It was a dark and stormy night. Okay, I don't recall that there was actually a storm, and there was nothing particularly ominous about the darkness that evening. What I do remember are my friend's words, “If you don't do anything, nothing is going to happen.”
Have you ever sat around, “waiting” for God's will to happen? On this particular evening, and for a number of months beforehand, I had been passively awaiting the divine thunderbolt rather than actively cooperating with the Lord's daily graces in order to allow His plan to unfold.
I grew up in a Catholic family and loved being active in my faith. Around fifth or sixth grade, I read a book about Mother Teresa and told my mom and a few friends that I wanted to be a nun when I grew up. At that point, it seemed like the best way to keep doing what I already loved doing, anything that involved church. Sunday Mass, CCD, altar serving, Passion Play, children's choir, Vacation Bible School: you name it (and it didn't conflict with one of my dozen other extracurricular activities), and I was asking my parents for a ride.
I had the opportunity to go to a Catholic high school and absolutely loved it. I was involved in campus ministry there, stayed active at my home parish, and got involved on the archdiocesan level. Steubenville Conferences, NCYC, World Youth Day: I was there. Being a nun “when I grew up” had never left the back of my mind, but I didn’t know any young Sisters, so I assumed that I would have to go to college and work for a few years at least before pursuing this desire.
I started looking into religious life more my senior year of high school, and I discovered that I actually didn't have to wait until my mid 20's (which at the time seemed incredibly far off). I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville with the thought that religious life could be the next step. In order to help the Lord direct me, I started finding out as much as I could about all kinds of communities.
Praise God, the Lord was doing a little directing of His own. I started meeting with a Sister who really helped me grow in my life in Christ. As my relationship with the Lord was strengthened, I grew more open to hearing His voice and listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
This Sister invited me to visit her motherhouse for Fall Break, and I went, mostly because I loved convents! The joy of the Sisters and the peace of the place were palpable. As I returned to school and continued exploring religious life, I found that the “Mishawaka Franciscans” had become my standard against which I was comparing all other communities.
The Lord continued His work. It was the Year of the Eucharist, and I found myself spending more and more time before the Blessed Sacrament. I had always believed in His Presence, but now I was falling in love! I spent a semester in Austria and made a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. I was profoundly moved by encountering St. Francis in the places he had walked and praying before the Crucifix from which Christ had once spoken to him.
Yet, I found myself one night sitting in my friend’s room, admitting that I could recognize the Lord moving me in a certain direction, but wishing I could be positively certain of His Will. I took her advice to heart and went to the chapel. Lord, I don’t have all the answers, but yes. If this is Your Will continue to show me the next step. With the prayer came incredible peace. And with the yes came countless graces over the following months as I prepared to become a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.Sister Anna Joseph, Perpetual Vows