Many of you, I am sure, can remember the day of your entrance into Religious Life. It was a momentous occasion with tears of joy mingled with those of sadness. On that day you had a rough vision of what the rest of your life would look like, and knew that your life choice was an offering up of married life and the prospect of children.
On this day we celebrate the “entrance” of Our Lady when, according to the tradition of the Church, she was presented in the Temple by her parents Anne and Joachim and dedicated to a life of consecrated virginity. Her life had an expected trajectory and there was no reason to doubt that these plans would not come to fruition since it seemed to be the Will of God. Why would God not fulfill this plan?
We all know what happens at the Annunciation when it seems as if God changes His mind. Why did He wait almost ten years? You would think He would have hinted to her or her parents at some point! Does Mary protest? Does she quit? Does she think she “failed” God? Of course not!
In a very particular way, we are conformed to Mary’s Immaculate Heart since we too have offered ourselves to the Lord, and we too have experienced the crumbling of our expectations.
But this sudden change is not a failure or a rejection!
The reason we can look to Mary as a model is not just that Mary did not complain or sit there feeling sorry for herself. More importantly, she also knew that this “mistake” was still part of God’s plan. She did not doubt that He would fulfill all of His Promises, and she even rejoiced at the news! Imagine, being an unwed mother in a society that didn’t accept her kind of situation very easily. Imagine having to tell Joseph and her family, and being gossiped about in town.
We can see her as an example of encouragement and proof that God still has great plans for us, that we didn’t “fail” Him or our vocations- since He is infinitely greater than those things (yes, even our vocation)! We can say with the utmost faith that He still receives us as a gift, even though we might feel like the gift of ourselves that we made on our entrance day was not accepted.
He receives you with open arms. You are His Beloved Daughter still and always! Rejoice today as we celebrate the Presentation of Our Lady and let it be a reminder that because of Mary;s “yes” we are able to call ourselves Daughters of God and even “co-heirs” with Christ in the Heavenly Kingdom, regardless of our earthly vocation.
After I returned from the convent I was filled with worries, fears, and questions about my future. I asked God over and over: What do You want me to do now? Where do You want me to go with this life You have given me? Why am I back here?
I like to have a plan, directions, and a goal. When I left the convent I felt like I was plan-less, direction-less, goal-less. I didn’t know where to go, what to do, or how to do it.
So, two weeks after I got back I got my first job, working at a deli. I knew if I didn’t start doing something I would go crazy. St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers, isn’t my namesake for no reason! I recently quit the deli in favor of a bakery job and am now saving up for college in the Fall. I don’t know what I’m going to study, what career I want to pursue, or even if God is calling me to religious or married life in the future. These are all future vocations, vocations of later; I needed to have a vocation of now.
I believed that I didn’t have a vocation of now. But I do. What is my vocation of now? I am a single working lay Catholic woman, soon to be a student, too. I try to attend daily Mass and to “pray unceasingly” throughout my day. I try to serve everyone at work with the dignity they deserve as my brothers and sisters in Christ, even if I am only serving them donuts and coffee. I try to be a joy-filled witness of Christ’s love to all. And soon I will also be called to be a living example of my Catholic faith in a college setting, too. This is a pretty busy vocation: spiritual priorities, being in the workforce, and being a student.
Sometimes I get so caught up in wondering what my vocation of later is that I miss what is right before me. I need to live in the moment and use each second to glorify God. This is my plan now: to trust God, show Christ’s love to all, and be joyful no matter what my directions are. My goal is to use where I am now to bring me closer to Heaven, and to bring as many of my brothers and sisters with me, too. These directions, plans, and goal fit with every vocation: vocations of now and later.
Let’s realize that God is calling us now and that we do have vocations of now, and God will guide us to our vocations of later in His own time.
“Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” ~ Proverbs 16:3
Josephine was a postulant for six months before discerning that God was calling her back to the world to attend college. She has been back for four months and is enjoying her job at a local bakery. She is still discerning religious life but is open to married life, too, if that is what God is calling her to. She loves to read, write poetry, sing, cook, go thrift store shopping, and she likes to laugh a lot! She is grateful for the opportunity to reach out to others who are going through the same situations as her.