The bunch of Roses which I have put in front of the icon of the Virgin Mary is a symbol of love, of gratitude and of fidelity in honour of my father. In order to invite him to struggle against the illness which was eating him away on his bed in hospital, I used to encourage him with the following words: "Dad, pluck up courage! This summer you must participate in my final vows". He waited impatiently for this day! But he passed away! How much I desired to have him near me to share my joy! ... But this moment is a celestial one and I am sure that he is present with me in this moment!
To pronounce my final vows in front of the whole Church is a big joy and a big grace …
On this day, this covenant of love between God and his creature is about to be accomplished!
« I will exalt you my King, my God! I will bless your name always and forever. » Ps. 145
With the Psalmist, I raise up my praise and my thanksgiving towards God, the Holy one, who doesn’t cheat and who has never cheated, for his work in my life!
My journey with Jesus started in 2006 and today, after 10 years, on this 21/08/2016, the Lord seals his covenant with me forever.
1.At the search of my
Since my childhood, I have grown up in a prayerful family environment that relies on Providence. My parents’ witness and the commitment to the parish have certainly played an important role in my journey of faith with God.
Like all the other youths of my age, I was quickly haunted by the question regarding the meaning of my life: « Why did I come into the world? » I always had the impression that the concerns of the society in which I lived, didn’t answer my deep desire within me. This period of research led me to join the Marian Apostolic Movement (MAM), where the Lord answered me across my research and my readings... The One who revealed himself to me as God Love and the life of the group, deleted the image that I had of a faraway Master, condescending and lost in the heavens. Little by little, I began to understand the Incarnation as God’s project who wants to save me and to free me.
But the biggest truth which overwhelmed me was that he wanted man as his partner. A marvellous thing! I couldn’t resist this fact. In order to accomplish his plan of Salvation, God needed my acceptance and my adhesion by saying « yes ».
Hence, my big question: « If God is Father, if he is Love, how is it that there are so many marginalised and rejected people? » I began to discover his closeness and that He expected something from me... when one day I was struck by the Gospel text about the healing of the leper. I understood that He was the Truth that I was looking for during many years. The One who bent down on the leper whom everybody discarded; the man whom nobody dared approach and was excluded from life... Jesus is not afraid to touch him, to love him, to purify him and therefore to re-integrate him in the community. It’s precisely through this encounter that my desire has met that of God. In reality, that’s how I also wish to live!
I have sought and discovered the love which I couldn’t keep to myself. I shouted like the Samaritan woman: « I want to relate to everyone that the One whom I encountered is nobody else than the Son of God, the Beloved of the Father, the Saviour! » But new questions were worrying me: « How and where am I going to proclaim this love? What does it mean to follow Jesus? And what is religious consecration? Do these consecrated persons have only one mission – that of speaking to the people about God’s love? » After some time of reflection, of accompaniment and discernment, with my parents’ blessing, I had the courage in faith and in serenity, to make the step and I entered religious life....
2.Time of formation
The formation which I started in the novitiate for two years and which continue up to this present moment, concerns all the dimensions of the person, humanly, spiritually... It tends to the integration of the personality of the religious, who through prayer and meditation unites herself to the Lord who becomes the centre of her life. She becomes internally free through God’s grace and becomes more coherent, stable and true... a person who breaks all her false self images and who across her weaknesses and limits leaves space to the action of the Spirit so that God’s true face might appear.
I have learnt the meaning of the three vows for the first time in my life: chastity, obedience and poverty, like Jesus who was chaste, obedient and poor. We have also the forth vow which characterises the Sister of Charity: the service of the poor! These vows are the elements for our constant spiritual struggle, hence liberating us from our human passions of possession and power in view of living according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind.
God gave me the grace to live various spiritual experiences which are difficult to sum up... But I am going to stop on the one which I lived this year of mercy. It has been given to me while I was preparing myself to this definitive commitment. I had the opportunity of deepening the charism and the spirituality of our Congregation.
3.My experience in this year of
« Since mercy is equivalent to love, as a religious, how am I going to live this mercy in my life? » This question worries me always because it touches the centre of my identity and my mission as religious.
« I was hungry, and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you dressed me... » My experience at school with the children’s parents enabled me to live these words at the material level. But I understood that it wasn’t enough and it was necessary to help the poor person to keep his dignity so that he may become capable to support himself with the possibilities which he received from God. Faced by the refusal of certain persons to assume their responsibilities, the Lord revealed to me that mercy has no limits! Mercy, like that of Jesus crucified, will only lead me to accept this poverty made up of imprudence and ignorance. I am called to live it in the name of love and only out of love! Thus, my choice has been a deep one and God’s mercy went far beyond: non judgemental love, uncompensated service, mercy beyond justice...
Today, the Lord, in his mercy trusts me and calls me to a new mission in Ethiopia. In faith and with joy, I answer peacefully and serenely: « Lord, may your will be done! ». Once more the Lord assures me through his Word and more especially through this Gospel verse that: « I am with you all days, till the end of time! » sr. Aline Sfeir - Kfour-Libanon 2016