“You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (Jn 15, 16)
When one speaks about consecrated life, one often wonders: why has this person become a religious ? In the beginning of our vocation it is the Lord and his call of love. It is He who chooses us, who chooses me.
I was born in a small village in Poland where we all knew each other. My family is Christian and I was baptized when I was very young and I learned to go to church and to participate in the Eucharist.
At the age of 7, during Mass and without understanding well what was happening at the altar, when the Priest raised and presented the Sacred Host, I felt something in my heart, but I didn’t stop at that… Three years later, more or less, I told my parents something that makes me laugh now, “I will be a religious”. My declaration was completely spontaneous. At that moment I had no idea about consecrated life. The only nun I had ever seen was “a sister in the movie of Louis of Funes with her big cornette on her head”. Besides, my desire was to have a big family. I had already seen in my imagination a big house where I would be with all my family. My husband would be the most handsome, the wisest and very, very good. For a long time I was very faithful to this dream.
Thinking about my childhood one can say it is true that there was nothing extraordinary. My relation with God was very simple. I was not very devout but I had learned to pray, to discern and to choose what was good. Thanks to the catechism I had begun to understand God’s Commandments.
But there was an event that allowed me to enter in relation with Him more deeply, though at that moment I had not considered it like that. When I was 9 years old my mom was expecting a baby. My younger brother and I had waited for our little brother. But he lived only a few hours. Then I got on my knees before the picture of Mary and I still remember the words of my prayer: “God why did You take it? Why didn’t You choose me instead of him?…” But God remained in silence…
After all that I practiced my faith, as everyone else, rather traditionally. But every time when any suffering touched me, I tried to explain the painful reality… God became for me a silent witness. I spoke to Him, He listened to me…
Then all changed when I was in high school at 16 years old. A priest who taught catechism in our school proposed for us to participate in a retreat for girls. My friend agreed immediately but not me. I didn’t want to go but to please her and to have a different weekend than usual, we went to the retreat. Among a lot of other things we also had one hour of adoration. I was in front of Jesus and He was in front of me… something in me was open… I discovered in me a great desire to belong to God and being with Him. For three years I lived a spiritual fight. Even though I had heard his voice that invited me to consecrate my life to Him, I didn’t want to believe it and I tried to achieve my own “projects”.
I committed myself to Parish life, to charitable works as a volunteer, I became a member of the movement “New Path” and I did all that to show to God that I was a good Christian and that was precisely what He wanted for me. The Lord was patient…
Two years later, I participated in a meeting for Youth organized by the Dominicans every year in the Eve of Pentecost. We were about seventy thousand. Imagine yourselves with the young who sang, danced and praised the Lord… All of a sudden a man was in our group. It was a man without shelter. As us, he wanted to be delighted with God’s presence, to adore Him… But I noticed that people around us moved away… It was very sad… I learned that the poor person is someone that disturbs… After some minutes this poor man had gone on his way but I am sure that in this poor person was Jesus who had repeated his call to me…
After I finished my High School I sent my documents to the Daughters of Charity. The Sisters welcomed me. And here I am; I have been a Daughter of Charity for 13 years and according to my human calculations I know very well that it is God’s grace that makes it all. It is He that made the choice.
One can say that the life of a consecrated person is a life on Tabor. One is with the Lord, one sees His beaming face, one is sure of His presence but there is another mountain where the Lord invites us again and it is also the place of the particular meeting. It is the Cross. There is no consecrated life without difficulties, without crises, without darkness. It is perhaps a way in which the Lord may be sometimes silent but is always faithful. It is the path followed by a lot of Saints; among them I see Saint Louise de Marillac who accepted God’s project for her. And God, as she said, never left her without the opportunity to suffer. We, the Daughters of Charity, contemplate the Cross because it is the love of Jesus Christ Crucified that urges us to serve Him in the Poor.
Every year I renew my Vows to say once again my Yes to One who loves us infinitely. I thank Him for my vocation and I ask Him for His blessings for all people that I met in my life, in particular for my parents who accepted my choice, for my family, my friends, the Sisters and the Poor.
These 13 years as a Daughter of Charity are 13 years of immense graces to be counted. I look at them with gratitude. I bless the Lord for every moment I could be close to the Poor as a nurse in a Home for elderly people, then as a bursar in a Home and a nursery school and, before coming to Paris, I was three years as a teacher in an orphanage where there were 75 children who could not be with their families in difficult situations.
Now, I live in our Mother House at 140 Rue du Bac. Every day, in this Chapel chosen by Mary, I pray for others and for me and I can say “thank you” to God for my vocation to which I would like to be faithful and joyful until my death.
Sister Magdalena (Polish)