Turn your life over to Jesus through Mary. It seems easy enough, but what does it really mean? As Carmelites we look toward Mary for an example of how to live in complete surrender to the will of God. This is no easy task. First of all, how do we know what the will of God really is? What does he want for each one of us? Surely it’s not the same thing for everyone. However, the more I read and the more I understood about becoming a Carmelite, the more I realize that the will of God really is the same thing for all of us. The will of God is for each one of us is to live with Him for all eternity. The part that is different for each of us is the road He puts us on to get there.
When I became a Carmelite I had a terrible time discerning God’s will for me. I was drawn in by the simplicity of the rule and the wonderful obligation of prayer. The problem was that I couldn’t tell if I had chosen Carmel or if God was choosing it for me. I prayed that Mother Mary would let me know if I was in the right place. I asked Jesus to give me a sign that I was doing God’s Holy will but all I got was one hardship after another. It seemed that there was always some sort of struggle. My community was very small and yet we were all being challenged in some way. We lost some members and attrition sadly took its toll also. My life, as well as other member’s lives, was challenged with sickness, losses and sorrows. I continued to pray, cry and pray some more. It seemed that the more I prayed the harder it got. Issues with concentration developed, I couldn’t keep my mind on my prayers or what I was reading. The question kept rolling through my mind “What did God want from me and was I doing it?” Every time I thought I had it pinned down and knew that Carmel was where I should be, there would be a cloud of doubts and I’d be right back where I started. Confused and frustrated I’d start all over discerning my vocation. It wasn’t until the night before my final profession that I knew I was in the right place at the right time doing what God wanted me to do. I realized that the problems and uncertainties were all part of His plan for me. I thought of how Peter had been afraid to follow and how Paul had to be blinded in order to see.
As I sat and prayed that very special night, a feeling of calm came over me. I was given a very strong desire to write to Jesus. This is the prayer he put into my heart that night.
I ask You to be with me in my life as a Carmelite, to give me strength to pursue with honesty and hard work the path You have called me to live. I petition You to hold my hand every day and to whisper in my ear words of encouragement when I falter, words of direction when I am confused and words of inspiration when my prayers are dry and I cannot see the road to heaven in front of me.
Please Lord, never let me out of Your sight. Help me to love my Sisters and Brothers in Carmel and to aid my community in every way I can and in whatever I am asked to do. I ask Lord for the ability to be chaste in every way, to obey those in religious authority over me and to exercise a spirit of poverty. I promise to try my hardest to fulfill the obligations of the Carmelite spirituality and way of life. I promise to do my best to love You with all my heart and to put Your will above my own. Lord, please give me the strength to live my promises. Amen
Although I continue to struggle and life isn’t a bowl of cherries I am at peace within myself over the choices I am making and the journey I am on. I praise God for his generosity and for not giving up on me. I am blessed that our Holy Mother called me to Carmel even though I have met some of the hardest challenges of my life because of it.
Beverly Sullivan T.O.Carm was born and raised in Middleboro, MA. Baptized Catholic and attended Sacred Heart Catholic Schools all her life. (Sisters of Divine Providence). At various times in her life she attended Penn State in Stroudsburg and Harrisburg, Bridgewater State University, UMass Dartmouth and Massasoit Community College. She married and had 2 girls and now has 2 grands and 1 great grand. She remarried after a divorce and Catholic annulment. She is a Third Order Carmelite in “Our Lady Star of the Sea” Community in Middleboro. She started her journey with Carmel in 2007. After 2 years of study she was received: July 26, 2009. Her First Profession was on October 23rd. 2011, and her Final Profession was on July 28, 2013. She has been a Council Member, the Secretary, Formation Director and Community Webmaster.