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Child’s play grows into vocations

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Like many good Catholic kids, my siblings and I played “house” when we were young, which included dressing up for Masses that I as the oldest boy would celebrate, dressed as St. John Bosco, and my sister would attend, dressed as St. Thérèse of Lisieux. These games of our youth came full circle in the past month, when I was ordained a transitional deacon and my sister made her final vows as a Carmelite sister.


It kind of came as a surprise when my older sister first told me she was planning to enter the convent. I remember how strange it was to visit her at the convent in St. Louis, struck that she was so happy there and seemed to be thriving without me. As I continued to visit her, the postulant’s jumper she wore became a novice’s habit complete with a white veil, which was replaced with a black veil just a few years ago as she professed vows for the first time.


Her joy and fulfillment spurred my own decision to enter the seminary two years after she’d left home, and this joy was very present again during the Mass of her final profession. I watched her lie prostrate in prayer, signifying the laying down of one’s life in surrender to God. The choir sang the same litany of saints as when I lay prostrate at my diaconate ordination just three weeks prior. Once again, the joy of watching someone I love enjoy such happiness filled my heart and molded a beaming smile on my face.


The beauty of religious life contained in a child’s imagination is not mere childish fantasy. As I watched my sister make her way to the sanctuary last week, more beautiful than I had ever seen her, like a bride on an eternal wedding day, I was in awe of the sight before me: my sister giving her life totally to Jesus.


As kids playing house, we were not wearing costumes of a generic priest and nun; we were honoring saints that we knew. Now, when my sister or I go somewhere, we are not playing dress-up; we wear the black and brown as an expression of the relationship we enjoy with Jesus. Please pray for us as we strive for sanctity ourselves, walking in the footsteps of those saints we’d imitated long ago.


Deacon Heisler, who is from St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal, will be entering his fourth year of theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. His diaconate assignment is at All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020