Carmelite sister speaks on forming a deeper relationship with Christ

Sr. Faustina, a member of an active and contemplative order of Carmelites based in Los Angeles, gave a talk about building a deeper relationship with Christ.  Photo by Pexels/Unsplash.

By Mary Elsen, The Circuit.

During the Lenten season, Catholics are called to deepen their relationship with Christ through charitable and self-sacrificial works.  It’s a time to unite personal suffering with Jesus’ suffering on the Cross.

Sister Faustina, a member of an active and contemplative Carmelite order based in Los Angeles, gave a talk titled “Quenching His Thirst: A Call to Radical Intimacy with Christ,” on April 6 while visiting campus with a fellow sister, Sister Carla.

“We’re here this week because we’ve heard beautiful things about Benedictine and [we] wanted to come see, be present [and] pray with you,” said Faustina.

Faustina grew up in Southern California as a Presbyterian.  It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she encountered the Catholic faith and began asking questions.  She decided to become Catholic during her freshman year of college and subsequently transferred to Franciscan in Steubenville.  Shortly after college, Faustina felt the call to religious life and answered it.

“My proposal to you tonight is that intimacy with our Lord quenches His thirst,” Faustina said.

“Saint Theresa of Calcutta talks about the Lord thirsting for souls,” Faustina said.  “We think about that as people converting and becoming Catholic or being baptized and spreading the Word to the nations, and that is all true, but it also means that He wants my heart.  Not just that we are practicing our faith, but that we give Him our person.”

Faustina pointed out that a week from her talk marks the start of Holy Week, a week in which Christ calls His followers into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.

“[The Lord] wants friends,” Faustina said.  “This is a week when the Lord longs for friends.”

“[Christ] told Saint Faustina over and over that faithful souls were solace to Him during His Passion,” she said.  “He actually knew you and your love from the Cross.  He experienced your companionship and that made a difference for Him.”

Faustina invited attendees to think about where they see themselves in the Bible during Holy Week.  For example, she asked if they saw themselves as Peter, John, Mary or the crowd.

“Ask the Lord, ‘where am I?’ and then also listen to His invitation to come closer,” she said.

To illustrate her point, Faustina shared two stories.

Her first story depicted Jesus’ desire to be our Savior.

“I often would prefer not to need to be saved,” Faustina said.  “I’d like to have it all together.  I’d really prefer to not be in that place of weakness.  So sometimes we keep the Lord at a distance.”

She said that we can avoid inviting the Lord in to fix our brokenness – we don’t always want to show our wounds.

She recapped a video of a scientist family saving a whale that was entangled in nets to demonstrate how we need help, but we may resist.  When the father of the family went in the water to see what was wrong with the whale, he made eye contact with it and somehow knew that the whale understood he was trying to help.  After a bit of a battling to free the whale, the family followed it as it jumped in and out of the water over and over with joy.

“All of that’s very instructive to me about what the Lord wants to do in our life,” she said.  “We are stuck…in different things, different degrees of stuck.”

“What the Lord does is He sees our captivity and He gets into the water with us…He comes up along side us and looks us in the eye and says, ‘will you trust me enough to let me cut these nets off?’”

“The Lord is inviting you to an ever deeper freedom,” Faustina said.  “So maybe this week one of the beautiful ways to prepare to walk with the Lord would be to identify what ways you’re stuck.”

“Another idea for the week would be meeting Him eye to eye and let Him meet you eye to eye,” she said.  “[We should] allow Him to see us as we are [and] asking Him to let us see ourselves as we are.”

Her second story captured our need to grow in trust in God.

“The greatest way we can love the Lord is by trusting Him,” Faustina said.

She gave an example of trust she witnessed while working as a lifeguard.  Swim instructors are tasked with helping young children become comfortable in the water. A big step for any child is trusting the instructor enough to try to float on the water.  Faustina recalled how floating required the kids to take their feet off the ground and relax.

“That’s the life of trust,” Faustina said.  “This is a week to let the Lord lead and to just relax and to open up your eyes.”

“Sometimes we’re not real with Him and He can’t be real with us,” she said.  “This week He needs you to be real with Him.”

“I guess I sort of knew this already, but it kind of struck me the way she said Christ wants to get to know us and have us be close to Him – He’s waiting for us to comfort Him, especially during Holy Week,” said sophomore Hannah Martin.

“I’m always surprised, in a good way, how approachable religious are,” Martin said.  “I feel really comfortable talking to them and when I was younger, I didn’t get much of a chance to meet active religious.  It’s been nice being on campus [and] actually getting to talk with them and hang out with them.”

Faustina suggested that during Holy Week, Catholics should make concrete resolutions to trust the Lord.  Giving up something is one thing, but trusting in the Lord is another, she said.

“I think the way we can love the Lord best this week is walking with Him, but [also] letting Him set us free, letting Him be savior, coming to Him with our real needs, letting Him lead us in trust [and] meeting Him eye to eye in prayer.”