Friday, November 09, 2012

Catholic Love Story #7.5 & #8: Girl Meets God



Last week, Cindy shared her love story with God here (and brought in a boatload of readers.)  Today, she writes part 2, her love story with Gregg in detail.  Go read it there. It's just as wonderful as the first. 

For the Friday series, I’ve asked pestered my youngest sister to write about her love story. Nancy is a blessed single, which makes Jesus my brother-in-law. (Don’t mess with me y’all.  I've got family in high places :)) She is also an English teacher, a features writer for a Filipino newspaper The Freeman and someone who inspires me tremendously...

         When I was younger, I had a dream. dreamt that I met a young, good-looking boy at a party. He introduced himself as David. From that time on, I started naming my Prince Charming, David. Because I was young, I was so sure that David was going to be the great love of my life. He would sweep me off my feet and take me to great and wonderful places. So I waited for David and prayed that You would give him to me.
            In the meantime, I dreamt about him, wrote about him and made him the center of my world of imagination.
            As I grew older, I wrote down the qualities that I wanted for him. There were more than a dozen on that list. And I did not mind waiting because I knew that good things came to those who waited. Besides, I had found out that David meant ‘Beloved’ and I was so sure that this was Your sign for me.
            But then, the possibility of finding him did not seem so possible anymore. The guys I met, although nice and respectable, fell short of my ideal. And so, to protect my ego, I asked You that if you did not find me the David I wanted then I would have rather not have been with anyone else at all.
            Like always, You answered my prayer and he did not come.
            So I changed it. I realized that what I wanted for myself could never be more that what You wanted for me. So I lifted him up to You so You could give him back to me at the right time in any form You wanted.
            And then my life changed. My interior life. I had come to a deeper relationship with You. So I gave David up. He was born out of a desire from my childhood but my desire had changed. My only desire was to serve You. So, I made an effort to stop thinking of him and to stop including him in my prayers. I figured that if he did exist, You would know what to do with him. And that if he didn’t, well, he didn’t. That was that.
            But sometimes, I still thought of him. Still hoped that You were so impressed with my ‘selfless’ decision that You would reward me. It was difficult, after all, to let go of someone I had loved for half my life. Because even if I had not met him, I had begun to love him.
            But I was resolved to give him up to You. For You. Along with all my other plans and dreams. And when I had been successful of ‘getting over’ something I never got, You gave him back to me—my David, my Beloved.
            Today, you revealed to me that You are my David. It was You I was searching for all along. Because I was so young, I naturally assumed that the greatest love of my life would be a man. But Your love for me and my love for You have been greater than anything I could have ever imagined.
            Before my mother knew me, You had already loved me. When I was still a thought in Your endless mind, I was already a treasure in Your heart. There is nothing about me that you do not know. And yet, You love me!
            Your love fills me up. It passes through me and wraps me in its arms. It sustains me and lifts me up. You have swept me off my feet and taken me to great and wonderful places.
            My love for You grows each day. I am consumed with thoughts of You and how I can make You happy. I weep for love of You. I laugh for love of You. It is a love beyond feeling. Beyond knowing. It is being.
            How I love You, Lord and how inadequate my heart is for loving you! I must love you with my whole being.
            You are my David, my Beloved. It was Your voice that called me into being. It was Your love that drew me from nothingness and it is your embrace I will run to at the end of my days.
 I am Yours, my Beloved. Always Yours.
 ***

            I have always been a practicing Catholic. I went to Catholic schools all the way till college. I went to Mass every Sunday and went to confession at least once a year. But when I was in my mid-twenties I began to realize that my faith life wasn’t enough. Through a series of good books, the influence of holy people the example of a wonderful mother, and the graces brought about by the daily rosary, I began to be drawn to a more spiritual life rooted in the sacraments. I started going to Adoration at least once a week, confession at least once a month and daily Mass. My relationship with God changed and I longed to fulfill His will.
            On the outside, I was living an ordinary life. I went out with friends although I never really dated casually. On the inside, I felt as if I was waiting for something big to happen. Something extraordinary. How was I to know that it wasn’t something I was waiting for but Someone?
            I felt restless. Frustrated. Sad. I thought maybe it was because I was tired of waiting for my Prince Charming to come. But that wasn’t it. And then, I began to think that maybe I was called to religious life. But something about that just didn’t fit. And I clung to God more and more because I felt that only He could understand. Then, one day—I remember it very clearly—an idea formed in my head that I couldn’t shake off. Maybe, just maybe, there was a place for me—a form of commitment that did not involve getting married or joining a religious community. So I did what any normal person would have done. I googled it.
            And there it was. I had come across a way of life that I did not know existed. And it was in the Catholic Church all along: Consecrated Virgins Living in the World. It is a form of consecrated life, different from the priesthood, different from religious life but a category all its own. And when I read it, I knew, I just knew, that this was what I had been looking for all along. I sat there in front of the computer, crying, because I knew that this was God’s answer for me.
            In 2008, I went to World Youth Day in Sydney. I was then in the middle of my discernment process. I knew what I wanted but I was still afraid. I was still looking for random signs because I just needed to be sure. On the very first Mass, of the very first activity, Cardinal Pell gave a homily which I felt pierce me straight to my soul. He said, “Don’t spend your life sitting on the fence, keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfilment. Happiness comes from meeting our obligations, doing our duty, especially in small matters and regularly, so we can rise to meet the harder challenges. Many have found their life’s calling at World Youth Days.” And I thought to myself, “Alright God. I get you. I get you.”
It took me about four years of discerning, accompanied by a Cenacle sister, of clarifying the call, of figuring out options, of making a choice, of preparing myself before I finally made it official. On March 25, 2010, on the Feast of the Annunciation, in front of my family and friends, I professed a private vow of consecrated chastity.
And you know what the Gospel was for that day was (which I had not really thought of before)? “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David.”
And you know what Jesus’ other title is right? Yep, you guessed it.
Son of David. My Beloved.
How’s that for an answered prayer!

* In case you were wondering…in the Catholic Church, there are several ways to live Consecrated Chastity. Entering a religious order is only one of them. (I got this from Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M.’s book “And You Are Christ’s” : The Charism of Virginity and the Celibate Life.)

a.     Active Religious Institutes
This most common and familiar way of living celibacy is an organized and communal living of the three counsels (poverty, chastity and obedience) under vows and in a non-secular lifestyle. Members give a gospel witness through a visible community life. They live according to a rule and under the direction of leadership.

b.     Cloistered Religious Orders
These institutes share much in common with active ones. They differ chiefly in that they do not have an external apostolate but rather are oriented wholly to prayer, solitude and penance. Their work is limited to the care of the monastery and their own needs.

c.      Secular Institutes
This manner of evangelical consecration is a vowed and organized living in the world of the three evangelical counsels of celibacy, obedience and poverty. Members of these institutes live a professedly secular life in the world. They retain their ordinary employment and they wear no religious garb. They usually live alone or with families and meet occasionally with fellow members. They bring a gospel spirit into the world through their hidden presence.

d.     Societies of Apostolic life

Members of these institutes do not take religious vows but they do perform apostolic work and live in community according to a special way of life expressed in their constitutions. Some of these societies have their members assume the three evangelical counsels.

e.     Hermit Life
A hermit is a person who devotes his or her life through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance. He publicly professes the three evangelical counsels and his vows are received by the diocesan bishop.

f.      Order of Virgins
These are unmarried women who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wish to consecrate their chastity to Christ. They are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ and are dedicated to the service of the Church.

g.     Private Dedication
In the history of the Catholic Church, the first manner in which women pledged their chastity to Christ was in private consecration. Though they dwell in their own homes, they lived their exclusive love for him in an individual manner. They did not join religious communities because there were none to join. Still a live option in the contemporary Church, this type of dedication comes about when a person makes a private vow of chastity or virginity. She (he) may add vows of poverty and obedience according to a specified rule and under the guidance of a spiritual director. This consecration is non-canonical because there is no special relationship with the bishop of the locality. ( This is where I belong.)

2 comments:

8 kids and a business said...

Annabelle, God bless your sister, Nancy. Admittedly, consecrated single life is a vocation I don't know much about so this post is very helpful. God calls us all in different, sanctifying ways. Thanks for this.

theveilofchastity said...

Anabelle, Thank you for linking to part 2 of our story!

What a witness Nancy is to the world! This was a really beautiful story. God bless you and Nancy! Cindy