Thank you St. Joseph!

My dear friends and family,

I have some sad news to share with you.  This probably really will be my last post (unless the Holy Spirit has other plans!), because…

I AM DEBT FREE!!!!

AKA I can be a sister!!!!!!

Last Friday, I found out that I have been awarded the St. Joseph grant by Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations.  I am still in shock and awe at the great work the Lord has done.

This wonderful organization will now be paying off my student loans and those of everyone else who they are helping.  I ask that you prayerfully consider supporting their mission.

Here is a letter from their website about this years awards and why they need your help more than ever:

We have made a leap of faith.

Two unexpected occurrences have led to a very surprising event for the Fund for Vocations. First, by the time the application period had closed this year we had only 23 applications for grants. Normally, the count is in the 40s. We have no idea why there were so few, but we expect it is just happenstance and we will see a return to normal numbers next year, particularly since we are seeing our usual level of inquiries for early in the year.

Second, our donors’ generosity has greatly exceeded our expectations and the Fund ended 2013 in the fairly good financial condition.

Those two occurrences led the Fund’s board of directors to make a great leap of faith and authorize the funding of grants to all our applicants this year! This act equates to a commitment to raise an additional $75,000 each year for more than a decade.

That is a 35% increase in our commitment to help men and women proceed with the life to which God has called them. As we can only attribute our good financial position to your generous response to God’s call to you, we can do no less. Please pray for us and continue to help us in this work to build up the Church.

I cannot thank you all enough for supporting my vocation and know that all of my benefactors are in my prayers.  Please continue to pray for me especially during this time of initial formation!

I would love to receive letters and hear from you.  My address is 369 Little Church Road, Toronto, OH 43964.  If you’re in the area please don’t hesitate to ask about visiting!

May God Bless you all and may you remain in His most Sacred Heart!

P.S. Entrust St. Joseph with all your needs – he gets things done!


Christians Never Say Goodbye!

I told you that my last post wasn’t goodbye!  I’m writing this quick update while on my home visit because I really need your help.

These last five months have been amazing, challenging, and just all around a blast!  When St. Francis started attracting followers he reportedly said, “…and the Lord gave me brothers.”  Now I can truly say, “…and the Lord has given me sisters!”  The TOR community has quickly become my family and I love them dearly.

By the grace of God and the trust of my superiors, I was allowed to enter with some remaining debt.  However, it does need to be paid off before I enter postulancy in August 2014.  So many of you have been incredibly generous and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  However, there is still about $23,000 that needs to be paid off.

I have applied for a grant from Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations but they do not make their decisions until March 15th.  Please pray extra hard until then!  My chances for receiving the grant will increase if I can decrease my debt before then, so anything will help!

Donations can be made through this website: http://www.youcaring.com/other/form-a-franciscan-sister/85925

Or by mail:  369 Little Church Road   Toronto, OH 43964

Please make checks out to Franciscan Sisters, TOR

We visit a nursing home weekly and bring communion to the Catholic residents. It has been a very stretching experience!

Check out the Youcaring site for continuing updates!


And now it begins……

(Posted by Victoria’s family)

On this past Sunday we took Victoria out to the TOR Sister’s Mother house in Toronto Ohio.  We will post updates when possible.  During her formation Victoria will not have access to email and limited contact with her family.  So the best way to communicate with her is to drop her a note addressed as shown on the right.

If you have mass intentions you can actually enter them here: http://www.franciscansisterstor.org/chapel/prayer-requests-2/ 

And if you want to know more about the sisters you can go to their main website at http://www.torsisters.org.

The sisters also have a facebook presence where they have posted some pictures from Sunday.  https://www.facebook.com/FranciscanSistersTOR

Please let us know if you have any questions.

 

 


I’ll Be Seeing You

I hate saying goodbye, therefore this is not a goodbye post.  Anyway, C.S. Lewis is on my side.

“Christians NEVER say goodbye!”

This isn’t even a see you later post.  Why is that?  Because of this big, beautiful thing we are part of called the Body of Christ.

I’m not leaving you at all! We’ll be connected, closely and intimately, through the Eucharist.  We receive the Body of Christ.  This means Christ’s personal body, but also, the mystical body of Christ.  We receive each other.  I’ll let Danielle Rose explain(get your box of tissues!):

Over the past week, I’ve been struggling to understand the separation I’ll be entering into.  For religious life entails a certain separation from the world.  Yet, I will enter deeper into the heart of the Church.  My brain can’t handle the paradoxes!  So I’ve been fighting the instinct to “stay in touch” with old friends and people who were never really friends to begin with (again, Lewis backs me up on this).  In short, I am afraid of disappearing.  All our lives, we are conditioned to be “connected” with people in certain ways – mostly through technology.  Without the use of technology, will I no longer be connected to people?  I think everyone can see the falsity of this line of thinking.

As I’ve said before, my life will be about being present to people, specifically the people God calls me into personal relationships with.  First and foremost, my primary relationships, after God, will be with the Sisters I live with.  Secondly, the people I am called to minister to.  Through my life of prayer, I can be intimately connected with people who I may never meet or talk to again.

My best friend and I parted last night (without saying goodbye!).  We were astounded at the lack of sadness we both felt.  There was this overwhelming sense of peace – that it is time for our paths to diverge.  Thank God for the gift of detachment!  We also have the gift of Hope – hope that we will spend eternity together.

And because I’ll basically be living The Sound of Music(without the part about marrying a captain with seven children), I’ll leave you with this:

“Christians NEVER say goodbye!”

********

P.S. Don’t forget, my loans still need to be paid off before postulancy, so please consider helping out in any way you can.  Donations can be sent to:

Franciscan Sisters, TOR
369 Little Church Road
Toronto, OH 43964

Or made online here – designate the donation for “Formation – Education – Vocations” and put in honor of Victoria Clarizio.

You will all be in my prayers!


The Saga of the Stripping Continues

The hair is cut.  My cartilage piercing is removed.  I’m living out of one drawer.

We are coming down the last days of stripping – before the real stripping of formation begins, of course.

Stubborn insecurities are rearing their ugly heads in one last valiant stand.  I haven’t had short hair since like 5th grade, because someone once mistook me for a boy.

And then there’s my old friend procrastination.  I have a list of things to do before we leave on Saturday.  Every night when he gets home from work my Dad asks what I got checked off on the list.  My answer has been: Well, I went to Mass and spent hours in adoration today…

Jesus does not want to be used as productive procrastination.  Oops.  Today, I was finally bitten by the motivation bug.  While setting up an appointment with my new eye doctor they asked for my address and phone number;  my new address and phone number.  And not even my phone number, because I won’t have a cell phone.  The heart palpitations that followed that phone call told me: this is real and I’ve been in denial.

We come face to face once again with a strange phenomenon.  No matter how much we want something, how much we know something is right, the fear of the unknown is still incredibly powerful.  The trick is to rest in the sure knowledge of God’s will and know that the joy He wants to bestow is always worth it; it is certainly more powerful than fear.

I feel strangely light, perhaps due to the lack of hair.  The smile I’ve been waking up with tells me differently, though.


O Felix Culpa

I’ve been avoiding this post like the plague ever since the Holy Spirit put it on my heart.  I’ve come up with all sorts of other neat ideas for posts and God still nudged me towards this.  No, this is not my last post (although that will be coming soon enough).

Writers are made completely vulnerable through their writing.  We put our entire selves into everything we write – wear our hearts on our sleeves so to speak.  One thing I have always been aware of is the power of stories.  While fictional stories can be chock full of Truth, it is of imperative importance that we as Christians tell our stories.  Even more specific than this, we need to tell our love stories.  Everyone is touched by a good love story.  So Christ has been telling me over and over, tell our story; it is the greatest love story ever told – my personal love story with Christ is wrapped up in the story of His mystical bride, the Church.  It is unfortunately similar to the love story of Israel – who was continuously unfaithful and often strayed far from God.

God wants to convey a very important message through my story: his call is a gift, not based upon our own merits.  No matter how unfaithful we are, how sinful, how broken, we each have a specific and unique vocation.  His call is always there no matter what incredibly stupid things we do.  It is a gift – I cannot even begin to stress the importance of this.

God gave me this precious gift of my calling in high school.  Did I treasure this gift, cultivate it and learn how to use it in the manner it was intended?  Honestly, not really.  Mostly I peeked at it a couple of times and then ignored it until about two years ago.  On the outside, I said I was discerning religious life, that I was excited about it, but deep down, I wasn’t convinced.  I wanted to feel loved, wanted to know what being in love felt like.  I didn’t believe the Truth that God could fulfill me completely.  I was lonely.  Like many young women, I looked to boys to fulfill me emotionally, and eventually physically.

After Months of feeling like this, a slow downward spiral culminated in one summer of hitting rock bottom.  A boy (disguised as a man) suddenly gave me the attention I so craved.  I am now ashamed to admit how quickly I attached myself to his arm and like having an out of body experience(probably induced by alcohol), I watched myself become a different person.  When this relationship (I use that term very loosely) ended I was left broken, dazed, and not knowing who I was.

Yet, through confession, good friends, and prayer, God healed me.  I was able to go before God, my pride completely gone and admit I knew nothing.  My illusions about myself, faith and love gone, he was able to teach me His Reality.  Looking back, being totally empty allowed healing to happen relatively quickly and prepared me for what God had in store.  A mere two months after that summer, I was invited to visit the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth.  I was surprised by the joy that overwhelmed me.  It hit me: God is still calling me.  It’s as if he was saying: like Israel, I will always take you back.  I still want you for my bride.  My vocation did not lie with that community, but I was surprisingly ready! God wasted no time and shortly after led me to the TOR Sisters.

Anyone looking at this timeline and seeing the radical switch from the lifestyle I had been living might think I am running away.  The Truth is that God converted my heart, captured it, and now I can truly say I am in love with Him!  Once I opened my heart, he rushed in and didn’t waste any time! Plus, God is outside of time!  There was no room for wallowing in guilt and self-pity – ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!

Before my sinful relationship that summer, I had this vague idea of my identity as a beloved daughter of God but it wasn’t a Truth planted in my heart.  The same goes for chastity and the calling to religious life.  I really thought my faith was built on rock, but it turned out to be a house with a foundation of sand.  Distracted from God so easily, my house crumbled in no time.

While contemplating this recently, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what had changed after that summer, until I read Lumen Fidei – Pope Francis’s encyclical.

“we need knowledge, we need truth, because without these we cannot stand firm, we cannot move forward.  Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing.  It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves.  Either that, or it is reduced to a lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer, yet remains prey to the vagaries of our spirit and the changing seasons, incapable of sustaining a steady journey through life.”

This is the key to the change that occurred – God granted me a renewed Faith based on knowledge and Truth.  I had nothing left, stopped “trying” so hard and God granted me a deeper gift of Faith.  Being a perpetual student, God gave me this knowledge in a literal way.  I really delved into Theology of the Body and read books like Discovering the Feminine Genius by Katrina Zeno.  This has continued through the past year and my Faith is continually expanding as I learn more.  However, in the end it is a gift – I cannot stress this enough.  I did nothing to earn this Faith.

The most recent book which has been leaving my brain on the floor is The Foundations of Religious Life: Revisiting the Vision.  It dives into some complicated details of the theology of Religious Life.  One element discussed is the importance of personal conversion, which is somehow tied up in the conversion of the whole world.  This part hit me particularly hard:

“The Religious is called to recognize sinful personal choices as the “o happy fault” and become a dispenser of good through one’s own human condition – to allow Christ to use hummannes as it is, as his own instrument in the redemption of others.  The very process of being personally released from sin while learning obedience to the Father triggers the means of redemption within others.”

I read this and knew that this post had to come eventually.  Not just this post, but telling the story God is writing through me, for the rest of my life.  God has brought so much good out of my mistakes – even the redemption of others (I have no idea how this works!)

Your calling is a gift.  Faith is a gift.  All you have to do is say, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word.”


Accepting the Gift

My dad keeps bugging me about how long it’s been since I last posted, so before he hacks into my account and writes himself, I should probably update you on the past week.

Instead of writing a long post I can summarize in two pictures:

y_holy_eucharist

experience-all-the-emotions

Let me explain.  I’ve been spending wonderful amounts of time in Mass and Adoration.  However, since I am about to embark on a life altering journey, aka responding to God’s call (and heaven knows where that can lead), I am going through a roller coaster of emotions.  I’d imagine someone getting married in three weeks would experience similar feelings.

For example, here is a peek at what was going through my head at Mass today:

Fear threatens to choke me for a moment.  Am I doing the right thing? Wisps of old dreams drift in the back of my head – living in the slums like MoT…Then the Father sweeps me up in a moment of consolation. “Accept my gift,” he whispers.  I am grasping.

And then their faces appear without warning in my mind – these women who are destined to be my Sisters.  At the thought, fear turns into joy.  I long to begin now.

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