Updated: May 27, 2019
by Sr Teresa, FOH
Our website is trying something new: a reflection page where members of the community contribute writings on different topics. The idea is that if there is a section of the site that is updated and changed it will draw people back to the website. The ultimate goal is a venue to proclaim the gospel and encourage others in their faith.
I have been asked to be one of those contributors. I was told that I could choose any topic I wanted and to assist me, a number of topics were suggested. I was excited at the initial idea of this project and the potential contribution I could make on behalf of my community. It is a chance to share the gifts (and weaknesses) God has given me.
After a great number of false starts on different topics and ideas, I have fallen on this one idea of a series of letters where I can reflect on topics as God places them on my heart and I will do it in a letter format. It is my hope that the letters will express a somewhat more personal style of sharing that I am not capable of transmitting through a more formal document/dissertation style of writing (this is code for: I am not scholastic enough to write a formal paper).
I will begin this first letter by sharing about my vocational call and how connected it is to the ministries I have been blessed (and am currently blessed) to do.
I was 19 years old the first time I heard the Lord whisper on my heart, the call to religious life. I promptly responded with a heartfelt “NO WAY”. I was somewhere in the state of Ohio (USA) and was ⅓ of the way through a 10 month commitment to evangelization with NET Ministries (National Evangelization Teams). My team was working in a Catholic High School run by Notre Dame Sisters. It was the first time I saw a sister in a habit and I heard a still small voice saying, “ I want you to do this.” It seemed so foreign to me and I was surprised because I assumed I would go back home and find a nice man to marry and have kids. Isn’t that what EVERYONE does?
I did return home eventually and I attempted to live a normal life and I made some terrible decisions and some great decisions in my life but I was certainly not discerning God’s will for my life because I had no idea what that meant or how I was supposed to do it. I would use the Christian language and respond to things with statements like “I have been praying about this” or “I feel like God is calling me to that” but I didn’t really understand what any of it meant. Most definitely I believed that discernment was about a feeling of tranquility in a decision and I called that tranquility ‘peace’ and I would say “I am really at peace with the decision” so it must be God’s will. Funny how God’s will was always the things I liked. Never did I hear God call me to something I didn’t like (even if it was good for me).
Gradually I got tired of where my life was and how it made me feel. Even if it was a pretty great life. it just wasn’t the place I was able to love God most.. I stopped one day and simply surrendered to God. I admitted that He knows me better than I know myself and that I believed there was something He knew I was called to, that would allow me to freely love Him. I asked HIm to lead me to that place.
I am a Sister because of God’s great love for me and like every vocation, it is here that I am able to love God deeply and receive God’s love deeply. Abiding in this love is what opens me to the grace to do the ministry I am asked to do, to live the vows I profess, to strive to love my brothers, sisters, family, friends and enemies. He never promised me it would be easy but most definitely, I am experiencing His love in the joys and in the sorrows, in the blessings and in the struggles.
I continue to grow in my understanding of discerning God’s call but I do know that residing in the heart of Jesus is the only way to learn discernment, and the only way to learn about residing in the heart of God is to pray and ask Him to lead you there.
May the God who loves you and longs more deeply than anyone for you to rest in His heart, lead you to Himself and give you an even greater love for the Trinity, one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.