On the afternoon of the 22nd of August 2009, I and three other young women will be entering the Religious Community of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church in Spokane, WA.
One of the questions that young children are frequently asked is: What do you want to be when you grow up? When I was younger, about first and second grade, my quick response to this question was a huge smile and the enthusiastic reply that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was in the third grade, in the Jubilee year 2000, my mother, brother and I became fully part of the Roman Catholic Church, with my brother and I also becoming true children of God by our Baptism at this same time. The answer to this question would soon be altered.... in my child-like confidence now my reply was--whatever God wants me to be! But, I would love to be a teacher!
On May 10th, 2003, I attended my first retreat. I was in sixth grade, and although I loved my Catholic Faith, I hadn't yet fallen in love with the person of Jesus Christ. At this retreat, I saw for the first time young teenage girls on fire with love for not only their faith... but most intriguing with the person of Jesus Christ... and the JOY that shone from their faces and soul was captivating! I wanted this joy more than anything! At the mid-morning break... I went into the Chapel. The Chapel was quiet and empty... only Jesus and His little one. I went to the front of the altar, and without even knowing what prostrating was, I prostrated myself before Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, and offered my entire self to Him in exchange for that JOY and LOVE.... in exchange for HIM. This is the moment my heart became inflamed with LOVE for Jesus... and He became my Beloved... and I also was His little beloved one.
After this retreat I began to radically change my life. Getting rid of many of my possessions that would distract me from my new love.. such as secular music and flashy clothes. I wanted to be all His. My friends did not understand this change, and because of the occasions of sin that we would sometimes be in, I could no longer spend my time with these friends... because I wanted to keep my heart pure and immaculate for my Beloved.
The Imitation of Christ became my favorite book... each line resounding in my soul... penetrating the depths. One line I read said something to the effect that the more we familiarize ourselves with the Saints while on earth, the more friends we will have in Heaven! With this... I began soaking up the lives of the Saints and wearing many, many, many medals around my neck, each different, representing a new friend in Heaven! These friends in Heaven got me through the rough times with my seemingly lack of friends of earth. I also began soaking up the traditions and teachings of the Church, attending as many workshops and classes as possible--such as the Called & Gifted Workshop and RCIA--to deepen this knowledge.
I also began at this time what I called "little acts of love." I would make many sacrifices for Him, and write frequently in my journal... spending as much time as possible with Him in Eucharistic Adoration.
The summer after my 5th grade year a new priest was assigned to my parish. I remember the first time he came to the playground during recess at our Catholic School... with the group of girls I was standing with, he asked us if any of us ever considered religious life. They all laughed, but I didn't, but had been thinking prior to this incident of religious life... not knowing at all what it really was. He saw my hesitation, and encouraged my response, and this was the first time I awknowledges this calling from the Beloved... I said 'yes.'
This wonderful priest put me under his wing after this... helping me to protect this beautiful gift from God, and teaching more and more about religious life, and how most importantly to live a holy life--how to become a Saint! Which became my goal, out of love for Jesus.
This priest would later become my spiritual director, and father, for many years. This next summer I would also join youth group, which would nourish me in this call to holiness, and most importantly, become a dearly beloved family to me.
During my seventh grade year, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles came to my school. At the Diocesian Vocations Fair that year, another young lady, who at that time was twice my age, asked if I would like to come with her that summer to spend time with the Carmelite Sisters. I was overjoyed! That summer, and the next, I would spend time helping these beloved Sisters... and I was certain Jesus was calling me to Himself through this Community!
I so dearly wanted to join early... before entering High School... but was advised to go to High School as a little missionary--an evangelist--to my peers about the love of Jesus. I was also told... that this would be a time to prepare a beautiful crown of pearls to present to my Beloved on our wedding day! I took both of these challenges very seriously.
The next few years I was showered with what I like to call: "little kisses from the Beloved" that is.... suffering. But, these sufferings allowed me to become more closely united with my Beloved--that the bride may resemble her Bridegroom!
I would openly tell people that I felt God was calling me to Religious Life... and was at first mocked at this. This was only because of ignorance of this holy vocation! When I did not relent, they soon became more curious about this calling, and a seed would be planted amongst my peers.
At this time... my dear spiritual director began asking me to pray for a special intention... for the schismatic Sisters at Mount St. Michael's. He told me that some were starting to become aware of the fullness of the truth in lined with the Roman Catholic Church under our current Pope. I considered them my sisters in Christ, and would pray frequently for them.
When they did come, I loved dearly to be around them! But they knew, and I knew, that my calling was to become a Carmelite, and there was no question about me with these new Sisters.
The summer before my senior year, I needed to find a new spiritual director due to the reassignment of our parish priest, so I asked one of this dear new Sisters-a new friend of mine. The more I learned about these Sisters and their goals and aspirations... the more strongly I felt Jesus calling me towards them! After six years of assurance that I would be united to Christ as a Carmelite... I felt He might actually be asking of me something new, something different, something more.
This began the process of discerning a vocation with the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church. I began to spend more time with them, attending functions with them, and Come & Sees. After much prayer, I asked for an application, and after much, much more prayer, asking Our Lady to guide me to her Son, I turned in the application.
With great joy, I received my acceptance letter on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes--the patroness of our Diocese. And in a few days... this littlest bride-of-Christ-to-be will begin formation with three others on the feast of the Queenship of Mary--my Confirmation patron.
Only the most High God could grant such a holy vocation as a bethrothel and marriage to His Son, and provide the grace for such a union! I thank Him everyday for His humble choice of me, His littlest one, to become the littlest bride of Christ.