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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
The Sisters of Providence invite all single, Catholic women between the ages of 18 and 42 to join us April 16-17 for our virtual Come and Zoom retreat weekend. Sign up today!