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Monday, 20 August 2012

Vocation Story: Sister Marie Rachel of the Sacred Wounds, O.C.D.

Sister Marie Rachel of the Sacred Wounds, O.C.D.

J.M. + J.T.
God’s ways are certainly mysterious. Never would I have imagined to be where I am today. All the years that I was growing up I had a definite plan for my life and religious life was not included. In my mind, I was going to be a wife and mother with many children, all of them home schooled. “God will surely send me a good catholic man to marry,” I thought; so I left it in His hands and bided my time. In the mean time, I attended religious talks with my mother. Never did I imagine how one would change my life.

It was just a normal talk on prayer. I am sure I heard similar words before, probably many times before. This time it was different. The words he spoke penetrated my heart. “Prayer is a conversation with God. That means two things: one, we need to talk to Him; secondly, and most importantly, we need to be QUIET and listen.” He said. God will speak to your heart if only you stop to listen. Going home, I felt quite uneasy, convicted. Most of my prayer was simply rattling off memorized formulas with names. I figured that pretty much covered everything I needed to do. As I lay down in bed that night, I did the riskiest thing in my life.

“So God, You speak. Okay. Well, now’s Your chance. I will be quiet and listen.” Not expecting much, I uneasily prayed these words then settled down to wait for whatever was going to happen. He did not lose one moment. Very quickly after I settled down to listen, these words formed in my mind: “You shall be My bride.” Deep down I knew Who spoke this because I had never thought anything like this before. Stunned and in disbelief, my only response was, “What?!?” Again, the same words came back to me. Even more uneasy, as this disrupted all my carefully laid out plans for my life, I tried to wiggle out of it. “Well, the Church is the Bride of Christ and as a married woman with a family, I would be part of the Church. Therefore, You must be calling me to be a bride in the sense that I am united to the Church.” Yet, this thought did not comfort me in the least. I knew He was calling for more.

Then the search began. St. Pio, speaking of Our Lord’s relationship with the soul has a saying that “all is a continual game on the part of your Lover.” And so the game began. Slowly, He wooed my heart and helped me to conform my desires to His. Soon, I found myself seeking out which Community He might want me to enter. With all the vast choices, I simply told Him, “This was Your idea, not mine. You better show me where to go because I have no clue where to start.” Within a few months, two separate people referred me to a Carmelite community in Alhambra California. At first, I dreaded the idea of returning to a crowed city. Nevertheless, I could not shake the feeling that it was no coincidence that two completely unrelated sources were pointing me here.

Taking a deep breath, I mustered up the courage to call Sister Marina and signed up for the Come and See retreat that summer. A little relieved, I thought to myself, “Well, I did my part. I will see what God will do.” He probably laughed when He heard my thoughts. No less than a month later, I was at a local Catholic Teen Day gathering. In the back, there were several vocation booths in the back. One caught my eye. There were a couple of sisters there in an ankle length brown habit. The habit looked like something I had seen before, like on one of the brochures for the Carmelites. Gathering up my courage (I did not have much to gather), I casually made my way to the back where the booths were. As I picked up a brochure to see if these sisters could really be the same ones I had called just a few weeks earlier, I looked up just in time to catch the eye of the sister standing there. Extending her hand, she said, “Hello, I am Sister Marina. Do you happen to know a young woman named Kim? She called me a few weeks ago to sign up for a retreat.” Stunned, I managed to tell her that the person she was looking for was me. I could hardly believe that the Vocation Directress was standing before me. I do not remember much else about that day, but I know I kept my eyes on EVERYTHING the sisters did.

That summer, I made my first trip to the retreat house. As I stepped out of the car, I knew that this was the place Our Lord was calling me. By the end of the retreat, I wanted to enter as soon as possible. Nevertheless, I was asked to stay at home for two more years. It was a difficult decision, but I remained at home for the two years and tried to grow closer to Christ throughout the time I had to wait. What a blessing it has been to have those two years of longing to enter! Much of the natural difficulties I have encountered within the Formation process have been lessened because I had to wait so long to even be here. Truly, God’s ways are mysterious and I praise Him for it.

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