Thursday, 29 August 2013

Good News in Bad Times

This month my family received some bad news. After months of watching my mother's health deteriorate without a clear reason, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of blood cancer. We don't have a prognosis for her yet, and we won't until after she sees a haematologist. In the mean time, we're all doing our best to stay positive, and stay away from google. There are lots of new and innovative treatments that can give patients who respond well many years of symptom-free living. With that in mind there's still a lot of hope in these dark days.

One of the things I've realized in all of this is how lucky we are to have our faith. I have found myself turning to God for strength and as always He outdoes me in generosity. I haven't felt moved to the anger I would have expected considering the circumstances. I know I could easily get angry, shout at God, or get dragged down in thoughts of "why my family???". When I first heard the diagnosis I had one moment of sadness, a taste of the abiding grief that comes with losing a loved one. And then I took a deep breath and layed my sorrows in God's hands with complete trust. I realize that God didn't make my Mom sick. That's not how these things work. I know that if it is God's will my Mom will be healed. I also know that if He allows her to follow the more painful road of suffering, it won't be because He doesn't love her. I know God loves my mother immensely. I have witnessed first hand how precious she is to Him. Over the years, God has carried her through so many struggles (not the least of which was raising us three crazy kids). She has always found a way to put her suffering aside to find room for love, charity, and joy. If you knew my mother's whole story, you wouldn't believe that she should be as cheerful as she is. By the world's standards, she should be bitter, especially now as yet another struggle comes to her. But she's not. If my mother has taught me nothing else, she has taught me that nothing is too big (or too small) to lay in God's hands. I have watched her time and again choose love and forgiveness instead of anger and bitterness. When we say the prayer "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us", she is one of the few people I know who can stand in good measure as always forgiving as much as she can and then some. How many of us hold on to grudges over the silliest things? I have seen her forgive those little things, but also hurts of such incredible magnitude. She has been wounded, but she is not wounded. She trusts in God. This is her greatest lesson. Although I wish more of her craftiness and creativity had rubbed off on me, I can't deny how blessed I have been by her example of child-like faith. Just like my kids trust that my kisses can fix their boo-boos, she trusts that there is not hurt God's love can't take the sting out of.

Regardless of what happens, I want to be that example of faith to my children. If my Mom is healed, we'll all throw the biggest part this world has seen since Pentecost. If that's not in God's plan, we'll stand together and lean on Him, and make the most of however much time she is given with us. Whether it be a year or twenty years, whenever she makes her journey to Heaven, I hope we can find a little more of her faith and joy to bide us through our days. God willing that won't be for a good long time.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


It is my firm belief that God has a plan for every person, and that His plan for each of us includes a vocation. For each of us, that vocation is as unique as we are. Discovering what are vocation is, and therefore our place in God's plan, is the key to our happiness in this life. Life is never perfect, and we are all faced with challenges and struggles, but within the context of our vocation we can still thrive and find peace. In my own life, my journey to discover my particular vocation has led me all the way to Rome and back, through years of discernment and prayer. So long as I followed the call of God in my life, I have found deep reward and consolation, even in my trials. Those times when I let my eyes turn from God, I have come so close to losing myself all I could see was darkness.

God has led me along a path that has felt so winding and long, but in the end, was always aiming me towards my final goal of Heaven. He led me to World Youth Day, where I went for essentially a cool trip, and I found Jesus for the first time. While there I met the man (then not even a priest) who would one day become the Superior of the Franciscans in my city. I also met a young priest who first planted the seed that a vocation to the religious would be an incredible way to give my heart to this Jesus I had just met. Later on when a new order of Franciscans started in my city, I was still discerning religious life, so that same young priest recommend me to the Superior, who invited me to join the community. I gave myself wholeheartedly to the task of learning the Franciscan life, and, against my own will and plan, fell in love with a man as I fell even more in love with Jesus. I had been so convinced of my vocation as a sister, I had a hard time seeing the truth in front of me. I was so afraid that this was my great temptation and I was being led away from my true vocation. The more I prayed the more clear it became. I had seen the hand of the devil at work in my life over the years, and this wasn't it. This was pure and from God. The timing wasn't exactly perfect in the eyes of the world (Why couldn't we have met at World Youth Day? We had both been there together with the same group. I even met his brother!), but God knew what he was doing. He knew we had things we needed to learn. He knew that for the life He had planned for us, we would need years of spiritual training, and a taste for the spiritual beauty of trusting in Providence. Our time with the Franciscans has also given us a spiritual support network we have needed so dearly over our years together. While we may not be a Brother and Sister anymore, in our hearts that community will always be our spiritual home and they will always be our family. (And don't tell the good Father, but I find myself hard pressed to forget my promise of obedience to him, haha)

I know our children are still so young, but when I look back and see what a long road it took to find my vocation, it reminds me to teach them to follow God's voice in their heart. I want to teach them that He knows the best, and to always give of themselves without fear. Just like the Gospel from a few weeks ago, He won't give them a scorpion, but bread, the Bread of Life. I would be incredibly proud if one, two or even all of our children find their vocations in religious life and the priesthood. I would be equally proud if they all get married and find Jesus in the heart of another person. I try not to press them, but to encourage them in whatever their heart is leading them to right now. There is nothing sweeter than my biggest boy playing Mass (with his actual chalice and ciborium gifted to him by his Godfather), telling me about how he's going to be a priest when he's "a man". He may not end up a priest, but I hope he always wants to give his heart and life to Jesus. I will never promise him life will be easy, but that Christ will always be with him, and that there is a plan for him.