By SISTER MARGARET MICHAEL GILLIS, FSP, Special Contributor | Published March 18, 2004
Movies played a big role in the story of my vocation.
When I was younger, my family and I went to see some film about Jesus on the big screen. It’s funny how I don’t remember too many details about the film, including the name! But something remained clear in my mind and my heart, to this day—the memory of those scenes of the crucifixion and how I felt at the time.
Some may say that “kids just don’t get it” when it comes to certain matters of our faith. The death and resurrection may fall into that category, especially because it can be hard to swallow, and even harder to explain . . . But I really got it that day in the movie theatre.
Yes, my insides were a bit turned by the violence done to Jesus. But even more so, I was deeply impressed by how much pain Jesus had undergone to save me from my sins. I sobbed all the way home from the theater. I imagine my parents worried, or maybe even regretted bringing me to the film. If someone had tried to soothe me by saying, “Honey, it’s just a film,” I am not sure that would have helped, or should have helped. The fact that I knew in my child’s mind that this was depicting a reality—that really happened—only touched me more deeply.
I was acutely aware of Christ’s suffering. Painfully, but not negatively, impressed. I felt deep in my soul that I was tremendously loved by God.
A few years later, as a teenager in high school, I began my search for meaning in life. “What am I living for? Who am I living for?” Somewhere along the way of my questioning, the reality of Christ’s love for me and the world kept popping up. Christ had lived his life for me, for us. He lived that I might have life, “life to the full” (Jn 10:10). He died for me (and rose!) that I might have this full life, despite my sins.
Could I not consider living my life for him? And living it so that others might know God, and that love I had become so aware of a few years earlier? Sure, it would mean some sacrifices on my part, and, in a sense, giving up some of my dreams, projects, and plans, in order to take up Jesus’ dreams, projects and plans . . .
The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I felt drawn to Jesus and the idea of living a life like his—one spent for the life of others. So, I eventually found myself saying “yes” to following Jesus as a Religious Sister.
Sixteen years later, here I am still living my “yes”—through good times and bad—by God’s grace. Pope John Paul II’s words recently to the young people in Spain really sums up my journey so far: a life spent for Christ is worth living!
Sister Margaret Michael Gillis is vocations director of the Daughters of St. Paul. Copyright © 2004, Daughters of St. Paul. Used by permission of Pauline Books & Media, 50 St. Paul’s Ave., Boston, MA 02130. All rights reserved. Visit the Daughters of St. Paul at www.daughtersofstpaul.com.