It all starts with falling in love with God
“The first step is falling in love with God.”
That line caught me last week in the priest’s homily at my parish.
Everything else starts from there in our life as followers of God, he said. We are in God and God is in us and when we are open enough to realize it, we fall in love with God. And everything follows from there.
The priest then asked, and what does it mean to fall in love? When we are really “in love” we start doing stupid things, he said. Things that people on the outside can’t understand.
It all resonated with me. I remember when I first fell in love with God. And I remembered that is explanation for lots of things I do. When my teenage daughter asks why I “waste my time” teaching religious education, and I myself sometimes wonder if it is time well spent as I lament the lack of women’s rights in the Catholic Church, it made me remember why I do it. Because I’m in love with God and I want to share that love with others. (In this case it’s also a bonus that the people I am sharing with are 3–6-year-old sweeties who make me laugh.)
Becoming a sister
And as I continue to reflect on what Father Bob said, I realize it’s the same reason that people, even still today, choose to become Sisters of Providence.
It all starts with falling in love with God.
Lots of people think it sounds crazy to become a Catholic Sister today. And in some ways, it is, from the outside. But when you fall in love with God, God does call you to seemingly crazy things.
And from the nearly 30 years I’ve been present among the Sisters of Providence and telling their stories, I’ve learned that it really isn’t crazy from the inside. In fact, it is beautiful.
When a person is called to be a Sister of Providence, and responds to that call, beautiful things happen. The sister has time to really focus on and grow in God. She is led to look deeply at herself and grow in ways she never thought possible. She is educated and formed in love and then sent out to serve in a life filled with love, mercy and justice. And it is beautiful.
Beautiful because of all the loving care that people in need get from it. Beautiful because of the deep, soul-filled happiness and peace that flows from most sisters. Beautiful in the community that is formed of women who love and care for each other and the world.
Despite the thorns, it is beautiful. And there are thorns. Thorns of the sisters being intricately a part of a church that does not deem them equals to men. Thorns that keep their voices muted, afraid to fully speak out. Thorns of having to give up a partner and a family of one’s own. And these thorns sometimes lead people from the outside to think sisters have made a crazy choice.
But when we fall in love with God, God continues to offer us choices. Choices that are beautiful and challenging and bring about beauty and good in the world. And I for one am so thankful to the kind and giving women who are so in love with God that they are willing to answer a special call from God, even when it seems crazy. Because of their loving response, the world is a better place.