mystery - Related Content

What if it's you?

Thursday, May 4th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Every now and then the concept of which came first—the chicken or the egg—pops into my mind, particularly when I am pondering something mysterious. I often allow myself a few moments to think about the possibilities but, as of now, I have yet to come up with an answer. As both are important, does it really matter which one was first? I choose to acknowledge that, in a world of fact finding literally at our fingertips, living with a little bit of the unknown is nice.

As I consider the mystery of how each person in the world discovers their unique vocation, I am intrigued. Almost overnight the world grows in complexity and innovation with new career options to explore, intriguing paths to follow. And within the infinite array of possibilities it’s remarkable each time someone says “yes” to their calling in life. It’s incredible when someone says “yes” to discernment.

One of the indispensable tools to use while discerning religious life is prayer. Praying to God for guidance and inspiration is essential. Friends and family also pray for discerners. The circle gets even wider when you consider that the whole Catholic church is praying for you too.


Mary of the Angels Chapel (image courtesy of Viterbo University)

It’s challenging to absorb the fact that people you don’t know, who you may never meet, are supporting your discernment through prayer. Each time a petition is read at church, prayer circles meet and parents pray for their children, vocational journeys are in motion. You may be unaware of the prayer surrounding you, but it’s there. 

Formally, across the world, parishes will join together on May 7 and pray for all discerners as we celebrate World Day of Prayer for Vocations. As communities access the needs in their cities they may pray that you are the one to come and serve; that your specific gifts and talents are the answer to their search for help.

What if it’s you they’re praying for? Are you prepared to say “yes” and choose life as a sister, brother, priest, deacon or lay minister to serve the people of God? Are you willing to also pray for others to join you?

This week, pray for openness to attune to the needs of the world. As you join your faith community in praying for vocations, ask yourself if the petition is spoken for you.

If so, how are you going to respond?

Finding mystery in the fog

Monday, April 11th 2016 11:29 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

fog over landscape

The weather here in Wisconsin has been a bit confusing lately. One morning it is sunny with unseasonably warm temperatures and the next it’s cloudy and flurries are blowing through the trees. And on several recent mornings I have encountered fog.

I find fog has a variety of effects on me: frustration and fear because I can no longer see what is in front of me; wonder as I watch it crawl across the Mississippi River; and inspiration when I see the first sunbeams reveal the beauty around me. If we are willing to acknowledge it, fog has the ability to be a gift and offer moments of transformation. It invites all of us to slow down and be present to what is right in front of us. When we walk or drive through fog, the way forward can be revealed in small sections of the roadway. We have to rely on that now moment—not what we see a few minutes down the road but what is right in front of us. We can’t spend time looking back or too far forward. 

Have you ever thought about how fog can be a gift found in your discernment journey? Discernment can be filled with many foggy moments: moments in which we want to see through it, to know what we will encounter. Fog can be a symbol of the mystery that we walk in each day as we discern the next part of our life journey. Perhaps in these foggy moments we can take time to pause and ponder what the now moment is inviting us to. 

Can you find your own mystery in the fog? 

Photo credit: Amy Taylor, FSPA

I have no magic words

Thursday, November 3rd 2016 3:16 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Traveling across the country, meeting a variety of people in and around the world of discernment, I encounter two questions—open ended, probably pervasive in all aspects of life—time and time again:

“How long will this take?”

“How will I know?”

Photo credit:

And I've actually been faced (more than once) with the plea, “Can’t you just tell me what to do?” 

Of course, I have no direct answer to provide to a discerner of religious life, no magic words to give. Discernment carries mystery within it. It’s not a step-by-step process that if followed will yield a nice shiny product of a vocation. It’s the industrial model that one has to let go of. Each step is different and what worked for someone else may not work for you. There is no assembly line cranking out one-size-fits-all discernment t-shirts.  

Timing is another open-ended aspect that varies from person to person. Comparison is not helpful. You may have started a discernment process at the same time as someone else and their movement may appear to be faster or slower. But it’s not a competition. Running or dragging your feet to keep the same pace as someone else is not an authentic experience. Trees, each having within itself a sense of when it’s ready to let go of its leaves, are an excellent example of this statement. Two trees of the same variety planted side by side sometimes have totally different timings; one drops its leaves early and the other may hold on for a few weeks longer. In the end they will both move on in the season, just not dependent upon each other. It is humans who place judgment on the difference.

Questions to ponder this week…

Are you more concerned about the getting there and the need to know the answer than participating in the unfolding of your discernment experience?

How are you comparing or competing in your discernment? 

Are you finding more questions? Click here to view resources for discerning religious life.

Sister Katie: ordinary day, invitation to pray

Tuesday, August 29th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Katie Mitchell, FSPA


One of my most cherished ways of praying is eucharistic prayer, but lately I’ve been challenging myself to turn the seemingly ordinary routines of daily life into moments of deep prayer. 


Recognizing and encountering God in my daily life helps me see that intimacy with God is not separate from day-to-day life. Moments of deep contemplative prayer are accessible each moment of the day! The warmth of sunshine, going about my daily ministry, accepting disappointments, listening attentively to another, forgiving someone, experiencing joy and accepting what ought not to be, (as well as experiences of community, family life and friendship) are some of what I’m seeing as places of grace where God communicates in the deepest center of my being. For me it has also meant rereading my past with wonder and new eyes and seeing how God has been there in even the difficult moments. The most difficult of situations, the most humble of tasks, and the most ordinary of days are an invitation to prayer and to knowing the mystery of God at work in my life.

Franciscan Way is a series featuring original prayer by Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

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