Sr Mary of Nazareth's Vocation Story
When I was five years old, I was standing alone in the school playground wondering what I would be when I grew up. The thought came to me that the best thing would be to be like my mother and have children. Family life was good and happy, full of life and love.
Soon after this, God showed me more. A Sister of Charity passed by in the school corridor. She did not speak or notice me as she was only on an errand from the boys’ orphanage next door, but there was a spiritual quality about her that spoke silently in my heart and somehow I understood that there is more than one way of being a mother. From that time on I was convinced that I would be a nun.
At first I was attracted to the Medical Missionaries in Africa, then I considered devoting my life to serving the poor as a lay missionary as a nurse or a teacher. Again I thought seriously of marriage and motherhood but there was always an angel in the way – a silent engaging presence who made me understand, without a word spoken, that God must be first.
I learned that God speaks his Word through scripture, through his Son Jesus who is the Word, through his Church and also in silence, in the silent engagement with an attentive listening heart.
So when I first visited the Carmelites at Allington Castle, near Aylesford, there was no one at the gate to meet me, but I was deeply touched by a silent smiling presence which radiated the simple gladness of an old friend.
And when I first visited the enclosed Carmelite community at Thicket Priory (never dreaming that God was inviting me there) I was peacefully overwhelmed by a light cloud of loving silence which simply said “Here I am!”
So I was caught like a fish in the net of Divine Mercy.
Of course there was a process of discernment and prayer and good advice, with counsel from trusted spiritual guides. But Our Lord himself settled the matter by simply removing all obstacles and interior doubts or fears, with the help of ‘The Story of a Soul’ by St. Thérèse and showing me the great fruitfulness of Mary’s daily life “hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3)
When I finally left home to come to Thicket, my father and youngest sister came with me. As we left our little town garden, my father picked a rose from a bush by the gate and gave it to me in silence.
This is just a reflection over 50 years later:
My Father’s love
as tender as the rose
plucked by the gate of his self-giving.
Christ is the gate;
Mary the rose;
the Love ever living.