“Be not afraid.”
These words from the Scriptures are familiar to me. The fact that they show up 365 times in the Bible means that God knows His people: He knows that we easily become afraid—that I easily become fearful. One of my favourite passages with these words, is the story of Jesus who walks on water and who invites Peter to do the same (Matthew 14: 22-33). It is a story that invites me to fully trust in Jesus and in His call.
“Be not afraid.”
In the silence of the Chapel, these words surprised me: though I was alone, the words rang clearly as they nestled in my heart. It was November 21st: the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in Temple and the day on which the Congregation was founded in 1796. It was also the day that would mark my entrance as a postulant with the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. Sr. Lise Paquette, our Provincial and Sr. Priscilla Houde, her assistant, had driven the 40 minute trek from
Prince Albert to celebrate with the Bellevue community: Sr. Chantelle Bonk, Sr. Pauline Sévigny, Sr. Viviane Gareau and I. My mom, Sandra Bélanger, on behalf of my immediate family, was also able to attend, driving the 1200 km journey from Peace River, Alberta. The Mass had been celebrated, and now, everyone was either engaged in conversation in the sitting room, or tending to the finishing touches for the festive meal. Bright lights in the house, which contrasted with the darkness of the winter night, made everything seem warm and inviting.
It was the day I had been waiting for. Since February 2013, had I not been preparing myself physically, mentally and emotionally to begin this next step in my journey with God? Did I not feel a deep peace and joy when I considered the future? I had already been in Bellevue, Saskatchewan for ten days and was already getting a feel for the newness all around me: of what was there to be afraid?
But the word of God, which sweeps all of eternity and pinpoints moments in time—my time, my life, and my moments—found me trembling at the presence of my old doubts: Do I have what it takes? What if I fail? And like the sunlight that chases away the shadows of the night, these words of Christ revealed the dusting of doubt that had settled over me.
I realized that the doubts that crashed all around Peter when he stepped out of the boat had assailed not only his body but also his peace. But Jesus immediately puts out His hand and catches Peter. Jesus puts this same hand out to me. It’s a strong hand. It’s a hand that is marked with a wound. It’s a hand that can hold me despite my doubts and fears. It’s a hand that invites, a hand that transforms. A hand that has been faithfully held out to me all my life. And now, it’s a hand that takes a firm grip on mine as I step out of the boat and begin a new journey as a postulant with the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.
The same request I made during the reception I make again:
Sisters, I ask your support and encouragement
to help me deepen my relationship with God and to accompany me on this journey
through prayer and example.
To my mom and all my family, I ask you to continue your support and encouragement as we take the next step on our journey. I love you all!
“My spirit exalts in God my Saviour!” (Luke 1:47)
November 21, 2013
Reception as a postulant
Province of Prince Albert