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Celebrating 50 years of consecrated life in times of pandemic

C eventTuesday, 05 March 2024

7 June 1970 in León (Spain) - 7 June 2020 in Guayaquil (Ecuador)

Since the end of last year I had been preparing for this event.  It was important for me to celebrate it and celebrate the Lord's faithfulness throughout each day.  I had many plans and was thinking of vocation ministry.

In the month of March, upon returning the community after making the retreat in Zumbahuayco, things changed direction dramatically.  Contact with other Provinces was not possible and only a very small number of us remained at home, especially due to health reasons.  The other Sisters of the Community were visiting their families.

And the days, weeks and months went by.  Nothing easy, by the way.  There were many reasons. There were also many daily emotions and feelings, especially because of the impossibility of reaching those who were suffering the ravages of the virus, who were many and well known, in our surroundings.  All that remained was for us to be mediators in prayer.  I felt very useful with this mission that people were entrusting to us over the phone.  They called for prayers, help, medicine, everything.  That's what we were here for: to sustain hope.

And in the meantime, the beginning of the school year in the Educational Unit, the setting up of everything, the decision making, the reduction of personnel, the decrease of the working day, of the salary.  Expensive decisions with a lot of uncertainty.

This was the context of my renewal of vows.  I did not speak to anyone about it, I kept it in my heart.  There were so many things to be solved, to be solved every day and they were so vital, that the rest came second to them.  But it was always within me.  I was experiencing and preparing a celebration that I did not talk about, it was something very strong and intimate.  The only thing I wanted was to be able to have the Eucharist.  To live it in solitude and gratitude.  I did not want anything else.

The Lord gave me the gift of returning to the sources that had been vital in my process, namely the book that gave rise to my vocation and my Mystery "The Wisdom of a Poor Man" by Eloi Leclerc.  In this way St. Francis, in the most difficult stage of his life, was my companion.  I read and re-read, making his experience my own.  It was so peaceful...

The same thing was given to me in the Spiritual Canticle of St. John of the Cross with its "Dark Night".  Listening to it again and again gave me back my comfort and strength.  These were very hard times at all levels: absence of people, uncertainty, lack of communication, losses, the suffering of acquaintances and loved ones, the lack of medicine, of attention, insecurity, being unprotected, the lack of things, the fear of going out.  Here in Guayaquil it was a very dark night despite the bright sunshine.

In the midst of all this there were very beautiful moments in which the presence of the Beloved manifested itself everywhere, and at every moment.  There was a closeness and connaturality with the nature around me, the trees, plants, birds.  We all woke up at dawn and prepared the day.  And at sunset we would say goodbye to the day in the same way.  We waited and said goodbye to the day together in prayer.

The silence was so beautiful that everything could be heard and everything resounded in a different way.  Everything echoed that word that I was about to give and that I recognized, with the same intensity, realism and determination as when I was 19 years old.  I felt the same novelty and the same joy, only now I knew that this story was a gift: "I have always trusted you, Lord, and I have not been disappointed.  I have decided to trust and give myself at every moment and now I have nothing but to thank you Lord".  The difference was having before me 50 years of fidelity and trust.  This elicits infinite gratitude in me.

And it was my Sisters of the Province who called me online and asked me if I was willing to share this journey of fidelity and gratitude virtually with those who wanted to accompany me.  I put myself in their hands and in less than a week everything was already programmed.

June 3, the anniversary of the canonization of Saint Marie Eugenie, was close at hand.  With her and in her light we made a triduum explaining the way to live holiness, how to make a journey as a believer.

It was very pleasant to see and meet many people I had not seen for many years and did not know more about.  I was given the gift of knowing what Casaldáliga was about: "at the end of my life, when I am asked: have you loved?  I will present my heart to the Lord full of faces and names".

They have woven and witnessed this fidelity.  That is why in the offering of the Mass celebrated in community, I offered photos and addresses of the people with whom I have shared the love story.  They are in my heart.

It was a very grace-filled experience to see the joy of the gift: what the Lord gives to those who allow themselves to be seduced by Him, went beyond a hundred and a thousand and a million. God is always amazing and surprising.

The date of June 7 this year coincided with the feast of the Trinity.  What a great gift!  My Mystery is: ‘God’ and the word in my ring: "Of Yahweh" (Is. 45: 5).  The liturgy of the Mystery of God was a gift given to me.

I was always fascinated and grateful for His goodness.  And that of my Sisters who made possible the surprise and the meeting with so many people in spite of the distances and the lack of communication.  That was all, there was nothing more.  Only a handful of Sisters celebrated the Eucharist with me and many others who, from afar, rejoiced in the Lord's faithfulness.

In the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of so much pain, we celebrated the mystery of life and of our God’s fidelity.

Ascensión González Calle