This past weekend, we received a new Affiliate to our Community. As I was waiting with our Sisters in the lobby, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the day that I became an Affiliate nearly 11 years ago. I had been discerning my vocation to religious life and was spending some time at Our Lady of Grace Monastery, learning about and experiencing Benedictine monastic life and getting to know some of the Sisters here. One day, I was telling my story to Sr. Catherine, one of our Senior Sisters. When I was finished, she pondered a bit, and said to me, “I think you are ready.” So, she walked with me down the hall to Sr. Joan Marie’s office (Vocation Director at the time) and then she got on the elevator.
I know Sr. Catherine was praying for me as I stood on the threshold of my future life. I stepped into Sr. Joan Marie’s office, took a deep breath, and before I would run out of courage, I told her that I would like to become an Affiliate of this Community. As we began planning the next steps, I felt a slight panic. What was I doing? My whole life could change if I pursued this call that I felt deep in my heart. I told her, “I feel really reckless right now.” “How do you think Simon and Andrew felt when Jesus called them?” was her response. I felt in good company then, and a deep peace in taking this first step toward the rest of my life. Actually, I knew deep down, as those early disciples of Jesus must also have known, that my heart had been “seized by Christ.” I could make no other choice than to follow him.
My spiritual director at the time had been helping me to understand that Christ was laboring within me to lead me to where I would find union with him. On the evening of my Affiliation ceremony, I had this image of Christ riding on a stationary bike (laboring within me). For a brief moment, Christ stopped pedaling, raised his hands off the bars, rejoiced that I had taken this first step, and returned to his pedaling – he knew he still had a lot of labor to do on my behalf. In the weeks and months that followed, I received a profound grace to prepare to begin my life here at Our Lady of Grace Monastery. Christ’s labor within me and God’s love, grace and mercy continues to keep me here as a Sister of St. Benedict.
During this National Vocations Awareness Week I thank God for the gift of my vocation and for the abundance of blessings I continue to receive as I strive to follow God’s will. I know for certain that God cannot be outdone in generosity. And, I am continually encouraged by a saying that appeared on a bookmark that my mother gave me on the day I entered: “The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”