Rejoicing with inexpressible joy!
Recently, our novitiate sisters were in the parlor speaking with a young woman on retreat with us discerning her vocation. The many young women who come often have intriguing questions of the novitiate sisters which enables them to give witness to and articulate the grace of their vocation. This time, our visitor asked the simple question, "What attracted you to this monastery?" There was silence for a moment as the sisters suddenly got shy and each hoped she wouldn't be called on by their novice mistress to be the first to answer!
Slowly they began answering and as I sat there listening I became surprisingly aware how each sister as she told the story as to how she came to the monastery was actually not saying anything about what attracted her!
Today at Vespers as I listened to the short reading from 1 Peter 1:6-9 I was brought back to the conversation in the parlor earlier in the day.
Surely, how one comes to a particular monastery is almost paradoxical. One find out that the monastery is near New York City where she is going on retreat and stops by to visit after having corresponded with the vocation directress. She doesn't have a contemplative vocation, of course, it's just that, well, it might be cool to say she had visited a monastery!
Another is invited to participate in the 800th anniversary by way of the jubilee graces of a plenary indulgence for anyone who visited the chapel. Another, visited because she might as well start close to home to discern her vocation!
In the end it really wasn't what did or didn't attract her. All that was secondary whether it be the beautiful garden, the liturgy, the feeling of "home". What was really happening was what I heard tonight at Vespers, "Although you have never seen him, you love him, and without seeing you now believe in him."
It was Love that attracted. Here each sister simply knew that the one in whom she had placed her trust, knew that here is where GOD wanted her to love, adore and praise "him my heart loves".
Nothing else really matters.