The third part of a blog series answering questions about the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, by Lisa Small
It was the year 2000, the day two of the children who witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, were to be beatified. I hadn’t known that when I agreed to go with my boyfriend to a Friday evening Mass in downtown Auckland. We planned to go dancing in the nearby clubs afterwards. As we entered the Cathedral, there was a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Fatima in front of the altar which I later learnt in the homily was one of the official traveling statues from Portugal that is taken around the world.
After Mass, the priest exposed the Blessed Sacrament and explained that there would be all-night adoration which would end with 8am Mass. My first experience of adoration had been just a few months earlier, and I had had a powerful encounter with Jesus that had started transforming the way I saw my place in the world and my understanding of who the Son of God was. I was mesmerized by His presence and how close He had felt to me that first night, and as I gazed up at the monstrance, that deep thirst for Him came flooding back. Here He was, completely vulnerable and exposed, pouring Himself out to me with His love, grace and mercy. I just couldn’t leave.
I leaned over to my boyfriend and whispered, “Do you think we could stay a bit?” After about half an hour, I leaned over to ask the same question. As a naïve eighteen-year-old, and being new to a lived faith in my daily life, I had never heard about all-night adoration. I thought it meant that we would stay all night and keep watch with Him, rather than the usual practice of praying in turns throughout the night. As He continued to draw me into His Heart, the desire to not leave Him kept growing. I just couldn’t leave…
And so we didn’t – we didn’t make the clubs that night. Around nine in the morning my boyfriend dropped me off at my house, a little exhausted but with a full heart.
That began a deeper quest to understand the longing in my heart to belong completely and exclusively to Him. Even with my boyfriend beside me, there was an unspoken prayer within “Lord, why can’t it be just you and me forever? Do I have to get married? Do I have to have kids? Do I have to get a 9-5 job and do what everyone else does in life? Isn’t there another way?” I had never met any nuns before. I had never thought of that as a possibility so I felt I had to resign myself to getting married and having a job and family, while something deep inside was pulling me in a different direction. “Lord, open the path and show me what I am supposed to do with my life!”
I had no idea where He would lead me, but just a few months later I found myself in Rhode Island, USA, about to begin my training as a missionary with Regnum Christi, meeting Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi for the first time.
I first heard about the missionary year from a lay man in NZ who had just returned home after discerning religious life with “some congregation” overseas called the Legionaries of Christ. When he shared about the Regnum Christi Mission Corps volunteer program, something had sparked a flame within. I knew it was what I should do after High School as my gap year. When I arrived at the Providence airport in RI, I would never have imagined that God would answer my all-night adoration prayer so quickly.
When I met the Consecrated Women who ran our training, I was a little confused about who they were. This was the first time that I was meeting them. Right away though, I fell in love with the way that they celebrated and participated in the liturgy, their love for Christ and the Church and their keen resolve to make a true difference in the world by evangelizing through creative and enterprising means. This was when I truly saw the beauty of a life totally given to Christ and His Kingdom. After one of them shared her own story about her call to this vocation, things in my mind and heart started to fall into place. In her, I saw a reflection of myself and the deeper longing that had been growing to belong completely to Christ. I went to back to Our Lady, this time Our Lady of Guadalupe, and entrusted that desire to her, “Mother, is this where your Son has been leading me? Did He need to get me to cross the huge Pacific Ocean in order to discover the mission that He has made me for?” That night I resolved to live my volunteer year as if I were consecrated, as a way of continued discernment.
So, how did I know I had a vocation? It was a journey of seeking God, listening to the inner desires of my heart and finding Him in the circumstances of life and how He created me. That was later confirmed in spiritual direction and by those in authority within Regnum Christi. The peace and joy I have now is a deep consolation that He has continued to meet me every step of the way.