by Sr. María José Sousa
One of our older sisters recently shared her vocation story with me. Our conversation reminded me of how unique each vocation story is, and how God guides each person with infinite wisdom and love. He loves all of creation while also loving each of us as if we were the only ones on earth! In his love, he knows and understands us better than we do ourselves…
THE MAN OF HER DREAMS
As a young woman, she was equally attracted to marriage and consecrated life. She dreamed of her future husband and had a very specific list of qualities he should have.
God eventually placed a young man in her life who seemed to fulfill all of the qualifications. They liked each other. One day, when she saw him at church, she realized that it was time to make a decision. She had to be honest with herself. No matter how good that young man was, she knew he wasn’t God’s will for her. She could therefore renounce “the man of her dreams” in complete freedom for the sake of a greater, infinite love.
BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT FOR ME!
She hoped to attend college to study pediatric nursing after graduating from high school. Her family supported her decision, but they were unable to pay for her education. As a result, she needed to look for a job. After saving up for a couple of years, she was able to enroll in a nursing program. It was a wonderful program, and she gained valuable field experience from the start! She was happy with her career.
But, as time passed, her call to the consecrated life became more and more clear. She felt called by God to join the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary and she decided to enter the community after graduation.
But first, she had to return home to inform her family of her decision. When she got home, she found her mother in bed, sick. Her sister was scheduled to have surgery soon, and someone needed to care for her husband and three children while she was in the hospital. Her mother would have liked to help, but she was too ill. So, her mother asked whether she would help out. Trusting in God’s providence, she agreed and decided to put her decision on hold.
The time at her sister’s home was exactly what she needed to confirm her vocation! She enjoyed caring for the children. Her sister’s husband was a good man. She could witness firsthand the beauty of family life. And amid all that beauty, she could freely say, “This is great, but it’s not what God wants for me!”
GOD’S LOVE FOR OUR FREEDOM
As our conversation ended, she joyfully pointed out that recalling those memories gives her the strength to remain faithful to her decision, even when things get difficult. Her discernment journey would have been quite different if she hadn’t allowed herself the opportunity to follow Divine Providence’s wise guidance.
When she decided to consecrate her life to God as a Sister of Mary almost sixty years ago, it was not because she wanted to run away from something or because she had a negative view of marriage and family life. Precisely because she could see the beauty of both vocations, she could freely decide on the path of greatest happiness that God had planned for her from all eternity. In all these years she has been happy in her vocation and has never regretted her decision.
Each vocation story—and the entire history of salvation—is a clear testimony of God’s infinite love and his tremendous respect for our human freedom. Our vocation is a gift from God, not a command or a punishment. It is our very personal path of love. He doesn’t, however, demand that we follow this path. He doesn’t want slaves, but rather children who voluntarily choose to follow his plans and love him in time and eternity.
The book of Wisdom says: “But your providence, O Father, guides” the universe (Wis 14,3). What’s behind this? The fact that God, in his goodness, power, and faithfulness, leads all things to their appointed end… That is God’s general providence. Am I affected by his general providence? By all means! But it goes even further: as a person, I am also the object of the heavenly Father’s special love…The Father is concerned about each and every detail of our lives. At the high point of the Old Testament, the people believed in God’s special providence, but they applied it only to the people as a whole, not to the individual. The New Testament never tires of telling us that the Father loves the individual person, he is concerned about every person and every detail… God loves me personally.”Fr. Joseph Kentenich, Childlikeness before God, 1937