When I think about my journey of discernment with the Lord, I am always drawn back to Psalm 23. In particular, I am struck by the truths that “He leads me” and “He restores my soul.” In every way, this is my story: the Lord has led me– preparing and preserving and guiding – and He has restored me and shown an infinite mercy that I have merited in no way.
I grew up in a home where the faith was a focal point, and we were quite involved in a Catholic lay movement that gave me a lot formation in virtue and different types of apostolate.
I have desired religious life almost as long as I can remember, but perhaps a seed was first planted after reading about the lives of St. Martin de Porres and St. Rose of Lima. I was drawn to the way they gave Jesus everything and ministered so tenderly to the poor.
Throughout my school years, I discovered a deep love of learning and put a lot of my time and energy into academics. However, it was through involvement in the Church that my heart came alive, that I had community. In the Church I was most free and at home. I dove headfirst into a virtue formation apostolate for girls and, through this group, went to many summer camps and retreats. A pivotal shift in my heart happened when the consecrated women who spiritually mothered these events said spontaneous prayers of thanksgiving out loud after communion. They prayed with an intimacy and closeness that I immediately found myself longing for. I felt that my heart was made to be with Jesus in that same way and, throughout middle school and high school, I came home from almost every retreat or camp proclaiming that I had a vocation – but I didn’t know what to do with this desire.
Throughout college, this desire was mostly dormant in my heart, although it would come up from time to time after a powerful talk, profound retreat experience, or bearing witness to the joyful sisters who served us. I was very involved in Catholic campus ministry but did not commit much or consistently to a more authentic and prayerful life with the Lord. I rarely went to confession and was lukewarm in many ways, explaining away sin, and half-alive as a result. I learned a great deal about the Lord because my campus ministry was vibrant, but I failed to integrate this with my heart.
After college, the Lord, in His merciful love, began a slow, gentle work of restoration. Through relationships, especially with holy women in my community, I witnessed peers giving Jesus time in prayer each day, who frequented the sacraments, in addition to pursuing healing, purity of heart, and life to the full. Jesus nurtured in my heart a desire to share in their joy and peace, through which I slowly began to follow their example. Prayer took root, and I found, more and more, that I just always wanted to be with Jesus. In the fall of 2020, I planned a vacation to Maine by myself, which, because of my growing desire to be with Jesus, became something more of a retreat. There, in nature and in time spent just with Him before the overwhelming beauty that He gives without measure, Jesus gently invited me to be His alone. A few months later on a silent retreat, He placed within my heart a certainty that I was made to be His, and my eyes were opened to see that a spousal relationship with Him is all I’ve ever desired. I had met Mother Clare briefly in college, and the Lord brought the community to mind again at this point in my discernment. By the grace of God, through Our Lady, I contacted the Sisters and eventually visited. When I arrived, there was an immediate peace and sense of home. I was at rest with the Lord in prayer and was deeply drawn to the poverty, straightforward living of the Gospel, and joyful spirit of the sisters. During the second visit just a month later, Jesus very clearly invited me to apply for entrance. His overflowing grace has led and restored me every step of the way and, because of that great love, here I am!