When I was small, I used to plan how I would raise my children and what I would do for my husband. I remember being four or six and following my father around as he carried my infant sibling, imitating him with a doll. I often carried many dolls: there is an amusing old photo with me wearing a baby sling full of all my stuffed animals (which was at least ten). I planned to fill a big house with lots of children and use all my time taking care of them. These good and innocent desires I owe mostly to my parents, who raised me in a peaceful and faith-filled home with six siblings. They continue to work very hard and sacrifice many things (not just luxuries) to put us in Catholic schools through twelfth grade. I have generous parents!
Obviously, those are the lights and not the whole story. My sinfulness and ignorance kept me far away from thinking seriously and rightly about my future state in life; instead, I floated along in a very secular mindset through high school. I still believed God existed, believed that the Catholic Church was the true religion, defended the truths she taught, and attended Mass weekly. But although wholesome, my goals were exterior.
My ambitious path followed the twin desires of becoming a physician and learning more about theology and philosophy (whatever those were). I had wanted to become a doctor since I was about four: my motivation to go into medicine matured as I did, and has now flowered into a desire to console the suffering and forsaken Christ in others. I decided to go to a four-year college with a strong emphasis on theology and philosophy, and take other hard science prerequisites at a second four-year institution. Meanwhile, keenly aware of the pre-med pressure to build a successful application, I volunteered, researched, and worked in healthcare settings. I was very controlling of my exterior future, and very lackadaisical about my interior future.
I don't think I realized that holiness is for ordinary people, and that sainthood really was for me if I wanted to stretch my hand out and take it. I hungered for love; I was lonely watching other girls date and belong to someone! But I never spoke with God or others about it. I never looked for love from God, believing that "personal relationships with God" was something for liberals and Protestants to pretend they had, or saints to actually have. I was neither of those, so I just went along with my life and my unfulfilled desires and unanswered questions. I knew stories of nuns and I wanted to be one, but they got "calls" from God, and I hadn't gotten one.
|Guadalupe Chapel, Thomas Aquinas College (source)|
I discerned this form of consecrated life for two or three years. At first, I was afraid of it and thought I should enter a monastery or an apostolic religious community. But the more I learned about Ordo Virginum, the more I felt it fit my soul.
|Our Lady at the Cross (source)|
It is a bridal vocation, which fits my desire to be in love, to belong to Someone, and to be deeply known. At the same time, it is a quiet vocation: I will wear no habit except a ring. It is a maternal vocation, which fits my desire to intercede for and carry souls so that Christ is formed in them, in imitation of Mary. It is not linked to any foundress or founder except the virginal, poor, and obedient Christ; it is not circumscribed by a spirituality, but because it is ecclesial includes all of them in the simple consolation of the forsaken Christ as he gives birth to the Church in the Paschal Mystery!
Once I was confident I could become a saint in this way (and, in fact, that I was made to become a saint as a consecrated virgin), I contacted my diocesan bishop and went through formation. I live in quiet reparation, prayer, and consolation of Jesus. It is difficult sometimes, but even desolation is part of Christ's sharing His life with me. All we experience is His one dexterous and effective act of love.
In short, I am a fortunate soul: I get to live in love. Gloria Tibi, Domine!