What on earth possesses a perfectly normal, happy young woman to leave her beloved family and life behind to enter a monastery? To such a dramatic question there can be only one answer; true love! Love is the only force that can motivate such a radical decision. When one really loves someone, you are willing to do anything for that person.
Whether I realized this at the time or not, I am not sure. Regardless, at eighteen years old, right out of high school, the Lord led me to Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. From the first day that I received Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, at eight years old, Our Lord began calling me to the religious life. It was a gentle, gradual process. As time went on He won my heart and is still winning it today! In a concrete way, I believe that the three main ways Jesus went about this “courtship” were through experiences in family life, an innate attraction to spiritual things, and His perpetual presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
In many cases it is true that religious vocations come from religious homes. Not because they make vocations, God does that! However, they foster and encourage seeds in young hearts that God has planted. I was very blessed to grow up in a beautiful family. The oldest of five, my mom and dad home-schooled me and continue home-schooling my younger siblings. My parents not only taught by their words, but also gave us real examples of authentic Christian living. It was in this rich environment that I was introduced to what it means to know and love the Lord.
I had an innate attraction to spiritual things. I mean that there was always a pull and attraction towards pleasing God and belonging to Him. This unmerited longing drew me to want to spend time with the Lord. So, I visited and wrote to religious communities, especially in my teens, because these longings could only be fulfilled in giving myself totally to Him.
The final main way the Lord led me to religious life was through His ultimate sign of love for His humanity in the Holy Eucharist. Spending time with Him in the Blessed Sacrament, having Him so close was the last straw! I was hooked! From about thirteen years old I was making regular Holy Hours and as time went on, these became more frequent. Daily Mass, receiving Jesus every day, became like an addiction! He is so good to me, so I wanted to be with Him as often as possible.
I do not wish to fool anyone; I was a perfectly normal girl who loved clothes, my hair and many other normal things. However, the Lord worked in my soul to bring me here. Through my life as a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration, God showed me and is showing me the answer to all my desires and questions. How can I respond to His generosity? How can I respond to His immense love? The answer is simple and most fulfilling! I will give my self to Him. I will spend my life in thanksgiving for He has done great things for the whole world and me! As our motto so perfectly states, I will forever adore Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament! In imitation of Our Lady, my soul will proclaim the greatness of the Lord through my PCPA life! Thank you Jesus for my vocation!
~ Sr. Marie Celine of Mary, Handmaid of the Lord
Since our family is a blend of cultures and religions (Mom is a Catholic and Dad is a Buddhist), we have some interesting traditions and have always had very vibrant dinner table discussions! Our house was always filled with books, and visitors could alternately be treated to the aromas of rice, Vietnamese foods, or fried chicken and biscuits and gravy. Most importantly, our household revolved around faith. Mom made sure that all four of us kids received a solid upbringing in the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. She took us to Mass, prayed the Rosary with us, taught us about the saints and about the Blessed Mother, and instilled in us a great love for the Church. She set the example of how to answer the Universal Call to Holiness and taught us the importance of family, hard work, persistence in the face of adversity and trial. Dad and Mom have always stressed the importance that their children play in their lives, and we never doubted that we were vitally important to them. My siblings and I were fortunate to attend great Catholic elementary and high schools, where dedicated teachers and priests reinforced the lessons our mother taught us about the faith. Our parish has always had fantastic priests who were great examples of religious vocations.
As I grew up, I always admired the sisters and priests with whom I came in contact regularly. As I got older and began to think about what God wanted me to do with my life, I began to think on and off about a religious vocation. I went to college and graduate school, where I studied literature and music and math. I became a math teacher at a local Catholic school, where I was privileged to teach some of the greatest children I’ve ever met. I also began to read more and more about my faith and truly fell in love with what G.K. Chesterton called the “romance of orthodoxy.”
All through college and graduate school and even as I made lesson plans and graded papers for my students, I still had the thought of a religious vocation in the back of my mind. I visited various orders and gradually became more and more attracted to the cloistered, contemplative life, an attraction that at first did not make any sense to me because I was already a teacher and thought that an active order would be the most logical. However, our God is a God of surprises! After making a pilgrimage to Hanceville with a dear friend, I got up the courage to write to the PCPAs and was allowed to come for two visits. Even though it took a long time discerning to get to this first step in my new vocational journey, I can see that all the side roads that God leads us down are valuable and full of learning. My experiences have been so great and have helped me to grow closer to God in ways that I never would have envisioned if I had made the plan. It’s a good thing, then, that God made the plan and not me! With your prayers, I will continue upon this new journey to see what great things God has in store for me!
~ Sr. Edith Marie of Our Lady, Ark of the Covenant