Time to light the lamp

If I had to describe in one word the story of the vocation the Lord chose for me, it would be PASSION.

In it is contained the frailty of my being and the readiness of my heart to His love and His mystery,
which finds the answer contemplating Jesus on the Cross.

My name is Sofia and I have been in the Aliança de Santa Maria since 2005. I was born and bred in 
Constance-Marco de Canaveses. I am the youngest of four siblings. My parents are Catholic and transmitted the faith to their children, not only in words but also deeds, through the example and witness they gave us. They always encouraged us to go to Sunday Mass and we couldn’t skip catechism!

I was a peaceful and quiet child. But in my teens I became a little rebellious. Actually, I can say that since
primary school I began to develop this attitude. During prep school I spent my free time playing soccer,
table tennis or table soccer with colleagues I hardly new. As was said at the time I was a tom-boy. I was joyful and lived life in constant search for adventure. But I had other hobbies. I loved reading. I would read any kind of book. I enjoyed getting to know different authors and their way of writing. I also listened to music, watched films… However life is not just about what we like, we also go through difficult moments, otherwise life would not be life. It is also with such like moments that we learn to grow.

At a certain point I set out on a new adventure – sport. But the more involved I became in this new phase,
the more being a Christian began to fall back; in fact I only went to catechism to be confirmed which would enable me to be a godmother. At one stage I was also an altar-girl and went to mass every Sunday, but I’m sorry to say, I was only there in body not in spirit. I wanted nothing to do with the Church. God was someone who existed, whom I sought only for begging, but for whom I had no affection. Forgive the comparison, but it’s like when we need some food from the supermarket. If it has what we’re looking for, great, if not, we sort it out another way. I believed God existed, but I lived neither the faith nor the teachings of the Church. 

In September 2004, the opportunity arose to play for FC Marco. This was my childhood dream come true – to be a football player. At this time I was in 11thgrade. In October I had to make a decision. Either I pursued my studies or I pursued sports as my parents were unable to pay for the expense of both studying and sports. That is why I ended up opting for sport and began to work. The following year, in March, I was selected to play for the under 18 National Football Team. I couldn’t believe it… I had wanted this for so long and … I had achieved it. But I had to postpone that dream, for someone stormed into my life and destroyed my steadfast walk.

The instrument that God used to awaken me to Him was a summer camp organised by the Congregation of the Aliança de Santa Maria, whose mission I already knew due to some conferences they had made in my hometown, which for some reason I hadn’t missed, having in fact to miss some football practice because of it. Curiously, on the eve of that summer camp I was invited to play tennis. I would be starting a new sport season, conjugating football and tennis as soon as I came back from this camp… So I thought… With that in mind off I went with two friends to the summer camp, against my will though. I went because friendship is sometimes stronger than our likings. Nevertheless, when I realised what I was in fact doing, I just felt like running from the place. I asked myself how I had left everything (family, friends, sport) for a week with GodI felt I had lost the ground under my feet.

That week was different from anything I had experienced until then. A week where the Lord summoned me to Him. My soul shook when I realised I had been touched by His grace, immersed in His Passion. The day I felt my calling I didn’t know what to do. What now? I needed to take a decision. I was scare but there was something stronger than that fear. God calls, yet He does not force anyone.

 He gives each one total freedom, to accept or not, the calling. Through tears I said YES. I couldn’t postpone my calling any longer. I was captivated by Him. It wasn’t easy to leave all the sport environment, and tell my family that my life was making a 180º shift. Only someone “insane” would do such a thing. And I was one of them. All I had to hold on to was a feeble faith. If that was the way, then I should learn how to walk that way… Sport appealed to me, but this unbelievably strong calling told me I had to follow another path. 

The time had come to light the lamp hidden inside me, the lamp of authentic joy that lit the way for
which I was being called.

It was time to take off the football boots and change my passion for the field into a Passion for Jesus. To learn from Him to be a pilgrim in a time and space where, when love makes itself present, it allows us to feel fragments of eternity.

What appealed to me in this congregation was the witness of the Sisters I met, the authentic joy and total surrender to their mission. So from mid-July to September 2005 I dedicated myself totally to those I loved, without letting them know about my decision, but preparing them for the surprise. Many only found out after I had joined my Sisters. I joined the Congregation in September.

Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, today I understand what it means to allow yourself to be
wounded by a greater love as  I look upon Him Who, because He loved me to the extreme, allowed
Himself to be crucified, living His Passion for me.

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief (…) Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
 (1 Tim 1:12-15)

Living life in the fullness of PASSION…