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Archive for the ‘Becoming A Providence Associate’ Category

 

In just over a month, I will make my commitment as an Associate with the Sisters of Providence. I’m not really sure where this journey will take me, but I do know that God has led me down this path and He will reveal His purpose in His time. I started this journey 6 years ago and it has taken me this long to stop fighting Him and trying to make my own path and trust God to put me where He wants me. I have tried to make my own path. I have tried this and that trying to find God’s will for my life, but God brings me back to this magical place, affectionately called, “the Woods” and under the loving care of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Sisters of Providence. God continues to keep me here. This is my home. I know that once I make that commitment, I will find my place and God will be able to use me to bring love, mercy and justice into the world. I have said before that commitments are scary for me. I am afraid that once people get to know me, they will reject me. I need to step out of my fear. I need to allow the love of the Sisters to embrace me and maybe even heal me from my fears and anxieties. It is a safe place. I need to allow myself to be open to the love of these women. WOW! I need to accept that I am worthy of love. I have come a long way in the 6 1/2 years of employment with the Sisters, but I find myself still reserved. I am still not sure that anyone could love me just for who I am, imperfections and all. I am learning. I am growing. I think, maybe this is why God has placed me here, to be able to feel the unconditional love of these women. It is a safe, healing place. I feel like a butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis. I have been locked up in this self imposed cocoon and I am ready to break free and fly into my God given purpose.

 

I am trembling at the prospect of completely baring my soul and letting these loving women know my heart, but I trust in the Providence that brought me here and I know that I am in a safe place.

Below is my Commitment Statement:

Providence Associate Commitment

I, Patti Burris, as an associate with the Sisters of Providence of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, commit myself to be faithful to the spirit of the Congregation for one year. Through this relationship, I will strive to the best of my ability to support and further the mission of Providence.

I understand that as a Providence Associate, I am responding to an invitation from God to unite with you, my sisters and associates, to more fully live the vision of Providence in the world. In God’s presence and with God’s grace, I choose to make a commitment that will honor Divine Providence and further God’s loving plans through works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people. I choose to this in the following ways:

*Pray daily the Litany of Non-Violence.
*Participate in community celebrations, gatherings, enrichment programs and retreats as feasible.
*Give mutual support to one another, sisters, and associates in times of celebration and grief.
*Meet together with associates and sisters in local areas for prayer, reflection, socially and for peace and justice activities.
*Keep informed of Congregation news and information through communications and publications.
*Live the mission and charism of Providence in my daily life, work and ministry.
*Delve more deeply into the charism and mission of the Sisters of Providence through reading, reflection, prayer, conversation and participation.
*Participate in works, ministries, social justice activities and volunteer service with the Sisters of Providence.
*Pray on a regular basis for Sisters and Associates.

I am embarking on a great journey and I am excited to see what God is up to!

 

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I emailed my letter of intent, stating that I want to continue in my journey of becoming a Providence Associate. The picture above is a beautiful path that can be found right outside the door of my workplace. It is the path I often take, at the end of a long day, to get to my car. I never fail to feel the stress of the day wash away as the peace of this magical place fills my heart and revives my soul. Along this path is where I have contemplated my purpose in becoming a Providence Associate. I have named it my Path of Intentions.

What are my intentions? I have thought and prayed about this. I know that my intentions are to grow closer in prayer, ministry and personal relationships to these women that I have grown to love. I don’t know yet how that will play out. I don’t know how God will interweave my life into the fabric that is the history and legacy of a congregation of women who are strong, courageous, intelligent, and filled with faith, love, mercy and justice. I don’t know how God will use me as an Associate. I don’t even know if I am worthy of the role. I do know one thing:

 

This journey must lead me closer to Jesus. Just as this statue of my Savior is found at the end of my Path of Intentions, this journey with the Sisters of Providence must lead me closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I am looking forward to serving the Sisters and others with love, mercy and justice.

 

 

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I love this picture of myself and my companion, Sister Kay. I am honored that this is the picture on the Associate poster with the caption: stronger together. As Sister Kay and I have walked through the 6 integration units together, I have learned so much about myself, the Sisters, and providence. We have become friends and I cherish the time we have spent together.

Stronger together. As the Sisters grow older and gradually come home to “The Woods,” we, as associates, have the job of being providence in the world around us. It is our job to live out the charism of the Sisters of Providence by bringing love, mercy and justice into our sphere of influence. We can not do it alone. We need the support, prayers, encouragement and love of the Sisters to keep us going. We need to come back to the motherhouse to connect and strengthen each other so that we all may have the courage to continue the journey that our dear Saint Mother Theodore started those many many years ago. We need each other. I am blessed to be included in this community of Sisters and associates. I am excited to see where this journey will lead. I am somewhat anxious as I step out of my comfort zone, but I will eagerly embrace the challenge, as I walk arm in arm with the Sisters and fellow associates. We are indeed, stronger together.

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Deep within us

Is the power to change our lives

Heal the broken

Loose the bound

Live welcoming to all

(author unknown)

The congregation logo for the Sisters of Providence is, “Breaking boundaries, creating hope.” Throughout His ministry, Jesus was about the business of breaking boundaries and creating hope in the lives of the hopeless and oppressed all around Him. The above poem is a beautiful representation of how Jesus lived those last years in His ministry. He broke the boundaries of what was culturally correct in His day to create hope for those who so desperately needed hope in their lives.

What is hope? 

Instead of giving you the standard dictionary definition, I am going to give you my definition.

Hope is the unwavering certainty that no matter what chaos is playing itself out in the world or in our own personal circumstances, God is at work in the midst of it. He is in control and there is nothing and no one that can stand between us and His will for us. He works for the good of those who love Him and He always will. 

There are so many people who live without hope in their lives. They don’t know the hope that a relationship with Jesus brings. How can we bring hope to those that we come across on a daily basis?

Luke 19:10 tells us that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. This was the basis for His ministry. Jesus did that through healing the broken, loosing the bound, and welcoming the poor in spirit. This unit challenged me to think of life as ministry. I was challenged to open my eyes and my heart to the ministry opportunities in my daily life. Life is a ministry. A wise Sister told me a few months ago that my job in the food service dept. with the Sisters of Providence was a ministry. She wanted me to see that I make a difference in the lives of the Sisters and their guests simply by my willingness to be present. It has not been easy for me to see my job as a ministry. In my mind I didn’t see ministry as serving these women of God who do so much to serve others. because of the words of this wise Sister, I have started to see that my presence, my smile (even when I’m tired), my prayers, are indeed a ministry and I can think of no better way to serve these beautiful women. I have spent so much time frustrated because God would not place me in a “full-time ministry” position, when I have been in one all along.

When we open our hearts and our eyes to the pain in the world around us, God will give us opportunities to heal the broken, loose the bound and welcome the poor in spirit. I have found my ministry. I am to stand with the Sisters, fight injustice, love my neighbor and have mercy on all. I am to live as Jesus lived: life as ministry.

 

 

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Relationships can be hard. They cause you to be vulnerable. They cause you to trust that someone else will accept you imperfections and all. That they will be there, even when you blow it big time. That they will forgive you when you cause them pain. Relationships cause you to forgive when that someone else hurts you. Relationships cause you to open up your heart to the best and the worst in someone else and know that the relationship can withstand the tests of time. Relationships are not easy for me. I usually run before I can get to close. Other than my kids, grandkids, ex-husband and his wife, I have no other close relationships. I have no close friends, because I am afraid of opening myself up to that level of vulnerability. I am afraid of being judged. I am afraid of being rejected. I am afraid of being abandoned.

God is calling me into deeper relationship with the Sisters of Providence. I have tried to run from this relationship in the past, but God keeps me here. I have so much to learn from the Sisters and I have so much to give.

I do not make commitments lightly. For me, a commitment is a dedication of oneself to someone, a community or a cause. Honestly, I have made commitments and have backed out because of my fear of failure. I have made commitments and then have run because those commitments involve relationships.

In this process of becoming a Providence Associate, God is molding me and shaping me into something beautiful. It is sometimes painful though. During my time with God this morning, He spoke these words to my spirit, “Until you are fully committed, I cannot use you here.” These words broke me. To know that I am standing in the way of God using me fully breaks my heart. I have fought for so long to be away from this place that is called Terre Haute that it has become second nature. The grass is always greener in another city, or another place. God cannot use me until I become fully committed to being here in Terre Haute and to the Sisters of Providence. God also spoke to me through my daily Bible reading; Proverbs 12:11 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. There are times in our lives when God has to be real with us or we may never get it.

The questions I have to ask myself are: am I ready to fully commit myself to the Sisters of Providence as an Associate? Am I ready to fully open myself up to that vulnerability that comes with building close relationships? Am I ready to open up my heart and share myself, imperfections and all with these Sisters that I love? Am I ready to trust them with my heart?

YES! I am ready! Every day is a challenge. There are times when I feel that I have shared to much and I want to run. There are times when I don’t get the reaction that I was looking for and I take it as rejection, so I want to run. My challenge is to allow those times to draw me closer to the ONE who loves me UNCONDITIONALLY and allow Him to mold me as I learn to be vulnerable.

There was one other impression that God implanted on my spirit today. God wants me to quit trying to plan my life around the needs of other people or my need to want to be around certain people in my life. I am to put HIM first. I have to be fully committed to God first. I am guilty of this. Unintentionally, I have tried to shove God into my need to be closer to so and so. It doesn’t work that way. I have to be fully present and fully committed to God and what is in my life right now. I have to stop trying to run away and focus on those who are in my life right now. Okay, I’m listening God.

I am excited and scared to see what is around the corner as I fully commit myself to God and as I fully commit myself to this relationship with the Sisters of Providence. But, I am ready. The Sisters have opened up their hearts and their community to me and I am ready to trust them with who I am.

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spritual-practices

 

Spiritual practices, spiritual disciplines, and Christian principles are all different names for the things we do to have a relationship with God and grow in our Christian walk. We each should have those practices that we do alone and then the practices we do as a community of believers. Practices are not meant to be legalistic things that we HAVE to do to be right with God. Some of them are things that God does require, but He wants us to enjoy spending time with Him in worship and prayer. God wants us to enjoy our relationship with Him.

My personal practices are: Prayer, Bible study (just started using the Lectio Divina for this), Fasting (from technology one day a week), giving as God leads, Serving as God leads, disciple-making, worshipping God in my daily life, along with a few others I practice as the Holy Spirit leads.

In a corporate setting, I practice: Worship of God as creator and my Holy Father, prayer, serving, and a few others as the Holy Spirit leads.

The one practice that I learned from this unit was the Lectio Divina. I had heard of this practice, but as with many Catholic practices, I assumed it was some really complicated practice that I would never be able to understand as a non-Catholic. I was amazed at how simple it was to do and what an impact it has had on my christian walk, already. The Associate handbook describes it as the “prayer of the heart.” I wanted to include a simple summary of the steps here, because I have really enjoyed the practice in my private devotional time.

Step 1: Reading: Take a simple passage from your daily reading that really spoke to you. Just a verse or two that you want to delve into further. What is the context of the passages you have chosen? What is going on in these passages?

Step 2: Meditation: Take the time to meditate on the passage. What is God saying to you through the passage? Is God trying to reveal something to you in this passage? Is God telling you to implement a part of the passage into your everyday life? How will you do that?

Step 3: Prayer: Pray about what the passage is saying to you. Talk to God about any emotions you may feel about the passage or what you are feeling led to do. Don’t hold anything back. Tell God everything that is on your heart.

Step 4: Action: What action do you need to take? How is the Holy Spirit leading you to act on the passage you have read?

I encourage you to research the Lectio Divina for yourself and see if it is a practice you want to implement in your life. There are many books and websites on spiritual practices. I challenge you to do some research and see which practices God is leading you to implement in your daily life. Remember: practices are not supposed to be legalistic, but a way to enjoy our relationship with God. If a practice becomes forced, then something is not right and you need to pray for a solution. I have changed my prayer practices many times. I want my prayer life to be a way for me to connect deeply with God. When I feel that something is being forced, I change it.

The two main practices that ALL christians should put into practice are prayer and Bible study. If you are a new Christian then focus on these two practices for now. The main thing is to enjoy your relationship with God. Finding ways to connect on a deeper level to the ONE who created us. If you need guidance or prayer, I am just an email away. Be blessed, my friends!

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spirituality

 

I have been blessed in that my image of God has never been impacted by the circumstances of my life. I have never seen God as anything other than loving, compassionate, wise, protective, and as my provider. I have never blamed God for any negative situations in my life and I never felt that He abandoned me. Yes, there have been times when I felt disconnected, but I knew that was on me. God didn’t move away from me. I moved away from Him.

Our image of God is often impacted by our relationship with our earthly parents, our circumstances in life, and/or any traumatic events that we may experience. When something bad happens, we question God. Why wasn’t God there? Is He really in control? Why would a loving God let such a thing happen? God gives us free will. It is up to us whether we use that free will for the good or bad. Some of us will give in to the lies of satan and will choose to walk in sin, doing evil to those around us. When people do evil things, God is still there. He is still there to help us pick up the pieces. He is still there to grieve with us. If we did not have free will, we would be puppets, living at the whim of the puppet master. God often uses evil to bring about blessings to the world. He loves us and walks through EVERY experience with us. He has not left us or abandoned us. He waits for us to call to Him in the chaos.

If you have survived through an act of evil, are living through oppression, or are dealing with a person that is hard to deal with, I urge you to call out to Him who wants to help you. Don’t try to deal with your circumstances on your own. God is there in the midst of the struggle and He is waiting for you to call on Him for help. Don’t wait! Allow Him to heal the scars of the past and the open wounds of the present so that they don’t carry over into the future. Don’t allow the people in your life or the circumstances in your life to impact how you see God. God is good. God is love. Always. And He will never change.

 

 

 

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