“I found Him whom my soul loves, and nobody can take Him from me. Oh, how good it is, how beautiful it is! Why have You loved me so much? I feel myself so full of misery! But I love Him, and I don’t know how to do anything other than love Him…I love Him with His very own love!”
In this brief and magnificent thought of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, I found the synthesis of my religious vocation, the object of my aspirations, and their realization and fulfillment ; it was what I had always searched for and what I had finally found: Love- true, faithful, constant and supreme love. To search, to desire, to conquer love is an necessity of our heart, as St. Therésè of the Child Jesus splendidly put it, and we are not happy until we have truly found it: “I don’t know any other means to reach perfection other than Love […] to love- this is what our heart has been created for […] But on whom will our poor heart, starving for love, lavish its love? Who will be big enough for this? Could a human being understand it…and, above all, know how to repay it? There is none other than our Jesus, Who knows how to repay us infinitely for what we give Him […]”.
Forever I will sing the mercies of Jesus and His Heavenly Mother for the immense gift of my religious vocation.
Since I was a child, however, I always looked at matrimony as my ideal: To share joys and sorrows, hopes and victories in the union of espoused love and in the warmth of a home, surrounded by children. Yes, the thought of maternity had always fascinated me. To raise children and care for them in the love and in the presence of God procured a joy and an unspeakable sweetness in my soul. Finally, when I was twenty-two years old, it seemed that I was realizing this dream that I had cherished since my childhood. After about three years of engagement with my boyfriend, I began to think of the marriage. There was something strange, though: every time that we tried to set a date for the marriage, there was always some obstacle, not depending on us, which prevented it from happening.
This caused me to begin to ask myself seriously if marriage was the path Jesus had chosen for me. I must point out that I received a very religious upbringing. It is especially very beautiful to remember the devotion to Our Lady and to Her Miraculous Medal that Papà (Dad) had handed down: I remember since I was a little girl finding the Medal everywhere in the house. Mamma even sewed them on our shirts, while Papà put them in every drawer; there wasn’t a corner of the house, in short, that was not filled with the invisible, but real Presence of our Heavenly Mamma, Who watched over us with attention and care.
I remember that the “appointment” of reciting the Supplication to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal every 27th of the month at 5:00 pm was almost an obligation for the whole family.
Notwithstanding all of this, my fervor as a child diminished and my observance of these pious practices was no longer fervent as before. I searched in other activities and groups of prayer for that joy which was missing, and unfortunately, I sometimes did not follow the right path. And yet I searched and searched and could not find the right path. Yes, I had found the “happiness of the world”: a job, a car, a boyfriend who surrounded me with every attention, gifts and vacations… All of this, however, was such a small thing compared to the aspirations of my heart, which was searching for an infinite Love.
The voice of my conscience continually kept telling me that I was mistaken about everything, but I didn’t want to listen. I had worked for, conquered and found everything that I was searching for…and now that I was about to realize the dream of my life, I was to give it all up and renounce it all? Oh, no, certainly not!
All the while, deep down in my soul I felt empty, sad, and above all dissatisfied, and I did not understand why- why right now? Or was it perhaps that I did not want to understand? In my conversations with God I often repeated: “If You think I am leaving this person, You are greatly mistaken…” But His presence, the fear of the Lord and above all His loving gaze of a Father made me think again. I gave in a little and I said: “If this person is not right for me, You be the One to make something happen and I will obey, because by myself I will never be able to do it.”
And, lo and behold, the Divine sign finally arrived one day. A few days after my return from a pilgrimage, a fatal dispute suddenly broke out. That which in the eyes of the world could have been easily resolved, was the dreaded and long-awaited sign that God wanted something else from me. Certainly, it was absolutely not easy to abandon everything, but the Will of God was more important. I began to pray more and I thought: “Maybe the Lord wants this prayer to help my boyfriend draw closer to God” (as he was not at all- or hardly at all- practicing his Faith); and therefore, once he was converted, we would be able to marry in a much more stable union of Christian love.
This obviously shows that I still did not completely accept the “truth.” All the while, the Lord immediately made Himself heard more clearly. In fact, as I prayed I felt myself irresistibly attracted to the “things above” and always more distant from the things of this world. And so, the love of God finally filled the emptiness that the creature…was not able to fill. The more I prayed, the more I fell in love with Jesus, Who from all eternity had called me and, what is more, had waited for me.
Now, though, another question arose. How do I love Him? Where do I find Him? At Lourdes, the Immaculate, Who always watched over me with the tenderness of a Mother, cleared up every doubt.
During my pilgrimage to Lourdes, a priest, a Franciscan of the Immaculate, gave me a book and invited me to read it. It was entitled “Cespi di fiori” (a book in Italian about the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate). I opened it and was enchanted to see a group of girls so young, dressed in white brides’ gowns, ready for the Spouse of virgins. Their angelic faces radiated a candor that was completely heavenly.
In an instant, everything became clear in my soul and in my mind: “Spouse, yes; but completely heavenly for the Divine King of Heaven!” Oh, what a Heavenly reality! It made me think of St. Therésè when she said: “To be your Spouse, Jesus; to be, because of the union with You, mother of souls…” Here, therefore, was the realization of the two ideals of my soul: to be a spouse and to be a mother (much more universal because it is realized in the depths of the soul, the loving offering and prayer that has no limit…)
After I returned from Lourdes, that priest invited me to make a retreat in a community of sisters, and the next day I went. After only two months, I entered the convent.
Now more than ever I can say with St. Therésè: “You alone, Jesus, can satisfy my soul. Nothing here below, on this earth, can give me joy because true joy is not from here. My peace, my only love is You, Lord.”
I want to tell you, young people who read this story of my vocation, to open your hearts to Love- not that love which lasts an instant, but that high and sublime love which lasts for all eternity. I entrust you and myself to our Immaculate Mother. Thank You, Immaculate Mamma, because You have been and are, now and forever, “the whole reason of my hope!”