Letting Him Love Me : Sr. Veritas' Story
By Sr. Marie Veritas, S.V.
What inspired you to start discerning religious life?
I remember the day clear as anything. I was a chubby Grade 6 student, with oval glasses and freckles, dressing up as Mother Teresa for All Saints’ Day. As I stood in the hallway, finagling the bedsheets over my head, a thought came to my heart: “You are going to be a nun.” I froze. “No,” I thought, emphatically. “No, that’s crazy.” I tried to shake it. It didn’t shake. It was a strange thought, a terrifying thought. “No. I’m going to be a doctor, a writer… No.” I didn’t want to think about it. I pushed it away, resolving to ignore it, should it bubble up again. I succeeded for almost ten years.
But the Lord is a persistent and very patient lover, and he uses everything in our lives to bring us closer to Him. My parents experienced a huge reversion when I was in junior high. I noticed a new light, a new joy in them. I thought: “Whatever they’ve got – I want it.” So, I began to read like it was going out of style. I wanted to know what I believed, and why. The more I read, the more the beauty of Truth captured me. I began to fall in love with the Church, with her teachings, and with the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus was wooing my heart.
By the time I began my first year of Biology at the University of Alberta, I had made the decision to stop hanging out with my high school friends, who had gone down the partying route. I wanted something more. I discovered that Jesus was in the chapel on campus, and I would spend all my free moments in the quiet nook before Him, praying with Scripture. It was that “year in the desert” that I began to powerfully experience His Love for me – the me-me, the me I sometimes tried to mask, the me that not everyone saw.
Through this, I entered into a deeper, more intimate encounter with the Lord. Jesus looked at me with a gaze of delight, and I began to burn with a desire for everyone to know that love. He began to show me how so many people are living in ways that are self-destructive, ways that do not uphold their beauty and dignity.
At the same time, the call to religious life began to well up and overspill. I tried to keep ignoring it. When I couldn’t, I would try to compromise and make deals with Jesus. But the great pressure of grace in my heart became unbearable. I knew, deep down, that I was fighting against who I was supposed to be. Finally, I gathered up enough courage to pray to the Lord: “Lord, if you want me to be a nun, put a burning desire on my heart to be one.”
After watching a film about Mother Teresa’s life, I found myself weeping and weeping, so deeply moved by her complete gift of self. The Lord’s call echoed in the depths of my heart, and I found myself aching to belong totally to him in a radical way… but I was afraid. I was afraid of losing myself, of being unhappy, of being “weird”.
But perfect love casts out fear. After years of experiencing His love, and fighting His call tooth and nail, I surrendered. I remember sitting upon the hard, conspicuously uncomfortable wooden benches in the quiet echo of the chemistry building atrium, wrestling honestly with the Lord, and realizing: “Lord, I love you. I’ve been fighting you. But I love you. If you want me to be a nun, I will. I’ll do it. I’ll be a nun.” At that moment, I experienced a profound, overwhelming peace and joy, of a kind and an intensity I had never known before. Suddenly I knew. I knew. And I felt free in a way I had never felt before. I became aware of this great, illuminated reality that encompassed me and called me to love in a more real way. I would sit in class and just relish the knowledge of this great secret imprinted within my being – that the Lord himself had called me to be his. His own. His bride.
A dear friend told me about the Sisters of Life. The Charism of Life captured my heart powerfully, and over a time of particular discernment, I experienced that the Lord was inviting me to enter. And I have to say… Jesus is never outdone in generosity. The Truth of His Love really does set us free, and His plans for us are so much bigger and more beautiful than those we have for ourselves.
What are some of the joys and struggles you face as a religious sister?
It’s hard to be able to express the indescribable privilege of being completely His, of living in His house in community with my dear, dear Sisters, of sharing His Life in a radical way. The vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are a deep joy. Sure, there are roses and thorns, joys and sorrows. The greatest struggle (which is also the greatest joy), I think, is the life-long work of letting God love you. You know - giving up self-sufficiency and self-dependence, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, not running away from your weakness and poverty, trusting in Him. It’s the struggle to let Love be Lord. There can be a half-belief when you enter the convent – at least, for me, there was – that, oh, holiness will be easier now. No cell phone, no Internet, no credit card, no distractions. Only Jesus. And it’s definitely true – you step out of the world and into His Heart in a radical way, and He floods you with His grace. But, in His Mercy, over time, He does the biggest favor He could do: He brings you face to face with yourself - the nitty-gritty and the splendid, the raw and the glorious. And you realize that holiness is not an abstract thing at all, but rather, it’s about becoming more and more yourself in Him. He wants each of us - no matter what vocation to which we’re called – to experience that He is delighted with us, in all of our weakness and vulnerability.