Religious are often asked to tell our vocation stories: why and how did we feel called to religious life? What were the signs, the areas of certainty; what were the struggles and doubts? And how did we come to our particular congregation? How did we know that this was the place and way of life God was calling us to?
Recently, though, I have found myself musing on the other side of the coin. I know why I felt and still feel called to religious life within the Society of the Sacred Heart, but... what reason did God have for calling me to this? And why does God continue to call me to be an RSCJ?
Over the years I have often wondered why God
has called me, with all my foibles, weakness and limitations -
and not someone more saintly or seemingly worthy. In more recent years I have wondered less, accepting that for some mysterious reason, despite my limitations, God has indeed called me: so I know, with increasing certainty, that this is what I was created for... and now the question has shifted slightly, as I find myself wondering why. No longer why me? - but now why this? Why RSCJ?
Thus far there has been no single conclusive answer: and maybe there never will be; maybe I will simply go on uncovering layers of call and meaning as life unfolds. But an important answer of sorts was provided the other day, as I read one of the letters to the Society of Marie-Therese de Lescure RSCJ, a former Superior General, sent on 25th May 1956. These words leapt out at me: Have faith in your vocation... Our vocation is the manifest proof of this Love...
Twenty-five years ago I had a profound experience of God's immeasurable love for me, and knew that I was called to give as much love as I could in return for such great love. In the words of a well-known hymn I experienced a call To prove some love for such unmeasured love - semi-understood words suddenly brought into stark relief by Mother de Lescure's letter.
And so I know that, beneath all the layers and calls within calls, God has called me to be an RSCJ simply, fundamentally, because of Love. It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you... It was because the Lord loved you... (Deut 7.7-8) The fact that I am an RSCJ is sure proof of God's love for me: but within that, even more fundamentally, I am reminded yet again that my vocation is to be the manifest proof of God's unmeasured love to all those I encounter. May I live up to that.