Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, in FALLING IN LOVE in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. FALL IN LOVE, STAY IN LOVE and it will decide everything.” – Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ
20 years ago today, kneeling before Mother Angelica in the little chapel in Irondale AL, I asked to be received as a Postulant, so as to further discern God’s Will for my life, and with the hopes to one day profess my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration.
19 years ago today, I received the Holy Habit and my new name and was received into the Novitiate.
17 years ago today, I professed my vows. (As an aside,125 years ago on this very day, St. Therese did that same thing.)
Time marches on, and to think of that timid 19 year old girl that mustered up the boldness to follow the divine call, I stand in awe of the power of God’s grace. Falling in love makes us do some crazy things.
Staying in love, though, staying in love demands an ever deepening surrender. Staying in love, surely that ought to be on some list of “greatest graces ever”! Staying in love is an ongoing and vivifying gift of the Bridegroom, that anchors me to His Heart even amidst my own inconstancy, weakness, and selfishness. Each day this gift comes to me by way of Holy Communion – His Eucharistic Heart transforming and expanding my own little heart.
With such gratitude, I look back over the last 20 years and see in my life a beautiful story of His mercy. I see a procession of people who responded to grace and thus helped me to respond to grace. How grateful I am for my Community, for my family, for religious and priests – confessors and spiritual directors, and all the good folks whose example showed me the beauty of persevering love!
As I muse on the last 20 years, I see Our Lady always beside me – forming me, loving me, embracing me, and accompanying me with a Mother’s gentle love. She it is who has taught (and continues to teach) that in every moment of every day the Father is loving me, and in that comes deep and settled security. In that I find the transforming power of “staying in love”.
I’ll close with a quote that expresses this truth (and a great big: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAMA!! – on this Feast of her Nativity):
Mary’s song is one of thanksgiving for all the great things God does in her life. Her “pondering” (Lk 2:19) consists in letting the events enter her heart and there be transformed into praise and thanksgiving. In her heart, everything falls into its right place, everything is given a meaning; there she sees how everything comes from the hand of God, and how God, in the midst of all that she doesn’t understand, does great things for her.
If you learn from Mary to see everything in a larger perspective, as a sign of the Father’s care and love, then – in the midst of the unrest of the world – you will be filled with divine security and peace.”
– Fr. Wilfrid Stinnisen