When I began my discernment, I felt disturbed and confused about the effects of and the abuses of Vatican II (which continue today), and did not have the maturity to really know how to cope with that confusion.
The first stirrings of a vocation and desire to fully serve our Lord can appear at any time in your life. Mine seemed to appear in about 1975 or early 1976 when I was living in San Antonio, Texas Whenever I would visit the Cathedral there, a wistful longing would come over me – especially when visiting the crucified Christ. I somehow felt a need to give more of myself – but how?
As the years went by, that longing to serve full-time can get easily pushed to the back of your mind, as it did mine. It’s almost too easy to become caught up in moving, job, school, or even coping with a lowered self-esteem that would remind me that I was not good enough to be a servant or a spouse of our Lord. Still – that feeling would not let me go! It kept on cropping up – whether it was something on T.V. (such as on EWTN) or at Mass or when seeing a Religious in Habit – each time I felt a yank and a pull. Thoughts like “I’m going to be a Nun” or “Oh, I wish ….” would frequently go through my brain
I felt such a longing to make up for my wrongs and to go forward on totally committing myself to Him and His Life. I was scared, though. Time marched on and I got caught up in a career.
. I continued my Army career, but the desire to serve our Lord fully kept coming back over and over.
The real turning point was when I went on a 2-week tour to Spain and Italy with the Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in July 1989. Both visiting the Vatican and later the tomb of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo was especially instrumental in my decision to follow Christ in service.
The day came in 1999 when another decision had to be made – get promoted again in the Army to Master Sergeant, or retire from the Army and pursue my vocation. With the loving support of friends and my Priest, I made the decision to retire and pursue my vocation, following the Franciscan ideals – especially since I’d served as a Tertiary Franciscan for many years.
Throughout this paper I have omitted a lot of “nitty-gritty” details that I felt would be unnecessary or repetitive. The main thing, though, is that the deepest longing to be one with our Lord in His service in some capacity was (and is) when I would visit the crucified Christ and the Holy Eucharist. It is a wonderful reminder that anything we might be going through is NOTHING in comparison with what He went through for us.
I feel very deeply that our Lord has allowed me to go through many “mini-crucifixions”, hardships, and hurts in my life to help prepare me to help shoulder the burdens, heartaches and sufferings of others with a greater empathy, love and strength than I would have had otherwise. It is ONLY though Him that I moved forward rather than become bitter and self-pitying.
I still don’t understand why He called me, of all people. Maybe a part of it is my capacity for love and empathy for the suffering of others. Maybe He wanted someone who’s not a quitter and will remain devoted to Him in whatever capacity He uses me. I honestly don’t know, but I’m glad He did. His allowing me to follow Him and devote myself to Him is a grace for which I will never stop saying “Thank You”. Sometimes all I can do for others is pray for them – but many times that is plenty and what they need the most.
Pax et Bonum ….