Corpus Christi

When I first started discerning religious life and corresponding with the nuns at Corpus Christi Monastery, it was all new and exciting and a bit nerve-wracking at the same time.  When I returned from my first visit, I was head over heels and had such peace about where things were going, though I still intended to take things one step at a time.  My spiritual director listened to my enthusiastic description of my visit and when I paused for his response, he thoughtfully smiled and said, “Jesus is courting you.  He is showing you where He is building you a home to spend your earthly life with Him.”  My heart swooned and soared.

That was five years ago.  My heart still swoons and soars, but it also asks Him with bittersweet resolve, “How much longer before I can join my sisters and enter our home?”  The last few months have been particularly trying.  Work and other obligations and responsibilities have kept me from fundraising for vocations as I’d hoped and planned.  The temptation to slide into discouragement and apathy can be strong.  The temptation to give into an attitude of “this is never going to happen, so what’s the point of continuing to try?” weighs heavily at times. 

But Jesus has given me graces along the way and I keep going.  Last week at Sunday’s Mass, we were reminded,

“…affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” 

And earlier this week, we were reminded what it means to follow Jesus by these words he spoke to Peter,

“Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.  But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Other things have also served to remind me of God’s love and promise to provide.  I happily paid off two of my eight student loans this month.  Donations continue to trickle in to The Labouré Society in my honor.  Kind, encouraging word have been offered by friends and strangers.  And a friend who is discerning her own vocation, in sharing her experiences, has often reminded me of my own journey, my own courtship with Jesus.  And I am encouraged to press on.

Looking ahead this week, to the feast of Corpus Christi, I am in awe that He should come to us, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament, to feed His people and give us life.  As a Protestant, I did not fully understand what communion is to be, what it is in the Catholic Church.  Jesus is truly made present to us in the Mass and feeds us with His body, blood, soul and divinity.  The Most Holy and Blessed Sacrament is the source and summit of our faith.  It is through our partaking of the sacraments that we are united with Him and through Him, with each other.  We are invited and enveloped in the unity of persons of the Holy Trinity.  Apart from God, there can be no true unity. 

Yet, how often our actions and attitudes betray the fact we still need to grow in faith.  If we truly believed Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament, would we take better care to prepare ourselves for Mass, spending time in prayer to quiet our thoughts, taking care in the way we dress and present ourselves?  Would we try a little harder to be more focused and reverent in Mass and when inside, or even passing by, a Catholic church or chapel, remembering Who is inside?  Would we visit more often and linger a little longer to spend time with Him?  Would we make a greater effort to go to confession more frequently before we receive communion?  With the man who came to Jesus asking for help and the healing of his dying child, I pray, “I believe!  Help my unbelief.”

In the Gospel reading for the feast of Corpus Christi, we also hear of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.  While preaching on this passage, I once heard a priest point out that Jesus told his disciples to feed the crowd.  When they protested they had nothing to offer, He asked what food they did have.  A boy offered up his meager fish and loaves.  Jesus gave thanks to God the Father for the loaves and fish, blessed the small meal and broke it, giving the pieces back to his disciples to disperse to the crowd.  The disciples continued to hand out bread and fish until everyone had their fill.  When they collected the leftovers, they filled 12 large baskets! 

God operates the same today.  Jesus gives us Himself to feed and nourish us.  Then, through the Holy Spirit, we are each given gifts, talents, and riches.  Jesus asks us to give those gifts, indeed, our entire selves, back to Him.  Those gifts, talents, and riches are multiplied according to God’s will and then He asks us to be His hands and feet to those around us, sharing with others what He gives us.  The more we share, the more He is able to give, to overflowing abundance. 

My TLS class and I have one month of fundraising left before grant decisions will be made for the summer.  At this time, given the amount of student loans I have remaining, I intend to keep going with the next TLS class, which will run until the end of December.  Though I have paid off nearly one quarter of my total original student loan principal, without the assistance of The Labouré Society and friends and supporters like you, it would take me at least another 5-7 years to pay off the remaining loan amounts.  I am hopeful, between the rest of this class and the next class, and with what I am able to work off myself, I will indeed finally be free to enter the place my love, Jesus, has prepared for me on this earth and place myself at His feet in prayer for the Church and world, inside the walls of Corpus Christi Monastery.

Please remember the nuns of Corpus Christi Monastery in your prayers, especially this week on their feast day.  And remember me and my fellow TLS aspirants in your prayers as well as we continue to pray, work, and wait until we may enter formation in the vocations we’ve discerned as God placing in our hearts.  We all keep you in our prayers as well.

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