“Do you know the land, the City of God … where truthfulness governs?”
J. Kentenich, Home Song
An impulse for vocational discernment
In our day and age where relativism prevails everywhere, sometimes we may find ourselves echoing Pontius Pilate’s famous question: “What is truth?” Jesus himself has given us the answer: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). When we encounter Jesus, we discover the truth of who we are, of who we are called to be. Each and every one of us is a precious child of God, called to love as he has loved us.
However, it is important to realize that just as it is true that we are all called to be children of God, it is also true that each one of us has a specific vocation to which God has called us. Only when we embrace our God-given vocation are we able to fully be who we were created to be; only then will we truly be able to be ourselves.
For those who are still discerning their life’s vocation, the question is: In which vocation can I really be true to myself? In order to answer this question, you must go on a journey into your very heart. You must look at your talents, your abilities, your longings, and at the same time, you must honestly face your weaknesses, your bad habits, what brings out the worst in you. Then, you must ask your heavenly Father, “Where can I best use the talents, the structure which you have given me, in order to give the greatest glory to you? Where can I best serve you? In which vocation will I be able to give everything until my last breath? In which vocation will I be free to be me, as you created me, with all of my abilities and inabilities, my strengths and weaknesses?”
He will give us the answer, if we honestly search for it and earnestly ask him for it. But first, we must strive already now to be completely genuine, completely true to ourselves, to who we are here and now as children of God.
So what does it mean to be really genuine, to be completely true to ourselves? To be genuine ultimately means to be a child. Children are absolutely genuine. They have not yet discovered and donned the many masks which teenagers and adults constantly wear. They have no need for these masks because they are perfectly secure in who they are. They know that they are loved by their parents, and therefore, if their parents love them for who they are, with all of their little mistakes and faults, as well as their natural goodness, then why should they try to be someone they are not?
However, as children grow up, especially we as women, they have the great desire to please everyone. Now this desire is not wrong in itself, and yet, if we give in to this desire in an exaggerated way, it causes us to don mask after mask after mask, until we ourselves, and those around us, no longer even know who we truly are.
In our striving to be genuine children, we must ask ourselves: “Who am I really?” Are we afraid to look that truth in the face? When we can look into the eyes of our Mother and Queen in the shrine, we see there reflected the truth of who we truly are: beloved children of God and our Mother. They love us just the way we are: with our sins, our smallness, our weakness, our failures, our bad habits, but also with our good qualities, our strengths, our virtues. Realizing that we are loved unconditionally will help us to see the beautiful truth: We are children of God.
Our founder, Father Kentenich, often spoke about the tree of womanly greatness when explaining our dignity as women. The root of this tree is childlikeness. This means that the root of our dignity as women, the root of our greatness as women, depends on our childlike attachment to God. Just like the large, hidden roots of a tree, our childlikeness does not have to be apparent to the world, and yet it must be deep and sincere. We will only have the strength to be true to our vocation as women and mothers if we are first and foremost small children before God.
The beauty of childlikeness is one of the truths that stand out in our sisters’ family. As Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, we strive, like Mary, the perfect child, to be children before God our heavenly Father. Only then are we able to fulfill our vocation as spiritual mothers and give our lives in service to others.
We only have to look into the mirror of her life to know what it means to be a child before God. She shows us that the secret to childlikeness is being able to see the Father behind every event and every person in our lives and saying yes to God, even when it is difficult to understand. The secret of childlikeness is to revolve completely around the Father, to center on him, not on ourselves, and to accept and show our smallness and weakness, as it is, to our loving Father. This is the beauty of childlikeness.
When our roots of childlikeness are deep, then we also have a strong trunk: motherliness. Just as it is part of the truth of our nature to be children, so it is part of the truth of woman’s nature to be a mother, whether she is single, married, or consecrated. There is something within every woman which urges us to serve, to give of our very selves, and until we do that completely, we cannot be completely happy.
Finally, the crown of the tree of womanly greatness is the intuitive sense for the truth. This means that if we really live our childlikeness before God and strive to become true mothers, we will instinctively live out of these truths. They will not merely be something that is put on, a mask, but rather something that flows from our innermost being and manifests itself in our deeds, in our actions, in our words. Intuitive means it comes without thinking – it is spontaneous, almost instinctive. Thus, if we truly are and believe we are children of God, if we strive to become true mothers, eventually it should be so much a part of us, so much a part of who we are, that we do not have to think about how we should act as a child, as a mother; we simply will do it.
Of course, in order to get to this point of instinctively living out of these truths, we first have to train ourselves to live out of them. In the beginning, we will have to ask ourselves again and again, in every situation: How would a child of God act in this instance? Do my values correspond with the reality that I am a child of God? If we are truly children of God the Father, he should be our highest value. We simply cannot exist without him. He must be everything for us. The more we are able to live this truth, the more we will fulfill our vocation as children of God, and the closer we will come to discovering the beautiful vocation which God has in mind for us.