“The Truth Shall Set you Free” by Sr. Charbel Joseph, OP

The idea of giving my life to God was not so much a matter of “Should I, or should I not?” but more of, “How?” I was drawn to the poor so I thought perhaps I would please God by serving them, aiding those in need with food and shelter; or perhaps I thought I could go on missions around the world to give my labor for God’s underprivileged people. However, despite my lofty aspirations, I still had a gnawing sense that somehow these were not enough for God.

When I realized that God was seriously calling me to be a religious sister, I was in disbelief. I was attracted to sisters when I was younger and living in the Philippines, but the realization that God was truly choosing me, took me by surprise. I was now a distracted teenager in America, and I couldn’t reconcile the relevance of God’s call with my current reality. I thought I had moved on from my “childish” thoughts. I went to a secular high school with friends coming from various religious backgrounds and some professing no faith at all. What was I going to tell them? “Hey guys! Guess what? God is calling me to be a nun!”  

So understandably, my journey to accepting my religious vocation necessitated growth in my faith and love for God. I had to really confront the superficiality of my spiritual life and love for Jesus. If I professed to love God so much, why couldn’t I give my life to him in the exact way he was asking of me, unhindered, without limitations? And why was I so embarrassed to be known as his? Through time, prayer, frequent participation of the Sacraments, and self-examination, I was finally able to allow God to work in me, to strengthen me in accepting his call, and to have courage to be different from the expectations of the world – to allow myself to be vulnerable for his greater glory.   

Accepting my vocation has also been a journey of trust and a journey of experiencing God’s goodness more deeply. I learned that this was a journey not so much of ‘leaving behind’, but of ‘gaining more – God Himself!’ This was an invitation to deeper love. He was calling me to be completely his, not only so I could give, but also so that I could receive more of him. As I discerned and entered the Dominican Order, I have also come to experience in a personal way that in God all things are fulfilled, even the hidden desires in the recesses of our hearts. Before, I perceived physical poverty as the worst kind of evil suffered by man in this “sophisticated” world of progress. But God showed me that the greatest destitution was not so much physical, but spiritual, because of its eternal consequences. To not know God was, and still is man’s greatest suffering. To live like God doesn’t exist continues to be the greatest disease. So, through my vocation in the Dominican Order, whose motto is Truth, God Himself is commissioning me to feed everyone I meet with the truth of His Son Jesus Christ, Bread of the Finest Wheat! By answering God’s call, I see that God himself makes provisions for the good aspirations concealed in our hearts. I had hoped to feed the physically hungry, but now, God enables me to share spiritual food instead as I share the living Word of God.

Truly, all good desires come from God, and if we obey his will, all good desires return to him multiplied.

 

 

 

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