God’s Mysterious Ways

by Sister Mary Joseph SZE spc

Have you ever heard yourself saying this : “Gosh! I just can’t explain how it all happened. It’s a mystery to me!” Well, I have said the same thing quite many times in my life, and one of those times is when I heard Jesus’ call and followed Him.

I had never dreamt of becoming a nun and least of all, a Sister of St. Paul de Chartres. I came from a pagan family, and was prejudiced against the Catholic nuns when I was small. I had a poor opinion of the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres and did not wish to have anything to do with them. However, God did not think the way I thought.

My father was baptized when I was 10. A month later, my youngest brother died. Before he died, he was baptized and was given “Paul” as his Christian name by my father. The following year, our whole family got baptized. In June, I sat for the Primary 6 Public Exams and when the result was published, I was allocated, to my great horror and disappointment, to the very school I disliked most to enter – St. Paul’s Convent School, run by the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres!

“You did not choose me, I chose you…” (John 15:16)

I begged my father to allow me to ignore the government’s offer and to apply to another equally prestigious school to study. But my father refused to listen to my nonsense. So, I tried everything I could to fail in my school exams so that I would be “kicked out” from my school. To my distress, I passed in my final exam and was promoted to Form 2.

At the end of Form 2, something happened which had from that time onwards, changed my whole life. A young, enthusiastic and pious Irish priest (a Jesuit) preached a retreat to us at school and I was so impressed by his personality and moved by what he said that I began to ask myself the question whether I too, could be like him to give up everything to follow Jesus in a radical way: to love Him with all my heart, my will and my strength, and to love my neighbours as He has loved me. Gradually, I began to take an active interest in my spiritual life. I joined the Legion of Mary, sought the advice and guidance of my Religious Education teacher – an English nun who willingly consented to be my mentor. I also started to intensify my prayer life, to establish a closer relationship with God by frequently attending weekday Masses and by receiving the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.

Two years later, I sat for my School Leaving Certificate Exams and I was being asked by the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres whether I had made up my mind to be a nun. I was afraid to make a decision because I was not totally sure if God had really wanted me to be His bride. So, I asked God for 2 signs : firstly, my parents will permit me to enter the Convent without placing any obstacles: secondly, the Congregation will accept me despite my young age and my lack of experience in the school of life. My request for certainty was answered by God so promptly and without any ambiguity that I entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres in Rome a month after my Public Exams.

Throughout my Novitiate days and even until now, the Lord has never let me down. I have had many happy and fulfilling days in my religious life; but I also had experienced many moments and periods of pain and suffering, doubts, frustrations, failures and disappointments. But through them all, God was always by my side and had never abandoned me. I am indebted to my parents, relatives and friends, my fellow-Sisters in the Congregation, my colleagues at work and parishioners for their unfailing support, encouragement, unconditional love and generous hospitality. They are constantly an inspiration for me and a reminder of God’s loving presence and tender solicitude.

My life belongs to God, and in Him I live, move and have my being. Each new day is another affirmation of His gentle love and an invitation to enter more deeply into His Paschal Mystery and the mystery of the Trinity. As I watch the new dawn each morning, I am humbled and my heart is filled with thankfulness for having been called by Jesus to live His life, to do His work, to be His eyes, His ears, His hands, His feet, His heart … I can find no better words to express my love and my gratitude to Jesus than to repeat the “Magnificat” which our Blessed Mother had summed up so beautifully in these words:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour … He has done marvels for me, holy is His name.” (Luke 1: 46,49)


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