Monthly Archives: November 2011

Surprised By God

Last week, was the Salesian retreat in Cornwall, Ontario. It was the best discernment retreat, I have been on, to-date.  It was a 5 hour drive from Toronto. We played games, listened to talks, shared our deepest desires, and lives with complete strangers, went to Mass in French, had adoration, ate a lot, and sang a lot, and forgot the verses with the New Missal translation.

When it was time to go we were no longer strangers, but friends in Christ.

Everyone was at a different place in their discernment journey. Some of them were beginners, some were returning for the second or third time, and some like me were still vocation shopping for the right order.

I had a list of things that I wanted in a community. A balance of active and contemplative, the salesians are very active. Adoration every day, salesians have adoration once a week, a very structured schedule, this is an order that works with youth, and has missionaries all over the world, anything but structured. I wanted habits, in Canada habits are optional.

Despite all this, I totally fit in. I was happy, at peace, and filled with joy. My vocation search had reached a climax.  Everything I wanted along the way, had come to completion in two and a half days.

God has totally surprised me. I am still waiting for a week or two before I ask for an application, because I want to make sure this is real and not just the Euphoria of the weekend.

I am so happy, I could walk on water.




The Meaning of Vocation

The first order, I visited were the Daughters of St.Paul. You can imagine my excitement because they are into the world of media, and that’s what I love to do. I love the arts, and am a journalism student. I went over for a small reflection and even before the retreat I was told, I was not being called to their order. I was devastated. I did, however learn an important lesson from this experience.

A vocation is not a career. 

I went to visit the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, The Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, after that. I made a lot of great friends along the way, but did not feel a call to those orders. I began to pray that God would give me a sign because I really could not make up my mind.

I went to visit the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles for a “Come and See” and I loved the people I met there. We still keep in touch and enough though I appreciate Carmelite Spirituality a great deal, I was so restless. I began to think of all the things, I would have to give up, and it made me sad. I knew a vocation was not about me, or about worldly possessions, but it was hard to let go of those attachments. I was also not overly attracted to their ministry.

I did not know if I could live this life. I live in Canada, so distance was an issue for me too.

Some nuns told me that once the honeymoon is over, you are not always going to be in the seventh heaven, but you will be at peace. God is calling you to wherever you can be at peace with him.

The next place I went to visit for “Come and See” was the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate. They are a beautiful order with beautiful dark purple habits.They were so wonderful to me. I will cherish the memories I had with them.  I was fine at the Mother House, but when I got to the formation house. I was very sad. I began to think of all the people I would be leaving behind, my family, my friends, and I broke down crying. I never made a decision to join, but I was still in agony.

The next day I spoke to the Novice mistress about this and she got the impression that I was still not ready and needed more time.

After experiencing so much rejection and sadness. I assumed that I was not being called to religious life and dropped the idea for a while.

It was only when I began to attend the life in the spirit Seminars this September, that I realized I was being called by God. I had to get rid of fear of leaving things behind, and I had to deepen my prayer life. 

God was also showing me that the sign I wanted was right in front of me. I love Youth ministry. I have been with Lifeteen for over five years and I love it. I began to look into orders that minister to youth and I came across Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians also known as the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco.

I went in for a visit and loved their family spirit. Sr. Cora told me something that I still remember, she said “You have been searching for so long, You have been to all these places, just follow your heart.”

I am going on a “Come and See” retreat with the Salesians next week. I don’t know what God has in store for me. Enough if I am not being called to this order, I know my vocation is to serve God wherever I am, and in whatever I am being called to do.

This is not going to be easy, but it’s learning to let go of the fear of losing control over my life and aligning my plans with the plans of God for me.

Meeting The Saints

The first saint who caught my attention was Mother Teresa.  Her book “In My Own Words” was given to me after I put together a Christmas play for some kids I was teaching religion to at a prayer group. It helped me understand that the desire to be a saint was placed in me at a young age. I often daydreamed about doing something larger than life. I thought in worldly terms of fame, money, ambition, personality, and success.

Little did I know that the seeds were being sown already.

The next encounter with the saints came when I went for a picnic, this time with the same prayer group to Martyr’s Shrine. This is where Jesuit Martyr’s who brought Christianity to Canada are buried. We went to Mass at the church, prayed the stations of the Cross, and just spent time socializing with each other. That day I experienced something after Mass. I was being washed clean, not in water, but in blood. It was something I could not explain, but just feel.

I felt baptized by blood.

The next saint I would encounter was St. Therese of Lisieux. My friend who is now a seminarian and who I had a major crush on told me that I reminded him of her. One day in the chapel, as I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, I could smell fresh roses. There was just another woman in the chapel. I looked around for the roses everywhere, wondering if someone had perfume on or whether someone brought in roses. I asked the woman in the chapel later on if she did, and she replied no. When I brought this up one time, with another friend from church, she mentioned something about the little flower smelling roses in the chapel too.

Who was this saint, that was now making her presence felt in my life?

I googled her and came across her autobiography “The Story of a Soul”, which I fervently read. I discovered some interesting things. Like me she was the youngest of four children, she was very spoiled as a child (like me) and equally as stubborn. She lost her mother at a young age. I did not lose a parent, but my parents did split up and since I have not seen my father in a long time, this was something I could relate too. I could relate too being the one who everybody doted over and then to be thrown out into the world unprepared for what was coming.

My affection for the Carmelites began from this day onwards. I wondered if God was calling me to be a Carmelite. I am currently discerning with the Salesians (I will come to that later), but there is still something about the Carmel and it’s deep spirituality.

The Calling

It began when I was in my last year of high school. I stopped going to church. I was a cradle Catholic, who really started questioning religion and faith in general. I got bored with church, because all the cool people I knew never went to church. I wanted to be like them.

Little did I know, that God was not going to let me go. I went to a Catholic school, and they took us to a chapel one day during Lent. There was a Christian music video playing. I was not paying any attention to it. Something took hold of me, I was burning all over and in a lot of pain. It was not physical pain, but a pain that was piercing my very soul. My mind was directed towards the tabernacle over and over again, and I began to cry. In an instant it was all over, without anybody else in the chapel even noticing it.

I knew this was the pain of being separated from the presence of God. I could not explain it, but knew what it stood for. My soul was crying out for God. This was in 2004.

I decided to start going to church again. I started helping out with youth ministry, but I still felt God was asking me to do more. I never knew what though.

One day at a retreat, we were being led through a prayer, and I fell asleep. I saw myself  on a journey walking through mountains, hills, jungles, and finally arrived at the end of my journey on a beach. I saw Jesus standing there and he had a box in his hands, and when he opened the box, there was a ring in it.

This is when I woke up, I did not know what to make of this. As the time progressed my desire for prayer and for God was increasing. I was also learning more about the faith at this time.

It was in 2009, that the youth ministry I was involved in: Lifeteen, went on a Youth conference to Stuebenville, Ohio. There was a sister from the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, that gave a talk on religious life. At the end of the talk, she said, “If you feel called to religious life, ask God for an engagement ring.”  Who knew Jesus was so romantic. For some reason I felt like she was talking to me, enough though, I thought to myself that this could not be happening.

I had so many plans for my life. I wanted to get married, have kids, have a career, own a house etc. I did not want to drop them all and give my life to God. The idea of being the Bride of Christ was starting to take a hold of me.  I still had two years of college left, so I decided to take things one step at a time.