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When God plants a seed

“The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants for us.”

— St. Josephine Bakhita 
Blog post author Cristal Sosa

The younger me never thought about being a nun. In fact, she thought way too much about potential wedding dresses and the names she would call her children. She never thought that maybe God was calling her to something different, something including a habit or adding sister to the front of her name. It wasn’t until late 2018 when something shifted for me. The thought of being a religious sister changed from unthinkable to an invitation worth considering. 

Changes

When I was 19, I was going through some major shifts in my life. I grew up a practicing Catholic but at this time in my life, I felt like my faith was quickly slipping away from me. Here I was, praying less and doing things I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I was being influenced by the world and the things I was watching. I was doubting God and the belief systems that I grew up with and I was living without any true direction, seeking for answers in not the best places.

All this caused me to undergo a major identity crisis which led to a depression. Through a scary experience, I decided to come back to my faith. One day when I was at my parish, I heard about a retreat that was going to take place at St. Anthony of Padua in the Bronx. I decided to sign up. It had been years since I’d been on a retreat and I so badly was desiring to run closer to God. 

“Listen to silence because if your heart is full of other things you cannot hear the voice of God.”

—  Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Invitation

The moment where I felt like God was inviting me to the religious life was during Eucharistic adoration on the second night of the retreat. I remember looking at the Blessed Sacrament and knowing with conviction that the Lord was present right in front of me. As I sat there, I could feel the weight of the room lift. The room was dark but there were candles on the altar, enhancing the gold details of the monstrance. The candles resembled stars from where I was seated. I can recall the music and how it was just right and how I felt sitting there, deep in prayer.

After a few moments, I heard the Lord place a thought in my mind, “Be a nun.” I couldn’t believe the thought. But I remember not reacting much to it. It was as if I was indifferent to the idea. Months before I would have had an aversion to such a proposal but this time it was different. It was as if the Lord spoke deep into my heart and decided to plant a seed, just to see if it could grow. After the retreat, I returned home with lots of fervor, zeal and an increased desire to grow in faith and formation. Along with the thought of religious life was the question of what that special moment could really mean. 

Exploring vocation

As the months went by, I grew in faith. Also, I learned about the topic of vocations, and I decided to take what the Lord put in my heart seriously. So I started to send inquiries to religious congregations I found interesting, like the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (whose charism, which includes social justice, I find very beautiful). I read books on religious life and went on many virtual come and see retreats. I started to seriously ask the Lord in prayer to reveal to me my vocation, to illuminate my mind of what He wants me to do in my life.

Throughout the process, I have gained a new and unexpected openness to religious life. Thanks to sisters like Sister Joni Luna who, as vocational director, has been a real help in my journey, and through spiritual direction and prayer, I have learned to see the beauty of the vocation to religious life. Even though I am still very much on this journey and still discerning, I see myself being open to God’s plan, if it includes joining religious life or going a different route. 

God’s plan

The Lord has been opening many doors for me throughout my discernment journey. One opportunity that I am really excited about is the chance to go on a summer project mission trip with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Missions in Sea Island, Georgia. It is an opportunity to spend ten weeks receiving intellectual formation, working along with other college-aged Catholics, and growing in love with Jesus and our neighbor. I see this as a chance to also learn where God could possibly be calling me. Is it to be a nun? Is it to be a sister who has an active apostolate living much like I will be living in the mission? Or is it something else?

I know that God is good and desires to reveal plans to us in due time. But I also think God desires to make us ready to receive those plans as well. So, I ask those reading this blog, pray for me as I embark on this journey. And I will have you in my prayers, especially if you are also discerning a vocation. Remember that God loves you and wants you to be happy. God will not withhold plans from you.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for evil, to give you a future full of hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

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Cristal Sosa

Cristal Sosa is 22 years old and currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics, Food, and Nutrition. Born in the Dominican Republic, she moved to the Bronx, New York, as an infant. She loves to sing, write, go on walks, try new foods and take long naps.

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31 Comments

  1. Debbie Dillow, PA on March 15, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Beautiful journey that is still unfolding for you Cristal. You are in my prayers as you continue to discern your call from our Provident God.

  2. Marilyn Schaaf Rausch on March 15, 2021 at 9:22 am

    Dear Cristal, YES, you are in my prayers and will remain there. In your bio you say you love to go on walks… well, God is leading you on a great walk through your life. Your openness to whatever direction God’s Providence leads you will take you on many adventures. I pray that you keep passing through the doors that God opens for you and that you find the excitement of living every day with faith and trust. It is not so much knowing the “where” and the “when” of the journey’s end but “how” and, especially, the “with Whom.” May our Provident God continue to guide your discernment!

  3. S. Marsha Speth on March 15, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Thank you, Cristal! Beautiful reflection on your journey with God! My prayers are with you!

  4. Sister Barbara Bluntzer, SP on March 15, 2021 at 10:18 am

    God uses so many ways to call a person to reflect on possibilities. It is a joy to know that you are being attentive to whatever may be in your future.

  5. Joni Luna on March 15, 2021 at 10:25 am

    It is absolutely beautiful how you have opened your heart and mind to deep listening. God’s plan is surely unfolding in you.
    I am in deep gratitude for the opportunity to walk this Providential journey with you Cristal.
    You can count on my prayers 🙏❤

  6. Jessica Vitente on March 15, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Thank you, Cristal! What a beautiful and sacred journey you are on with God. I pray with and for you!

    • Sr. Jeanette Lucinio on March 15, 2021 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you. Crystal. Your story is so like God. Keep listening and be confident God will lead you where you are to go. I’ll be praying for you.

  7. Donna Butler on March 15, 2021 at 11:16 am

    Christal, thank you for this beautiful reflection on how God is working in your life.
    I was in the Dominican Republic for a week several years ago for a mission week. I visited Elias Pina on the border of Haiti. I welcome the cultural richness you would bring if God leads you to become a Sister of Providence. I pray you will discover what is God’s call for you wherever that leads you.

  8. Sr. Jeanne Hagelskamp, SP on March 15, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you, Cristal, for sharing your sacred journey with us! Be assured of my daily prayer for you! And thank you for your prayers for us!

  9. Janice Smith, SP on March 15, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    What a beautiful reflection, Cristal! And you describe God’s call so well too! So know that I will also be one who is holding your discernment in prayer. Keep doing what you are doing and clarity will come…in God’s time!
    Blessings,
    Janice

  10. Diana M. Garza on March 15, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    Cristal, thank you for sharing your beautiful reflection on your spiritual journey. Prayers as you continue your discernment.

  11. Norene Wu, SP on March 15, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful faith journey with us, dear Cristal! A seed of love with many possibilities has been planted in your heart and has been well kept and nurtured. It will grow! I pray for you and with you as you continue your journey of listening to and discerning God’s call for you.
    I am sharing with you two of my favorite quotes from Saint Mother Theodore:
    “I am going to offer my prayers for you, so that the Holy Spirit will inspire and guide you.”
    “Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.”
    Enjoy your FOCUS mission trip and be ready for God’s surprises for you! ✨💖

  12. Barbara Reder, S.P. on March 15, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Your journey has led you to God and the Sisters of Providence. I am so happy for you. I majored in dietetics in college and was a dietitian for 18 years as a Sister of Providence. Hope to meet you and see how things have changed. Thank you for sharing

  13. Beth Wright SP on March 15, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you, Cristal, for sharing this part of your journey with us! Know that I will be focusing prayer energy into the Cosmos for you as you continue this life journey!

  14. Sister Andre Panepinto on March 15, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for your reflection it was beautiful. Know that l am praying for and your journey.

  15. Mary Tomlinson SP on March 15, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you, Cristal for your beautiful and poignant reflection on your continuing journey. Best wishes for your upcoming Mission trip. May our Provident God continue to lure you to wherever your journey leads. Know of my continued prayers.

  16. Sister Connie Kramer SP on March 15, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    Cristal,
    I believe that God has plans for our welfare not for our woe as Jeremiah says so well, if we will come to our God with all our heart. So I hope that you will keep asking God to reveal to you the dream God has for you each and every day and live your questions into their answers. I will put your name into my God box and ask our Provident God to take good care of you.

  17. Sister Grace Marie Meehanp on March 15, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    Cristal,
    Many thanks for your wonderful reflection and thoughts. Having been a Sister of Providence for over 70 years, I find so much sincerity in what you have shared. God has plans for you and whatever you decide to do will be providential. Thanks and know that you will be kept in my daily prayers.

  18. Gill on March 15, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    What a beautiful reflection. My prayers accompany you on your journey and with those who accompany you..

  19. Gloria Memering, SP on March 15, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    What a precious gift of yourself you shared with us, your sisters in God’s loving providence.
    Thank you so much for connecting to my heart’s mission of prayer these days…you are being
    prayed for as you accept such a journey of faith, hope, and love.

  20. Laura Parker, SP on March 15, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    Good afternoon, Cristal,

    Thank you for sharing your faith journey and where it has led you thus far. What an adventure!
    Your openness will certainly lead you to where you will be most used by the Spirit– prayers being sent for your ongoing journey!

  21. Teresa Kang, SP on March 15, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you, Cristal, for sharing your sacred story with us. It was beautiful. l am praying for you and your journey.

  22. Maureen Abbott, SP on March 15, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us! What a graced moment when you were not only hearing such an “out of the blue” invitation “Be a nun,” but were able to consider it. For sure I will accompany you as God speaks and you see the path ahead ever more clearly.

  23. Jane Fischer, PA on March 15, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    Crystal, thank you for telling about your journey. I will keep you in my prayers.

  24. Carolyn Kessler, SP on March 16, 2021 at 7:00 am on March 16, 2021 at 8:00 am

    Crystal, your journey is truly a moving one, filled with God’s Love for you and helping you come to new understandings about life and how we can live it. Being open to listening to God is a grace to be cherished. May your mission experience be one of those very special events in your journey. Just know that our Provident God loves you more deeply than words can express and is with you on your journey. My prayers are with you.

  25. S. Paula Damiano on March 16, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Cristal, you’re in my prayer as you continue to discern God’s call in your life. I know I’m prejudiced, but this is a wonderful community and, if you’re being led here, I hope it will become that for you as well.
    Do you ever go to Ann and Tony’s on Arthur Ave in the Bronx???? One of my favorite places during graduate school at Fordham!!!
    Blessings

  26. Sabrina Falls on March 16, 2021 at 11:30 am

    I will add my voice to the chorus of others to thank you, Cristal, for sharing with us the story of how the Holy One is calling you–planting a seed within you–and your faithful response of watering that seed and trusting God to give it growth. Like you, I experienced God planting a seed within me as I sat in silent worship and I will never forget the moment. At that time I had no idea where it would lead but, after initially dismissing it as too impossible or impractical, I paid attention and let it unfold–and the joy that accompanied it every step of the way was undeniable. May you, too, experience the joy of exploring your vocation, whatever that might mean for you, as God calls us in many different ways and knows just how to use our gifts when we offer them wholeheartedly. Praying with you and hoping you let us know how it’s going for you in a future blog post!

  27. Sr. Mary Frances Keusal, SP on March 16, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    Dear Cristal,
    I thank you for sharing your journey with us. I was very touched. Your words awakened memories in me as I discerned. I pray that God will continue to gently call you and that you will come to your decision peacefully. You are not alone. We are all behind you. May you feel the strength of all of us who are praying for you.

  28. Mary Heins on March 17, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Dear Christal,
    What a lovely, honest, and open sharing you have written. It’s so exciting for me to hear of young women like yourself who are discerning God’s call for their lives. You show a lot of wisdom already in exploring this call so deeply and openly. It reminds me of Sarah Grimke’s call to serve God, not in religious life but as an abolitionist in the early 1800s. Hers was a slow process as she slowly involved herself in the righteous works of anti-slavery and gradually her call blossomed and became undeniable. I too believe God reveals plans for us, plans for our welfare, not for evil, plans that give a future full of hope! You’re on such a good track!!

  29. Joanna Dailey on March 18, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Hi, Christal,
    Blessings on you! I lived in the Bronx for twelve years and I loved to walk in the Botanical Garden! May the Holy Spirit continue to guide you in all your ways! In God’s providence, Joanna

  30. S. Judy Birgen on March 18, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Cristal, thanks for your reflections. The ways God calls us when we take time to listen are truly amazing. I appreciate the process of your discernment and the openness with which you engage.
    Hang in there and know of my prayers.

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