Books That Changed My Life
By Sister Carolyn Mary
When I was growing up, I always had a book with me and I still do. Books were for me a way to escape from the things that upset me and offered me an adventure. They were my friends who I learned much from about life, others and God.
Two books that standout in my memory was one entitled Mary Was Her Life, a true story about a young girl in Spain who fell in love with God and His Mother. She entered the Carmelites and died young caring for one of her sisters. I think I read it at least 10 times and cried each time. This young woman’s story was not only a biography but was featured in Life Magazine. (Oh! and I still have the book.)
The other book I read over and over was Bernie Becomes a Nun. This was the story of a young woman entering the Maryknoll Sisters and her journey through formation until she was professed and ready to leave for the missions. It was another one I must have read over and over. There is a sequel I discovered when visiting Maryknoll: Bernie is still a nun and serving the God she loves.
Why am I writing about these books? I guess what I am thinking is why didn’t the sisters ever talk about their lives, the joy, the hardships and the gift it was to serve God. The strength they drew from one another and the support they felt through their shared prayers even when missioned in different places and doing different work.
Both these books were important to my discernment to enter the convent. While I have met many sisters through the years, it was what I discovered between the covers of both these books that raised the question in my mind and heart.
It may surprise some to learn that for many if not all what drew us to religious life when we were young is still alive and has only grown. If I were to write a sequel to Carolyn Becomes a Nun, I think the sequel would say something like this:
And while the years have passed, her love and faith in God has only grown stronger. Enriched by those she has known, ministered with and by the wisdom of the women she has journeyed with in community. As she said that August day some 44 years ago when she professed her final vows, ‘Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord, I will proclaim His name to every generation.’ (Ps 89) And all is well.