To live from the joy I received when Jesus looked at me
“From there flows joy... the joy I received when Jesus looked at me. He is the one who calls.” (Pope Francis)
This joy I experienced in 1994, when I was 11 years old. When I was praying the rosary silently on my own for the first time, this thought came to mind: “How beautiful it must be to be a religious Sister!” It filled me with a deep peace and joy. As a teenager, I tried to forget this experience by saying, “I was just a child; this thought could not have been serious.” I had not told anyone, so no one could remind me of it. However, in dismissing that thought as a childish imagining, I really dismissed the Lord Himself and His plan for me!
As a teenager and young person I was encouraged again and again to deepen my faith and friendship with the Lord. This happened thanks to my parents, The Spiritual Family The Work (of whom my parents have been a member since 1985), my three brothers and my sister, a big group of practicing Catholic friends, the World Youth Days, and my love for the Church, where I felt at home.
“God remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). I discovered God’s faithfulness to His plan for my life during my time as a student. I studied in Mechelen from 2001 to 2005 to become a teacher. During that time I came in contact with several communities, religious men and women, seminarians and priests. It struck me that they all were happy people. To my surprise their vocation story often started with, “I first heard God’s call when I was a child”. This rekindled in my heart the search for Gods plan for my own life. Could it be that this call I heard 10 years ago was real?
What about my own plans? As a mother of a family, couldn’t I also do a lot of good for God and His Church? Yet at the same time, I believed that it would only be in living out God’s will that I would be really happy. In September 2005, I started to work as a teacher in a Catholic primary school in Brussels. I worked there for 2 years with much joy.
In January 2006, I joined the Emmanuel Community on a pilgrimage to Paray-le Monial in France. The School of Mission was being promoted: for one entire year young people live in community, pray together, work together, deepen their faith and evangelize. “Give one year of your life to God!” was the invitation. One year? I thought. If I give my life to God, then entirely! Surprised at myself, I again experienced the same peace and joy of “the moment when Jesus looked at me”. I understood something: God has a plan, not only to make me happy, but through me also others. What God is asking of me, is part of a bigger plan, His plan of salvation. Who am I to decline this invitation?
“I am a link in a chain”, prayed blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. Shortly afterwards, I met with some friends in a house of the Spiritual Family The Work as usual to study the letters of St Paul with the Sisters. One of the young persons told me that she was preparing to enter the community. How happy I was that she had the courage to set out on this path where God was leading her. Her “yes” encouraged my “yes” to the Lord.
In 2006, the Lord prompted me during a retreat in the Thalbach monastery. I had the realization: this is my home; this is God’s Plan for my life. Immediately the deep peace and joy returned. It was as if a burden fell off my shoulders, the burden of the inner struggle between my wishes and plans and God’s Will. I joined the Spiritual Family The Work on September 8, 2007, when I was 24 years.
After a time of initial formation in Rome, and a few years in Littlemore, Oxford (England), where we guide people from all over the world in the place where Cardinal Newman lived, I received my mission in the Netherlands, in our house in Merkelbeek.
I have been here almost 8 years. Together we offer family catechesis, preparations for the Sacraments, a monthly Holy Hour for vocations, and retreat days for young and old. We want to help all who come to our house to find a home in the Church. I myself work as the RE Coordinator at a military parish and prepare children, youth and adults for the Sacraments.
“God wants your happiness in The Work. This happiness is not for a distant future. It is meant for now and for these circumstances” (Mother Julia). I experience this undeniably more and more each day. Not a superficial joy of a comfortable life, but the deep joy of a life in peace with God’s Will; of growing in love of the Lord and His Mystical Body the Church; of collaborating with God’s plan for my life and that of others; of giving myself totally to God and his people; in short, “the deep joy of the moment when Jesus looked at me!”
Sr. Myriam D. FSO
»I say to the LORD, you are my Lord, you are my only good.«