Today we share with you a great testimony, that of Sister Clare of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Heart. It’s a story that truly shows how the Lord can reach out to us and reign in our lives even – and especially – when we’re seemingly far from Him and the Church. (Her testimony was recorded in a church and.)
The second of four children, Sister Clare was born into a practicing family but soon drifted away from the parish and experienced a long and deep rebellion that led her to question all the values passed on to her by her parents.
This great desire for freedom clashed with the teachings of the Church: “The Ten Commandments were 10 impositions (…) one way to be free was to go against this institution.”
Urging her mother to have an abortion
Meanwhile, her mother discovered that she was expecting a baby for the fourth time, an unplanned and unexpected pregnancy that angered the second oldest daughter. She didn’t want another sibling and believed the right thing was for her mother to have an abortion:
When my mother became pregnant with this child I was very angry because we were grown up already (…) We had our peace of mind (…) and it bothered me (…) The fourth child was a burden (…) In my heart I wished she would abort the pregnancy. I was in favor of abortion, defending women’s rights.
The joy of her brother’s birth
But when her baby brother was born, everything changed:
When this baby was born I fell madly in love (…) to such an extent that – a little perhaps to silence this remorse I carried with me for having wanting to kill him – I spoiled him terribly. I pampered him a lot, but he really became the center of my life (…) However this wasn’t reflected in my faith. I was very distant from the church. I was against Catholics, and this remained with me.
Her struggle against the Church
Her goal was to uncover all the sins of priests and then use this evidence to discredit Catholics: “When I ran into Catholics I had to get their backs against the wall.”
But on Sundays, in spite of everything, she went to Mass, “obliged” by her parents.
Her little brother’s illness and her sense of guilt
It was a struggle for me (…) I was terrible. (…) In this context – I had already graduated from high school and was continuing my studies – this little brother (age 9 Ed.) got sick. He was diagnosed with a terrible stomach disease, and its onset was very aggressive. A disease that wouldn’t stop (…) Its progress was overwhelming, to the point that it endangered his life.
The most difficult trial in her life
This trial threw the young woman into despondency and despair; she was afraid of losing her brother and felt guilty for ever having thought that he shouldn’t be born.
It was the worst time of my whole life. Not only was I worried, and sorry (…) I felt responsible; I thought in my heart that that was the punishment God was sending me. Since I would’ve wanted to kill my little brother, now I thought the Lord was making him die like that to tell me, “Do you see? You wanted to do away with him, and now I’m really going to take him.”
“I thought that things could be bought from God”
During that very difficult time, it was a terrible burden on her heart, and she didn’t know what to do. She wanted to pray, but what prayers should she say? She couldn’t stand the “monotony” of the Holy Rosary, but she was convinced that she could haggle with God to reach a compromise; she lived her faith as a give and take:
I used to think that things could be bought from God. It was a bit like, “You do something for me and I’ll do something for you.” So I said to the Lord, “Whoever you are, wherever you are, I ask you to save the life of this child (…) I’m willing to do anything. Take everything we have (…) let us be left poor, take everything, but save the life of this child. And I’m willing to do anything in return.” Even the thing I hated the most, which was hanging out with Catholics. “If you intervene powerfully in the life of this child I’m willing to pay by going to a Catholic group, to the Gifra, the Franciscan youth group.”
“I had to pay my debt”
The Lord didn’t delay in responding, and the illness suddenly was cured. Therefore, the young woman had no choice but to pay her debt and attend that youth group, which she supposed was frequented by depressed, lame, boring people. Her sister was already a member. The first few times she stayed completely aloof: she didn’t open up to anyone, keeping her distance and not speaking. But then something changed: she was amazed by the simplicity of these young people. They weren’t afraid to show their flaws and weaknesses.
Mission in Albania and God’s gaze
She contentedly continued to attend the group and then decided to go on a mission to Albania to help those most in need and make herself useful. There, surrounded by abject poverty, she experienced extraordinary peace and contentment, a happiness that made no sense to her given the lowliness of her surroundings and the total lack of rest and relaxation. She took care of cleaning and tidying the chapel, participated in Eucharistic adoration, and there, face to face with the Lord, she felt seen and loved by Him for the first time.
Sister Clare’s vocation
Upon returning to Italy, nothing was the same as before: daily Mass became part of her routine, her relationship with her fiancé became more complicated, and for the first time the idea of becoming a nun popped into her head.
Despite fears, resistance, and doubts, the call became more and more powerful. When she said “yes” to God, Sister Clare discovered a love that has no end, and she realized that fullness is achieved by doing God’s will, giving glory to him.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.