Shedding Our Leaves to Grow

Autumn foliage along the Mississippi River, near the Benedictine Sisters St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Ill.

Read Nancy’s wonderful discernment prayer comparing her life to autumn in “A Time to Plant,” below. Leaves must fall before new growth can begin, she says, and I agree! In our lives we must shed our old leaves in order to grow.

Discernment is a Paschal Mystery walk, where we pray to let go of what we cling to and learn to embrace what God sets before us. What is it in our lives that God is nudging us to change and to move beyond? These difficult inner movements require a listening heart, a trusting heart and an attentive heart. We must die to our desires and comforts in order for God to break through with God’s desires for us.

The Paschal Mystery – Jesus letting go of human life – went beyond the everyday to embrace God’s plan of resurrection and eternal life. Our discernment journey may ask the same of us – to let go of the familiar, the everyday – in order to embrace God’s plan for us. Not an easy journey but a transformative journey – where we are more deeply responding to God’s new life for us.

Your Gifts

Stefanie posted two great prayers this week regarding discernment (in “A Time to Plant,” below). What struck me was each prayer referred to knowing your gifts and how best to use them in service of God and God’s People. That is the crux of discernment!

Here’s what I mean: While our Benedictine community has the gift of leading a rhythmic life of prayer and work, other communities are quite different. Many emphasize work more than living in community and sharing prayer. Some are cloistered and emphasize prayer over work. Our community values living together at the monastery, following a balanced life of prayer and work. Other communities allow Sisters to live wherever their jobs take them, often living alone or in small groups.

Do your gifts emphasize prayer, community and ministry? If so, visit our Benedictine community! If your gift is to do ministry without such an emphasis on life and prayer in community, an Apostolic community may be your match.

Know yourself, your gifts and how you are called to use them in your life. Try using Stefanie’s prayers as a guide to your reflection.