Picture this, I’m on a silent retreat (but not a religious vocation retreat; I’m no longer discerning religious life!) and at the end of the closing Mass for the retreat, the priest calls forward for a “special blessing” two religious sisters and four consecrated women as well as any women who may be feeling as if they are called to be the “spouse of Christ”. No one else probably noticed, but an invisible dagger went into my heart. I wonder what would have happened if I suddenly yelled, “Christ is my Spouse too! He’s the Spouse of all of us! (and maybe I want a special blessing too!).”
God had mercy on me. Once the women had returned to their pews and we were praying after Mass, a song was played with lyrics from the beginning of the Gospel of John 14. “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I should have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself; that where I am, there you also may be.” I then started to cry. This was the Gospel passage at one of the final Masses before leaving religious life and these are consoling words. And so I ask myself this question. Was it really religious life that I longed for or Heaven? Union with God, to feel Jesus’ presence 24/7, the Beatific Vision, our Eternal Home: that is my true longing; my thirst. Deep down all of humanity has this same thirst; realized or not. When drawing closer to God in prayer, this desire would naturally increase. I had it before entering religious life and, if I’m honest, it was not quenched in religious life for religious life was still not Heaven. I don’t have Leonie’s Longing as much as I have God & Heaven Longing!
I’m going to end with a few resources and thoughts:
1. Danielle Rose is my favorite Catholic singer. She also used to be in a religious community. If you haven’t heard this song yet, I invite you to listen to it. It’s titled “The Saint That Is Just Me”. Here is a link to it, though with a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh_fSNz6NvQ “Yes, if it weren’t for my sins or wounds or weakness, then You wouldn’t have married me upon the cross. Why do I fear being seen naked and broken? That’s why you came; cause I need You that much. When you hung upon the cross looking at me, You didn’t die so that I would try to be somebody else. You died so I could be the saint that is just me.”
2. Lighthouse Catholic Media puts out several inexpensive talks on CDs. “Jesus the Bridegroom. The Greatest Love Story Ever Told” by Dr. Brant Pitre may be one of my personal favorites for possibly obvious reasons. 😉 He has also written a book with the same title.
3. Drink deeply of God’s mercy. A few days ago, I was in a Perpetual Adoration Chapel praying when everyone else that had been in there got up and left. I was left alone with Jesus. While before Him, I saw more deeply times I haven’t trusted Him yet also how He loves me. Oh, how He loves us. I am currently reading “7 Secrets of Divine Mercy” by Vinny Flynn and recently finished reading a book titled, “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told. Now Is the Time of Mercy” by Fr. Michael Gaitley. Both are SO good. Fr. Gaitley’s most recent release is “33 Days to Merciful Love” and can be used to make a consecration to Divine Mercy (St. Therese of Lisieux style).
So rest in God’s Merciful Heart & Love AND ponder this: God also longs for me (and you) to go to Heaven where we will be His brides forever! “Jesus, I trust in You!”