CUA students enjoy group discussion while they reflect on the lives of the saints.
Earlier this year, I was in Washington D.C. to lead the Women’s Lenten Retreat for CUA’s Campus Ministry. The girls were amazing, I loved spending time with them. Their faith and their joy was inspiring. They were like the Church’s Light Brigade!
As we reflected on the lives of saints such as Gianna Beretta Molla, Kateri Tekakwitha, Chiara Badano, Dorothy Day and Marie of the Incarnation we also talked a lot about game-changing life decisions. The big question being, “how do we reconcile our desire to do great things, our ambition to share our gifts and talents with the world, to leave our mark, with our responsibility to be witnesses to the faith?” Particularly when we are struggling to make a choice between two goods.
For example, one of the conversations I had was with a young women who had been dating someone for several months, they were both really committed to their faith life - went to Mass together, prayed together and loved studying theology and discussing the big questions. They were growing very close to each other. He was a great person.
However, she had recently attended Mass at the Dominican Sisters. She described the experience as “the most beautiful experience she’d ever had”. She wanted to find out more, but she didn’t know what that might mean for her relationship. The good guy that he was, he was very supportive of her choice to explore a possible vocation, but the fact that he was so supportive made it even more difficult to imagine not being with him. Eeeek!
Tough situation, right? Two good things both reinforcing and confirming how good each choice is.
This year's Women's Lenten Retreat was held at Marlu-Ridge. During breaks, a walk through nature was a welcome treat!
I recalled a similar experience. Early on in filming The Church Alive series, I visited a Franciscan community which blew me away. I remembered how their radical commitment to poverty, their joy, the simplicity of their lives set my heart on fire. It made me question for a split second, if I was going to have to break it to my fiancee that I was running away to a nunnery?
Dodged that bullet.
But her story also reminded me of something else, something that one of my university profs once said to me, “Don’t you know Cheridan? You are a mystery even to yourself”. He was like Yoda when he said stuff like; I’d always say to myself “what does that even mean?!”
But what I came to realize eventually, is that only God knows who we truly are. Life then is about discovering yourself in relation to the One who made you. And I don’t know why, but that revelation took some of the pressure off. I realized that it wasn't so much up to me to make the perfect choice, but rather to discover who I am in relation to God and the rest would fall into place.
Watch the Catholic Focus episode featuring Campus Ministry at the Catholic University of America here:The Producer DiariesCheridan Sanders, a Producer at Salt and Light Television, reflects on her experiences as she travels the world telling Catholic’s stories.