Friday, September 8, 2017

From Among All Women


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.