Friday, July 11, 2014

Advice for Catholic Teens

A reader recently left a comment on either my personal blogInstagramPinterest, or Facebook asking if I have any advice for Catholic teens.  Well that's strange, I thought.  How can I possibly be old enough to offer such insight?  And truth be told, I never actually replied to the comment (or, at least, nothing substantial).  I've thought and prayed a lot about that comment, though, and have come to the conclusion that it deserves a reply.  Perhaps I'm not the most likely source to turn to for answers and inspiration (I'll be the first to admit that one), but I do hope that you can glean some encouragement from these words.

When I was about 17, I asked a friend (who is now a priest; then -- a Deacon) for some very similar advice.  I've still not forgotten his words: "Pray, pray, and more pray.  Also, be a good person.  Don't grow up too fast, but enjoy life as God brings it to you.  If you focus on being the best and holiest woman of God you can be -- your vocation will become pretty clear."  I'll second that for the purpose of this post, but add to it another thought (or, rather, expand on a thought).  In the words of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta: 

"The more you pray, the more you will love to pray

and the more you love to pray, the more you will pray."


Simple as that!  *smiles and winks*

My favorite prayer has always been the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  I began attending Mass periodically throughout the week with my homeschooled family before I ever received my First Holy Communion.  Once I had received my first Communion, I began attending Mass daily.  I've naturally gone through periods of time when I did not want to attend daily Mass (the last time I missed a Sunday Mass I think my absence was due to the flu.  But the part I felt worse about was the fact that it happened -- of all Sundays of the year -- on Easter).  I was in the 9th grade when I made the firm resolution to attend daily Mass unless circumstances prevented it.

Attending daily Mass has, among many other things, given me a much deeper appreciation and respect for my body.  During my childhood and into my early teens, dressing modestly was not necessarily a personal priority.  But I did because my parents held me to their standards (thanks be to God!).  Once in high school and I was attending daily Mass more purposefully, I began to think of it this way: when we receive the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, we are living tabernacles of Christ the King (just as Our Lady was the very first tabernacle, having carried Christ in her womb for 9 months).  When we go to Catholic Churches today, we see the tabernacles decked out in gold to honor the Precious Treasure they are bearing.  I'm probably not going to approach the altar adorned in gold with a diadem placed upon my head, but dressing modestly and appropriately for the Holy Sacrifice is certainly the next best thing. *smiles*


My devotion to daily Mass is purely a choice.  My choice.  My parents aren't making me; they never have and I'm doubtful that they ever will.  I simply believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ -- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity -- is present in the Eucharist.  What further reason do I need to want to attend daily Mass?




In a nutshell, my advice is to attend Mass and Adoration as frequently as is possible.  Masstimes.org is a great place to start to locate Churches and Mass times in your area (at least, in the United States).  
Regular attendance of both Mass and Adoration is also very fruitful along the path of discernment toward one's vocation.  If you simply cannot wait to grow up and be of age for more serious discernment of your vocation: ask Our Lady now to protect your vocation.  The rosary is a great prayer for that purpose and Adoration is a great place to pray.

God bless you!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Catholic Wisdom: St. Therese

This is just a short reflection written by St. Therese, helping us to face each new day with joy because the Lord is always carrying us, even when we feel nothing.

Life is burdensome. What bitterness...but what sweetness. Yes, life is painful for us. It is hard to begin a day of work. The feeble bud has seen it just as the beautiful lily has. If we feel Jesus present, oh then we would really do all for him, but no he seems a thousand leagues away. We are all alone with ourselves. Oh what annoying company when Jesus is not there. But what is this sweet friend doing then? Doesn't he see our anguish, the weight that is oppressing us? Where is he? Why doesn't he come to console us since we have him alone for a friend?

Alas, he is not far; he is there, very close. He is looking at us, and he is begging this sorrow, this agony from us. He needs it for souls and for our soul. He wants to give us such a beautiful recompense, and his ambitions for us are very great. But how can he say, "My turn," if ours hasn't come, if we have given him nothing? Alas, it does pain him to give us sorrows to drink, but he knows this is the only means of preparing us to "know him as he knows himself and to become Gods ourselves." Oh! what a destiny. How great is our soul. ... 

Jesus is asking all, all, all.

Will we give it to Him? 

~~Reflection taken from the June 16th Meditation of the Day, Magnificat®~~

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The St. Peter in Me

I recently read this reflection in the book Kisses from Katie.

via

Peter is the rock on which God built His Church.  But first, Peter was probably the worst disciple ever.  I am Peter.

Jesus tell Peter that he (Peter) will deny Him 3 times; Peter says, "No! I love you, I could never deny you, Lord."  Yet we all know that Peter does in fact deny Jesus three times.  I know in my heart and my soul and the core of my being that I love the Lord, that I would do anything for him, go to the ends of the earth for him, but how often do I forget to give the glory to his name?  How often do I take compliments without giving him the credit?  Do I, like Peter, deny Jesus the glory that is his?

Jesus told his disciples that it was God's will for him to be arrested.  He went willingly when the soldiers came to take him, but enthusiastic, loving Peter raised his sword and cut off a soldier's ear.  "Put your sword away," Jesus commanded.  "Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"  I am Peter.  I have my own time frame.  When I don't see things happening, I try to make them happen.  And Jesus says, "Put away your sword, put away your plans.  Shall we not do what the Father has asked of us?" So like Peter, I put away my plans, my defenses, and watch as everything happens perfectly, in God's own timing.

After Jesus had risen, He appeared to His disciples while they were fishing.  When Peter saw his beloved Savior, he excitedly jumped out of the boat and began swimming to where Jesus stood.  Needless to say, the boat probably reached the shore long before Peter.  I am Peter -- excitedly jumping into things and then standing, sopping wet, at the feet of the Lord, smiling at my stupidity.  I get excited, forget to think things through, and end up doing them the long way.  Every time, though, just as with Peter, Jesus welcomes my soaking wet self into his arms and is simply happy to see me.

I am Peter who made many mistakes, but I am Peter for whom God had great plans, whom God established to do his work.  Peter is the rock on which Jesus built his Church.  The very night when Peter foolishly jumped out of the boat, Jesus reinstated him in the presence of the other disciples.

"Do you truly love me?" He asked.  "Then feed my lambs."

"Do you really love me?  Take care of my lambs."

"Peter, do you love me?  Feed my sheep, and come follow me."

For each time I deny God the glory that is his, for each time I follow my will instead of listening to his, for each time I jump ahead without first consulting my Lord, he asks, "Daughter, do you truly love me?" and I do.

"Feed my sheep."  And I will.  And I do.

"Come follow me."  And I am, at least I am trying.

I am Peter.  I mess up.  I make mistakes, I am far from perfect, and God will use me.  God will establish great things through me.

You are Peter.  God already knows that you will make a mess, but his plan for you is great.

Go.  Feed his sheep.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Catholic Young Woman in College: Laura

Wow, it sure has been a while since I've posted on of these. Sorry for the delay! But, now I'm happy to share Laura's responses here on the blog, now that I'm done with my own college semester and can find time to post such things. This is the last set of questions I have for now, but I may attempt to make a recurrence of the series come late summer or early fall, including my own responses to the questions. :-) Please enjoy and leave a comment if you want to share any college struggles or blessings you remember! 

~~~

What kind of college do you attend? Describe your situation and one thing you love/hate about it.

I knew I wanted to be a nurse since I was in junior high. I went to nursing school at our local community college right out of high school and graduated when I was 20 years old (I could give narcotics before I could legally have a drink!). I lived at home with my parents and siblings at the time. Fast forward six years and I see both pros and cons of my decisions for further education at the time.

The pros? I had no debt and began working and making a living at a young age doing what I love. Another plus is that all the friendships I cultivated through these young adult years were local so I didn't have to leave my friends. Instead we continue to get together and grow with each other.

The cons? I didn't have the 'college experience,' I was a perfectionist nursing student who studied all the time. Seriously. Like I didn't see my friends come in for a surprise birthday party my sister planned because my face was buried in an anatomy/physiology book! The other con: because my degree was so focused on nursing, I wasn't able to take many electives-- plus since I was at a secular college, I didn't have the option of amazing theology/philosophy/psychology classes that I would have had from the Catholic perspective at a college like Steubenville or Christendom.

What is one of the hardest things about being a Catholic girl in college and upholding some of the ideals we discuss on CYW? Do you have any remedies?

Hmmm. Great question. I think one of the hardest is learning to articulate your beliefs in a joyful, confident way. Sometimes we know what we believe is true and we even know why...we just don't know how to explain it to others in a way that attracts them to the Faith and allows them to see the truth of Christ. I enjoyed debating with my sociology professor on social issues-- we were completely at opposite ends of the spectrum, but he grew to respect me as well as the fact that I was homeschooled. It was such a grace thing! However, I did find it more challenging to stand up for my beliefs in the nursing classes because it was less open to debate and sometimes the secular agenda was subtle.

Do you have any perspective on choosing good girl friends?

I place a huge priority on seeking and maintaining solid friendships during your young adult years! My girlfriends are my second family! Look for ones that share your beliefs (ideally your Catholic Faith, but some of my most inspiring friends are my Protestant sisters who share my love for Jesus and a personal relationship with Him), who are serious about growing in grace and holiness, who know how to laugh at themselves and keep you from taking yourself too seriously. Choose ones who don't gossip! Good girls are out there. Find community with them. You are who you hang out with.

Do you have any perspective on choosing good guy friends?

In general, I dated more guys than I was friends with. It's hard to have a close guy friend unless you are hanging out in groups. However, I did have a few guy friends from my homeschooling days that continued through college. We had game nights, movie nights, went bowling, etc. with groups of guys and girls. I appreciate that the men in my life valued modesty and virtue. They thought deeply about the Faith and culture, were great conversationalists, and treated the girls with respect. Have high standards for the young men you befriend (but not unrealistic expectations!). It's always great to learn the male perspective on things-- it can really help us grow.

How can we maintain purity of the heart and body on a college campus (or whatever type of situation you have)?

In the end, you have to place your relationship with the Lord as your priority. Friends will fail you, even family can disappoint you, professors don't know everything. If you are not building a foundation on Christ and serious about His will for your life, your heart will be more susceptible to the temptations the Evil One sends your way. Make time for prayer, Mass, the Sacraments. If you are going to a secular college, learn apologetics and the Church's teachings on social issues/hot button topics. Offer up any hardships.

How do you fit your academic work-load into your prayer life, and what’s one of the greatest difficulties for your spiritual life in college?

Just as you can schedule when you're going to write that paper, go to that class, etc. you can schedule your prayer time/sacraments time. Invite the Lord into this season of your life. Pray before your classes. Make the sign of the Cross reverently and pray before your meals (a great witness at a non-Catholic college! We just had a waitress come up to us the other day and ask where we went to church since we prayed before our meal. A few words later, we invited her to Mass the next day and she came!). Lean on God in the difficulties and talk to Him about everything-- in the car if you are commuting. Schedule some time away for a retreat if you are able during a semester. If there's a Newman Center or campus ministry, plug into that for support and accountability. My boyfriend is a Catholic campus minister at a secular college (a 'party school,' no less!) and I've learned two things from it: 1) the devil uses this season to try to lead you farther and farther from Christ so be on guard! and 2) this is a beautiful season of seeking and finding out who you are, your purpose, where God is calling you. It's a ripe time for growth. If you know Christ and His Church, hold onto it and strengthen your knowledge of and love for it! If those around you do not know Him, witness, witness, witness! Be bold and speak! People are hungry for truth-- be not afraid, God will use you to draw them to Him. :)

How do you feel you can use the time in college to strengthen your faith and prepare/discern your vocation for the “real world”?

Looking back, I think sometimes we over-emphasize our time in college. Honestly, I've learned more in my post-college years than I did in college. God has a way of using every circumstance of our lives. So yes, He will use your college years. Be open, be curious, be bold, be studious, be silly. Enjoy it and take advantage of it! BE A SAINT. But also know that there are many years coming after it where you will continue to learn and grow. It's not the end, by any means. The decisions we think are so serious at that time are important, but not as serious as we think. ;) If you can find an older mentor (someone a few years ahead of you, or already into their vocation), meet with them. It always helps to have someone keep you accountable in purpose and growth, yet to remind you that there's life beyond your season! :)

Blessings to each one of you-- in high school, in college, and beyond!

Coming from a control freak who thought she had to have everything figured out by college graduation, this is my last sentence: God uses everything, so let go and trust Him.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blinded by Comparison

I know you've compared yourself to someone before. It could have been more superficial, like comparing your clothes or your skin to someone else's. Or maybe it was less obvious, if you were comparing your career interests with someone else's, your family life with someone else's, or your spiritual life with someone else's. Because we were made by God to crave and seek out companionship, we are also prone to these comparisons. We want to be accepted, we want to fit in, whatever the excuse is.

And that just cannot be. God gave each of us a special life. He gave each person different interests and talents. He gave each of us a unique story.

But oh is it difficult to keep jealousy at bay, great or small.

Let me give you two examples.

I study Biology in college, currently with interests in genetics-based research. This is such a competitive field. My friends say to me, "Wow! You already have such a head start on a career, and you have all these great opportunities, and your grades are so good!" Initially I respond that I'm really not that great (we have to at least try to be humble, right?), but then I say, well yes, but in order to get through this field, you have to be competitive. And so I often find myself comparing myself to other students at my school -- who have better grades, have done more prestigious internships or research projects, etc.

One of my dear friends is someone you probably know, Clare. Recently married, with a loving husband, and a baby on the way. (Bear with me Clare dear ;) It seems like her life is perfect, especially with a marriage so soon after graduating college. She didn't need to be a single woman in the working world before marrying, she didn't need to pray and pray for years for a child. She found a good Catholic husband with whom she will build a beautiful family.

OK. Now that I've laid that out, let's re-examine this. I'm sure Clare will be quick to tell me her life hasn't been all daisies and roses. And I know it hasn't been, even though we can all see how good God has been with His blessings, and pray that He continues to shower His grace. I'm sure it's not perfect, even though it looks perfect.

And as far as the academic competitiveness goes, I know that as important as it is to seek out experience and get good grades, I also know just having good grades doesn't make you a better applicant. It's important to be well-rounded.

During my prayer today, God impressed on me the importance of living not of this world, but of His world, and that we must be transformed if we want to be with Him in Heaven. He also told me that I cannot compare my life with anyone else's. He has a story for me that is unlike any of my friends. And there is much of it that I do not understand.

And that's OK. Yes, some girls are married by the time they graduate college or shortly after. Some aren't. And there's nothing wrong with either. Some students have had more opportunities or were smarter than others, but that doesn't mean they'll be happier in their careers than another person.

I often compare my life with others. My childhood experiences, my ideals, my dreams. And I have to stop doing that. Jesus I trust in You. It comes up again and again as the only way for us to be truly happy.

Now that I'm away from the demands of a semester work-load, I have more time to reflect on where I am and where I want to go. With that time does not come immediate understanding...in fact, more time to think may just tie my mind in more knots! But I know that comparing isn't the answer, and while I'd like to take the advice of each friend and follow it to the letter as the be all-end all solution to my life...it just won't work that way.

I thank God for my own unique story. I trust in Him to reveal His plan in due time. I know that He will tell me if I need to follow a different path than that which I am currently on. And I pray that I can practice the words I preach!

God bless ladies, and just remember God has a personal story to write for you.

Originally posted over on my personal blog. It got such a good response that I wanted to share it here in the hope that it may be a blessing to some of you ladies. Now that I'm home from college I do hope to start writing here again in the next few months. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My blog's new name

Happy Spring, ladies! (I'm guessing especially to those of us who tend not to deal with seasonal allergies.)

I recently renamed my blog to Cherishing Everyday Beauty and, with it, the link to match!  I hope to make it something of a journal as I step into this new season of life called young adulthood.  I hope to visit with you there!

God bless you!

Monday, April 28, 2014

{Discernment Series} One Individual's Journey to Religious Life



Last November, I shared a series on discernment here (part 1, part 2, a courtship story, & part 3), but I never finished it.  This semester was so crazy that I still didn't have the time or opportunity to, but, nevertheless, it has been on my heart this whole time.  The opportunity finally presented itself this past weekend when I befriended Jackie, a beautiful young lady who attends the CCM that I've been involved with since my freshman year.  When I found out that she is hoping to enter a religious order next year, I asked her to tell her story of discernment and then if she would be willing to write it down for the purpose of sharing on the Catholic Young Woman.

My dear friends, you will be so blessed!  Although her story is more dramatic than most, the points she makes therein are very applicable to everyone discerning any vocation.

Thank you, Jackie, for sharing with us!


Before I tell my vocation story, I would like to caveat what I am about to say with this: please understand that my story is unique to me. There are certain points I will make that I hope will help you in your own discernment, but what happened to me was extraordinary and does not happen to most people. God was not very subtle in His revealing my vocation to me, but that it not necessarily how it works for everyone. The most important thing is to be open to whatever God has planned for you. He will show you in His own time and way. And it does not mean you are not good enough or holy enough if He does not tell you in the way He told me. Everyone’s discernment story is a unique journey for them and God, and varies as much as personalities vary. In any case, I will stop with this horribly long intro and get to the point: my vocation story.

I am a revert to Catholicism. This means that I was baptized Catholic but did not start practicing until much later. I reverted back the summer before my freshman year of high school, but it really wasn’t until I became a student at George Mason University and became a part of the Catholic Campus Ministry there that I truly deepened my faith with the Lord. However, for many years in the back of my mind, I did feel very much called to be a sister. I always squished the desire down, believing all the lies the devil told me: “You’re just scared to be in a relationship. You can’t really know; you’ve never dated anyone. You couldn’t be happy as a sister. Think of all you would have to give up.” Etc. etc. I knew what God was calling me to, but I let all my insecurities and fears take over instead. But God kept bringing the desire back up, which is a really important point. Our vocation isn’t a onetime call and if we miss it then “oops too bad”! No; God continuously calls us to Him and to the person He means for us to be. God pursues us always and forever no matter whether we choose to listen to Him or not. 

Anyways, as I said I was becoming more involved in CCM, learning more about God, and growing steadily closer to Him. But something happened in the summer after my freshman year that drew me away from Him. A woman who taught at my parish school came into my young adults group to talk about her entering with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia that August. The Dominican sisters live in my town and I had seen them for years. But I did not know their congregation was of St. Cecilia. When she said “of St. Cecilia”, my heart had stopped because she is my patron saint. You may wonder why that mattered to me so much because it seems more coincidental, but for me it wasn’t.  Before I ever desired to become a sister, I always wanted to be a teacher. So originally I was going to choose St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for my patron saint. For some reason, though, the week before confirmation I got this feeling in my heart telling me to not choose her but rather St. Cecilia. I’ve always liked music so I said why not, not knowing at the time what the significance would be for me. But again when she said they were "of St. Cecilia", something struck a chord in my heart. I left that meeting feeling very conflicted, because all those old desires of being a sister came blaring to the fore front. But I was so conflicted because the week before I had met a boy. 

He was very smart, older, good looking, and though not really a practicing Catholic, was at least raised so. Needless to say I fell hard, mostly because I was scared of the truth I saw God putting before me. I knew what God was calling me to and out of fear I tried to prove to myself that that wasn’t really the case. It didn’t work for obvious reasons. We talked and hung out all summer.  I was allowing myself to get more and more emotionally involved. But when the summer ended and I asked what we were, the guy wasn’t ready to commit. Heartbroken, I tried to just be friends, but it didn’t work. I had opened my heart wide for this guy, placing on him all my fears and insecurities about my vocation, and got crushed instead. Mind you, he isn’t a bad guy at all. And it wasn’t his fault that I placed expectations on him and our relationship like that. From the beginning he only wanted to be friends, but I, in my blind fear, made it into something it wasn’t. And I had to reap what I had sown.

For the whole summer, I had made this guy an idol in my heart, keeping God out so I didn’t have to hear His truth anymore. I realized how wrong I had been and so I finally began praying in earnest. I prayed that God would tell me if that relationship didn’t work because he and I didn’t work, or if it was because I wasn’t meant to date. Around November time I got my answer when the old desire to become a sister came back stronger than ever. Yet I was still unsure. I had just made a horrible error of judgment over the summer. I wanted to know for sure. Call me a doubting Thomas, but I wanted confirmation. I wanted to make sure I was doing God’s will, not mine. Because in following my own will and not God’s I had hurt not only myself, but God in the process. I didn’t want that to happen again. 

Around that same time I began experiencing, with more frequency, Charismatic gifts. I had had previous experiences of speaking in tongues and other gifts as well, but -- again -- these things were happening with more frequency. I remembered hearing about a Charismatic prayer group that met at a Church near my house, and I decided to go to a meeting. I knew about the gift of prophecy and I hoped that maybe God would tell someone to tell me what I was supposed to do. Not really believing God would do that, but still sort of half-hoping He would make it that simple, I went. 

I remember the date: it was December 11, the vigil of my baptismal day (December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe). That night it wasn’t actually a prayer meeting, but rather the Christmas party. Sort of disappointed, I thought, “well I guess I won’t be finding out tonight”. I still stayed and had a lot of fun getting to know everyone. Then it came time for the white elephant present game. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s basically where everyone brings a random present and based on a drawing of random numbers you go up and pick a gift. The rules are you can exchange a gift three times but whoever switches it the third time gets to keep the item. 

Well, one of the items was a bag of religious items: some Christian CDs, books, etc. But the item in that kit that caught my eye was the Diary of St. Faustina. She was a Polish sister. I am Polish and since I was discerning I thought, “if I get that gift, that will be God’s sign to me”. Well I ended up being the third person to switch the item which meant it was mine. I was so happy thinking “this is it God! I’m going to be a sister!” But then they switched it up again. They read off the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, and each time they said the word “the” we had to pass the gift in our hands to the right. 

Needless to say I didn’t end up getting it. I was crushed. Again for the second time, I placed onto something my desires and fears about my vocation as opposed to just listening to what God was already speaking into my heart. I didn’t realize that until much later. Then all I could think about was wanting to get the Diary. Distraught, I decided to go up to the woman who won and ask her if she would switch gifts with me (I had won a porcelain rabbit). Not really wanting to trade gifts but seeing my dejected look, she asked if there was one thing from the kit that I wanted. I said “I really wanted the Diary of St. Faustina”. She kind of smiled and said “well I already have a copy of that, so you can have it.” With great excitement, I took it. But then I thought “I didn’t actually win this gift, so it can’t really be my sign.” Again unsure, I stood there confused staring at the front cover. 

The woman who had brought the religious kit gift came up to me and asked me about my getting the book. I explained to her how I thought maybe it would be God’s confirmation to me about my vocation but that I don’t think it really could be since I hadn’t really won the gift. She began to ask me why I thought I was called. For some reason, I thought of the story about the girl talking about the Dominicans of St. Cecilia. 

As I told her this story something "clicked" in my soul. I really can’t describe the feeling. I just knew in my heart at that moment, “Yes! God was calling me!” I started crying and kept saying “I am meant to be a sister!” The woman started clucking over me “oh dear, do you want us to pray over you?” I shook my head yes while she led me into a side room where she rallied about five or six other women to come pray over me. The woman told the other women to pray in thanksgiving, that the Lord had confirmed something for me. The women laid their hands on me and began to all pray in tongues. I was shaking and crying and began to speak in tongues myself. One of the women stopped and began speaking in English saying “Jackie, the Lord wants me to ask you something. He wants me to ask you if you would be His bride?” Well upon hearing that I lost it. I started sobbing uncontrollably. 

I was so happy, to the very depths of my being. It was as if until that moment I didn’t really known how much I had longed for that very thing. I finally realized the real reason why I ran away from my calling so many times. It was because I believed the ultimate lie that I wasn’t good enough and that God wouldn’t want me. I knew for so long I wanted to be a sister but I never believed I could be worthy to be one. That’s why I wanted confirmation. I didn’t trust I was enough. I couldn’t breathe; again I was moved to the depths of my being. I felt God’s love radiating throughout me. I realized in that moment just how very much He did love me, enough that He wanted me to be united to Him as His wife, His bride, even though I was a sinner. I knew how unworthy I was but I didn’t care. He loved me and wanted me. He loved me enough to care for the deepest desires of my heart. He knew me more intimately than anyone and knew that I needed to hear it asked of me. This is a key point to understand, He asked me. He didn’t tell the woman to tell me I am called to be His bride. He told her to ask me if I would be His bride.

And that is how it is for all of us. He asks us to do His will, never demanding or forcing us. Jesus is a gentleman. And He loves us enough for us to choose Him, fully knowing that we may choose to say no. God is gentle, gently wooing us to Him. And if you are anything like me, you don’t always like that. You want a big neon sign blinking over your head saying “This is it! This is what you are supposed to do”. You go searching just like I did giving your heart away to things you think are “it”, to things you think you deserve. Maybe it’s to people; maybe it’s to a career choice, or a certain college, etc. But I can honestly tell you, those things you give yourself away to won’t fulfill you. You must first be filled with God, for He is the only one that can satisfy us. When we don’t, we try to fulfill that hole with other things. We need to have the hole filled with God so we don’t use our vocation, whatever it might be, to try and fill that hole. When we do so our hearts will be open for Him to show us what He has planned. And honestly it may not be some crazy charismatic event, or a big neon sign. You will know what it is by the peace that you will feel. That’s one of the things I have learned from that night. When we finally find what it is God is calling us to, it will fill you with such peace. 

I learned some other things that night as well. I learned to finally be quiet and to listen to what God has planned for me. I learned to finally trust Him, and to let go of my wanting to control everything. I finally was able to put it all into His hands and to know that He has my best interests at heart. He knows what will make me happiest. I got a spiritual director which is what I suggest all of you do, no matter what you think you are called to. A spiritual director will help you to grow in your relationship with God, and help you in discerning what God’s will is for you. 

I finally discerned which order I am to join: the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. And not just because of my patron saint story. My spiritual director helped me to realize that, though it was beautiful I had these personal revelations from God, I still needed to go through a discernment process to figure it out. So I deepened my prayer life even more, committing to a holy hour each week, saying the rosary each day, going to daily Mass as often as possible, etc. And I went and visited the sisters. I felt so at home and was filled with such peace that I knew that was where God was calling me to. I had visited with other orders and congregations but though they were all beautiful, none of them felt like home. 

The thing to remember is that God isn’t just calling you to be married or to religious life. He is calling you to be married to a specific person, or to join a specific order. If one relationship doesn’t work out, don’t think that means you are called to be a sister. And if one order doesn’t fit, don’t think that means you are meant to be married. Just figure out with God first what He is calling you to. And then discern with whom or with what order you are to spend your life with. God will show you. He wants to show you, because He desires your ultimate happiness.