By: Sister Christina M. Neuamann
This year, the Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on April 4th because March 25th (the normal day of its commemoration) fell during Holy Week.The Feast of the Annunciation can be a time for all of us to reflect on our vocation, to think about the gift of God’s call to us and our response. Also, the sentiments in today’s psalm, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will” can inspire us to live this vocation more fully.
We are called, each day, to live in loving response to God’s call for us. Here, at St. Anne’s Guest Home, where I serve, this means responding in love to each resident I meet, to all the staff, and my fellow Sisters.
We run a home for vulnerable and elderly adults who are not able to live healthy lives on their own for a variety of physical and/or mental reasons. We, therefore, provide a home for them. In an adjoining building, we also offer low-rent apartments which are subsidized by the federal government’s HUD program.
I work quite a bit at our reception desk and also do aide work, where I am able to encounter many of our residents on a daily basis. During such encounter, I need to remember to be like Mary and Jesus. In meeting each person, whatever their needs might be, I should respond in love.
Sometimes, this requires a good deal of patience. As I pray for the grace to respond virtuously, I can also keep in mind two key scripture quotes from today’s readings: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” and “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.”
From the day of the Annunciation to that of her Assumption, Mary certainly had her own journey: from Nazareth to Bethlehem, traveling to Egypt, and even to the foot of the Cross. Her journey inspires me on mine.
Thinking about the Annunciation and the life of Our Lady also inspires me to reflect on my experience of God’s call. It causes me to think back in gratitude on how God has led me through life.
Until I was about twenty, I never gave the Religious Life much thought. Although my own mother had asked me, on occasion, if I was interested, a Religious vocation really “wasn’t on my radar.” It took an encounter with Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration to awaken me to God’s invitation. Certainly, there was no angelic appearance like that which Mary experienced, but I am most grateful for this beautiful call to be a Franciscan Sister and belong entirely to God.
It certainly has been a journey. I didn’t receive some message saying immediately where to go and what to do. However, over a few years of listening and pondering as Mary did I found where I was to live out my life, imitating Mary as a “handmaid of the Lord.”
In this vocation, I have to be willing and open to respond in love each day in whatever way our Lord may call me, whether it be filling in extra hours as an aide, or in stopping by a resident’s room to give them a smile and kind word. Instead of following my own agenda, I am called to say: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”
Sister Christina M. Neuamann, a St. Paul native, serves with her Sisters at St. Anne’s, an assisted living-type facility, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Along with her duties there, she also writes a blog for her religious community, Our Franciscan Fiat.