Saturday, January 13, 2018

My Vocation Crisis


+JMJ+


The other night, I awoke in the middle of the night to a terrible temptation against my vocation, the first one I have ever had:  all of a sudden, I said to myself, "Am I crazy???  Why would I want to totally disrupt my nice life right now... give up all my freedom, my beautiful house, my sweet cats, my friends and comfortable routines, a place I feel completely at home?  Right now, I have it made: I am accountable to no one.  I can eat and drink what I want, sleep and rise when I want, go where I want and when I want, buy just about anything I want... Why on earth should I give all up that for the uncertainty and the restrictions that will come if I join the Sisters of St. Joseph?  I am deliberately choosing a life which will be so much harder than the life I have now: this is an INSANE idea!!!!"

Doing this now, I would be giving up even more than I did when I went to the convent the first time, plus I am proposing to do it in my 70s, when normal people are completely settled and content.  Is this the stupidest move ever, or what?

Of course, I prayed, begging God to relieve me of this horrible doubt... and after a while, He brought back to my mind that time when I first knew that He was calling me, about 35 years ago.  It was when I heard the Gospel--probably at Daily Mass--of the Rich Young Man.  I remember so vividly how I felt when I heard Jesus say to me: "Sell all you have, give to the poor, and come follow Me." I was filled with an indescribable joy and excitement, and I realized at that moment, "YES!  That is exactly what I want to do, what I NEED to do:  and I will never be happy in life if I don't do it.  It's what I was born to do:  I can look back on my entire life, and see now how God was leading me toward that from childhood.  

And in addition, how can I possibly overlook the fact that when I begged God, on the night of March 10, 2016--because I was so miserable about not having fulfilled the vocation I know He gave me--to show me how I could still have a consecrated life, two days later, He showed me exactly where to go?  If that isn't an indication of His Will for me, I don't know what would be.

FINALLY I have found the "one thing necessary" so I am moving forward and never looking back again. 

I have calmed down since this happened, and I can visualize that although there will undoubtedly be a bit of a wrench leaving all this, I can also easily imagine how happy I will be living in Concordia with the Community I have already come to love so much.  Yes, I belong there.  I know I do.  +


Sunday, November 19, 2017

"...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..."


+JMJ+

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  
Romans 8:28

This past Spring, I had a fight with Fr. Mario--and although I have begged him to forgive me, he either could not, or would not--and it has been miserable to be there ever since, because he is cold and distant all the time.  He warned me that he would be, but I truly believed that because he is a priest, he would eventually forgive me--but he hasn't.  I pray for him a lot, because I believe that the kind of pride he has, is deadly to the soul.  Perhaps because of his cultural background, he is obsessed with receiving respect, but that is not how Jesus wants His priests to be, not how He wants any of us to be:  we must be meek and humble, like Him. 

Today, however, I realized that although I have been suffering for months because of this, God actually used my fight with Fr. Mario to get me to leave Our Lady of Perpetual Help!  There is so much fervor and devotion in the congregation at St. Theresa's--it's completely different from the congregation at OLPH, which feels very lukewarm in comparison--and I love the diversity at St. Theresa's!  

They say the Rosary before Mass.  People don't come in and chat in the pews before Mass starts--it's quiet and people are praying!  Fr. Joe is such a good preacher:  his homily this morning was exactly what I needed to hear.. he talked about how he resisted his vocation, and lately I have been feeling great fear about disrupting my life so much.  I have lived in Carrollton for so long, I am very settled here.

In order to become a Sister, I have to leave my beloved friends here.  I have to clean out and sell two, maybe three houses--one of which I just bought and really love.  I have to find homes for a bunch of cats.  I have to arrange for care for my parents.  I have to MOVE TO KANSAS! 

I have secretly been feeling like maybe it's TOO HARD, and I just can't do it!  But after what Father Joe said today, I know I can do it, I know I must do it, and I know that God will help me do it.  So, Father Mario really did me a favor by chasing me out of his parish!  I now see that being forced to leave OLPH is really God's blessing for me! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

From Among All Women


+JMJ+




Perhaps it is because I am thinking about the Birth of Mary, which is celebrated in the Liturgy today... but for some reason, I cannot stop thinking about and rejoicing in the unbelievable way in which God chose me, and how He has pursued me for my entire life.

Me.  Totally ordinary and undeserving.  He loved me and chose me for Himself, for no humanly discernible reason.  There are a million things wrong with me: I am selfish, lazy, irritable, proud, too fat, not pretty... and yet, He chose me!

One of my earliest childhood memories is seeing the Rosary given to my mother by her grandmother, hanging from the mirror on the dresser in her bedroom.  Whenever I was in there, I looked at it longingly.  If there was no one around, I would touch it, because there was something about it that fascinated and attracted me.

When I was a little girl, I used to dress up like a nun, and pretend I was one.  I saved up my allowance until I had enough money to buy my own Rosary and a Crucifix at the local dimestore, hiding it carefully in my room so no one would know.  When I was alone, I propped the Crucifix up on my dresser and knelt in front of it, not really knowing what I was doing.  I took my Rosary to bed with me at night, even though I did not know how to pray with it.   At school, I eagerly eavesdropped during lunch on the conversations of the Catholic kids, as they talked about their preparations for Confirmation. and which Saint's name they were going to choose.

Every time there was a movie on TV about priests or nuns, I watched it, making sure not to let anyone see how interested and moved I was. I'm sure I've seen Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's at least a dozen times each! 

During my own preparation for Confirmation in the Lutheran Church, which our family attended for a few years, God sent His Holy Spirit to show me, when our pastor was trying to prove to us that the Lutheran Church was the One, True, Church--that he was wrong!  --and I resolved at that moment, that someday, I would be Catholic.  And although I did not have the nerve to tell anyone that I did not want to be confirmed as a Lutheran, during the ceremony I kept my fingers crossed behind my back, to signify to God that I knew I was lying, and did not intend to keep the promises I was making that night.

When I walked from my apartment to the campus as a University student, I passed a Catholic Church on the way, and longed to go in, but did not dare.  Although I professed to be an atheist at that time, there was a mysterious attraction I could not understand.

Despite my youthful intention to become a Catholic, as I got older and distracted by college and starting a career, I forgot and did nothing about it for many years--until I happened to be living with a woman who was a lapsed Catholic, and who decided she wanted to return to the Church.  Long story there, but because of that "chance" connection, I finally ended up converting at the age of 34.  Soon after that, I recognized that I was so drawn by love of Christ, that I wanted and needed to give my life to Him completely, so I became a Sister.

I left the convent before taking Final Vows, because I knew the place I had chosen was not really the place I was meant to be--and I made the assumption that it was too late for me to try to live out the vocation I knew I had, because I was too old.   However,  25 years later, when I finally returned to the Faith from which I had drifted away, God took me in His arms again, and suggested to me--through the words of a priest--that I had made a mistake!

A few months after that, in a miraculous answer to a prayer made in the midst of complete despair and anguish, He showed me how I could become a Sister again--to finally, at long last, give Him my life totally, just as He wanted and had invited me to do so many years before.

It has been all His doing, from start to finish.  I have done nothing, barely even responded to the incredible Love He has showered on me my entire life.  I don't deserve it, I know that.  I don't understand it, I know that too.  But all I want is to follow Him completely, give Him my heart and everything I have completely, and never stray from Him again.  My gratitude is indescribable.

 



Thursday, August 24, 2017

Suffering With the Poor






I had never had the nerve to try to learn exactly how Crucifixion kills until recently.  It is even worse than I thought. I imagined myself with Mary at the foot of the Cross, wanting to leave so that I did not have to endure the pain and horror of watching, but unable to go because I could not leave Him, either...and I wept, wishing I could love Him as much as He loves me.

Being with our clients in St. Vincent de Paul is much the same...When we suffer with the people whom God sends to SVDP, we are standing at the foot of the Cross suffering with Jesus, witnessing His suffering, and not turning away--because we don't want to leave Him alone. This is how we can honor Him, this is how we can love Him--by staying there, even though we don't want to.

He would still do it: He would still suffer and die for us, whether we stayed or not--because He loves us THAT much! ... but in some mystical way, we are sharing in His suffering by staying, by going to these people's homes, by hearing what they have to say, by praying with them, and by helping them as best we can-- even though it's never enough.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Virtue of Humility


+JMJ+

With the help of my spiritual director, I am concentrating on trying to develop the virtue of humility--and having set that as my goal, I am finding that God is giving me plenty of chances to grow in this virtue!

 

Until I became a Catholic, I considered humility to be a weakness: I viewed my arrogance as attractive self-confidence, a positive trait that had no need of modification.  I went through life scattering people's feelings, with only pity for those poor, weak people, who could not stand up to my strength!

 

Wow, have I learned a lot since then.    

 

I am dealing with a particularly difficult situation right now.  Our pastor decided to change the locks on the parish building where an organization I head meets regularly at night--but he did not tell me or anyone else about this in advance, so I discovered it only when my key no longer worked.  I was deeply hurt, because I had treasured the privilege of 24/7 access, which I needed because the office is only open 4 days a week, and there are resources in that building that I need to get to at odd days and times.  However, even though he handled this clumsily due to lack of experience (this is his first pastorate), he certainly had the right to do this.  

 

Soon after this change was made, I came there to set up for one of our evening meetings, which involved a potluck meal--and contrary to what had been promised, the building was locked, and I was unable to locate him or anyone else who could let me in.  Finally one of the Deacons came and I got in... and then Father appeared--but I foolishly let loose my temper on him, with the bad effect you might expect.

 

Now, he is so angry because of my rudeness, that he is refusing to speak to me and give me an opportunity to apologize.  At first, I tried to justify my behavior because of what he did-- but with the help of my spiritual director and my own reflection, I now see this incident for what it is:  another example of my pride getting in the way of reason.  If I had held my tongue that night, we could have had a rational conversation later, during which I could have explained my side and possibly even persuaded him to make an exception and let me have a new key.  Instead, my pride destroyed that possibility and also seriously damaged the good relationship I had with him.  

 

In an article I recently read about good mental health, one of the characteristics described is "Response Flexibility—the ability to pause before acting on my impulses and willfully change the direction of my actions if doing so suits me better than my initial impulses."  Clearly, I am lacking in that area, and I hope that--having had this horrible experience, I will remember this next time!

 

 

 



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Setting Up My New House


+JMJ+



I slept in my new house for the first time last night.  This is the area in my room which I use as a focusing aid for my personal prayer time.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Catholics!


+JMJ+


Last night at the Easter Vigil, I had the privilege of accompanying two friends (a married couple) who became Catholics.   I had not known them prior to becoming involved in RCIA, so I was completely surprised and touched when they asked me if I would be their sponsor!  No one has ever done that before, and--as a convert myself--this was very meaningful for me!

 

The Baptisms were first.  All were asked by Father to give their assent to the Creed, which was very moving.  In a few moments, Alice stepped down into the pool and knelt in the water so that Father could pour the blessed water over her with silver pitcher:  it was so dramatic, so beautiful!  I helped her up out of the Baptismal pool and escorted her to the Reconciliation Room, which had been designated as her place to change her clothes, and put on the Baptismal garment.  When she came out, we embraced for a long time, and I spontaneously gave her the blessed Eucharist medal I was wearing, which was a memento of my own First Communion in 1981.  I loved putting it around her neck! 

 

After all the Baptisms, Father went on to the Sacrament of Confirmation, which both Alice and her husband were receiving.  As I stood behind them, I could not stop the tears of joy, as the full force of what was happening in their souls came down on me, recalling for me the blessed day when I received this Sacrament at the hands of my beloved Fr. Flaherty.   

 

Nothing else that ever happens in our lives can transcend the exquisite significance of this event, when we are accepted into Christ's own Church, the Church He established on earth 2,000 years ago, and which has withstood every attempt to bring it down--and there have been many.  It will stand until He returns in glory to bring us home.  No matter what happens to me, I will always cling to my Faith; last night, I was praying that  Alice and Albert will also.


Blessed be God forever!