The Bible gives us numerous examples of the Lord calling His people individually, and as the chosen race, Israel. In the Old Testament there were the patriarchs, prophets and kings. Remember how we hear of David whom the Lord “found” and anointed. In the beginning of the New Testament the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, and Gabriel extends to this humble girl the Divine invitation to the greatest vocation of all time – to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word. Jesus goes after men and calls them to be His Apostles. These men were not looking for Jesus, but He knew from all eternity that He would create them specifically for this vocation to give Him glory. Today the Lord is still calling many in these unique and personal ways.
Every girl wants to be sought after, chased, pursued. She wants to be the recipient of infinite love and she has a deep desire to give herself totally in return to her Beloved. Tell me, what greater Lover is there than God Himself? But how many people is He calling who yet have no idea of this truth? As a child and all through my teenage years and early twenties, I did not know this. I did not know Jesus Christ. To say that life without Him was empty is an understatement. Though I did not know Him, He knew me and the plans He had for me.
Many saints have said that the Blessed Virgin Mary comes to help us even before we are aware that we need to ask for her help. In my early twenties my life was very disordered and I was very unhappy. I realized that something was very wrong. I needed help but didn’t know who to turn to. I did not know how to pray, but I remembered the “Hail Mary” that I had been taught when I was little and so I just began to pray that over and over again while crying myself to sleep at night. Soon I found myself reaching for my First Communion Bible, and returning to Mass on occasion at the parish where I was baptized, Queen of Peace. Hearing the voice of my Father through Jesus’ words in the Gospels, I knew there was something better than what I had been living. God was telling me He was there, He loved me, and He wanted me back. Through the fervent preaching of a passionate priest whose heart was on fire with love for God, the Lord convicted me that I needed to come to confession. I prepared, was terrified, and tried to escape at the last minute, but I walked in, shaking and crying. The consoling and reassuring words of the priest that I had made a “beautiful confession” and that the current liturgical feast, the Queenship of Mary, was “for me” made an impression on me; not to mention the fact that I was literally set free from all my sins and embraced as never before by the merciful Jesus. I felt like a new person, and indeed I was.
I began researching, studying, and doing everything Catholic I could get my hands on. I listened to EWTN, attended Mass and Adoration frequently, talks at my parish, and signed up for a “Day of Reflection” at St. Francis Convent. I had no idea what to expect and had never been to a convent or around Sisters before. I fell in love at my first visit and was resolved to come back. I began to think and pray about the possibility of being a religious sister, and I greatly admired Mother Angelica and was developing a deep reverence for priests. I wanted to give my whole life to Jesus. However, I still thought I was called to marriage, and I especially prayed that someday I would have a son who would be a priest. On the other hand, I had no interest whatsoever in dating because that would take away from my time of serving the Lord and growing closer to Him. My pastor was noticing and so began dropping hints every time I came to confession. In fact, one day he gave me my penance: to call the vocations director at St. Francis Convent and set up and appointment to meet with the Sisters. I visited one day and left thinking it was such a beautiful life, but not for me. But the Lord kept pursuing me. He wanted me all His own and He would have His way. He called to me in nearly every moment of life – through what I was reading in Scripture, what was being proclaimed at Mass, through pouring out His love for me in the Blessed Sacrament, through the longing and the restlessness in my heart that nothing would satisfy. He sent me good friends in the Saints – Clare, Francis, Therese, John Vianney, and every consecrated person I read about or encountered in person awakened me more to this desire to belong totally to Jesus, to be His Bride. A year after my first visit to the convent my pastor sent me back again. This time I knew I was resisting because I was unable to be open to God’s will in my prayer. But God was patient, relentless, and showed His love even more. A few months later I received the Sacrament of Confirmation – my wedding with the Holy Spirit as I called it. This outpouring of God into my soul brought the light, peace, and courage I needed to see and respond; to allow myself to be captured by God the Hunter.
I expressed my interest to Sr. Lois, and began working at Our Lady of Angels Convent in the meantime. The next postulant entrance was 10 months away, so I attended two discernment retreat weekends and a “come and see” event. I knew without a doubt that this was my new home and I longed with all my heart to become a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. Our primary charism of adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was the most important factor to me. I briefly researched other communities and when I realized that they didn’t have perpetual adoration I said to myself, “What’s the point?” I can’t imagine living without perpetual adoration. The Lord also caught me through the joy and love in the Sisters. They radiated Christ and I wanted to become like that.
After our Baptism, our religious vocation is the greatest grace that God gives us. He calls us every day, pursues us, draws us to himself with bonds of love. Praise the Lord, for His merciful love is without end! O Sacrament Most Holy O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!Sister Regina, Temporary Vows