Entering community life: two women's views
Freedom, joy and true love
(See previous article by Rexann Hammons)
By Sr. Lourdes Jaure
(On July 6, 2001, April Jaure was received as a novice into the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity located in Manitowoc and became Sr. Lourdes.)
Growing up in Rawlins, Wyo., as an only girl amidst two brothers, a Mom and Dad, was the setting for my vocation to follow Jesus as His Bride! As I look back on my life, I believe I already experienced the call to religious life in grade school. The idea of being a "Sister" was very vivid in my young imagination!
However, growing up did not remain that simple for me or for my vocation! In the middle school years, I decided that "being a Sister" was not what I wanted to do. Nevertheless, God brought the call back into perspective during high school. The call came back again and again and, this time, I figured I would, at least, give it some consideration ... but later!
Then off to college I went. Still, at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, the call to Religious Life was stronger than ever -- and, now it would not go away!
After my freshman year, I almost did not return to college, in order to pursue my vocation to serve the Lord; but, in the end, I did return through my Junior Year. I guess I kept returning to school because I thought that, if I said "Yes" to my Vocation, I would have to give up all my friends and family, and everyone and everything I ever knew and loved, and I did not want to do that! I was angry with God that anyone would even ask such a thing!
My junior year was a difficult one! My greatest blessing during that year was perpetual adoration at St. Lawrence O'Toole Parish. I signed up for an hour every Saturday at two in the morning. People were really needed to take the late night hours -- and I was never one to go to bed by that time on the weekend anyway.
In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I would pour out my heart to Jesus -- because, I had to admit, I felt empty inside! Everything that I was filling myself with was a substitute for God -- it all was shallow.
At the end of that junior year, I was not sure if I wanted to return to the University of Wyoming, if I wanted to be an English major or go into healthcare. But one thing I was sure of and that was my call to be a Sister! Finally, I had said: "Yes!" to God.
Ignoring God's call for me was like a mother ignoring the cries of her child; I could do it, but only by doing damage to my inner being. To borrow from the words of Fr. Benedict Groeschel in his book Spiritual Passages, I had one choice: "Surrender to the Call of God -- or, fall apart."
I wanted freedom, and I was beginning to understand that true freedom the world does not give. What our society advocates as "freedom" felt more and more like oppression to me. I was beginning to realize that happiness is found in doing God's Will. Only in doing that for which we were created, do we become our purest, most noble self!
This interior belief confirms what the Mother Superior of a Carmelite order I had visited before I entered the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity had said to me: One always knows God's will "if sacrifice frees you and makes you more yourself. If, however, you sacrifice for something and it oppresses you or diminishes your true self in any way -- then that is not His will."
In my inadequacy, I have discovered that God called human beings -- not saints -- to serve Him and His People. Hopefully, with His grace, we all will become saints because we have found God in our daily living!
For young women and men who may be discerning a vocation to religious life, know that God's Word is "alive and active" (Heb 4:12). With Him, we can do anything He asks; but, without Him, we are nothing.
I entered the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc about a year ago. After experiencing the freedom, joy, and true love of God, I cannot imagine living anywhere else. Like everyone, I have my good days, not-so-good days, and in-between times, but I continue to rely on God. In everything, I discover that only God is enough for me.