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“You give them food”

Ty daj im jeść

I have known the Lord Jesus for as long as I can remember. I don’t know who first told me about Him – my parents, my grandparents? All I know is that I have known Him since I was a little child. He was always very close to me, I often talked to Him which was quite natural for me. And He just as often showed me His love. He was my Protector and Friend. I felt His living presence, even though as a little girl I regretted that He was invisible.

The Church was also for me a place where I always felt at home. When I was a child, I used to go with my mother to the meetings of the parish group which soon developed into the Holy Spirit Renewal group. There was always a lot of prayer, singing, warmth and joy. This is how God brought me to Himself.

Life circumstances changed, I grew up. Schools changed, then came university and work. I knew that Jesus was with me, although I no longer felt His presence as much as I used to. I thought that probably my “reason” overshadowed the heart. He gave me an experience of freedom and the consequences of my own choices. It was not an easy time, although I did quite well at school and university, I enjoyed learning, I had many friends and a social life flourished around me. The childhood experience had sunk in somewhere. I prayed and went to church but not so often anymore.

Then a feeling of a kind of emptiness; a kind of longing, began to accompany me… I didn’t have to think long, I knew I was missing Jesus. I then went on an evangelisation retreat led by Fr. Bill, a preacher from India. It was a time of deep conversion for me and I experienced anew that Jesus is truly alive in our midst. In a year’s time I celebrated them again. After retreat, another feeling began to accompany me. When the retreat was over and everyone was leaving, I felt abandoned, like one of the crowd that Jesus had led away: left on the shore as He sailed away with His disciples to preach the Gospel to others.

So I decided to join the “disciples”. The following year I joined a group organising evangelisation retreats. The feeling, however, did not disappear… It was not about the person of the missionary. Although I was now “in the boat” with Jesus and the apostles, Jesus seemed to be often absent, as if sleeping at the headboard. I helped with the retreats for the next three years. I know that it was a blessed time of conversion for me. I get to know the Master and His extraordinary power more closely.

After this time, the Lord Jesus discovered to me another form of His special presence – the daily Eucharist and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He also helped me to become warm friends with Mary. During this time, the thought of religious life came to me more and more often. The experience of the retreat showed me that it is not at all easy to be “at the side” of the Lord Jesus and to serve others. What if I became a religious sister? I will give myself exclusively to God, He will be able to send me wherever He wants, He will certainly put me in many difficult situations like His disciples, and He will say at the least expected moment, pointing me to strangers: “you give them food”… Fear and uncertainty began to arise in me. Or maybe it would be better to follow the “standard” path of life – husband, children, house, job. At least I know what to expect.

At that point, the Holy Spirit gave me another “insistent” thought. It was high time to take care of a permanent director of the soul. I prayed that the Lord Jesus would show me a specific priest and give me the courage to take this step. I had already guessed that the consequences could be very concrete. For the rest of my life, I will pray and thank the Lord God for this priest who undertook to take care of me. He was not frightened by the words of Jesus: “you give her food”, even though he did not know me beforehand. His great love for God and Mary, his extraordinary wisdom and patience, taught me a great deal.

Before the Lord Jesus called me by name to the mysterious and extraordinary closeness to Himself that is the life of religious vows, He gave me the experience of living a little “in the world” so that I could get to know myself and people better. I thank Him for this. He knew when I would really be ready to freely respond to His invitation.

I left the choice of the congregation completely up to God. Through so-called coincidences, He showed me a particular one. I entered the Congregation of the Loretto Sisters when I was 30 years old – late? The Lord Jesus at that age was leaving the family home to fulfil His mission, and I, being as old as He was then, entered the quiet and hidden space of Nazareth. Everyone has their time chosen by God. The most important thing is not to miss it.

Sister Emmanuela


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