Today I arrived in Rome after a long, two-stop flight from St. Louis. Jetlag is a challenge right now, but it’s great to be back in the Eternal City. I’ll be here for 5 weeks, helping prepare for our September General Chapter, when Ursuline representatives from around the world will gather to reflect on the last six years of our life and mission and discern how God is calling us into the future.
When asked to come for this work, I never dreamed I would be here for a papal conclave. It’s exciting to know what will be happening just across town at the Vatican, and I hope to get over to Piazza San Pietro to see what I can see. But more than that, I’m praying that the cardinals involved in the papal election will do just what we Ursulines will need to do in our General Chapter—ponder the needs of our church and world, get to know each other better, and look for signs of God’s presence, wisdom, light and call. In other words, I hope that discernment will be the name of the game at every step.
Discernment requires looking for signs, not big, showy ones, but gentle signs that flow from listening and praying over questions like the following: In looking at my options, when do I sense a harmony between my desires and God’s guidance? As I reflect on Jesus’ words in the Gospel, is there something that seems to urge me to action? When I consider various choices, what brings me inner peace, energy, and hope; what makes me feel disturbed, troubled, or not my best self? The signs are there, and God is there. We need only be attentive, discerning people.