The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice...
~ John 10.27
And as I listened to the Gospel at today's Mass I remembered some half-forgotten words from about eighteen years ago, which one of our sisters included in the booklet for her first vows Mass: something like I do not understand everything it is saying, but I recognise the Voice...
And that, in essence, is what a call to religious life can be about: recognising and responding to a Voice, heard from deep within us. Sometimes it is barely heard, softer than a whisper; often we may struggle to understand what it is saying, still less exactly to what and where it is calling us... but still we can recognise the Voice, and choose to listen to it, knowing that its insistence will become clearer and stronger. Unlike sheep we won't fill the air with our excited bleating as soon as we hear the Voice, but something within us will quicken and stir; will know the joy of recognition. Something will know, without a doubt, that this is a Voice which comes from Love and is calling us because of its great love; calling us back into Love, in order to love.
Today is also the fifth anniversary of my first-ever blogpost. Five years ago, in a long introductory post, I wrote:
My profile says I am a religious sister: but what it doesn't say, explicitly, is that I love being a sister. It is a way of life which gives me life, which challenges and fulfils in equal measure, and frees me to love and grow in loving. Crucially, it gives me that "more" of God for which I longed all those years ago, and the pursuit of which brought me to the Society. Belonging to God is scary, tough and risky, bringing tears and renunciation; but it also gives deep, untold joy, and - true to Jesus' promise - yields an abundantly rich, indescribably varied hundredfold.
This is who, what and how I am, and what I want to share with others. So in this blog I hope to bring together my different loves - of words, photography, creativity - and place them at the service of my central love, the Love that will not let me go.
Five years on, I still love being a sister - and still love being an RSCJ! Actually, I think I love it more than when I first wrote those words. I am still learning and discovering what my call means, but over the years the Voice has become more familiar, even as it has become more captivating. At its core I know it is still calling me, in ways that are ever ancient, ever new, to place all my love at the service of my central Love; my part is to continue to create the space in which I can not only hear it, but instinctively understand its promptings.
And as today is Vocations Sunday, my prayer is that all those beginning to hear Love's whispers may recognise God's Voice, and find it so utterly compelling and captivating that their only response can be a generous, whole-hearted YES.