Lynton / England
I am a nun in a new, international, contemplative community. The mission of contemplative religious communities is to pray (for the intentions of the church and of the world), which is different to other religious communities whose mission is to do apostolic work, getting involved in diverse areas of society (teaching, preaching, youth work, caring for the sick and elderly, pastoral care etc.). In our community, the Sisters of Mary Morning Star ("Maria Stella Matutina",) we try to live of God's providence. This means that we trust in God to provide us with everything we will need for each day. When many sisters live together this becomes a really great act of trust in God's help and providence - a trust that has never been disappointed!
I had a great experience of God's providence when I lived at one of our convents in Holland. We didn't have much money, and we tried not to buy food, only to receive it. However, there was one week when we had no fruit. So I went to buy enough fruit for 12 sisters for a week. (12 sisters x 2 each day x 6 days: as we fast on Fridays = 144). That was a lot! I was worried about the cost. At the fruit counter, a lady I had never seen before smiled at me, and as she left, without speaking, pressed a 20 euro note into my hand. (It was just as well, because my Dutch was limited!). When I got to the checkout to pay, I only had bags of loose fruit. It all went through and came to exactly 20.- €. I couldn't believe it. I left the shop without having spent anything! God showed me how exact is his care for us ……. And this was just a small material thing. But soon He was to show the accuracy of His providence in much more:
When we came to the UK in 2015 to start a new monastery, we began in the Diocese of Portsmouth. There we were given a presbytery (parish house) to live in, while we set out to find a monastery suitable for us. Four years passed without us finding anything suitable. Then when our Superior came for her annual visit, she told us that if we couldn't find somewhere else by September, we would have to end our mission in the UK. What a disaster! We had looked everywhere in the Diocese of Portsmouth and there was nothing suitable. So we asked Gods help and started looking elsewhere. That very evening, Divine Mercy Sunday, we wrote to a priest friend in the neighbouring Diocese of Plymouth asking if there were any empty convents there and if their bishop would be willing to take us in. A positive response came almost immediately. And amazingly, just two months later, on the Feast of the Visitation, we visited for the first time what was to become our new home. God provides perfectly. It was exactly the monastery we had dreamed of: a purpose-built monastery designed for contemplative life, surrounded by beautiful seaside scenery and with wood fires for the cold winter days! We couldn't have asked for more. And just two months after that visit we moved in! When God wants something, it happens quickly. All the difficulties we had feared disappeared.
But even more amazing is how God's providence showed itself for me personally through the gift of our new monastery.
This monastery happened to be the very place I came to as a six year old child wanting to be a nun! I don't know why at six I wanted to be a nun, nor can I understand why my father thought a weekend of discernment would suit such a young child. But, amazingly, at the age of 32, God brought me back to the very place where my vocational journey had begun, even though I had decided then, after that weekend, that being a nun was not for me. On top of that, I had even left the UK at the age of twenty to join a new religious community abroad! Yet here I am, right back where I began! God never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I had asked myself: did I make the right choice? Did I hear correctly what the Holy Spirit was asking of me? Did I take the right path? ….. With this beautiful sign, I can no longer doubt, because I see how perfectly His providence guided me. So exactly.
Another touch of providence is that this is also my favourite place. Throughout my youth, I would come here on holiday with my family and it became our favourite place. When I was homesick, as a nostalgic novice (newcomer) in my community abroad, I would even imagine myself there in Lynton, and smell the sea air....
God is so gentle with us... and also with our families. Just before I left home to join my religious community abroad, my father, worried that he might never see me again and that I might never again visit our favourite place, organised a surprise weekend-away and took us all to Lynton. So, when 13 years later, we moved into our new monastery in Lynton, I had the joy of saying to him, "Look, Dad, God has brought me to our favourite place!"
How perfect are His ways! How beautiful! He is the best of fathers. Not only does He provide us with what we need, “our daily bread,” but He also wants to fulfil the desires of our hearts.... What a gift to live in my favourite place. I thank the Lord, for He is good!