Ask Sister

AS238 Ask Sister - Our Lady of Lourdes, chocolate vs. chores for Lent, Seven Deadly Sins, crying as a way to pray

Podcast Recorded: February 18, 2022
Ask Sister Podcast with Sister Shannon and Sister Maxine
Description

Join Sister Shannon and Sister Maxine for lively conversation in response to listener questions! Topics: Our Lady of Lourdes, chores vs. chocolate for Lent, Seven Deadly Sins, crying as a way to pray.

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Show Notes

(01:30)  Feast Day belated shout-out to Our Lady of Lourdes.

(03:15)  Listener question: For Lent, instead of giving up chocolate, would it be better if I clean the bathroom so mom doesn’t have to?

(05:30)  Prayer, almsgiving, and abstinence during Lent. 

(08:30)  Making personal choices about what’s a meaningful sacrifice for you.

(13:00)  Listener question: Of the Seven Deadly Sins, what is Gluttony and why is it a sin?

(13:30)  What are the seven deadly sins, and what makes them deadly? 

(15:00)  What is gluttony--and what it is not.

(18:00)  Gluttony, Dante, and The Third Circle of Hell.

(19:30)  The Seven Virtues that counteract the Seven Capital Sins.

(20:00)  Olympic training and regular practice of virtue.

(22:00)  Can The Virtues go awry?

(25:00)  Listener question: I ignored God for many years, so why does it feel like God is now calling me to something?

(27:30)  The tumultuous relationship of Jeremiah and God in the bible.

(30:00)  Crying as a form of prayer.

(31:00)  The Prodigal Son.

(33:30)  Doubts about God as a part of the faith journey.

(34:44)  Reappropriating our faith in adulthood.

(36:00)  Grace and vulnerability in restoring relationships.

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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. You're here with Sister Maxine, and my co-host, Sister Shannon Schrein. And today on Ask Sister, a young listener asks for Lent, is it better to give up something she loves, like chocolate, or to take up something she doesn't love, like cleaning the bathroom, so her mom doesn't have to? Then a listener wants the scoop on gluttony and why it's considered a sin. And finally, a listener asks how she can make amends with God after totally ignoring God for six years. 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, or leave a comment at anunslife.org. We want to give a quick shout-out of thanks to our awesome sponsors for supporting the Ask Sister podcast. And you can help, too. Visit anunslife.org and click on the donate button. Shannon, it is great to be here with you in the studio again.

Sister Shannon  
Thanks. I always look forward to this, Max. So I was happy to be thinking about the questions and coming together this morning.

Sister Maxine  
Well, you know, I was reflecting back--last week was a big feast day for you folks, wasn't it?

Sister Shannon  
It was. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. My congregation is formerly called the Sisters of St. Francis, Third Order Regular of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Sister Maxine  
Wow, that that would fill up a business card.

Sister Shannon  
And it fills up your vow card too. But that that notion of having a patron that you follow, right, Our Lady of Lourdes, and all that that has meant for us. So we had a lovely liturgy and a wonderful meal together. And we hadn't really been together as an entire community for quite some time because of the pandemic. And so, this was a wonderful, marvelous celebration. We had a lot of fun.

Sister Maxine  
How do you think like having a patron--every congregation has a patron--how do you think that the patron informs your Franciscan life?

Sister Shannon  
I think it's really the values that are espoused by the life of Mary. And the wonderful way that she came and shared herself and enabled us to realize that she is truly our mother, I think that makes a difference. And of course, our university is called Lourdes University after Our Lady of Lourdes. So it's become entwined very much in who we are and how we think.

Sister Maxine  
And there's so many different depictions of Mary and so many different names for Mary. I think probably most religious congregations of women have some association to Mary.

Sister Shannon  
That's really true.

Sister Maxine  
Well, we're also fast approaching Lent. And so we have some interesting questions connected to Lent, so that we jump in.

Sister Shannon  
Sure, less than a month away.

Sister Maxine  
Yeah. So our first question comes in from Carrie, in Minnesota. And Carrie writes, “I know Lent is a time when people give up stuff, chocolate, pop, and those kinds of things. But for Lent, what about instead if you do something you don't like: putting all the dishes in the dishwasher after supper every day? Cleaning the bathroom? I think that would be a bigger sacrifice than not eating chocolate. And then Mom would get a break too." Carrie, thank you so much for the question, Shannon. somewhere on the internet, I think I hear a bunch of moms cheering.

Sister Shannon  
Yeah, I think so, too! They're excited at that thought. But I think that Carrie really has the right idea. The whole purpose of any kind of sacrifice is in order to bring change of heart within us, a gift to others, and to become a stronger, more spiritual person. And it happens in the habits of every day.

Sister Maxine  
And she is thinking outside the box a little bit. You know, we don't know exactly how old she is. But she sounds like she might be on the younger side. And so you know, I think when you're younger you think give up chocolate, give up this, give up that, versus maybe necessarily taking up something.

Sister Shannon  
I've often thought that there's some bragging rights in "I didn't have any candy during Lent." But it wouldn't fly as well if you said, "I you know put the dishes in the dishwasher every day." But you know in your heart that it would be an assistance to somebody that you care about, and it would be a good discipline for yourself. So that doing for others is an important piece.

Sister Maxine  
Maybe we should back up just a little bit and talk about Lent itself, that 40-day season of, of prayer and fasting and almsgiving. Time to prepare ourselves for the resurrection at Easter. If we look at those dimensions--prayer, to have that time to grow closer to God. I don't know if there's any special prayer things that you do over Lent; I tend to look for like one of the Lent calendars. I enjoy those.

Sister Shannon  
There's a little book that was produced by Bishop Untener, I think, that has daily reflections for Lent that I find helpful. It makes me think about those 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert before he began his public ministry. And here he was, the Son of God, but in his humanity among us, realizing that if he was going to be an effective minister of God's word to the people, that it was important for him to prepare his heart through prayer and fasting. So he is the model, I think, for our experience of Lent. So for us, I think yearly--if not more often--it's important to take stock of how we're living our lives, and how our prayer life is evolving. And what we need to do in order to continue to convert our heart toward God.

Sister Maxine  
And with our prayer life, being sort of our ongoing conversation with God, Lent is a really great time to look at: are there other things you could be doing to strengthen that relationship? I think it's a wonderful time.

Sister Shannon  
For some, it is the pious and religious practices that become important. Attending liturgy an extra day a week, besides just Sunday. Saying the rosary. Those opportunities to keep the sense of the relationship that you have with God before you and to engage in actions that deepen that relationship.

Sister Maxine  
Because it is like every other relationship: the more you attend to it, the richer it can be.

Sister Shannon  
And the whole point, really, of sacrifice or abstinence or fasting also has a connection with helping us to feel the experience of those that have less than we do, and connecting us with the poor, with the marginalized, which is very much part of our mission as Catholics and what we're called to do. So by going back to the notion of giving up chocolate or giving up pop, but even in small ways, helping ourselves to be somehow in communion with those that have less by making a sacrifice that makes us aware of how very much we have.

Sister Maxine  
That's a great point too, because like with abstinence, well, maybe for somebody not eating meat on Fridays, it's just not a big thing. Maybe they rarely ever eat meat. But to think of it in terms as a practice of mindfulness for others in the world who may not have anything to eat that day.

Sister Shannon  
That, I think, is really important. And so to follow Carrie's point, maybe twice during Lent, you go and work in a soup kitchen, and you engage with some of those that are less fortunate, that are in need. And you reflect on the experience of your own blessings and what it means to share with others. That's a different kind of a sacrifice, because it's sacrificing your time. And for some you might be a little hesitant or nervous about engaging with a group of people that you don't know. And yet it might cause you to grow in your own spiritual self.

Sister Maxine  
And that would kind of fall along the line of almsgiving. Because it doesn't mean just, you know, you give money to a worthy cause. It can be your time, it can be your consideration. It could be volunteer work. Any number of things.

Sister Shannon  
When the Second Vatican Council took place back in the 60s and some of the liturgical practices began to change, that's when the church made the decision that we would not abstain from meat every single Friday of the year, but that we would only abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, and Ash Wednesday. But the church didn't leave it at that. The church said, "There are other practices to consider. Find your own discipline, find a way to grow and to convert your heart and to give to others in the practices that you engage." So it laid the responsibility on us, rather than just simply giving us a rule to follow, which I think converts the heart more deeply.

Sister Maxine  
I would agree with that. I kind of smiled to myself because I remember getting questions for earlier Ask Sister podcasts from people who are like, "I'm a vegetarian, does that mean I need to give up vegetables for Lent and eat meat?" But what you're saying just makes so much sense in the wisdom of the church: you've got to find what is meaningful to you--within certain boundaries that may be helpful, or certain guidelines. But one size does not fit all here.

Sister Shannon  
I think the church, in treating us as adults, we make the choice of how will we abstain, how will we give up, how will we make our relationship with God deeper and keep ourselves in touch with those that are poor? So that I think is really key. And what Carrie is doing is, in a kind of adult way, turning the whole notion of giving up on its head and thinking about what can I do for others? What can I do, so that I grow?

Sister Maxine  
And for her mom--making that realization, even though cleaning the bathroom, she says it's gonna be a bigger sacrifice the not eating chocolate--but the idea that she could give her mom a break then. So moms out there working, you know, doing the household chores. There's an awareness of that here in Carrie that I think is really beautiful.

Sister Shannon  
Yeah. I hope that we hear from Carrie at the end of Lent and hear what she decided to do and how it went for her. We will pray for you during that holy season and keep your thoughts and your prayers in our mind.

Sister Maxine  
Amen. God bless, Carrie. We'll pause here for just a brief break. This is Ask Sister, a program of A Nun's Life Ministry. We want to thank our sponsors and individual donors like you, whose support makes the Ask Sister program possible. We'll be right back.

Welcome back, this is Sister Maxine here with my co-host Sister Shannon, on the Ask Sister podcast. If you enjoy the podcast, then we'd ask you, would you please make a donation in support of the podcast? It's easy. You could just head over to anunslife.org and click on the donate button. We'd be very grateful.

Sister Shannon  
Sister Max, we have another question. This one comes from Sara. Sara says, "Of the seven deadly sins, the one I just do not understand is gluttony. What is it? What does it mean? And why is it a sin?"

Sister Maxine  
Sara, thank you for sending that question in. You know, it's a good question related to Lent, when people think about giving up things, food and drink. So the sin of gluttony. I think we could start out talking maybe about the seven capital sins, and then the virtues. And I know, you're probably way more familiar with the virtues in your life. Shannon.

Sister Shannon  
I would like to think so. Thank you, Jesus. But I don't know. I think the term "deadly sins," which is the phrase that was traditional and what Sarah said here--maybe that's worth a little look at, because why would we call them deadly? This is gonna kill you if you do these things? But there is a sense in which the church recognizes its overall effect on our moral development. So if these are the kinds of practices that we engage in, we lose the sense of otherness in the community and caring about others, no matter what they are. May I just name them for all of the listeners, so they remember what are these seven deadly sins? I think there was actually a movie about them at one point, but the first one is pride. The second is greed. The third is lust. Envy, gluttony, anger, sloth. So any one of those, if they are habitual in our lives, really could be a problem for us.

Sister Maxine  
The Catechism--for those who are interested--the Catechism lists those as the capital sins; again, because of their magnitude, and because of their capacity to really impact our life and the lives of people around us in highly negative ways.

Sister Shannon  
So Sara asks specifically what is gluttony. In a sense, it's habitual greed. It's often associated with excess eating or excess drinking. Another term for it might be over-indulgence, or lack of self-restraint. I think we can see it in a lot of ways in our lives.

Sister Maxine  
Not just related to food or drink, necessarily. We quickly add, we are not talking about people who may have a health problem, an eating disorder, any issues like this. We just would want to make that clear.

Sister Shannon  
We're really talking about those bad habits that we get into.

Sister Maxine  
The choices we actually can make.

Sister Shannon  
That's right. It's a kind of an addiction that takes over. And, again, I'm not talking about addiction that really is a clinical problem. But we can get caught up in video games, we can get caught up in watching TV, we can get caught up in lots of things. And it restricts the time that we have for growth, for others, for evolution, for becoming a better person. And sometimes it causes us to block others out. That lack of self-restraint where you can’t stop shopping on the shopping network, that's a kind of gluttony where you just want more and want more and want more.

Sister Maxine  
I've had friends who have struggled with what I would call exercise gluttony. Regular exercise--great thing. But when it affects your family life, your social life, because you feel so compelled to get out there and exercise, I think that's what we're talking about here with gluttony and the other seven deadly sins. It is literally not life-giving to a person. And so it's not a sin, like, if you do this, you're, so to say, going to hell, it's like you can experience hell in your life if these things have control over you.

Sister Shannon  
We're not talking about a one-time sin that is going to end us. But the problem with many of these capital sins is that they become habitual in our lives. So we begin when we're young, perhaps, or maybe later to make bad choices, and then they get easier and easier and easier to make. So we drink too much, we like how it makes us feel, then we drink too much again, and then pretty soon we've had a powerful effect on others around us, as well as on ourselves. Same thing with food. We know it's not healthy for us, but we overindulge and we lose our sense of temperance, which is sort of the opposite of gluttony, right? That self-restraint or that control that is important in our lives.

Sister Maxine  
The balance of the virtues. People may be familiar with Dante's Inferno, and gluttony is one I think the third circle of hell. And Dante's commentary too--a lot on the nature of power--so it can even be overindulgence in one's power.

Sister Shannon  
When you think about those that abuse the fact that they have wealth, they can have any food, they can waste food without thinking about it too much, they can spend money to gain--then they begin to lose their sense of temperance or their sense of, "If I'm eating like this, there's somebody else in the world that's not eating today." You begin to lose that sense of other outside of yourself.

Sister Maxine  
As we're talking about it, gluttony--again, an overindulgence--it also leaves us less satisfied with life, because you always need more.

Sister Shannon  
That's right.

Sister Maxine  
To consider these a capital sin is because of not just what they do to our relationship with God, but what they do to us, our relationship with ourselves, and to know when it's time to really look at these things. Now, as you mentioned earlier, we also have the virtues to balance those off. Do you have the list of the virtues?

Sister Shannon  
I do!

Sister Maxine  
Oh, good. I didn't even think you needed the list, Shannon!

Sister Shannon  
Well, I just want to make sure I get them in the right order. So to balance pride is the habit of humility, an important virtue in our lives. Or to balance greed, charity, giving to others, caring about others. To balance lust is chastity, that sense of self and care for the other. To balance, envy, gratitude, an important virtue to develop in our lives. To balance gluttony, as I mentioned earlier, temperance or self-restraint. To balance, anger, patience. And to balance sloth, diligence, our ability to work hard for others and for our own development. That's a very deep part of Catholicism, that development of those habits, those virtuous habits, so that they're not just a one-off kind of thing. But something that we do regularly. I was thinking about the Olympics, because I've been enjoying watching them, and the discipline that enters into what it means to become an elite athlete, and the day-to-day sacrifices that they make in order to prepare themselves and to be ready for the great moment when they participate in the Olympics. But there's that discipline, and they make it a habit. And that's, I think, what we're called upon as Catholic Christians to do: to make the virtues habits in our lives. And when the capital sins begin to creep in, to rectify that, by realizing and coming back to making the choice toward good habits.

Sister Maxine  
Kind of helps us find that middle of the road. As you're describing it, you know, it's developing that disposition so it is our first choice. Just through practice, through habit, through consciousness, that we can orient ourselves for what is good in our lives. Now, as we were talking a little bit before the podcast, that doesn't mean you can't go overboard on some virtues in a weird kind of a sense.

Sister Shannon  
Sure.

Sister Maxine  
You know, like, humility: "I am just not going to have any attachment to anything--no opinion, no nothing." And then you know, too much of that, and then then it's like being a doormat, or you lose your self-respect. You've got to look at these things and realize the virtues are meant to keep you going in a good path.

Sister Shannon  
I was thinking about the interesting thing about gluttony that Sara raises for us: you get feedback pretty fast on gluttony. You eat too much, and you get a stomachache, or you don't feel very good, or you get sluggish, or you gain weight, which maybe you don't like. Or you drink too much, and you get a hangover, or you get a headache, or you do things that you wish you hadn't done, because you were intoxicated, or because you weren't in total control of yourself. So that's an interesting thing about gluttony, that we get feedback right away, from ourselves, that this is not a virtuous way to live our lives.

Sister Maxine  
That's true. And it's a source of unhappiness that we could choose--again, not a medical condition--but if we can choose to take ourselves in a different direction. These are not things that are that are like commanded on high like, "You should not do that for no reason at all." These are things, if we look into our own heart, we can see the wisdom of that.

Sister Shannon  
It was a good question, Sara. When I first read it, I wondered, well, what will we talk about? But you offered us an enriching way to sort of look at the choices we make in our day-to-day lives.

Sister Maxine  
We're going to pause for a brief break. This is Ask Sister, a program of A Nun's Life Ministry. We want to thank our sponsors and individual donors like you whose support makes the Ask Sister program possible. We'll be right back.

Welcome back. This is Sister Maxine here with my co-host Sister Shannon, on the Ask Sister podcast. If you enjoy the podcast, then we'd ask you, would you please make a donation in support of the podcast? It's easy. You could just head over to anunslife.org and click on the donate button. We'd be very grateful. Shannon, our last question comes in from Noreen from the Philippines. And Noreen writes: "When I was in college, way back in 2015, I admit that I doubted God. But now there's something in my heart that wants God. The idea has popped into my head that maybe God is calling me to do something." And Noreen continues: "Recently, I had a dream where I'm walking to a country called Jeremiah. I even asked on Quora"--and for those who may not be familiar with it, that is a question-and-answer platform on the internet--"I even asked on Quora what it means. And someone said, 'Maybe it's God's calling.' Then while I was reading your blog at A Nun's Life, I was shocked that it mentioned Jeremiah. I haven't been praying to God for so long because of what I did, because I doubted God for those six years. I am crying for doing that. But I want to have a heart-to-heart talk with God. And so I'll cry to God." Thank you, Noreen for your email. And you know, Shannon, Noreen doesn't ask outright, but she seems to have a number of things she's mulling over here: Does God communicate through dreams and coincidences? If we ignore God, does God ignore us too? Get the cold shoulder from God? And then how do you go about rebuilding a relationship?

Sister Shannon  
Really key questions in what she's suffering. This is thoughtful consideration of the relationship, which is already, I think, a call from God. Does God communicate through dreams? Absolutely. There are countless stories in the Scriptures where those that God was calling came to know it through a dream. I think about Isaiah, for example, and Joseph in the book of Genesis--that they he received dreams that told them what to do next, or where to go next, or sort of predicted his future. So I think that you've been thinking about these things, Noreen. And perhaps that's where it's come from.

Sister Maxine  
She mentions coincidence, too. And it may be because that was in the back of your mind already, Noreen: when you heard these things, it registered with you. It may have felt like coincidence, but maybe there was something that was already going on inside of you.

Sister Shannon  
Noreen, I don't know what your awareness of the Bible is, how much you've studied it in your life, what you've been exposed to. But Jeremiah is one of the most important prophets that appears in the Old Testament. He was an eighth-century prophet, and he was called by God when he was kind of young. And he resists at first; he says to God, "Don't call me. I'm too young. What have I got to offer? What have I got to say?"

Sister Maxine  
Kind of doubting God's judgment about age!

Sister Shannon  
That's right. And God says, "Don't say you're too young. Wherever I call you, you go. You do what I ask you to do." And so Jeremiah goes along with it. And he's experiencing a lot of problems because the people are rebelling against God. And God is trying to warn them that if they don't get their act together, they're going to be taken over by a warring people called the Babylonians. No matter what Jeremiah tells them, they treat him badly. They throw him in a pit, and they do all kinds of things to poor Jeremiah. And so he finally gets fed up with God, and he writes these letters to God where He says, "I'm done with you." If you look in your Bible, in the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 20, you'll find this lovely story, where Jeremiah says to God, "You've duped me, Lord, and I've allowed myself to be duped. Deceived. You told me to do this, and you were just messing with me. And it's not real."

Sister Maxine  
"All the terrible things have happened."

Sister Shannon  
Bad things have happened. And then he says, "I'm never speaking your name again. I'm never talking to you." It puts me in mind of Noreen--she kind of doubts God for a while. And then he says--in the same chapter, he says, "It burns like fire in my soul, and I get tired of holding it in and I must speak. I must talk about God, I have to let it go. I have to be the Prophet. I have to respond." I don't know why you dreamt about going to the city of Jeremiah, but that story is powerful for you, I think, Noreen, because there is something in there. God is calling you to begin to believe again. And obviously you're longing for that in your life.

Sister Maxine  
And Noreen talks about crying to God. I think that's a perfectly fine way to communicate with God.

Sister Shannon  
Absolutely.

Sister Maxine  
You know, the God who has not ignored you at all. I think sometimes we forget, we ourselves are not always fully present to God, but God's always fully present to us.

Sister Shannon  
We've seen in our lives people that have abandoned friends or family members and gotten angry with them and refuse to talk. And we've also witnessed reconciliation. And what that means when two people that have not spoken with one another or have not loved one another come back together and are sorry and realize the loss that they experienced. I think there's a little bit of that going on in you, Noreen, and you don't have to worry for one second that God doesn't have arms wide open for you.

Sister Maxine  
Yeah, because there's --about the relationship: what if you get rejected, you know, after all of what has happened? But I think our God is always, always calling us back.

Sister Shannon  
A perfect story for you, Noreen, is the story of the son who asks for his inheritance in advance. And he's the youngest son, and his father decides to give it to him. And then he goes off, and he blows it on drink and fun and all of that, and then he realizes what he's done. And he tells himself, he's going to go back and reconcile with his father, and he's making up what he's gonna say, as he's walking back home. "I'm gonna say, 'Father, I don't deserve to be your son. Make me your hired slave'"--because the poor kid was hungry. You know, he had no money left. He's eaten the leftovers of the pigs--a deep place to fall when you are a Jewish man.

Sister Maxine  
And it's very apparent to himself that he did fall, and he messed up big time.

Sister Shannon  
He messed up big time. So when he comes back, what does he see? His dad's waiting. The light's on. He embraces his son. He gives him new clothes. He puts a ring on his finger. There's no recrimination. There's no, "Son, you need a haircut. When was the last time you had a bath? What did you do with all my money? Where have you been?" None of that!

He's been waiting. He's been waiting.

He's just been waiting. And I think that God is waiting for you, Noreen.

Sister Maxine  
That's a beautiful way to look at that too. And you know, in terms of her capacity to respond, I hear her wrestling with herself a little bit here. Noreen, where you feel--it sounds to me--guilty that you doubted God. But depending on your stages of development as a person, that's not unusual.

Sister Shannon  
No. And I would imagine in that story from the Bible that the son still felt ashamed, that he cried when his father embraced him and expressed love toward him, that he still had to work through the choices that he had made and get secure again in that relationship with his father. Even though his father is being magnanimous--as I think our God is--he still probably had to wrestle through what it meant to be home, and with his dad again, and would his dad trust him? And would the relationship mend? And I like to think yes, absolutely.

Sister Maxine  
And throughout our life, I think we encounter situations--all of us--that put us in sort of the position that you are in, Noreen, trying to find our way back in relationship. The other thing that is here in your question, Noreen, is the sense of doubting God. And I think that is part of our faith development over time.

Sister Shannon  
Absolutely.

Sister Maxine  
When we are younger, we may have one understanding of God. And as we get older, all of a sudden, we realize, well, not so much. And we have doubts. It may come as doubts about God. But I think that's not unusual.

Sister Shannon  
Often our faith is based on what our teachers told us, what our parents told us, what our grandparents told us. And we have to reach the point in our own spiritual development where we become adults, and we believe because we do believe. I like to think of that as reappropriating our faith as grownups. And so what you've been through, the time of doubt, the so-called six years of not being sure if God was even around, that is so normal and natural. But so is this call to renew that relationship.

Sister Maxine  
Because in a sense, it's reappropriating God, too. You know, the God that you needed when you're a kid is not the same God that you need when you're an adult.

Sister Shannon  
That's right.

Sister Maxine  
 It's also the idea of rebuilding that relationship with God. You know, here we are near Lent, and we look at the idea of prayer. You mentioned, Noreen, crying your prayer, which is good. And there may be other ways. Reading the passages that Shannon suggested might be very good as well.

Sister Shannon  
Even if you consider for a moment, as you prepare for Easter, and you participate in Lent, the beautiful story of Jesus's Agony in the Garden, when he in his own prayer begins to weep, because of what God has called him to and his own feelings. And how he comes through that and is comforted by the presence of God in his prayer. I just think that these 40 days could be very special for Noreen, because she's right there at the edge of recognizing God's action in her life.

Sister Maxine  
And it can be such a time of great vulnerability too. To have that kind of openness, Noreen, of wanting to have that heart-to-heart talk with God, and at the same time feeling like, "Geez, you know, I totally ignored God for six years, and now I'm opening myself up to this relationship and what's God gonna do? And how am I gonna react?" It's a graced place to be, but also a difficult place.

Sister Shannon  
I think, Noreen, consider who are the wisdom people in your life that you might talk with, that you could share this story with. People that you trust, that you know have a faith relationship, that could listen and be a guide for you. It's so important for us to draw upon the wisdom of our community of faith. Because many people have experienced what you have, and might have some wisdom to share with you.

Sister Maxine  
That's a great idea. Because a lot of times, if we are so focused and sort of nervous--and I get a sense of nervousness here from Noreen--on what we have to do to try to make something right, it can be overwhelming. And sometimes we are tougher than other people on ourself. And certainly tougher on ourselves than God would be. And it may help to be with people who aren't going to be as tough as you are on yourself here.

Sister Shannon  
Noreen, you can count on us for prayers for you, as you move through this next development in your relationship with God.

Sister Maxine  
We hope that helps, Noreen. And please keep in touch with us. And we trust that the very best will come of this.

Sister Shannon  
Have a beautiful season of Lent.

Sister Maxine  
Shannon, it has been a wonderful conversation. The questions that we get are so great, and let us have these kinds of conversations. And I so appreciate that.

Sister Shannon  
I do too. And I love that they get us to think about all of the connections that are there in our faith tradition, and they connect with the scriptures and they connect with our religious life. And they connect with what it means to be a human and be in relationship with God. And I always walk away with more to think about then when I came through the door.

Sister Maxine  
I do too. And for the questions that we take, for the people who sent those in--all of you are always part of my prayer, too. I think about how you're doing. I'm so grateful to be part of that journey with you.

Sister Shannon  
If this wasn't just audio, but was visual, you would see that I carry with me every time a folder that contains all the questions and all the names and all the individuals who have contacted us. And that serves for me as a way to remember and pray for all of you.

Sister Maxine  
So, everybody, please know that you're in our prayers and if you have questions, please send them in. We'd love to receive them and respond to them. Well, friends, that's our show for today. 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 an 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.

 

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