“I knew from that moment something had to be done.”
Sr. Benedicta Solemnly Professed, Valley of Our Lady Cistercian Nuns Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. MEFV Grant Recipient.
It baffles my mind that my faith can be so strong without having been raised Catholic. Through the people I have been blessed with, and the experiences that I’ve had, my faith has grown leaps and bounds in only 6 years. My family had been Catholic and even went to Catholic schools, but none of that was passed down to me. So I’ve spent most of my life thus far, 19 years, not knowing God or His will for my life, let along knowing that He had one for me.
It was Jubilee Year that I decided to step foot into a Catholic church, with the help of a persistent friend. Many graces were poured out on me that year. That Lent in 2000, I learned what prayer was and how to do it — you just talk to Him. I’ve carried that with me since then and have used prayer to grow closer to Christ. Prayer led me to be confirmed two years later. It was a few days after being confirmed that I sensed something. Unsure of what it was, I talked with the priest that watched me grow. He said to me, “you might be called to religious life.” This was not my first encounter with the idea but I had just written it off.
I started to explore and was led to the Nashville Dominicans. Truly beautiful women and I wanted in on the action. After a couple more visits with the sisters, I asked for papers. Not too long after having papers, things started to fall in place: appointments and money. Everything started coming together quickly and felt ready to go. It came down to the last few weeks and then, the last days and I still didn’t have my letter of recommendation. I couldn’t be accepted. Only God Himself could stop me and He did. I gave up the thought of religious life after that.
It wasn’t until World Youth Day 2005 that the call would come again and this time with some urgency. I found myself in Germany, in Eucharistic Adoration. It was peaceful and dark. This time, unlike other times in adoration, music would follow times of silent meditation. It was here that the vocation discussion began and got serious. I found myself gazing at Him and I asked, could I spend the rest of my life like this? My answer came back in the music. “Yes,” it said, many times. “Do you want me to give my life for you? Do you call me?” The music answered back, “You are mine; come to me.” We went on this way for about 15 minutes. I left the church, after Benediction, only to collapse outside from the intensity of my encounter. I knew from that moment something had to be done. I could not remain where I was or on my same path.
Just as the Three Magi left Jesus and returned home differently than how they came, I too returned home differently. Upon returning home, I had a sense of searching for the home He called me to. I found time to search online for communities and found the Cistercian Nuns and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. From the many hours spent in adoration, I knew that God called me to one of these communities. He needed me to be close to Him for the rest of my life, but where? My answer to Him was, “Yes, wherever you say, Lord,” not because I should but because I wanted to. But it is not a selfish want. Whatever I receive should be passed on to others so they, too, can experience His Love and that is what I am called to do. It was this thought that led me to deeply consider the Cistercians. During my visit with them in February, I was reminded of this and said “Yes” to His will calling me there. I want to help spread His love and salvation to His people by leaving them to pray for them.
My heart desires to be ever closer to Him every day. I desire nothing more than to be forever Christ’s bride. My heart longs to be with Him in ths community, which He has chosen for me. I still remain open to His will should He say this is not it. I can only do as He asks because the will of Him, who loves me as I am, is what I seek. How can I not say “Yes” and follow Him?