Part 23: Suores Vitae Part II
Originally Published: Saturday December 7th, 2013
Sunday night at Villa Maria, I was picked and brought back to the Bronx for a beginning of a new week. That retreat was the shot in the arm I needed.
So I was back for dinner in the Bronx and it was nice to get back to some ordinary time with the postulants. So Monday was the usual, but we got a sleep in! Except I couldn’t get up… I was held hostage by a vivid dream of a deformed cow following me around ringing a bell and reciting Shakespeare… No joke. It was weird. I have no idea what it may mean but I promise I’m not consuming any kind of hallucinogens. We caught up with all the news from the Sister’s visiting day on Sunday over meals and got stuck into the various chores around the place.
Tuesday I headed back up to Villa Maria Guadalupe with Sr Filumena the Kiwi novice and a load of food for the Come and See Retreat and it was snowing! The first snow of the season and I was very excited!
Thursday was retreat day! The postulants and sisters banned me from doing anything. So I relaxed and got prepared for the retreats. For the last few days I had been recording the spiritual movements to discern any patterns, Ignatian style. Honestly, Fr Timothy Gallagher’s books were the most useful things I have read this entire time. I highly recommend anyone trying to make sense of God’s will grab those books.
By dinner time about 40 of us retreatants had arrived and were getting settled in. After evening prayers and dinner, we had a vocations talk from Sr Mary Karen, my favourite Sister of Life, the most hilarious and sarcastic Virginian nun you will ever come across. It was hilarious and awesome and it was the first time she had ever shared this. We then had an introductory conference from Sr Antoniana and we were away!
Friday was a huge day, after morning prayer, meditation, mass and breakfast we were away to the Bronx to pray outside an abortion clinic for an hour. We prayed the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet and sang a few hymns in a rough part of the Bronx. It was then on to St Patrick’s Cathedral to visit Cardinal O’Connor’s tomb under the main altar. That was awesome. Fulton Sheen was buried there too as well as Pierre Tousset a Haitian slave who became the hairdresser to the upper classes of New York and almost completely funded the building of Old St Pats as well as diving into Typhoid outbreaks to assist the sick and giving away everything he earned.
After that we headed over to Sacred heart which is their house of Holy Respite. i.e. Pregnant women come and live with the Sisters about 7 of them at once until about 6 months after the birth of their baby. We had lunch and listened to one of the women who had formerly lived with them. She was incredible! A year and half ago, she was pregnant, alone in NYC and had no where else to go. Now she has a beautiful daughter, has a full time job in Public Policy a nice apartment and whole-heartedly embraced her faith (She is a 7th Day Adventist).
We then headed back to Stamford after a tour of the house and an afternoon chatting with the sisters there and some of the residents there and their little babies. We were pretty wiped. It had been a long day. But we were not done yet! And God certainly wasn’t done with me either. After dinner we had a Eucharist Healing service like last Friday.
This was my moment. I was in a space of consolation. I just simply prayed, “I’m here. I’m listening. I’ve discerned this, but I’m yours. I will do what ever you ask. How about that neon sign?” I went up to the altar rail, the monstrance was before me. I felt a great weight lift off my shoulders, an overwhelming sense of peace. I went back to the pew. I felt a voice well up from within. (I’m not nuts I’m not hearing voices!) It was not my own voice, but a deeper one. It simply said, “he’s waiting for you.”
That was it. I had my answer. I am not called to be a sister, I am called to marriage. I wanted to run around singing at the top of my lungs. But of course, we had begun our 24 hour silent part of the retreat. I had this awesome grace and I can’t tell anyone! But that was ok! It was bed time after holy hour and evening prayer and I got the best sleep and woke up to a beautiful, clear and warm winter day.
After breakfast and morning prayer we had a conference and then the rest of the day was free for our own personal prayer and reflection as well as meetings with Sr Antoniana, Sr Virginia Joy or Sr Mary Gabriel. All morning it was little confirmations. The scripture meditations I was following weren’t doing it for me. So I reopened my bible and it fell open to the marriage of Tobias and Sarah. I wandered over to the Cardinal O’Connor table and found the only thing he wrote on the vocation of marriage.
I had a meeting with Sr Virginia Joy scheduled for after lunch and as soon as that door closed I was out with it! She was so happy too! We had a good laugh and after I went for a hike through the near by woods, had a nap, then talking ended after dinner and we played a team-charades relay game which was friggin hysterical. We then had Q&A on slips of paper with Sr Antoniana, Sr Virginia Joy, Sr Mary Gabriel and Sr Talitha. Also a lot of fun, especially with the last question. Some smart-arse asked if Sisters shave. It got a drum roll and had all the sisters in stitches.
Sunday rolled around and it was my last day. I was feeling a bit lost and I didn’t want to leave! But it was time. I got to hug everyone and drove into the city. I felt at peace. I finally had my answer and it was time for me to go out on my own. I did get a photo with my all time favourite Sister, Sr Mary Karen.
There you have it! I’m not called to be a sister! I’m home soon, but not after a week in NYC, my Birthday and Thanksgiving and hopefully some more snow before heading back on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!