After reading Marlena's account of her vocation story in Convivium's A Love Louder Than Noise, I can recall the piercing silence with which God burst into my heart, the moment I finally let Him speak to me. I didn't have a loud epiphany following a massive car crash or after overcoming a lifestyle of drinking and partying. No, God's love was made loud when I finally let silence surround me. My heart was pierced with light and love and there is no simple way of conveying it other than to say my life was changed by a moment of pure grace.
Ever since that moment I sought to do God's will. I have failed, and will continue to fall, but by His mercy, His love endures and I am continually reconciled to Him when I seek forgiveness. I thought doing God's will would entail some sort of heroic grand gesture, but in my faith journey I have discovered that doing God's will is living out the day to day of my vocation. In my marriage, God has shown me that much fruit is born out of my love for my spouse. In our hospitality and our ministry, we lead others to God's love, bearing witness of it in our lives, through our service to one another, as husband and wife. This is as simple as having friends over for dinner or helping out with readings at Mass on Sunday.
If vocations seems like a foreign concept to you, mark the words of one of the great doctors of the Church, St Thérèse of Lisieux: "My vocation is love."
That's all God is really asking of you: Love.
~ Pomeline Martinoski
“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” – Pope Benedict XVI.
I was reminded of these words as I read Marlena’s very personal and moving account of her decision to pursue religious life. Our present culture espouses personal comfort as the highest of ideals; as the destination that we should all strive towards. Altering the phrase Marlena quoted from Jennifer Lopez, the world proposes: “Let’s get comfortable!”
Marlena’s story illustrates the experience of many. The destination of comfort isn’t actually satisfying. Rather, as she and Pope Benedict propose, we are all called to an ongoing journey of greatness. While this journey may involve the pursuit of great endeavors, it’s fundamentally more about who we are becoming rather that what we are accomplishing.
Marlena so eloquently describes this: a journey of falling deeper in love with the God who is Love, and in turn becoming love, to speak love to a world in desperate need of this love.
Finally, Marlena’s article reminds me of another statement made by Pope Benedict at his inauguration: “If we let Christ into our lives we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful, and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed…do not be afraid of Christ. He takes nothing away and gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundred fold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ, and you will find true life.”
~ Jeff Lockert, President of Catholic Christian Outreach Canada
“I resonate with Marlena Loughheed's journey of discerning a call from God in the midst of the noise of modern life. She observes that "life in Toronto is noisy," but at the same time "love broke through the noise of my life and offered the answer to the deepest longings of my heart." When I heard the call, I was living with relatives in New York City, but even there I found places of silent refuge for prayer and reflection, in my parish and in the nooks and crannies of beautiful Prospect Park, near my cousins' house. Loughheed's title -- "A Love Louder Than Noise" -- echoes Cardinal Sarah's cri de coeur in "The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise." On the dangerous allure of constant commotion, he writes, "Without noise, postmodern man falls into a dull, insistent uneasiness . . . . Noise gives him security, like a drug on which he has become dependent. With its festive appearance, noise is a whirlwind that avoids facing itself …. "
Sometimes we fear that today's younger generation, raised almost entirely amidst the information overload and relentless distractions of the Internet age, might become deaf to God. But this young woman has heard the still, small voice of God, testifying that the subtle stirrings of divine love can become definitive and real, for anyone with ears to hear.”
~ Father Tim McCauley
I am neither discerning the call to religious life nor a member of the Catholic faith. I am a young woman who ascribes to the Mennonite Brethren denomination of faith who is still open to the possibility of marriage. And yet, for the first time in life, I feel as though I truly had to reassess why I wouldn’t consider devoting the entire of my relational and vocational future to the work of the Church? If I have been saved by grace and encountered a love as transformational as I have experienced it to be as a beloved, image-of-God being, why aren’t more of us devoting our lives to the charism of the Church? Why aren’t more of us offering up our lives to the charism of the beloved community?
In reading A Love Louder Than Noise, I felt as though I was reading a contemporary voice akin to that of Paul in the New Testament who speaks with enthusiasm and earnest devotion of his call to celibacy and total, missional dedication to furthering the work of Christ. In conversation with Marlena both personally and surrounding the article, I am most struck by her desire to communicate the way in which this decision has been born of love rather than lack. She has chosen to continue discerning the calling to a consecrated life as an act of joy and thanksgiving rather than purely as an act of solemn sacrifice. And so I find myself asking, as one of my favourite writers Nikaela Marie says, “What is it that loves dares the self to do?”
~ Hannah Marazzi, member of Convivium Team
Marlena’s piece gave language to the uncomfortable yet gentle tug towards a life that seems to make little sense for an educated, talented, passionate young woman. She has the world ahead of her, yet she’s choosing a smaller path, wooed by love. But really, doesn’t every romance bring equal potential for joy and pain? Doesn’t every marriage, baby or beloved career path limit our freedom and demand unforeseen sacrifice? We are fools for love, future nuns or not.
~ Ashley Chapman
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