According to the dictionary a vocation is a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action. There is so much more to a vocation.
We all have gifts given to us by God. We are called to live honouring those gifts and growing ever nearer to who God has called us to be. Parker Palmer writes “God asks us only to honour our created nature, which means our limits as well as our potentials.”1 We are called to listen to God’s voice.
Religious life is a demanding call. We are invited to leave our former, familiar world, and let go of what we used to know and hold on to; all this implies loss. We receive something new but at the same time we must let go of something else. That was certainly true for me. I left the city where I was born and thought I would always live in and moved to a city that I did not know to live with 4 other women (2 of whom I did not know all that well). Talk about adjustment. Talk about upheaval. I left behind family and friends. I have been blessed however because I have made many friends in the various places where I lived and each has been a gift in my life.
I had the great gift of living a single life and it was my thought that this was where God was calling me. Sister Sandra Schneiders, I.M.H. writes “No one (at least no one in her right mind) undertakes this prophetic vocation on her own initiative.” I recall several years ago saying to my friend Nancy, that being a Sister was not in the cards. I imagine God was having a good chuckle at my expense at that time because here I am as Sister Costanza. Who would have thought it!!! Not me!!
I remember very vividly sitting in my parish in Sault Ste. Marie (St. Veronica’s) for our Holy Thursday liturgy. I then went out for coffee with some friends and then felt called back to the church to sit with the Blessed Sacrament. Prior to my heading to the back of the church, I sat in the very front pew in the dark. The large cross was in position, ready for Good Friday. In that stillness and quiet, I began to cry and there was an overflowing peace that came over me and I knew then and there that after months of denying and trying to ignore God’s voice, the answer was YES. It was in that moment that I knew what I needed to do. One of my first talks was with a very dear friend who was also being called to religious life, my parish priest, Fr. Paul and my Spiritual Director. I then connected with the vocation director and the rest as they say is history.
Why do I stay? It’s because the Sisters live life to the fullest in everything they do whether it be prayer, throwing a good party or playing cards! When I listen to the stories, I hear of the “boldness” of these women who forged ahead, moved around and continue to do remarkable things always trusting that God will see them through. I realize that I am standing on the shoulders of great women. I am in awe of the great role models that God has given me from the past and the present.
There were two thoughts and feelings that allowed me to persevere and which continue to sustain me. The first was that God would never lead me where He did not think I could go and the second was that I believe God is always with me and therefore if I allow the promptings of God to lead me, I would learn from both my successes and my not so great moments. Richard Rohr writes “I need to recognize that I’m in a river that is bigger than I am. The foundation and the flow of that river is love. Life is not about me; it is about God, and God is apparently about love.”2
God’s call is different for each one of us and yet it is the same. It is a call to answer our baptismal call, to grow in love, in wisdom and in inner freedom, and thus to bring greater love, peace and freedom into the world. I realize that my parents laid a strong foundation of love and respect. My parents were very caring, compassionate and well loved. I miss them!
When I reflect on Psalm 139, it provides me with peace knowing that the God who created me will always be with me in lightness and in darkness. The God who created me and knows my heart with the good and the bad that surround it, loves me still.
I hope I am always open so that God can speak to your heart. It is said that God writes straight with crooked lines. Each step in our lives is an important one. One of my favourite sayings is that “Life is about using the whole box of crayons”. I think God loves colour because my life has been filled with so many things I never even thought of!
I know that the road ahead will be filled with blessings but also crosses. I also know that all is gift with God at my side.
Blog post: Costanza Romano, CSJ