Clara

I was born in a Catholic family, but wasn’t very involved in our parish. I was going to Mass on Sundays and to Confession every month. My life was all about family, school, friends, and skiing. While studying Philosophy in college I was questioning. I began volunteering. In meeting handicapped people, I saw the face of Christ. I also traveled to many poor countries. How could I reconcile the life of a rich tourist with being a Christian?

Soon enough, I had the opportunity to go to Brazil to do missionary work. I questioned myself in the silence. Prayer began to pervade my life. Even though I was still unsure about my vocation, I started dating a young man, and I was happy. However, I was dating him because of the many good things we could do for the world together, rather than for the relationship itself. I questioned again: “Lord, what do you want?”

I found that in marriage, even with 3, 4, 10 children to come, my heart was imprisoned, while I wanted to hug the whole world. I couldn’t honestly continue this relationship. We decided not to date for a while; I could pray about my vocation. But… how hard this was! Everything would have been simpler if I had finished my discernment before dating anybody.

My spiritual director helped me tremendously to discover through prayer my gifts and limitations. I asked God to speak clearly: I was ready to do His will with joy. I met the community of the Apostles in August 1998. I knew very little about them. At that point, I was finally impartial toward both marriage or consecration. Both of them were good: two different ways to sanctity. Which one was for me?

A light went on talking with Father Salvatore. Marriage would have brought me to God through family, house, money, sexuality, work… all elevated through prayer. Consecration was more about spiritual things, dedication to whoever God put in front of me, giving me more time to spend with God, in a deeper knowledge of Him. Living poverty, chastity and obedience, like Jesus did, was a foretaste of Heaven – where people are not married, but united with God.

Consecration was definitely more attractive, a more direct way. It seemed like a dream that God could call me. I thought, “I will try it, if it isn’t for me, I can still turn back.” I imagined myself as a sister. Immediately, I experienced great peace and joy. Sisterhood was my calling. I thought: “I will be a missionary.” I wanted to be on the front line, helping the poor. Another conversation with Father Salvatore changed my plans. There was a fork in the road before me – material charity or spiritual charity. I had never liked spiritual charity before. Jesus did, though. He was healing and feeding, but also preaching and teaching. I admitted to myself that I had a deep desire for spiritual apostolate.

I had always wanted to be a teacher or psychologist to solve problems, and finally to announce Jesus, through dialogue, the way of the New Evangelization. I liked to study Philosophy and I read Theology. I saw my classmates lost in relativism. They were anxiously waiting for someone to tell them about happiness, eternal life, and forgiveness. All this was exactly what the Apostles do for their ministry.

On August 11th I answered “yes.” I noticed later that it was the feast day of St. Clara: my patron saint! I prayed my Holy Hour. To that point, my past had converged. From that point, my future diverged. I knew only that He, who gave me the joy to understand the meaning of my life, would also give me the instruments to announce that every life has a meaning. I didn’t see where, how or when. One thing I knew: Jesus Christ was calling me!