Category Archives: My Vocation Story

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Well, it’s definitely high time for an update; I would like to apologize and offer an explanation for my long absence.

Confusion and DepressionAs most of you know, I intended to enter a religious community in August, and basically the whole point of this blog was to express WHY I felt called so strongly to religious life. God, however, threw me for a loop. When I attended my pre-postulancy week in midsummer of 2014, I was asked to wait before entering. Initially, I was very confused and hurt by this decision (which is mostly why I have avoided writing); naturally, I, a self-centered human being, assumed I knew myself best. I beat myself up trying to figure out why I wasn’t ready, what I could have done better to show my Superiors who I really am, etc..

All the while, I was terribly afraid. What if I went to pre-postulancy week every year, and every year they asked me to wait? What if they decided I wasn’t called to this order and rejected me permanently? What if I could never see my Sister-friends again? How did I know this was God’s will for my life? Struggling and beaten down, I was forced to rapidly figure out what I was going to do with my life (or at least, a year). It was too late to apply for college without racking up a severe amount of tuition-induced-debt, I didn’t have a job or a car or even my driver’s license, but the Sisters had specifically requested that I move out of my parent’s house in order to gain independence and maturity.

In retrospect, I can see how stupid I was being. Did I not trust that God would take care of me? I so often worried about theTrust in Him future that I didn’t take the time to enjoy the present. When I found a perfect job as a nanny, I did not rejoice; I was only filled with more anxiety that I would randomly be fired, that I wasn’t really capable of fulfilling my duties, or that I wouldn’t be able to find an apartment with nice roommates, and so on and so forth. The first few months were really tough; I had no idea how to budget my money, deal with conflict, “raise” children, make new friends (I had lost practically ALL of my old friends to, what I like to call, the college-epidemic), or talk to adults as if I could possible consider myself almost equal to them.

His grace was abundant in my trial. Through my sufferings, I began to see His hand. I began to understand myself and my situation more clearly. My tears watered the soil at my feet, and His love kissed my little sprout with sunshine until I finally began to grow. Growth, like God, is mysterious: you feel the same for ages, but you eventually look in the mirror to notice that you’ve BLOSSOMED.

Now, I see the beauty of motherhood that I could never have seen if I had entered the convent right away. I love my job. I love my roommate, my church, my choir, my new friends, and my LIFE. I’m looking forward to attending college in the fall (I’m majoring in psychology and minoring in theater), but right now, I just want to enjoy this moment. I want to be in love with every embarrassing thing I say, every mistake I make, every pain and illness, every awkward moment… because THOSE are the times when I grow. A dormant seed may be safe, but it can never be as beautiful as even the most twisted of trees.

Please pray for me as I continue my year of trial OPPORTUNITY.

Still More Beautiful Than a Seed

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My Vocation Story (Part III)

Singin' in the Rain“I’m singin’ in the rain, just singin’ in the rain! What a glorious feelin’, I’m happy again!” This song became my theme, my philosophy, my mantra, my life. I literally sang it wherever I went. It is true that after I had left my beautiful retreat, my circumstances in life hadn’t changed one bit; it was still raining and dark, but simultaneously, everything about me had changed. I was happy again!

Honestly, it was kind of a discombobulating experience because I hadn’t experienced true joy in such a long time. At first, I didn’t even recognize what I was feeling. I was amazed by the miracle of experiencing Jesus through such a simple prayer. I reflected on that encounter many times over the next few weeks, and I began to truly understand what my heart had said to Him that night.

In my darkness and despair, my heart had opened itself to the Beloved and called, “My Lord! Please, send me a friend.” In the moment, the Holy Spirit, who can transcend all barriers, leapt into my heart and answered my prayer.

 

When I asked for a friend, He gave me Himself.

 

Who could experience God in such a profound and intimate way and leave unchanged? Certainly not I, the lowest of the low. The flame of love burst forth from my heart and filled my soul with its heavenly Light. But at the same time that I was truly satisfied, I hungered and thirsted for more.

That fall, I began to attend a youth group at a beautiful Dominican parish in my area. Through the help of the youth minister and my newfound friends, I began to grow in faith and virtue. Naturally, it wasn’t long before I again began seriously discerning my vocation.

At first, I was adamantly convinced that I could never become a religious sister or nun because I just loved children too much. Fortunately, that excuse was obliterated because Sisters are called to be spiritual mothers to everyone. I continued to think of other excuses, though, which barred my search for truth (ex: I’m not worthy; God doesn’t really want that, He’s just testing me; I couldn’t stand to just pray all day long; etc.). Gradually, all the pieces in my vocational puzzle began to fall into place despite my protests.

A few weeks into the school year, I had been caught off guard by several hints dropped right in a row. The first happened when I told a group of friends about my vision of Jesus proposing to me, and one of them responded with, “You are going to be such a cute nun!” Later that same night, my dad asked me if I had considered becoming a nun. The next day, my little sister came home from school and asked me if I was going to become a nun. At this point, I feel like Jesus was chucking bricks at my head, wondering if I would ever get the picture.

The final piece fell into place during adoration. I was lying, prostrate, on the ground in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and I was Sacred Heart of Jesusrandomly consumed with His peace. My eyes were closed, but I saw Him standing before me. At first, the vision was the same as when I was a child. Everything about it was so beautiful and serene and timeless; it was as if I had entered my own private sanctuary within the Heart of Jesus.

In the moment when I felt like I couldn’t possibly hold any more joy, the image faded and changed. In the new perspective, Jesus was no longer on that beautiful balcony of eternity because He had entered my dark little room. I could imagine Him saying to me, “You don’t have to come to me. I am already here; I am always with you. Open your heart to me, and I will give you rest.”

I knew what He wanted of me, and in an instant, I gave my Fiat. Immediately, I was filled to overflowing with peace, love, and joy. All of my worries, fears, and inhibitions were swept away in the currents of His mercy and compassion.

All things fell into their proper place throughout the rest of the year, and now I am pleased to tell you that I have been officially accepted for entrance with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. My new life begins on the feast of St. Augustine, August 28, 2014. Please pray for me during this time of waiting, and know that I will always be praying for you.

Remember, if God can change the life of one selfish little girl, nothing can stop Him from changing your life too. Open your heart to Him, and be free.

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

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My Vocation Story (Part II)

Jesus Fighting the DevilThe darkness was cunning and elusive. Pain filled my heart with every encounter, with every step, and with every beat of my heart, but I could not understand what was wrong with me. I walked slowly up the steps of the retreat center on that fateful morning in July. I walked past many familiar faces, and my heart sank because I knew those people did not remember me.

Everything about the first day of retreat was awkward: Mass was awkward, recreation was awkward, meal time was awkward, small group discussion was awkward, bedtime was awkward, and I was awkward. During the times of greatest loneliness, I clung to my best friends, but I didn’t realize this “clingy” attitude was actually hurting my ability to make new friends.

The second day was almost as bad as the first. I felt lonelier than I had ever felt in my entire life. Also, my small group was volunteering at a local nursing home, and I had never before realized how much elderly people frightened me. I was terrified that I would accidentally hurt someone! I then experienced one of the most embarrassing moments of my life when I started sobbing in the middle of small-group discussion. To make matters worse, a little cut in my ankle started to swell up and hurt really badly. That evening, one of the youth ministers called my mom, and they decided that I would have to leave the next day in order to go to Urgent Care.

There is only one reason why the second day was not one-thousand times worse than the first. This reason can be expressed in two words: Eucharistic Adoration. Of course, I had Eucharistic Adorationgone to Adoration before, but I hadn’t really felt a true connection with Jesus in the Monstrance. In humility, shame, and fear, I had always kept my eyes to the ground; even if I had taken my eyes off the floor, I wouldn’t have seen Him because my vision was blurred with bitter tears.

That night at Adoration (also known as “Holy Spirit Fire Hour”) started out like all the others. Within minutes, I was crying with my head bowed down to the floor. Sometimes, the youth minister would pray out loud. Most of the time, I wasn’t paying much attention to what he said, but there was one time that his words cut right through my pain and despair. He said that in his mind, he saw a beautiful girl. The girl was crying, and she couldn’t look up at Jesus. He said that Jesus didn’t want the girl to be sad; He wanted her to look up and see His Face. I doubt the youth minister was talking about me, but his words touched me so very deeply. At that moment, I looked up at the Monstrance, and I was filled with emotion. For the first time in many years, a tiny flame of Hope was lit deep within my heart of hearts.

I surprised myself the next day at how much I really wanted to stay at the retreat. When we had first made the plans for my mom to pick me up to go to Urgent Care, a part of me wanted to just leave the retreat and not ever come back. But when my mom picked me up after breakfast on the third day, I was reluctant to leave.

After the doctor examined my ankle, she said that I probably shouldn’t go back to the retreat that day because my infection was so bad. She also said that if the swelling didn’t go down, I would have to go to the Emergency Room and I wouldn’t be able to go back to the retreat at all. I went home and stayed in bed the rest of the day, all the while praying fervently that the swelling would go down.

Two of the beautiful ladies at the nursing home that I fell in love with!

Two of the beautiful ladies at the nursing home that I fell in love with!

I awoke early the next morning, and I was overjoyed when my mom said I could go back to the retreat. The forty-five minute drive to the retreat center had never felt longer! When I finally arrived, I nearly cried because I was so happy and relieved. That day, I began to feel a beautiful change in my interior disposition. Although I still felt awkward, an immense love was growing in my heart that I just had to share with everyone. I stated making friends rapidly. The people at the nursing home no longer scared me; instead, I began to fall in love with each and every person I met at the nursing home.

Little by little, I started to crawl out of my shell and reach out to other people. And I prayed like crazy: I prayed by myself, I prayed in small groups, I prayed in large groups, I prayed silently, I prayed out loud, I prayed in joy, I prayed in love, I prayed in sadness, and I prayed in loneliness. It is true that I was healing, but I was not yet fully healed. I was still lonely, and I still despaired. I was just happy that I could finally be happy!

Unfortunately, I was a very slow learner. It wasn’t long before I sat in Adoration again with my eyes on the ground, filled with tears. It turns out that the night I missed was, supposedly, the most powerful night of adoration. I began to hear people’s testimonies, and their stories made me feel sad and very small. I heard of the huge ways they were impacted by Jesus’ love. Many people received visions, tears, laughter, and enormous peace. I began to wonder why I was not worthy to receive those things, too. I wished to see Jesus’ Face and to hear His Voice. That night, I cried myself to sleep.

The next day, during one of the talks, we were all instructed to write a letter to God. I cried while I wrote these words: “Jesus, I love you, and I need you. I ask you to help me not to feel so lonely and to be content with your presence when no one else is there. I love you so much! Thank you for everything you have done for me. I love you. I love you. I love you! Love Forever,” and in place of my signature, I drew a simple picture of a rising sun.

Adoration the final day of retreat was the most powerful experience of my entire life. It was a bit rocky for me in the beginning because I was still feeling desolate, but everythingPraising! changed dramatically when I asked one of the youth ministers to pray with me. As asked our dear Lord to heal me of my loneliness, I was suddenly and unexpectedly filled so entirely with the Love of Jesus that I felt I might die from Love! He pierced through my darkness and enlightened my life. After he finished praying, the youth minister handed me a Bible. I was shaking so badly I could barely turn the pages. I read a passage about someone being raised from the dead, and I knew in my heart that I, too, was resurrected that night.

The retreat ended shortly after my Encounter with the Lord, and I felt drunk on His Love. I thought that I would never be able to experience something as powerful as that ever again, but little did I know that His wonders were just beginning.

To be continued…

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My Vocation Story (Part I)

Bride  Every little girl I know has, at one time or another, dreamed of marriage. They all dream of walking down that church aisle in a white dress and veil, holding their father’s hand. They imagine the moment of intense joy when they release their father’s hand and walk into the arms of their bridegroom. I too dream of marriage, but my picture is very different. I imagine walking down the aisle in a white dress, but my veil is black; I hold my Father’s hand, but I don’t have to let go in order to take the hand of my Bridegroom because my Father and my Husband are One.

It was at the age of seven when I began discerning my call to the religious life. When I was sitting in the dark of my basement one evening, a beautiful image flashed before my mind’s eye. In the vision, I saw myself standing in a dark room. The room was small and quaint, but in front of me were two doors opened to a glorious balcony. While the room I stood in was made of wood, the balcony was finely crafted from marble. Although my room seemed small and down-to-earth, the balcony floated high above the ground, encircling a palace. The balcony was exquisite, of course, but its beauty paled against the elegance of the person I saw.

Kneeling before me was our Lord, Jesus Christ. Wrapped in the light of the sun, it seemed as if He brought the blue to the sky and the white to the clouds; all earth’s splendor came spilling from His humble frame. Even though He was kneeling and I was standing, we were at eye level with one another. I just stared at His beautiful face for what seemed like forever, but my eyes were soon drawn towards His hand. His left hand was outstretched, and He held a tiny, blue box in His palm. The box, which was open, held a simple, gold ring.

After I had looked upon the contents of the blue box, the image faded from existence.

At first, I was awestruck; I just sat in the darkness, and I didn’t move for a long time. I couldn’t believe that Jesus might be calling me to be His bride. When my sister came into the room, I told her all about my vision. Unfortunately for me, she said it was probably just my imagination. Because of her simple statement of doubt, I too doubted my vocation for a Sistersvery long time.

Almost as quickly as my discernment started, it ended. As I grew up, I became consumed with the things of this world. In high-school, I focused more on my career than on my vocation. The craft I chose for myself was theater; I took many classes and I grew every day as a performer, but I never felt truly fulfilled. There was always something missing, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I tried to fill that hole with all sorts of things: books, television, friends, and eventually boys. I fell away from prayer, I fell away from Jesus, and I fell away from LIFE.

My existence became murky, depressing, and lonely. I was getting everything I ever wanted, but I had never felt so empty. During this time, I did go to one discernment retreat, but I blocked out God and convinced myself that I was called to the married life. My argument was that the one thing in life I most desired was to have children, and God would give me that desire if it wasn’t attainable. My faulty logic concluded that just because the desire COULD be attained meant that I SHOULD attain it.

At the end of my junior year of high school, I finally broke. My whole life fell to pieces. I thought I ruined my chances of becoming an actor, my relationship with my parents, and my life. During this time, I was actually in the middle of a theater production. Most days, I was not a pretty sight to behold. I was judgmental, prideful, envious, flirtatious, and self-conscious. When I wasn’t pretending to be a whole person, I was crying backstage. I was so tired of living a lie, but I was more afraid of being rejected by the few friends I had.

My St. Therese CostumeLater that summer, in a moment of desperation, I signed up for a week-long retreat with my best friend’s youth group. Honestly, I was only going because I wanted to be with my friends. How could I have known what God really had in store for me?

   To be continued….

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