Columns

Time with sisters

Originally Appeared in : 9914-7/4/19
I took five of my children to serve with the Missionaries of Charity last week, helping out with their summer Bible camp for Burmese refugee children. It was an intense week, full of service and prayer and lots of fun.
 
The sisters are part of the order founded by St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta. They have convents all over the world, including the one we worked at in Atlanta. These women are pure joy. They work hard and seem to be happy all the time.
 
“I didn’t know sisters could laugh and have fun,” said Isabel at one point. “When I grow up, I want to be a nun.”
 
Now, I won’t hold Isabel to this, though if God has that plan for Isa I pray she is open to it. But what a beautiful testimony to the freedom and joy that comes from saying a whole-hearted yes to Jesus. These sisters are some of the happiest, most joy-filled women you will meet.
 
It might be easy to think that these sisters are happy because they are not weighed down with the cares of the world. They are nuns, after all. No “regular life” to distract them from their vocation as the brides of Christ.
 
But here’s the thing you discover when you spend time with these women: Their lives are filled with much of the same ordinary as the rest of us.
 
One morning, as we loaded up for camp, two of the sisters discussed how to find a replacement part for the cooler they use for camp. The day before, one sister had taken to the doctor a resident from their home for women with AIDS. There was medicine to give out and people to care for. Last year, when I was a volunteer at the same camp, I spent one day helping a sister go to Goodwill and the Dollar Store to find items for a resident about to move out of the AIDS house and into her own apartment.
 
After our shopping, we stopped by Home Depot to make a copy of a house key. Sister apologized for all the running around we were doing, and I told her I felt very much at home in this kind of day. This was real life.
 
Real life. It’s what these women live. But it’s different of course, in many ways. I think about those ways often.
 
Is it easier to be a nun or a married mother of six? It’s a ridiculous question of course, and probably a little unrighteous. It’s unfair to compare, and I shouldn’t do it. It’s not that I want to be a nun or wish that my life was anything other than it is.
 
But I do think about the joy and freedom these sisters have. What is the secret here, and how can I stay focused on that same kind of happiness?
 
During our week with the sisters, we joined them for Mass in the morning and Holy Hour in the evening. There, in their small un-airconditioned chapel we prayed with them and sat in silence. We focused on Jesus, and the time we spent with them praying was just a small part of their own daily prayer life. They rise before five in the morning to begin their day, getting ready and praying and praying some more. They work and pray and have plenty of fun as well.
 
The secret to their joy and commitment to serve is their faithfulness to Jesus and an ability to see everything as part of what he is asking of them. It has to be. Perhaps there is more to it, but at the heart of their daily life is that level of absolute trust in God.
 
The sisters trust in God’s providence and his will and his great love for them.
 
And that is the grace we have access to as well. We can choose to have that same trust, which will fuel us with the same freedom and joy.
 
Believe that what you are doing is the very thing God has asked you to do. Look for him in all you do, trust that He will take care of you and that you are an important part of His work on earth.
 
Each one of us has a special call from God, a small way he will use us to love his people. When we stay focused on that, we will find freedom and joy.
 
 
Rachel Balducci is a wife and mother of six. She and her husband Paul are members of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Augusta, GA. Her latest book, Make My Life Simple, is available on Amazon.
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