Not long after that I befriended a Franciscan Sister who worked in my high school. She invited me to go on a retreat to her "motherhouse." I was intrigued. It was that retreat at the age of 15 that I first remember hearing God's call. These Franciscan Sisters were the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. Their main charism was to adore the Eucharist and as a community, to always have two Sisters praying in their motherhouse adoration chapel before the exposed Host in the monstrance.
When I arrived at the motherhouse with a number of other young high school girls, we were instructed about the importance of this charism. We were told that we could pray at any time of the day or night in the adoration chapel, as long as we were reverent. At about 2:00 in the morning, after the other girls had finally fallen asleep, I sneaked upstairs to check out this chapel. The whole atmosphere of the convent seemed beautifully mysterious to me, and I wanted to tap into the "secret." I entered the adoration chapel shocked to discover that there were no Sisters praying there...or so I thought! I was stunned! I couldn't believe that after nearly 150 years of commitment to this charism, I walked in when no one was there! Surely there must have been some mistake! I decided to help the Sisters out and stay there until the someone arrived. (Little did I know that there was a balcony upstairs where the Sisters were quietly praying behind me!)
I knelt in the pew and started to leaf through the many little booklets I found there. Was I overjoyed to find the Sisters' custom books and other precious spiritual treasures! Surely, I was getting close to understanding the "secret" of the convent. I found myself particularly interested in a pamphlet on Our Lady of Fatima and the Holy Scapular. As I was reading this little brochure, I was unaware of what the Lord had in store for me at that moment. Suddenly, a glorious event occurred in my soul that I could never explain with human tongue. I felt as if I were being lifted up and thrown into the Heaven. My soul seems to remember a Light, my mind remembers only the sight of the golden monstrance and the Pure White Host. I was happy beyond any happiness I had ever known. I was steeped in the Love of the Divine. I knew beyond all doubt that there was a God. I had touched Him. He had touched me.
The next day, as I was preparing to leave the convent and the Sisters were hugging all the girls good-bye, I heard a voice in my heart say, "Aren't they beautiful?" I knew at that moment, God wanted me to be a Sister. (Once I heard a priest say that like Mary, our angels give us our "annunciation" of the vocation God has chosen for us. I believe that moment was my annunciation.)
Lovely as the story is, I must admit, it was not long before I turned away from my Beloved Lord and His call. A series of events and problems led me to despair and reject an intimate life with God. By the time I was out of high-school, I had rebelled against the Lord and had abandoned prayer. By the age of 20, my life was a disaster and my family was suffering the consequences of my sinfulness. At the lowest point of my life, I knew I had nowhere else to turn but to God. Everything was black and I felt alone.
I went to confession to a priest who lovingly welcomed me back into the Church. For my penance, he asked me to find a work of service that I could do in the Church to draw me back. I decided to become a CCD teacher.
It was not long after this that I heard about the alleged apparitions taking place in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. I was intrigued, and using some money I received for my 21st birthday, I bought Wayne Wieble's book about Medjugorje. Our Lady used that book as an instrument to change my life. As I felt too weak to face Jesus alone, Mary took me in her arms during the next few months and brought me to her son. The miracles and the drama of the next two years would take an entire book to write!
All, I can say is that today, sixteen years later, I am a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and I am preparing to profess my final vows this fall. My consecration to Jesus through Mary has been my security and a great source of perseverance. The road has not been easy, but it has been beautiful and has served to glorify God. The greatest sweetness in my life, is my relationship with Mary. The greatest passion in my life is my love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I thank our Heavenly Father for the great gift of life He has given me over and over through the Sacraments of the Church. They are my greatest source of peace. How much more I could say in praise of all He has done for me in my life! How much more I could say about the fidelity of My Heavenly Mother in my life!
Why did I choose the Catholic road to Jesus? It is because of the gift of the Sacraments - most especially the Eucharist, and the gift of our Lady, which is not offered to me in other Christian denominations, beautiful as they may be... Through the power of His Spirit, may all come to find the great treasures of joy and truth present in our Holy Catholic Church!
Sr. Marie, OSF (Pentecost, 1999)
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