What will you do with your life? You are given only one, and no one can live it for you (St. Pope JPII). At 16, I loved movies and martial arts, so naturally, I said I would be a stuntwoman (even my sisters might find that hard to believe…). But this question was really a challenge, and it gave rise to many more questions in my heart: What’s life after high school? What is my purpose in this world? These questions really bothered me more than the college applications I had to do.
All of this changed at my Confirmation retreat. One of the most powerful things about that retreat was the silence. The silence around and within helped me to listen deeper. In that moment of deep listening, I felt the Lord saying, “I know you & I want you to know me.” At this point, I haven’t thought about the consecrated life but I was envisioning what life would look like: getting into a good college, obtaining a high-paying career, and finally settling down with family. As I was thinking of these, a strange thought came to mind: I think I want more than that. These are good and beautiful. I could still be very happy and holy, but my heart wants more. That’s when I realized that God has placed a desire in my heart for something else. I remember leaving the retreat with a deep warmth in my heart but also feeling that something in me has changed and there is something I must do. His voice was gentle and quiet, but there was a force to it! Soon after, I attended the Come & See with my community, the Lovers of the Holy Cross. During a prayer on Ps. 139, where God said, “I created you in your mother’s womb, I know your thoughts from afar," I encountered a God who was closer to me than myself. I discovered that I am loved from all eternity. It’s a love that I couldn’t earn, a love that doesn’t depend on what I can do. And this love is excessive! It wasn’t enough for Jesus to teach, cure the sick, and heal the blind. These are good and beautiful, but Jesus wanted to give us his very self. He wanted to show just exactly what he means by love, so he proved his words with action and laid down his life. On the cross, I felt the Lord saying, “I can love you through anything, even at your worst, and I will love you to the end.” At the end of the C&S, I asked to stay. “Lord, let me stay with you and give me a part in your sacrifice.” Once I tasted his goodness, my search ended.
Why did I say yes to the consecrated life? There are 3 reasons:
1)Firstly, I was searching for my identity and purpose. I found myself and my place in the world when I discovered who I can become for others with Jesus. I am a bride of Christ & mother of souls. I am his listening ear, his hands and feet, and a sign that there is more to this world- we are made for the next world.
2)Secondly, I want a life that is challenging, and this life demands everything that I have: my gifts and passions, even my weakness can be used. I get to wake up everyday and happily spend myself, exhausting all that I got, and the best part is to do it all with Jesus. I have a front-row seat everyday, seeing God changing the world and affecting real lives, and I get to be a part of that.
3)Thirdly, I am impatient. I want heaven now. At the core of the religious life is living an intimate union with Jesus here and now. Where there is Jesus, there is heaven!
But why the Lovers of the Holy Cross specifically? This is the secret!
Because Jesus chose the cross as the ultimate path to love. He could’ve chosen an easier, less painful, and more glorious path, but he didn’t. Jesus Crucified is God’s greatest self-revelation as a lover of humanity. We can’t understand Jesus, our faith, and our calling to become saints apart from the Cross. It is a stumbling block to many, and yet, it is the key to life. With Jesus on the cross, the cross is now transformed! It is now a sign of victory, forgiveness, and transformation! And he can transform yours and mine! Jesus attracted many followers, but many left when it became too difficult. At that exact moment where everyone would leave, we are called to be there. As an LHC Sister, I get to focus on this mystery of Jesus, of life, and walk with others in finding the Lover in their crosses.
This is not an easy life, not for the faint-hearted, but anything worth your life should not be easy because you’re meant to be great-to be a saint!
So, what will you do with the one life you’re given? Knowing who you belong to and that you’re a part of God’s bigger story helps! It involves asking the big questions and encountering God’s personal love for you. Your vocation is bigger than your occupation. It is a calling to live for something bigger than yourself, whether that be laying down your life for your spouse & children, or a life of union with Jesus, being sent into mission, and letting his people be your people! The good news? We all have a vocation already!
God has a plan for this world, and it involves you finding your vocation. God is patient, but he is also eager that we take our place in the world with him.Find your part in God’s mission! Imagine what he can do with your “yes”! Imagine the endless miracles he can do, and the many ways he can multiply what you already have.The cross is God’s love story for humanity (Pope Francis). Find your role in this story.Come and see what you can become!