Entering Novitiate: Joy in the Desert
No one finds themselves fully prepared to go into the desert, much less a long journey
through the desert. You do not know where you are going, how you will get there, and how you will survive in such unknown territory. It is dry, hot, with copious amounts of sand!
And yet, I decided to continue my vocational journey to enter the novitiate program with the Congregation of Mary Queen. Simply put, the novitiate period of formation (also known as the “School of the Holy Spirit”) is an intensive time for prayer, study, and community life to practice living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. As novices, we are called into a deeper contemplation of Jesus in order to develop our relationship with Him and thus slowly be transformed into Christ. Like Jesus, I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to go going into the “desert.”
There are a lot of unknowns entering the novitiate. What will my life look like from here on out? How will I handle the challenges of daily life? Many saints can testify that if we take one step forward each day, staying close to Jesus, we will come to discover God’s will for us. I do not know what my future looks like, and I know there will be challenging days that will test my faith. But God has the future covered for me. My job is to be as faithful as I can like Mother Mary, who is the most obedient disciple of God.
When we think of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, we think of the temptations He faced, the loneliness, and the hardships of fasting. But the Holy Spirit wants us to see the blessings of being in such a foreign place that puts us out of our element: discovering and embracing your identity as a child of God, knowing that the Father deeply loves you. After Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, the Father sent angels to minister to him (Mt 4:11).
God has done so much for me in my life; everything good in my life came from Him. Who am I to have so many blessings and opportunities? The least I can try to do is to offer my life for the service of God and others. I am not perfect, but Jesus is, so I can imitate Him to be holy (thank goodness)!
As I take my next steps, my desire to grow in my relationship with God increases. It is not easy - every relationship has its sacrifices. I feel like I made a lot of them. But I can only imagine how much more Jesus sacrificed for me to become human, loving the good, bad, and ugly of humanity, and to die for humanity. The key for me these upcoming years is to learn how to be humble and patient with myself, relying on God’s grace to help me live more fully as a child of God. I believe since Jesus embraced His identity as a Beloved Child, he spent his time in the desert praising God the Father with complete joy. With God’s grace, I hope to follow Jesus’ footsteps in the sand.
Please continue to pray for me, all the sisters in formation, and all those who are discerning religious life!
In Christ's Peace,
Sr. Catherine Teresa Quỳnh-Như
NOVICES: SR. CATHERINE TERESA (LEFT) AND SR. JULIE (RIGHT) WITH NOVICE DIRECTOR
SR. PAULINE (MIDDLE)