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by Sister Mary Emmanuelle, SSpSAP
I grew up in Nueva Ecija in the Philippines and went to a high
school taught by the Franciscans. I often thought about becoming
a sister, but not seriously because I wanted to be a somebody...a
successful career woman. I was very diligent in my studies and had
as my role model a favorite teacher, a very dynamic woman. When
I was in college I heard that she had become a Franciscan sister,
and that startled me because she had so much to give up. I reflected
a lot on that, but my ambition was still to be a successful CPA.
As I prepared to take the final CPA exam I was praying very hard
to pass it. Then one day as I was kneeling before the crucifix,
I felt my desire to pass the exam fading away. I found myself telling
the Lord that if He would just let me work for a while, then I would
enter the convent. My view of life underwent a profound change.
I went ahead and took and passed the exam and went to work in an
office. Advancement was rapid and I became engrossed in my work.
Then one day I met one of my friends in the Franciscan order and
the yearning returned.
It was as if I was being torn between the love of my work and wanting
to enter the convent. A passage from the Bible kept beaming in my
ear. "If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart."
I was considering entering the Franciscans when one day a friend
asked if I'd like to see the "Pink Sisters." I had heard
of them, but the minute I entered their chapel, I felt something
different. Soon after, I wrote to the vocation director and then
visited the Pink Sisters in Manila several times. It was the first
time I had seen cloistered sisters and I wanted to be sure that
this was the kind of life the Lord was asking me to live. Finally
I mustered the courage to leave my family, my job and enter.
It was a wonderful feeling just to surrender to the Lord and feel
His guidance. And then when I was asked to come to the United States,
it was another challenge to my faithfulness to the Lord -- to leave
my family, my country. But in accepting it, once again my relationship
with the Lord deepened. Each time I accepted the challenges relying
on His strength, the bond of love became stronger.
I have learned that God has called me not to an easy life, but
to a life made easy by His presence. To be quiet with the Lord is
to feel that deep joy, that inner peace. And that is why I pray
that when other young women hear His voice, they may harden not