My name is Yvelyne Bemard. I was born and raised in Brentwood, New York until I was 15. I moved to Florida where I remained until I graduated from the University of Florida in May 2011 with a B.A in English. I didn’t want to go to UF at first, I had wanted to go to culinary school, but God had other plans for me. I have always been open to religious life. But in my openness, I figured that the Lord would simply guide me along my way, so long as I was docile to His will, and at His timing, I would become a nun.
I thought so simply about religious life that I imagined the Lord when He deemed it appropriate, would make a habit fall onto my lap from the out of nowhere.
It was not until college that I learned that openness to religious life is not enough. I realized that just because I was open to religious life, didn’t necessarily mean I was called to religious life. So I began to ask the Lord if I had a calling to religious life. I immediately saw that my openness was a necessary and helpful disposition that the Lord graced me with so that I could fully embark on the wild, amazing, journey He led me on, and continues to lead me on, towards my Vocation.
God blessed me with people who formed me and taught me what I know now. I learned about Ignatian spirituality and the discernment of spirits. I studied St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and any Church document that dealt with prayer. I learned about Relationship, Identity, and Mission. I learned about the interior life, the faculties of the soul, and the different levels of the heart. Above all, I developed profound relationships with good and holy friends and saints who challenged me, supported me, and walked with me.
There is one relationship, however, that I cherish more than most and that is my relationship with my mother Mary. She is my refuge and my perpetual help. There has never been a day that goes by when I do not feel her presence with me. It is because of her constant presence that I have been able to believe that God is always with me. For many years, I would often feel as though God is not with me, but if Mary is with me and she is with God, then the only logical conclusion is that God is with me. My sister taught me to pray the Rosary and I immediately developed a devotion to praying the Rosary daily. I started to see the power of meditating on the mysteries of Christ with Mary and through Mary.
I eventually consecrated myself to Mary on the feast of the Annunciation four years ago. I want nothing but to have my Lady’s heart. I want to be her. There has never been a day where I do not pray to have an exchange of hearts with Mary. I want to say yes to the Lord. There are times when I feel like Saul who was stubborn against the Lord. Through Mary’s help, I often ask to be like Paul who was stubborn for the Lord. There are other times when I feel like Judas who despaired. Through Mary’s help, I ask to be Peter who lamented with a contrite heart and came back to the Lord.
And so the I-ord continues to meet me where I’m at. He is truly relentless in His love and mercy towards me. I have so much head knowledge about Christ but by His grace, all that knowledge began to seep into my heart.
I struggled for many years with saying and knowing and believing that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and KNOWING without a shadow of a doubt that He truly is present. We had an encounter and in an instant, my doubts were conquered forever. Never again, will I ever doubt that Christ is with me. I even had an experience recently, where I was driving east toward the rising sun. I was literally being blinded by the sun trying to drive on the road. At those moments when I feel blind and lost and that Christ is not with me, He is actually the closest. A priest friend of mine said it this way: the dark night is like a child being fondled in his mother’s arms. A child whose head is being pressed into the breasts of his mother cannot see a single thing but darkness. These realizations have been and will always be my greatest comfort. My faith is strong. My faith makes me choose to believe that if Jesus said He would be with me even to the end of the age then what else could fulfill His promise except the Blessed Sacrament?
Out of His love for me, the Lord has drawn me ever closer to Himself through daily meetings at Mass and Eucharistic Adoration and Liturgy of the Hours. He has healed me of so many wounds and continues to transform my heart. The greatest healing that I have received from His is thinking that my identity was found in my mission. I was completely content with a Master and servant relationship with God, but He was not. God has revealed Himself first and foremost as Father. Therefore, first and foremost, I am his daughter. Therefore, I cannot DO anything to be loved by Him I simply am.
Once I was healed of this, I realized that daughters usually end up marrying men who are like their fathers and sons, and vice versa, usually marry women who are like their mothers. For as long as I remember, I shied away from a romantic relationship with Jesus. I was okay with Him being my brother, my friend, my rescuer, my Messiah but not my Bridegroom, not my Lover. But I had my encounter with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I became infused with such love and passion for Him that I am ready to defend Him with my life. I believe that Catholicism is not just an ethical lifestyle and Jesus is not just some lofty deity. I believe that Christ is incarnational and therefore the same way I interact
with other persons I must interact with Christ for He too is a person. But He is also a Divine Penon therefore He deserves all that I am. I cannot love another person more than my God.
I understand that Jesus is meeting me where I am right now and that I have a long way to go in terms of being total, free, fruitful, and faithful in my relationship with Him. I know that my relationship with Him must transcend romanticism, that my love for Him is a pure act of my will, and that emotions will come and go. But for now, I find that the best way for me to realize how I’m supposed to love Jesus is by looking at the way I have loved other men in the past. I am a hopeless romantic and I am a very loyal lover. All my past relationships left me with a wounded heart however because I was pouring myself unto men who could not love me the way that I knew that only Jesus could love me. But I wouldn’t allow myself to fall in love with Jesus because I struggled with believing that He was even real. Now that I know that He is real I must give my loyalty to Him. I must give all that I am to Him.
Once I had my life-changing encounter with Jesus, I came to realize that there was a right way to discem and a wrong way to discem. When I first started to say that I was discerning religious life, I really wasn’t. Instead, what I meant to say was that I was thinking about religious life. I would research orders online, I would go on come and see retreats, I would visit religious orders, and I would talk to nuns, but I only acquired information from them. I didn’t realize that, in a way, it was my job to reach out to religious orders and pursue a relationship with them with the intention of becoming one with them.
Truly, discernment requires so much more than thought processes and critical analysis. It requires action. It requires love. I see discernment as a courtship of sorts, wherein, you have to take risks of love and allow yourself to be vulnerable with the other, and expose your heart and all that you hold dear, in the hope that the community that you are discerning with is indeed the one God ordained for you to be a part of from before eternity. It is no wonder, therefore, that discernment requires openness. Without the grace of openness, no one could endure the heartaches from rejection, or endure the long process of a particular community, just to realize that you aren’t called to that community.
Because of the grace of openness, to the not-so-easy or pretty side of discemment, my heart is now pierced and stretched. The process has been a very important part of my journey towards my Vocation because it has been making my heart ready to serve the whole world. Because of the process, I know that I wasn’t created to pour myself into a natural family. I was created to pour myself into a supernatural family. Because of the process, I know that my path of salvation requires that I not be under the mission of a fallen man, no matter how awesome or righteous he could have been. My path of salvation requires that I be under the mission of Christ himself because, under anyone else, I would wander from Him. He is jealous of me and knows that I am prone to wander. He must have all of me.
Through me, He will do great things. I have so many talents and desires that I know only because God has created me with a missionary heart. He has created me with a zeal to preach the Gospel to the whole world. I want to ransom captive souls from the snares of the enemy. I want to educate children about the fullness of our beautiful Catholic Faith,
in hopes that when they grow up, they won’t look back on their lives and say “I never knew that about the Church, how come I never learned that?” I want our youth to be equipped for the future, for they are the generation that will bring about the turn of the tide and lead our world from a culture of death to a culture of life.
So the I-ord has called me to discern with the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. I have looked at many religious orders, and I was very much attracted to a particular one. I was so attracted to it that I was ready to do whatever it took to conform myself to their charism. But the Lord reminded me, through a conversation I had with the Mercedarians that my identity flows from my relationship with Him, not from anything that I do. With the Mercedarians, I realized that they live in a way that I already live. While I found resistance in other communities, I felt at home in their community. I realized that this effortless connection was only because of the spirituality and the charism. I experience God through His mercy. His providence is because of His mercy, His love for me, and patience and pursuit of my heart is because of His mercy. Everything
about our relationship is because of His mercy. And because of His mercy, all I want to do is be at his feet and adore Him. All I want to do is be a servant to His Sacred Heart. I want to console His heart from all the sins committed against Him. I want to be a testimony to the fact that Jesus is truly with us, loves us, and wants to marry us. I want Catholics to not just know that He is truly present in the Eucharist but believe in their hearts that He is, so much so that they wouldn’t think twice about dying to defend the Eucharist. I want our children to be educated in this regard. I want the whole world to be ravished by God’s beauty and believe in His mercy in their lives.
Education is very important to me. I was poorly catechized as an adolescent and I do not exaggerate when I say that I was not catechized at all as a child. I don’t want another generation of Catholics to grow up not knowing their faith. This is the New Evangelization, this is the New Springtime. I am ready to do my Father’s work.