August 16, 2023

Moments of Happiness in Everyday Life or Ladybug Stories

Sister M. Ramona Schneider

A Ladybug Story

– Simply Incredible!

The longer I am a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, the more grateful I am for my vocation. What fascinates me most is the fact that God uses people on the way to a vocation and uses his creation to draw attention to himself. Sometimes it happens in a very humorous way.

A look back: Before I joined the community of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary I made farewell visits to the families of the altar boys with whom I worked in the parish community.

I came to a family and the first thing the two young mini-servers said when they greeted me was, “What’s this we hear about you? That you’re going into the Ladybug Order*?”

I had to laugh heartily, thinking to myself, that’s a great combination:

Sister of Mary (MarienSCHWESTER)– Ladybug (MarienKAEFER)

“Order” – well, we are a secular institute, I thought. I tried to explain a little to the altar servers the difference.

Because my postulancy (a six-month introduction before the investiture) actually had begun–but I could only join it later–I wrote to the other postulants:

Did you know that we are in a religious order of ladybugs? And I sent them little ladybug stickers to make them happy.

Did God use these altar boys to draw my attention to ladybugs? I am convinced he did. I can hardly believe how many ladybugs have run, crawled, or flown across my path since this time.

Hence, the ladybug has become a wonderful symbol for me

which always reminds me of my vocation.

But not only that! Over the course of the years, the ladybug has become more than a symbol reminding me of my vocation; it has become a symbol of the reality of God himself.

–   His nearness,
–   His presence just at the right moment,
–   His encouragement,
–   His approval,
–   His love.

Just imagine, I was walking in winter, on a cold November day, through the big city of Zagreb to the tram stop. I was interiorly preoccupied with many things which somehow made me feel a little sad. This happened to me a few years ago. Then, suddenly: What was on my coat but a ladybug! This was unbelievable for that time of the year. Immediately my sadness was gone: a happy moment on a dreary day.

The thought came to me: “Yes, dear God, you are there; you know all that is stirring within me” and you are saying to me, as it were:

“Don’t worry so much. I know and I am taking care.”

A while later, I organized an event for married couples at our first Schoenstatt Shrine in Croatia, in Mala Subotica. The meeting ended with a family-like gathering. One of the men used this opportunity to speak with me and asked, “How can a person be as happy as you are? I would like to be like that too, but I never succeed.”
My answer:

“O, you know, I also have to make an effort and strive for it, but what helps me are the little joys of everyday life in which I experience God is there for me.” Then I told him about the dreary November day and the ladybug. The man said to me—half shocked, “Sister, look, there’s a ladybug crawling on the wall right now.”

I thought, it’s incredible that our dear Lord sends a ladybug just at this moment for this man, as it were! It almost blew me away, as they say. But even more, that God thereby confirmed my own experience for this

Again, after some time, I went on a hike with youth in the forest near Zagreb.

Finally, arriving at our destination, we sat in a circle on some logs. We had an intentional conversation about the topic of faith in providence. So, casually–actually unplanned–I told the girls about my ladybug experiences: the experience of the dreary November day and the time the man asked me how I can be so happy.

Suddenly one of the group said, “Sister, there’s a ladybug crawling on your veil!”

Again, I could hardly believe what had happened. Simply incredible. For these young people, too, this was probably a direct message from God: Yes, I am really here!

Since then, I use these ladybug stories occasionally during my talks, when I sense that the people sitting in front of me need encouragement, a reassurance that they are not alone — in what they are experiencing.

So, for example, at a meeting with a group of pilgrims:  Among others, there was a married couple whose son had taken his life a few years earlier and they were suffering very much under this. I could see that when I told them about the ladybug, joy suddenly came over their faces and the faces of the other participants. This was a most beautiful gift for me.

Discovering the ladybug experiences

brings moments of true happiness to our everyday life!

*    There is a play on words here that gets lost in the translation. One of the words in German for ladybug is Marienkaefer. The term in German for Sister of Mary is Marienschwester.