The few days I got to spend in Ohio were blessed and filled with joy. It was a very confirming experience and I definitely think it is where God is calling me. God revealed to me several ways in which my talents and skills will be used within the order. I spent some time at The Samaritan House, which is a thrift store and food pantry. The Sisters that work there really care for the physical and spiritual needs of the people, by providing them with food and clothing, but also praying with them. I really saw the commitment to Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy in this ministry. They are looking at ways to expand their services to the poor, so my skills as a Social Worker would be put to good use. I also had a chance to tag along with the postulants to the ministry that they engage in which involves visiting the elderly at a nursing home. I was telling them about my experience working with the elderly and one of the girls commented that maybe I could teach them a few things.
I noticed throughout my time there that “being present” is very important to these Sisters. One day a Priest was staying for breakfast and the mother superior asked if anyone could “be present” to him. I thought it was interesting that she said this, instead of just asking if anyone could spend time with him. This phrase was used by a couple of the other Sisters and I decided that it should probably be their motto. It just says so much: being present to someone implies that you are giving that person your full attention and are not thinking about what you have to do in an hour or thinking about how bored you are or texting. It also reminds me of the fact that the entire purpose of consecrated life is to be the presence of God in the world. These Sisters truly live in the joy of the present moment.
So after spending a few days with them and being hit over the head by the Holy Spirit numerous times, I sat down to process my visit with the vocation director. She sensed that my visit had been filled with peace and asked me if I wanted to continue with the application process. Without hesitation I said, “yes!”
The main parts of the process are extensive interviews and a psychological test. If all goes smoothly, these things are going to happen pretty fast within the next two months. Next weekend I am meeting two of the Sisters in Washington DC to do the interviews, which are 2 and 4 hours long. After that, I will find out on January 30th if I am approved by the formation board to move onto the psychological exam. If I am approved, I will be going to Ohio on February 20th to do that. If I pass that, I will be given an invitation to enter pending my loans being taken care of. Then God needs to make some serious miracles happen and if I can get my student loans paid off, I can enter in August. He’s already taking care of me though. The Knights of Colombus at my home parish have given me money to pay for the psychological test and I know that’s just the beginning of the blessings that God is going to shower upon me.
Recently I came up for an analogy for my life; I am sprinting full speed towards a cliff. I can’t really see what’s waiting for me at the bottom of the cliff, but I know it’s Jesus waiting to catch me. Oh also I’m afraid of heights, so there’s that.
“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI