I’d like to start by asking each of us a question. “What possessed you (and me) to become a Carmelite Sister for the Aged and Infirm?”
This is a valid question and one that we may have asked ourselves a hundred times during the last however many years we have been in Religious Life.
But what possessed us to enter Carmel? At some point each one of us must have felt that what we were doing was not enough, or perhaps how we were doing it. The God who called us brought us on an inner journey, made on behalf of the world – the Church.
That unsatisfiable part of ourselves is what drives each one of us on. It is used to its full by the advertising industry – the constant need for bigger and better is in every heart, but for us, this is a longing which only God and God’s love can fill, because it is infinite. In the words of St. Paul: “Because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord I count everything else as loss. For him I have accepted the loss of everything and look on them all as nothing if only I can gain Christ….” This is what spurred us to prayer and what ultimately drew us to give up everything else and dedicate ourselves to our particular vocation as Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.
Only Faith can make sense of this way of life. Like the crucifixion, the way of life of a Carmelite Sister is a “Stumbling block to the Jews and madness to the Greeks.” Yet only by giving His life, could Jesus influence the whole world through his Spirit; his teachings and healings were not enough. As it is with us, we gave our whole life to ministry in Carmel.
We know that it is impossible to change anything by ourselves, but that is where we do well to recall the words of Jesus in the Gospel, “Remain in my love”. Only by remaining in Christ, by allowing His power to work through us, only insofar as our prayer is joined to the prayer of Christ can it bear fruit.
Perhaps it is not so much “What possessed us?”, but rather “Who possessed us?” – God our Father who gave us the gift of our vocation, Jesus Christ who journeys with us each day, The Holy Spirit who leads us into unknown and challenging paths. May that Triune God fill us all today and lead us forward into a future full of hope.
Another question: Who inspired us to be Carmelite Sisters? Was it perhaps some Sister we met who invited us to “come and see?” Well, we did come and we saw – their love, their joy, their enthusiasm for ministry, and their love of Mary.
And one final question: Do I inspire, and do I invite young women to “come and see?” Will they see in me that joy, enthusiasm and the love for my community that I saw in the Sisters who inspired me; and if not – why?