A Letter to the Love of my Life…
You are my Love, to whom I offer my whole heart… The first time I heard this song, it touched my heart deeply. Even though I did not understand all the words of the song or their meaning completely, I liked it very much. These words have now come to be true in my own life; my heart truly belongs to God and to You, Lord. You are my everything, for You have died on the cross because of your love for me. Now, I desire to be your instrument of love – I want to live and die only for love of You, my Lord!
Dear Lord, I thank you for the gift of a Religious vocation, the call of love which You have given me. I wish to live my daily life to please You and to do your most Holy Will with an ever-growing love. I trust in You, O Lord, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, of our dear Blessed Mother Mary, of St. Peter Claver, of our Mother Foundress, and of all the Saints, I will reach for the real spirit of love found only in serving You. Your love and the grace you send me are enough for me to be able to remain faithful to You and the Church forever. Let my life become a song of love – in harmony with your love.
I recall the first time You called to me. I was so blinded by the luxuries of the world, I ignored your call. You patiently waited to give me another chance through the random meeting of a homeless gentleman I met while working at the youth center. That time I could not deny your call. Our Catholic youth group joined others to walk to raise funds for the victims of Typhoon Linda, which inflicted much damage in Vietnam. When we had first tried to organize a fundraiser for the victims of the storm, we were prevented by people who worried that the funds might not reach the victims.
One afternoon, a gentleman about 40 years old came to our office and asked if he could offer one dollar for the survivors of the typhoon. I wondered what use a dollar would be. I also considered that he might just be joking by going to the trouble to come to the office just to give one dollar. But he was not joking. He handed me the dollar – about the cost of an ice cream cone at the time. After he had left, one of the other volunteers asked if I knew …he was a homeless man. I was suddenly reminded of Our Lord commenting on the elderly widow giving all she had left to live on although it only amounted to about one cent. He had given me more than a dollar, he had handed me all that he had. His generosity was much greater than anyone else’s.
From that day I began to wonder, Lord, what I had to offer to You. I had nothing of material value but I thought perhaps I could continue with my volunteer work – a way for the laity to serve You, Lord. But an unpleasant thought nagged at my mind. Should I marry, how could I know if my future husband would have the same desire? Would he allow me to continue volunteering after marriage? I began to rethink about a vocation. I had always felt that becoming a nun would be the last thing I would ever do! I never thought I had a calling from the Lord to be his spouse. Once, 11 years previously, I had tried one convent, but I was not convinced that I had a vocation. I loved the life in this world too much. It was all so attractive. I loved parties, going to proms, the theater and movies. I enjoyed an easy life and lots of fun with friends. Or maybe, I thought, I could remain single and serve the Lord as a lay missionary. I sent inquiries to several missionary congregations. I received no response from some; others refused me because they were just for men.
I was not sure what to do, but as I studied about the missionary work, I came to realize that this was what I wanted to do with my life. One day, while waiting for a response from other missionary congregations, I went to the kitchen and a newsletter to my parents from the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver caught my eye. I wrote down the address and contacted them. I went to spend some time with them, getting to know about their apostolate, and spent some time in retreat, asking Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother for guidance.
I came to like this congregation and their spirit of unity. They are missionaries, but they do not go out to the mission. Rather than having their own mission, they help all those who are in the mission field. At first I hesitated because I wanted to go out to the missions. But I also felt a call to the Sisters of St. Peter Claver’s hidden work – humble and with no limitations – their service and prayers reach to the farthest corners of the mission world providing spiritual and material help for the missionaries, helping to build churches, convents, hospitals, and homes for the poor and elderly, and providing medical help to lepers, and homes and schools for orphans, and teaching about our faith – all for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
For the past three years, I have been living and learning, receiving formation, and coming to understand more deeply about the consecrated life. I believe this is God’s will for me. Because of this conviction, I will be…not only a missionary, but also a consecrated person to the Lord.
Today I have found the best gift that I can offer to You, Lord: my life, my whole being, my will, my heart and all that I have. I pray that this offering will burn brightly all the days of my life in order to please You, Lord. From now on, You are my happiness. Oh, how blessed are those who dwell in your house, Lord! What a privilege for me to live in your house all the days of my life.
~Sr. Jackie Nguyen, SSPC