In this Year of Mercy, Jesus does not only open His Heart to all people but gives us an opportunity to become the people He desires us to be. It is a time for us to discover who we truly are: a precious son or daughter of God and brothers and sisters in Christ; these facts can never be changed. This past May, God gave me this special grace as I entered novitiate. Through the new name and title given to me on that day, I felt Jesus giving me His Mother. I was named after a saint who had a deep love for Mary, and given the title, “of the Immaculate One.” It was a moment when I was reminded of the deep love of Christ Crucified:
“When Jesus therefore saw his mother and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, thy son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, they Mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn 19:26-30,[Confraternity Version])
Through the Blessed Mother I can learn to depend on God alone. She will lead me to her Son.
Our Lord gave me another grace since my novitiate, through attending the Vita Consecrate program. VCI is held during the summer at Christendom College where people can study the consecrated life in a more meaningful way, and for those in consecrated life to renew their vocations.
Communication with people I don’t know has always been a challenge for me and this made me afraid to go. At the first meal, I said to God in my heart: “I give all this to You, for I cannot do anything without You.” This was the same prayer I said to Jesus the day I entered the novitiate. To my surprise, by the end of the two weeks I found I loved to interact with others and to meet new people. It was a joy I discovered through depending on God for everything.
This newfound mercy and charity introduces a new hope as I receive this new identity as a Religious. In and through the Immaculate One, I can believe in and be loved as who I am, a child of God. If we seek God, day by day, moment by moment, even in suffering, we can be transformed into our true selves and change the world. I can only smile as I aim for my desire: God and the salvation of souls. Life is not about what one does not have or what one cannot have. It is about what you do have, and that is God.
—Sr. Bernadette of the Immaculate One