Receive the Honor of His Love
“Sister, can you tell me about Therese of a Zoo?” –Age 15
I believe that Saint Dominic and Blessed Jane have had my family in their care for a long time: From my great-grandmother’s daily rosary, to my grandmother’s attendance at Dominican High, to Blessed Jane’s intercession for my own parents and family for daughters to join Dominic’s family, to my Baptism by a Dominican priest. It is owing to my family’s tremendous love for me that I in turn learned how to give. My baptismal grace was nourished, mercifully, by the sacraments in their due order. I was a good Sunday school student, but I was also a “goody two-shoes,” so my motivation at that time was not always a loving relationship with the Lord!
Reading my life in light of the sacraments, I can see that my Confirmation, that completion of the baptismal grace, strengthened me to receive my vocation. I remember pulling up to the church in 8th grade feeling frightened and personally unprepared for an event that everyone said was so important. When Bishop Foley spoke to the confirmandi before Mass, however, his words filled me with peace and intense desire, a real miracle of grace. That anointing opened me for all that was to unfold.
High school was my first experience of Catholic education, and it was life-changing. For the first time I learned the richness of the Catholic faith. I learned that the Church was a Mother and could be trusted; that there were 2,000 years of wisdom in her teaching; that Christ was truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. I was falling in love with the Faith and spending time with the Lord in the chapel. Our Sisters, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, were teaching at the school, and I suppose what most affected me then was that they were themselves and they loved me.
When I came home from my first visit to the Motherhouse, it was just before my class retreat. In Confession a priest encouraged me to read St. Therese. Then, still largely ignorant of the world of saints and repeating the name I thought I’d heard over and over in my head hoping not to forget, I emerged from the confessional and innocently asked a sister how I could read about the life of “Therese of a Zoo.”
St. Therese of Liseux’s Story of a Soul opened my life of prayer to the freedom of a personal, spousal relationship with the Lord. St. Therese showed me the horizon of the waves of trust and love and set me upon them, at least enough to “get my toes wet.” I spent more and more time in our school chapel—before lunch, after school—and it was there that the Lord worked; it was there that I realized He loved me. He loved me, delighted in me, and showed me that He had a plan for me. His love and the fact of a plan were so wonderful to me, that whatever the plan was, I wanted to give everything. Spending more time with the sisters and visiting the Motherhouse showed me that this was how to give all. I knew when I returned to the Motherhouse that the Lord was calling me to be with Him, and that meant an intense sharing of lives, of everything. I had done nothing to deserve it, but He had loved me, loved me in a special way, and given me a Dominican heart. Now my life is the utter privilege of being called “to receive the honor of His love,” as the prayer of consecration at perpetual profession puts it. As St. Therese says, to such a call He asks only surrender and gratitude. May my life given over to His love be a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving!