|Year of Faith - Reflections of a woman religious during Lent|
In the glow of a candle in a dark chapel, near the manger in the darkness of the cave, in our suffering with Jesus on the cross—it is in the intimacy of faith that God touches us and speaks to us. It is in the darkness of the unknown that we grow close to Him. To know God’s will for our lives we typically aren’t hit by a bolt of lightning…we usually need to draw close to the gentle glowing light of His love. But isn’t this preferable?
Discernment of the way that God wants us to follow Him is one of the main tasks for us young people, and a responsibility that all people must undertake in one way or another throughout their lives. To know what God desires for us (and He desires what will make us truly happy), we have to know Him.
Young people—you are facing challenges that no one else has faced before. The secularism of our culture is a force so powerful that very few draw close to the glowing light of Christ. Technology and social media—things that can be used for much good, such as evangelization and education—are instead capturing our attention, preventing true communication and blinding us to the beauty of God’s plan and the ways that He is working all around us. We now have access to more images and information than any generation in history, yet we have become blind and deaf to the One who loves us. To come to know this One, we have to be quiet, to be still, to listen, to wait…things that our culture rejects.
In rejecting these things, our culture also rejects the beautiful intimacy of faith. As I look back, it was during the time in which I did not yet know the vocation to which God was calling me—during that time of waiting, when my future was hazy—that I had the greatest faith. Yes, it was difficult and often confusing, but the joyful trust I had then is something I am praying to regain. What a privileged time for you who are discerning God’s plan for your life!
Yet, we are all privileged to be given the gift of faith. Lent is a time in which we have the opportunity to take a fresh look at our faith. Are we willing to walk with Christ in the darkness of His suffering? Are we willing to empty ourselves—to give ourselves completely—not knowing the full cost, or the result? It is only in making a total gift of self that we find fulfillment, and it is only in faith that we can make a total gift of self. Fortunately, the grace to do this is already available, and during this time of Lent the greatest example of self-emptying is placed before us: Christ’s free and total gift of Himself in His crucifixion.
Young people—you know in your hearts that there is more than what the world can offer you. Don’t be afraid to enter into this journey of Lent, letting go of at least one of your attachments. Don’t be afraid to truly fast and pray, opening yourself to God in a way that you never have before. Don’t be afraid to sit with Him and be quiet, and don’t worry if He is quiet. Learn to simply be with Him, and then you will learn how to discern His will, and it will be an experience of joy!
Most of my day isn’t usually as quiet and still as those first few moments in the chapel—most of it is filled with several hours of chanted liturgical prayer, work around the monastery, hospitality to guests and community time with my Sisters, but when I surrender each moment in faith, I can trust that God is using it all for good. The giving of myself each day doesn’t always make sense to me—I can’t always see the fruits—but with God’s grace I am persevering and experiencing joy in being close to Him, even (and sometimes especially) in moments of darkness.