A Vocation Story
It was a fine summer day when I decided to read the autobiography of a saint who has been constantly “showering me with roses”, whenever I prayed to her.
The saint was a Carmelite nun who had spent the last nine years of her life in a cloistered monastery in the town of Lisieux, France where she died at the age of 24. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus knew her vocation; she knew God called her to save souls, to bring sinners back to God.
At the age of 14, a year before Thérèse had entered the Carmel, she heard of a criminal by the name, Henry Pranzini in Marseilles, France who was going to be executed for murdering two women and a little girl. Upon hearing that, Thérèse had one desire: to save his soul. She adopted him as her ‘first child’, as she prayed and offered many little sacrifices for his soul, that he would repent before his final hour, and that God would pardon him. Thérèse was confident that the Lord would grant her request, but asked for a sign just for her own consolation. The next day, Thérèse opened La Croix newspaper only to read that Pranzini, after many refusals of priests and continuously protesting his innocence at the foot of the guillotine, in the last moment, called for the Crucifix and kissed the wounds of Jesus before he died. God answered Thérèse’s prayer. She knew that if the Lord had given her Pranzini as her ‘first child’, it was so that she would have many more.
Upon reading the life of St. Thérèse, I was very much attracted to her spirituality, her burning zeal to bring souls to Christ, and in offering little sacrifices out of great love for God. So, thirsting to give myself entirely to God for the sake of souls, I desired to imitate this great saint by following her footsteps.
Immediately, I went on Google, the popular internet search engine and searched for Carmelite Monasteries in Canada. Thanks to Divine Providence, I came across a website of the Carmelite Monastery in St. Agatha, Ontario, somewhere I had never heard of, but fortunately in my diocese. I found an email address on the website, so I decided to contact the Prioress, asking her to send me some brochures with information. Two days later, I received a letter in the mail from the Prioress with some leaflets, describing the Carmelite life, purpose and mission. On one, it read that the Carmelites “leave the world, leading a life of prayer and solitude, for the sake of the world,” which is exactly what my soul thirsted for.
During my 4 years at university, I have seen the tragedy of many who lived a lifestyle in the darkness of sin and refusal to love God, or even accept Him in their lives. I knew that those are the people who are in most need of prayer. I felt the urge to do something for them.
After a short conversation with the Prioress, a visit to the Monastery was arranged. I found the Monastery very peaceful, joyful and one that leaves the soul fulfilled. A fulfillment that I was unable to find anywhere on the face of this earth. Christ Jesus saved the world by his prayer and sacrifice on the Cross. With joy, we Carmelites follow Christ’s example of prayer and sacrifice as we offer our lives for the salvation of souls, for the Church and for all God’s people. What a great gift of a calling God grants to those who open their hearts to Him!
Just before St. Thérèse had died, she said, “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth…I will let fall from Heaven a shower of Roses.” St. Thérèse has kept her promise, and continues to inspire so many vocations, especially through her autobiography, “Story of a Soul”, that has touched the hearts of millions.