's a little carving in the base that says Our Lady of Grace. The statue is not breakable because she's made out of metal. Sometimes I've held her in my hand when I was inconsolable about something that made me sad. For the last 63 years, she’s been at a prominent spot somewhere in my room that was close to me. If someone destroyed that statue, it would break my heart. But I would not lose the sense of joy and love that I felt from my grandmother.

Sister Maxine  

She must have had the gift of foresight because isn't the name of your chapel Our Lady of Grace?!

Sister Shannon  

Yes! [laughter]

Sister Maxine  

For Jackie, it may also be helpful to read up more about Mary. Maybe you've already done a considerable amount of reading, but you may find some books that will help you cultivate the relationship even more. Jackie, thank you again for the question. And we'll keep you and the relationship involved in this situation in our prayers.   

[Brief break, with music]

Sister Maxine  

Shannon, we have one more question, and it comes in from Thomas, in California. Thomas writes, “Although we're not Catholic, my wife and I were invited by a family friend to attend his daughter's ceremony for becoming a sister. I was surprised to learn that her vows are only for a couple of years, and after that she decides if she'll make a lifetime commitment. I guess I was thinking it would be more like marriage. When my wife and I got married, our vows were for the rest of our life. We didn't have the choice to start off with a few years and then decide. I could see advantages to doing that and some disadvantages too. What is the reason for doing vows two times, and do all Catholic sisters, do that?”

Thomas, congratulations to your friend's daughter! A profession is a great event, not only in her life but also in the life of her religious community and of the whole Church. So the context of your question is the vows, and you compare them to the marriage vows—Shannon, there are some valid comparisons here, so maybe we can talk a bit about how the stages of entering religious life may or may not compare with the stages of getting married.

Sister Shannon  

It's a great thought. When I read this question from you, Thomas, the first thing that I thought about was the whole notion of engagement. Our experience of temporary vows--those early years before we enter into perpetual vows or final vows as they're sometimes called--is a way for us to get to know the community and for the community to get to know us as individuals, to enter into ministry to begin to live the life of a religious, and to discover all the impact of what that means, which I think is the same thing that happens in engagement.

Sister Maxine  

Yes! Also, the steps in religious life aren’t exactly the same for all religious communities but very close. Generally, it starts with being a candidate or some would say a postulant. That can be one or two years, and then you enter into the novitiate: in my experience, it was two years, one of which was a canonical year of prayer and study and then a ministerial year. And then, first vows.

Sister Shannon  

During that novitiate time, you learn the history of the community, the charism of the community, and how it was founded so that you really have a clear understanding of what you are entering into.

Sister Maxine  

You learn some of the prayers that are meaningful in the congregation. 

Sister Shannon  

Indeed. And then those temporary vows that you begin when you enter into a vowed relationship with God, that is the final stage of getting to know the community and the community getting to know you.

Sister Maxine  

And it's an intentional path. It's not like where you go through all of this--because there's already a few years of where you get to know the community--and then you hit this point and you can just leave. The intent is to continue on.

Sister Shannon  

The word that we use for it traditionally in religious life is formation. Throughout our life as consecrated women we have formation as a part of who we are. So, those early days of formation are typically like in a relationship where you're getting to know somebody, you begin to date--what do you like, what foods do you like, what movies do you like, what genres do you like. It’s that kind of just getting to know you and then you want to go deeper. The novitiate provides an opportunity for us to go deeper in that relationship. And it helps to form our character so that we in fact can live out the vows in religious life. And we study the vows that we're going to be entering into, which is a really important part of this entire process, because when you make a perpetual commitment, you're entering into a lifelong relationship with your community and with your God.

Sister Maxine  

As you were talking about that whole process of relationship, how in those early stages it’s like a couple getting to know each other, that's when you meet the parents and you meet the siblings and you meet the aunts and uncles. In religious life, you continue to go through processes like that because you're getting to know a whole community, and with a marriage, you're getting to know a whole family. Whatever size that family may be, you're marrying into a whole family.

Sister Shannon  

The moment of engagement is the moment of commitment that I think parallels very closely temporary vows: you've decided to set aside the other relationships of dating and you've concentrated your life on one person in particular. You receive or give a ring as a part of that commitment, and that means you begin to belong to one another. And so the level of relationships starts to deepen even more.

Sister Maxine  

And it's a public statement too, because it's going to take the support of an entire community--a relationship exists within a community. And so that public statement of intent is both for the couple, and in our case for the woman who is professing the vow, and also for the community.

Sister Shannon  

Even in a marriage relationship or an engaged relationship, you may feel a strong attraction one to the other, but there's a kind of fit that comes into a family life. Sometimes where that doesn't work as well, it can become a problem and it's problem for a long time. When you can enter into a relationship with the entire family--that begins on both sides of course--it begins to pave the way for a rich and flourishing relationship that's healthy.

Sister Maxine  

I like your comparison of what some people call first vows or temporary vows to that time of engagement. When we were chatting a little bit before the podcast, you raised the issue of temporary vows being kind of an oxymoron.

Sister Shannon  

I made first vows in 1971. As I mentioned earlier, it's 50 years this year. We were given the option after the Second Vatican Council to consider making that commitment as a promise or making that commitment as a temporary vow. We entered into all kinds of conversation about that as a group. There were 12 in my group at the time, and we kind of split down the middle. Six of us made promises for the next three years and six made temporary vows. For me the question was, Can you make a vow for only a short time? I really felt strongly that in those early years of formation, I was promising to take on the life and ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis in Sylvania, Ohio, to live it out as best I could, as they got to know me and I got to know the community more deeply, and when I was certain, then my perpetual vow would in fact be final.

Sister Maxine  

So the set of promises were: I am moving in this direction I'm going to move more deeply into it, and I'm going to do my best.

Sister Shannon  

And I promised to live poverty, celibacy, and obedience. So I entered into a relationship with my community and my God. That meant I was committed to that in much the same way as if I'm a person who gets engaged to human person-- I'm turning my attention and my commitment totally to that person. And that eliminates some other relationships that might look attractive to me. I'm making a choice that I want to give my life to this.

Sister Maxine  

That choice is articulated in first vows, as we said earlier, with the intent to move forward in relationship with the community. And for us, IHM Sisters, the time of first vows is at least three years, although it can extend up to ten years. Other congregations may have different time frames for that.

Sister Shannon  

We can extend to nine years.

Sister Maxine  

Then there's final profession, with the words “for the rest of your life.” In our vow formula, we vow celibacy, poverty, and obedience for the next three years in first professed, and then it's the same formula, except for “the rest of my lie.” I know that my sisters and my brother talk about that too in their wedding vows. When you when you get to that point, it's breathtaking!

Sister Shannon  

It is breathtaking. Thomas, let me add this little piece because you mentioned in your note that you and your wife are not Catholic. Catholic tradition is governed by Church law as well as our traditions. There is a segment in our canonical law that talks about the nature of religious life, vowed life and the designations that we've been talking about, Max and I: postulancy, novitiate, first vows or temporary vows,  and then final vows. That is outlined in Church canon law as the wisdom of the entire Church, so that when a person is making their final vows, to the best of their ability they are able to make that commitment for life.

Sister Maxine  

As we talk about that lifelong commitment, I think about your 50 years as a Franciscan sister and the kind of commitment that that takes. Is there any encouragement or advice you might offer to people who, let's say they hit those difficult days--relationships being what they are have many good days but also those days that a really tough?

Sister Shannon  

A couple of things come to mind right away. There's a line in the scripture that talks about the peace that passes understanding. And I think when you have entered into a commitment, a final vow commitment, and you mean it from all your heart, then there is a certain element of peace that remains there. For me, the test is if you're happy. I don't mean in a frivolous kind of way but a genuine, authentic happiness that keeps you committed to the relationship. And then, what happens for me anyway, is that the yes to God and the yes to this commitment comes every day. I choose to live this life and all that it means.

Sister Maxine  

It's one thing to say “I vow these things for the rest of my life” at the time of that profession ceremony, and it is another thing as, as married people also know, to walk that vow, every single day.

 Sister Shannon  

It was 23 years old, like many young people are when they get married. It seemed an exciting and wonderful and scary thing. And what's interesting to me, Max, and maybe this is the same for you, is that the nature of religious life in these past 50 years has so evolved. It’s not just the outward signs of wearing a habit and living in large communities of sisters, to many of us in a ministry where we're off by ourselves. In the course of that transformation of religious life, we've continued to grow and to deepen in our choices and in our desire to serve God and to serve the Church.

Sister Maxine  

Yes, and to grow in relationship with God and one another. Religious Life is a great gift and it is undergoing many changes in so many ways. I think that is how it goes--things grow, things flourish. I think religious life has a really exciting future!

Sister Shannon  

I think so too.

Sister Maxine  

Congratulations again, Shannon. We'll have to look back at Facebook and the Sylvania Franciscan website for photos of the Jubilee celebration.

Sister Shannon

August 28!

Sister Maxine

Well, Shannon. That is our show for today. We want to give a special thanks to you, our listeners, for joining us. We appreciate your interest in the podcast. And if you have questions about God, faith, religious life, and pretty much anything else, please send them in! You can use the Contact form on our website.

Ask Sister is a production of A Nun's Life Ministry, helping people discover and grow in their vocation by engaging questions about God, faith, and religious life. The songs in our program are Bits and Pieces by Wild Carrot and In the Deep by Jen Edds. This program is made possible through the grace of God, the support of the sponsors of A Nun's Life Ministry, and you our listeners. We are very grateful for your prayers, your encouragement, and your support. Visit us at aNunsLife.org. God bless! [music]

This transcript has been minimally edited for readability.

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Intro/outro music by Wild Carrot

 

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