Even when we have "doubt" in our hearts God’s love always prevails.
When I first felt the call to religious life I had this burning sense of “doubt” within the depth of my soul. The “doubt” that I felt was not that of questioning my vocation to the consecrated life, or “doubt” in God’s desire for me be able to live out an authentic religious life in a community of religious sisters embracing vows to God. But I felt “doubt” in my heart to why God would choose me to become a religious a sister when I knew deep down in my very core that there was no way my parents would ever except that I was leaving behind the career that I spent my entire life working towards or that I was making the decision to not enter into the sacrament of marriage and have children. I remember kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament after mass one day and praying for the Lord to allow me to do His will and not my own, and at that moment feeling an overwhelming desire to have to push aside my feelings of “doubt” and follow Him to pursue His love. I recall staying silent for a moment, while a million thoughts rushed through my mind only to create an abrupt traffic jam of consciousness.
When Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, in her book, “The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church” says “As we continue to strive to look upon our loved ones with God’s tender gaze of transforming love, let us live under the gaze of the Father, fix our eyes upon Jesus, and be guided by the Holy Spirit,” (Noble 174) we understand that it is through God’s guidance that we put our faith in Him to help lead our loved ones back to the church not by judgment or condemnation, but by extending a gentle invitation of grace and kindness. The words of Sr. Theresa Aletheia further remind us of Pope Francis’s words in his letter to consecrated men and women on February 2, 2014, where Pope Francis tells us that the “Men and women of our time are waiting for words of consolation, the availability of forgiveness, and true joy.” (Francis) After reading “The Prodigal You Love” we are able to obtain a deeper understanding that If we want our loved ones to “come back home” we should not be forceful with them and give them rhetoric about how if they don’t return to the Catholic Church they will forever spend an eternity in the fires of hell. The people of today do not want to be a part of a faith where they are constantly being told “You can’t do this, and you can’t do that,” and Sr. Theresa Aletheia points out a reflection on Pope Francis’s writings that affirm the words of Benedict XVI, “When we have loved ones that are away from the Church, God asks us to become holy so that we may give glory to God and attract others to Him in the Church”. (150) It is through promoting the values of the Gospel that we “attract” others to the faith, and I love the points that Sr. Theresa Aletheia makes in her book because it reminds me of my call to religious life.
In the Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 72: The Good Zeal of Monks the rule states “Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life,” (RB 72.1-2) which reminds me of how religious sisters carry out an action of love by doing that which is in the best interest of another rather than herself as we are called to show respect for those that have chosen a path away from our faith. I agree that we should invite them back to the church by pursuing them with God’s love and to free ourselves from an inward gaze that is wrapped up in our own thoughts, our interests, and our wants or an outward gaze that consists of us being judgmental, unforgiving, and lacking in the charity of the Father (Noble 173). Sometimes we allow our own personal frustrations with our loved ones to prevent us from abiding by the will of the Holy Spirit and we instead do our own will.
If we make room for the Holy Spirit within our hearts and put our trust in God I have found that our invitation of grace and kindness to our loved ones may one day be accepted with open arms. I have to hold onto hope and continue to pursue God's love that someday my parents will support my vocation to religious life because that is what gives me the courage to know that I will become a religious sister despite the devil’s temptation to give up and surrender because I am not good enough for religious life, or because there is a possibility that my parents may never accept me becoming a religious sister. As Sr. Theresa Aletheia mentions in her book, “Hope cannot be found within ourselves, we must turn to God in order to grow in this virtue.” (166)