Help Jenn become a NUN
In a couple of short hours I will be heading down to the monastery with my parents and grandfather to spend the night before my entrance in the morning, and by the grace of the Lord my godparents get to attend vespers with us and see my new home for the first time. It's bittersweet to write this final post, for this blog has been such a huge part of my life for the past seven months and even though I'm not the greatest writer, it has provided me with an outlet to share my vocation journey with you - which has brought countless blessings and graces for which I will spend the rest of my life giving thanks to the Lord. I pray that you who have generously followed my journey through this year have found some consolation in how beautifully God works to draw us closer to Himself, even when the trials of the world seem almost impossible to overcome. All things are possible for those who love God and desire to serve Him with their whole lives!!
I am so thankful for all those who have helped me in many different ways especially the sponsors who contributed to my marathon and half through my fundraising site and sending donations by mail; the Diocese of Fresno and everyone who showed me such kindness working in the Vocations Office (please pray for our wonderful seminarians!!); the Knights of Columbus throughout the country and especially those who were so supportive in my home town; my home parish - St. Mary's, as well as everyone who has supported me from the Cathedral of St. John, St. Anthony of Padua & the TLM Society, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, OLPH, St. Helen's and the many different parishes throughout our Diocese. I have seen the young adult community grow and flourish in and around Fresno this year, and it fills my heart with such joy! Thank you to all of the amazing, holy young people who have inspired me to a deeper prayer life and to desire to become a saint through as many sacrifices as the Lord will demand of me. Thank you to the National LIFE RUNNERS Team for all your support, and for allowing me to contribute to your efforts in my small way. I may not be able to run anymore once I enter, but I will be racing in spirit toward the finish line and fully expect to see all of you there with giant crowns and medals on. There are so many people who have blessed me this year, I am sorry that in these final hours at home I can't name everyone specifically! But you know who you are and how important you have all been to me.
These past few days have been so full of prayers and hugs and goodbyes and so much smiling that my face hurts a little. Oh well I'll offer it up!! There has been more laughing than tears, but the tears do come and I'm sure there are more in store for the next 24 hours. All in joy for the glory of the Lord, and while it is quite difficult to leave friends and family to go where He calls me, I have never felt more ready for anything or at peace about any decision in my life. The spiritual trials of religious are many, and they are sure to come. So I ask for your continued prayer, my brothers and sisters. I wish to be ready for whatever the Lord asks of me, but while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak, and even nuns need the prayers of those faithful servants who labor in the world. Oh if we could only comprehend how much mercy He desires to give us through our prayers! The world might stop because we would never leave the chapel for all the fulfillment we would get from our glorifying Him through word and song.
Last night I was surrounded by so many of the greatest people who have ever come into my life. Most of whom I have known for less than a year. They will never understand how much they have touched my soul. We sat and adored Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and the love that flowed through the tiny chapel was almost overwhelming. I can't imagine a better way to have spent my last night at home. The Lord is truly bringing future saints out in the world, making them known to each other so that they might be united in fervor for sanctification. This is why I am leaving, my friends. Because I have seen a holiness in you that I can support no better way than through my prayers.
Litany Run was so much more than a fundraising effort. This has turned out to be the greatest lesson in humility and sacrifice I have ever known, and yet through this effort I have barely even scratched the surface of the humility and sacrifice to which we are all called. I pray that God will give me the strength to embrace the cross that awaits me within the cloister, and that you my friends will willingly embrace the cross He offers you - no matter what vocation He has called or will call you to in life. I have always prayed that you will become saints. Now my prayer is that you desire sainthood with such utter abandonment that you will follow wherever He leads you, do whatever He tells you, and find joy in being quiet and still, and knowing that He Is.
I go now to join my sisters in the mountains, where life will move just a little bit more slowly in pursuit of quieting the soul so that God may speak the sweetness of His commandments in my little heart. While we run this race toward salvation, let us remember that it isn't a sprint. Let us run slow and steady so as to win the prize that awaits us in heaven. And when we see another runner stumble along the way, let us pick him up and carry him to the finish line. For the Lord gives us the strength to do this. And we must give all we have. We take nothing with us.
"Learn, O dust, to obey; learn to humble thyself, earth and clay, and to bow under the feet of all. Learn to break thine own will, and to yield thyself up to all subjection. " - Imitation of Christ
Ad majorem dei gloriam.
An archive of my journey can be found at www.litanyrun.blogspot.com
These are the final pages of my journey to entering religious life. I'll write a few more times before Tuesday afternoon, and then will be off to the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph for vespers with my parents, grandfather and the holy people who baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Oh what unfathomable grace has come from their spiritual guidance for the last 26 years.
It would be impossible for me to put into words how very thankful I am for all of you who read this. Everyone who has given so much in prayers and finances this year, to help me reach the goal that I truly believe was set by the Lord Himself "“ for me to enter religious life on this upcoming Feast of St. Augustine. I came home to spend the year with my family and enter religious life in August, 2013 "“ and by your generosity, my friends, the Lord has made this possible.
If I could attempt expressing the joy in my heart and how humbled I am by the mercy of the Lord, I might liken myself to one who was lost at sea, just a few miles from the shore with rest and relief in sight. But instead of having to swim against the crashing waves in an exhaustible effort to reach dry land, you have been like angels sent by God to rescue me, pulling me into the boat before I am fatigued, that I might have the strength venture further out to sea in search of others who need help instead of moving toward the shore where I will find my rest. Oh what strength comes from the gratitude we have when we are shown kindness by others! Oh Lord let me give thanks for this mercy I've been shown, by never resting until You have saved many tired, broken souls through the unworthy acts I offer You. On this Feast of the martyr St. Bartholomew let us remember that the book is called the Acts of the Apostles, for these twelve men did not merely stand and believe, but acted boldly and generously to spread the Gospel of the Lord, even unto death.
This week has been filled with many thank-you's and some goodbyes, which will continue tonight as my parents welcome a few friends and some family into their home to pray with me one last time and crush a cup of wine as I tie up the last of my business before entering in less than 4 days now. I have been so preoccupied with clearing out my life (clothes/books/other sentimental, nostalgia-inducing worldly possessions/bank accounts, etc.) in the days since my last entry, that I have found only one occasion to go running! That has been quite distressing, but I offer this lack of time to the Lord and give thanks for having been given the strength to run so much this year already. Not running 5 times a week is just something I'll have to get used to! I'm excited about going out for a light run tomorrow before mass, and possibly once more over the next couple days before I leave. My friends, if you are blessed with legs and the ability to run on them for any amount of time, rejoice! Offer a jog for poor sinners and my vocation sometime soon please J. There are so many people who are not able to run. Let us not waste this gift the Lord has given us. Be active and be healthy! You take the Lord into your stomach"¦ make it a worthy place for Him to dwell.
Running aside, letting go of all the other worldly stuff has been quite an adventure in itself. Some of my friends have inherited some of possessions I valued most, my car is packed with things ready to be taken to charity on Monday, and I wait in hopeful anticipation of the arrival of the trash man on Tuesday"¦ who will finally come and take away everything that no one else in this world would ever have any use for. Some of that stuff has meant a lot to me and there are many memories sitting in those trashcans outside my house. But they're not really memories"¦ just proof that stuff happened in the past. And there are no important experiences in life that require sentimental objects to be held onto as proof. When we begin to see this world through the veil of eternity it is much easier to find relief in the release of all things that we cannot take with us to heaven. And that is everything except our faith and the souls we reach through prayer and work.
There is nothing in the world that can satisfy. Only foreshadowing of the wedding feast in heaven. That being said, it sure is a lovely foreshadowing and even though I have been busy with preparation this week I have not been without time to look around at the beauty of the world and appreciate the glory of God that is revealed in it. I've been blessed to travel and experience much in my short life, and as the time draws close for me to enter into a community where I will leave behind much that the world offers, I give thanks to God for having blessed me with such a colorful youth. I see Christ in the faces of so many people now, almost everyone I meet! How beautiful to look into the eyes of another in the knowledge that we are each made in the image and likeness of God. We are truly blessed to be offered the gift of loving each other in this way. Oh Lord, if only our wholes lives could be lived as if we were coming to the end of our time in the world "“ that we might give you glory and praise you in thanksgiving at every given opportunity and desire nothing else!
I fear I share too much with you sometimes, my friends. But it is only because in my sinfulness I fear and worry that you will never understand how undeserving I feel of having your support. Soon my writing will cease in holy obedience. So let us pray together for a few more days.
St. Faustina & Bl. Rev. Michael Sopocko, ora pro nobis.
I am beyond ecstatic to announce to you that by the grace of God, a family (who has asked to remain anonymous) has offered to assume payments on my loans in September, so that I may officially have assurance that I may enter the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph "“ two weeks from today! Praise God, I'm going home on August 28th! They don't celebrate birthdays in the cloister "¦ feast days take the cake! And even though there is already a Sr. Mary Maximilian in my future community, my confirmation saint's feast day will always be dear to me. No better way to celebrate today than by giving thanks to the Lord for this incredible gift "“ that through the generosity of others I will finally be able to give my life fully and completely to God, and enter the cloister on the entrance date that has been set for me. I wish I could express how thankful I am, but there are really no words and tonight my mind is in many places.
For now my fundraising site will remain open for donations. I know the family that has offered to assume debt, and while this is an amazingly generous gift, I know it will be an incredible sacrifice for them. I ask you now to pray for them and that the Lord might send a few more souls to make donation and help reduce their burden before I enter. They have assured me of their intention to complete repayment of my loans, but if there is anyone you know who might be able to help them out in any way, please ask them to consider sending a gift through my fundraising site soon! I will close it on August 27th.
I have just returned home from the most incredible road trip that I have wanted to take for years, with the holiest of company, which included my half marathon, dinner with the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, a picture with Paul Bunion, and a splash through the creek in Ashland, OR. I'll write all about this most blessed excursion tomorrow on my blog, www.litanyrun.blogspot.com. For now I'm off to sleep! All glory to God!!
Please pray for me and with me. Lets run this race together.