One of the problems with miracles is that they are, by definition, rare occurrences. At…
April 6, 2022 | Sisters of Life
April 6, 2022 | Sisters of Life
“So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him… ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.’” (Lk 15: 20, 22b)
“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…” New York City is a far cry from the magical land of Oz, but we still can’t help but be moved when we witness someone find out what it really means to find home again.
Jenny* was very early on in her pregnancy when the Sisters met her. Two years ago, her childhood best friend had been in a crisis pregnancy and was tempted to abortion when she met our Sisters. Now, when Jenny became pregnant, she looked at the smiling face of her friend’s son, and knew that she wouldn’t be alone either.
When we invited Jenny over to get to know each other over tea and pastries, she shared about how much she loved the religious Sisters who taught her in elementary school, and how much she used to love to sing in the choir on Sundays. She even reminded us of St. Augustine’s famous maxim, “When you sing, you pray twice!” She shared about her dreams for her life—everything from secret family recipes to her desire to go back to college and serve others. Jenny also shared about her struggles, and recounted some events that happened in her life that had taken her off the path of her dreams. During the past several years of trauma and instability, she hadn’t been to a church and felt like she no longer had a place to call home.
The Sisters brought her upstairs to the church at St. Andrew’s and as soon as she stepped in the door, all of Jenny’s old memories of being in the choir and attending Mass with her family as a child came flooding back. After some time of silence, Jenny, with a smile as big as it could be, said, “I feel so much peace.” And Sister responded, “This is your home.”
After some time of prayer together, they walked back down to their tea and passed a picture of Cardinal O’Connor hanging on the wall. With the surprise of immediate recognition, Jenny exclaimed, “That’s Cardinal O’Connor! I attended his funeral Mass!” The Sisters’ jaws dropped as they began to tell Jenny that he was the founder of our community, and had been inspired to found the Sisters of Life so that pregnant women in circumstances like hers would never be alone. She recognized that Cardinal O’Connor, a true father in the Church, had also felt like a father to her. Surely he was interceding for her to invite her back home! Now, the joy could not be contained. There was joy in celebrating the new life in her womb and the excitement of becoming a mother. But there was exceeding joy in welcoming her back into her true home, the Church, with open arms. Like in the parable of the prodigal son, she is now running towards her Father’s embrace as she prepares to return to the Sacraments!
In this season of Lent, there is great emphasis put on confessing our sins and being brought back into right relationship with God. We pray and meditate on what it means to ask for forgiveness and what it looks like to receive mercy. The story of the prodigal son gives us the perfect picture of the father running in great compassion to forgive all the sins of his son. The father will go to great lengths to make sure the son knows he is loved and welcomed home.
But this is not just a nice story that happened to someone in a far away land thousands of years ago – it is for each of us as well. As the father of the prodigal son runs out to meet his son, God the Father runs out to call us home to Himself. He invites us to the Sacrament of Confession so that we can be set free to re-enter into communion with Him. He loves to welcome us home, clothing us with a robe, putting a ring on our finger and sandals on our feet, as if for royalty. May we respond with joy and eagerness to His radical love and mercy. When we discover our refuge in the Father’s House, there really is “no place like home.”
Eternal Father, we love You, we praise You, we thank You. Please forgive us for all the times we have walked away from Your home, and for all the times we have settled for our inheritance on earth when we are made for our inheritance in Heaven. May we receive the grace to run home to You where You stand ready to embrace us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
*name changed for confidentiality