Everyone passes through tough times. Sister Mary Pia, even if she had been in the convent for a long time, fell into a serious vocational crisis. She just could not take it any more and so she decided to leave. She actually ran away one night, leaving her religious habit in front of a statue of our Lady which the Sisters had at the entrance of the convent. She went to live in a distant city, incognito. Her life took a turn to the worse. The greatest saints can become the worst devils.
God, however, has his own way of tracking us down. One day she came across a man who used to frequent the convent in the past. He did not recognize her. Without making it too obvious, she managed to bring the conversation to the topic she was interested in. “What was the reaction of the Sisters when Sister Maria Pia left?”
The man was startled. “You must be mistaken”, he said. “Sister Maria Pia never left. She is a real saint, one of the best nuns in the convent. A wonderful sense of humour, friendly, golden heart, very outgoing.”
The woman could not believe her ears. She was Sister Maria Pia – and she had left the convent. Who then is this Sister Maria Pia? Who is this woman who replaced her? How is it that the other Sisters did not notice anything?!
She had to get to the bottom of this story. Pretending to be somebody else, she was soon knocking at the door of the convent. “May I speak with Sister Maria Pia?”
When ‘Sister Maria Pia’ came down to meet her, this woman realised immediately what had happened. Our Lady, in front of whom she had left her habit, took her place! Our Lady just smiled at her.
“Listen, my daughter. In order to save your reputation I took your resemblance. I did my best to replace you. Why don’t you come back now? You have experienced in your own flesh that life outside the convent did not make you any happier as you may have thought. Jesus, your first Love, is still waiting for you.”
Mary’s tenderness was too much for Sister Maria Pia. She felt reborn. She put on back her habit and tried to walk in the footsteps that ‘the other nun’ had traced for her for fifteen full years… She never looked back.
Probably many have heard or even seen the famous passion play that takes place in Oberammergau, Germany. It is a play that involves the entire village and people from all over the world come to watch it.
One of the most touching scenes is the one when Jesus, decides to leave Nazareth to go and preach the Kingdom of God. It is a difficult moment for both mother and son.
Jesus asks her, “Mother, how can I repay you for all the love and care you have showered on me with so much gracefulness all these thirty years?” The answer of Mary was disarming. “My son, when the going is tough, allow me to come and live it with you…”
This is Mary’s only wish for her Son. This is her only wish that still echoes for her sons and daughters today, for you and me.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.