by Sr. Julie Vieira, IHM
Today the Catholic Church celebrates World Day of Consecrated Life. It is a day to celebrate “the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels” and a day for religious to “renew their commitment and rekindle the fervor.” (Pope John Paul II)
Twelve years ago when Pope John Paul II first established this day of celebration, I was just beginning my candidacy (postulancy) with the IHM Sisters of Monroe, Michigan. I had no idea at the time what adventures were ahead of me as a woman religious. I only knew that this call from God (a call I had valiantly resisted) was drawing me into God and, at the same time, drawing me out of myself.
One of the reasons I first began to consider a vocation to religious life was because I had seen and experienced life’s rough edges. I knew all too well what the prophet Job was saying when he wrote of the difficulties of life — the misery, restlessness, and hopelessness that can break our backs and our hearts. (<a href=” Job 7:1-7). I also wanted to grow in my relationship with Christ Jesus and to give myself as completely as I could. I knew that I could do this as a wife, a mother, or a single woman, but religious life had this strange pull to me, one that I could not ignore. It’s a bit like what Saint Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians: “… an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) That’s kind of how I felt about religious life. It’s not that the call was somehow forced upon me, but that it was more truly me than anything else, even the self-imposed images of how my life shouldbe. It was as if my whole being–bones and muscles, thoughts and feelings–would have cried out if I did not pursue this call.
And so here I am, pursuing God’s call for the sake of my own life and for the sake of the Gospel. It is in this call that I find freedom and joy.
Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it. (1 Cor 9:19, 22-23)
In what ways do you feel called by God?
Although originally wanting to write a post called “Consecrate This!”, Sister Julie Vieira, IHM, exercised restraint and, as a result, managed to write something that has more potential to be edifying. To learn more about what consecrated life is like, visit Sister Julie’s blog, A Nun’s Life.