J M J
LIVING OUT THE VOCATION
O Lord, why did you draw me out of the world? Why did you bring me into your house? Why did you shower me with so many grace? Is it so that I will use all of this in order to hurt you all the more; that I should inflict more pain on your Sacred Heart? In fact, every one of my present sins is a greater insult to you than the sins of my past life. After all, I committed them then because there were more opportunities and I had less understanding of sin. However, I cannot make excuses. What can justify me in your eyes?
Years ago I was so aware of hurting God. At confession I was really contrite and grateful. When the priest gave me absolution I made resolutions not to return to those sins. Now, what a difference! It is not only that I constantly sin, but I remain, so to speak, addicted to sins, that is, I never rise from them and for that reason I am indifferent about confessing them as if I was speaking about someone else. Oh, how different was my behavior before and after confession when I was younger and how different it is now! And yet, God demands a more perfect disposition from me now as a religious woman than he did when I was a secular.
When I reflect on my disposition with which I approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I feel a great fear and I would prefer going less frequently, because it seems to me that I leave the confessional as a greater sinner than I was before confession. I am not at all impressed with the seriousness and holiness of the sacrament. I do not feel enough respect or contrition, nor even a necessary mental alertness at the most important moment – absolution.
My better or worse disposition depends on the behavior of the confessor. I I experience some consolation, a better response from him, I feel more encouraged; I am more grateful towards God; I am inspired to carry out my responsibilities better and to control myself. When he limits himself to just hearing my sins and giving me absolution, I feel sadness, frustration and pain not because I had hurt God but because I did not receive any advice or encouragement. And, with such a disposition I accept absolution. For this reason I am distracted and I do not know what I am doing. Once, instead of making the act of contrition and beating my breast, I recited the We run to your patronage.
There is no progress in my soul from one confession to another. Instead, my faults are greater and more frequent because they are against God and my neighbor. I kept these commandments better as a secular than I do at present. I had such great love for God at that time, and what kind is it now? Formerly nothing was too difficult for me to do for God; now, the smallest thing is difficult. Formerly, I had so many obstacles to my spiritual exercises and yet nothing prevented me from making them. Now, everything is made easier for me, but how poorly I perform them. I ought to carry them out at least from duty if not from love. Formerly, I never had enough time for prayer; now the shortest time bores me and oh, how I do behave!
If someone had told me before that as a religious I would lead such a life; that I would give God such haphazard praise; that I would treat everything so lightly; that I would experience such loathing, such disregard; that I would run away from everything; that I would dispense myself from everything, I would surely never had put on this habit. If someone had told me that a lay person behaved like that towards God, I would have been indignant and horrified. I did now know that after a few years in religious life, I myself would behave the same way. The laity dissipate and squander the gifts of God and rid themselves of virtues; I had to enter the convent to do just that.
When I began to serve God as a secular, I had so much good will; some kind of built-in tendency to do good to others, to love others, to do favors. I practiced this already as a child and as I grew older I persisted in it. The more I realize that I had this virtue, the more I turned to God and the more I loved this virtue. What really impelled me to gather these few women and children if not the love of neighbor? It could not have been human respect because in no undertaking of mine, in fact, throughout my whole life, there never was such a pure intention in anything I did. I was not afraid of any difficulties and I volunteered for the biggest projects as long as they helped others. What has happened with this virtue?
Now, when I need it most, when I have the greatest opportunity and obligation to practice it, I do not see it at all, in fact, the opposite feelings are awakening in my heart. What selfishness! I only care about feeling good, having all my needs satisfied, and getting better meals than others; t;hat is enough for me. I do not check into the needs of others; I do not care about them being taken care of, indeed, sometimes I think their needs are superfluous and I admonish them for it. Actually, some kind of greed and miserliness is overtaking me. Yet, it is my duty to think of others and not about myself! Why, I should be a servant to others, and in the meantime they all serve me; they all take care of me and I take care of no one.
In addition, I am so rude, so peevish, so unapproachable, so inconsiderate, so unconcerned about the spiritual needs of the sisters, so difficult in listening to others or speaking with them. Strangely enough, through the grace of God, each of my interviews with the sisters bring them so much joy; they value each word even though I am not gentle with them. They, however, are not offended, nothing seems to discourage them, and nothing lessens their attachment to me. Their mere goodness ought to obligate me to them, on the contrary, I feel a disgust towards giving myself to them; I do not reciprocate all this goodness even in the smallest way. After all, since I bear the title of Mother, I should have the heart of a mother; I am even more obligated to do this than any other Superior, yet I think that the worst stepmother would not behave as I do. I really admire the humility of our sisters.
IF anyone treated me like that just once the way I always treat them, I think I would become estranged towards them and perhaps even hate them. I should be concerned about every person in the Institute because I will have to give and account before God for each one. Yet, I am so indifferent towards everything and take little interest in everything; I am completely taken up with myself. It is true that I suffer, but why should I be the cause of suffering in others.
I should really forget about myself. I should be everything to everyone. Ah, if only Jesus would give me that spirit of sacrifice, that perfect immolation so that I could conceal everything that is happening within me; that even though my heart was bleeding from pain and frustration, I would not show it on my face; that I would not complain; that I would not dispense myself from my duties but would carry them out with the same accuracy and fervor. I desire it, feel the need of it and see it as the Will of God but I do not have the strength to even make a resolution and all the more put it into practice.
O Lord, you lead me along such a difficult path; I do not find relief or peace anywhere, on the contrary, everything causes me remorse of conscience.
Formerly, you kept me in aridity. I could not praise you with prayer so I praised you with action, with work, with sacrificing myself for others. All of that always seemed so inadequate, and I yearned to do more. I cried when they reduced my load. I wanted to do that to which I was not obligated; my zeal had to be tempered with obedience. Now when you have raised me to this position where my dedication and sacrifices not only do not have nor should have any bounds, you have sent me such a disgust, such a feeling of sloth, such and ineptitude for all the chores and duties, such a moral paralysis, that even though I feel the need, I cannot raise myself up. Sometimes I cry because I understand the duties of my position, yet, I do not carry them out and do nothing about them. Even though I sometimes lift myself up from this lethargy momentarily, I soon again fall into this state of incompetency – not physical but moral. It seems to me that some kind of invisible power is binding my hands.
It appears to me that only the power of obedience can free me from this state, but even this does not help me because Father leave me all to myself. He explains to me like to a child and excuses me but he really does not know what is happening in my soul, how I suffer from remorse of conscience; no praise nor human admonishing will silence it.
The Lord has now taken everything away from me. I do not have a place where to lay my head. Everything and every place bothers me. What will happen to me, I do not know. I feel that from all this I will have no merit. Perhaps I will have to suffer in eternity.
O Lord, if you do not allow me to feel your love, if I cannot love you, give me love for my neighbor! Allow me to love others for your sake. Since you placed me in this position, allow me to perform my duties towards them.
After all, you did not commit your flock to Peter until you assured yourself that he had love in his heart. Why did you leave me in this position when you saw that there was no love in my heart? Is it because you wanted me to feel its burden all the ore; that a greater responsibility awaited me? I do not beg this relief for my myself but for others. Inspire within me this love of neighbor or take me out of this office which cannot be borne worthily without virtue. You know how incapable I am; how dangerous this position is for me – now, more that ever – because last year I yearned for the lowest place in the community and now I feel that I am quite attached to this present one.