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SISTER ANNA MARIA

Novice

How God led me towards Religious life ...
For God’s glory, and following the request of my Superior, I would like to share with you how I have responded, thus far, to God’s invitation in my life. There are many things behind my story that have nurtured the seed of my vocation, beginning when I was a little girl. I will relate these briefly in the limited space that I have. Writing or telling stories is not my natural gift. May the Holy Spirit help both the reader and the writer of this story!

I was held back from actually responding to God’s invitation due to such sentiments as “No, I am not worthy to go to the convent and live with holy nuns”. These “humble thoughts” came from the devil and delayed me for around fifteen years from accepting His call. Time went by. I had a worthy candidate for a husband. My family also liked him very much. This situation caused me more trials later on.

One night, I returned home after a party with a group of Church friends. I said good night to my dear parents and did not join them in collation (a family custom that my Mom instituted - eating something before retiring). For me, this is a special time of bonding in love for one another as a family. Anyway, upon reaching my room, and still mentally enjoying the good time I had with my friends, I suddenly was aware of a voice inside me that caught my attention completely. It sounded like a gentle reprimand. This definitely woke me up in many thoughts about my life. Days went by. The passage from the Bible came to mind, “I have come to call, not the righteous, but sinners”. It stirred up strong feelings inside me. It took much courage for me to make a resolution to respond to God’s invitation. These precious words of Jesus gave me confidence, and trust in His mercy, and love. It is a direct contradiction to the thoughts from the devil that I mentioned earlier. It seems “humble” but it was not humility. One tactic of the devil is to discourage us or make us think that we are “not worthy” to serve God in a religious vocation.

Anyway, the call within me became stronger every day. I prayed harder than ever, asking the Holy Spirit for the guidance to know, and to have courage to do God’s will. Tears abounded within me because I knew that my dear parents did not want any one of us to become a nun. My mom was especially opposed, but I did not have the heart to ignore God’s invitation anymore. I prayed much, and let God take care of the rest. One nice afternoon, I gathered my courage together to mention seriously to my family that I wanted to go to the convent. That was all I said. We had a good plan for the marriage and suddenly everything was cancelled. I really made my family suffer. When we are suffering, our Merciful Lord is still there with us - both the speaker and the listener suffer in their own way when explanations are made, but these fall short of what is really meant by a Vocation.

Everyone tried to convince me to change my mind. It did not work. I didn’t respond or argue with my family. I calmly listened and prayed for strength for both my family and myself to do God’s will. The atmosphere in my family changed completely. Laughter was replaced by crying. No one wished to eat with many tears all around. Sad, silent nights descended upon my home. This took place during Christmas time.

I thought about what my family said and reflected upon it. They mentioned that I can still love God by having children and then offering them to God in Religious life. I could have my own private room in which to pray, and so on. In other words, I should just live a “normal” life as other girls do. Well, such thoughts were fine, but I also have my own thoughts; if I have my own family, I have to please my husband and his family too. I would have to please my children, and then I do not know how much room would be left to please God in His place of “top priority!” My love for God would be divided by my duties as wife and mother. It would even be possible to place my own family above God without my even noticing it. I came to the conclusion; no, if I want to love Him above all things and to please Him alone, and so on, it is impossible for me to fulfill this dream in married life”. Finally, that day came. I wrote two letters in tears: one for my dear family and one for my fiancé to let them know that I wished to enter the convent. I did not tell them where. I left home right after the New Year without telling my family, at 3 o’clock in the morning. I had some I.D., the clothes I wore, and a bit of money. That was all. I entered a cloistered community quite a ways from home.

One day, Mother Superior came closer to me and whispered gently “My dear, your family is in the parlour”. I asked myself, “How do they know I am here?” It takes about two hours driving from our home to the convent. I just listened to what my family said, and they failed to take me home.

Days went by, my family and my fiancée came and visited me. He brought me special treats for the convent and still wished to see me as often as possible. It was time for me to cut off this contact with him completely, for his own sake as well as mine. My heart was occupied - only God’s love could fulfill my desires.

At times in the convent, I thought, “Only Jesus made me leave home like that because I would have rather died than leave my family in such a way - without notice - to follow any person. Jesus alone, is indeed, worthy of all love.

I think how much better it would be if God created angels to love and serve Him in the convent instead of a human Sister like me. But no. He does what He says ” I have come to call, not the righteous, but sinners”.

How my family has come around to accepting my choice of life style ...
Everything has a beginning. Almost every time that my family came to visit me, they had the opportunity to meet all the Sisters in the community where I lived. The hospitality and gentleness, especially from the Superior, impressed my family very much. This good example truly “converted” my family and destroyed all the negative images that they had formed in their minds about religious people. I also did my part by prayer and correspondence with them, to support them during this difficult period. Gradually, the Holy Spirit’s work bore fruit, and my dear family accepted my vocation upon the occasion of my first profession of vows. Everybody was happy!

How I came in contact with the spirit of Carmel: How I arrived in Carmel of the Divine Heart of Jesus - a contemplative/active congregation ...
My decision did not occur overnight; Jesus led me to Carmel in His own way. One day, I received some spiritual reading, the book was the biography of St. Teresa of Avila - Carmelite Saint. I remembered my mom mentioning the names of two saints, little Therese and big Teresa when I was a little girl. But I did not know anything about them at this point. I was excited to read this book and I finished it in one night. My life became oriented to Carmel, and I am convinced that the Virgin Mother Mary used this great saint to lead me to the Carmelite way of life. I realized that I was not called to this cloistered community, and I returned home, and started to investigate the various Carmels.

I prayed. I contacted the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus and the Sisters also gave me a few books. One of these was the autobiography of Mother Foundress, Blessed Maria Teresa of St. Joseph, and the other one was “She obeyed an inner voice.”. After these readings, my eyes filled with tears. I felt a great zeal to serve our merciful Lord in a hidden way among the elderly, suffering, and lonely. The love for God through suffering,the charism of Blessed Mother Maria Teresa of St. Joseph attracted and affected me strongly so that I desired to become one of her daughters.

I prayed, I sought, and found Carmel D.C.J.. Oh Carmel! How dear it is to me no words can adequately express. Nothing else except Carmel! See God in all, Serve God in all, Love God in all (words of our dear Mother). Jesus never forced me to love Him. He invites, but He respects our free will to choose to follow. Life is really short, and I have only one. Often I think, “What am I going to say when, with God’s mercy, I see Him face to face?” And my answer is that I had better do now what I want to present to Him then.

May our Blessed Virgin Mary guide and protect you on your temporary journey on earth. Please be assured of my prayers, they are always with you.

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