Sister Marie Veritas, SV, originally gave this testimony at the 2017 Lift Jesus Higher Youth Rally in Toronto, Ontario. She is a Sister of Life.
We—the Sisters—have a friend named Patrick, who used to be a lifeguard on a beach in Australia. On Australian beaches, they have this elaborate shark warning system set up, with nets, sirens, flashing lights, and the whole nine yards. He told us about a time when the warning system went off—with lights flashing, sirens wailings, and everybody screaming “Ahh!” and running out of the water. However, one lone figure remained way out there, on the surf. Patrick was watching and watching, but the person wasn’t moving. Suddenly he realized, “Wait, I’m the lifeguard! I have to go out to her!” So, he got on his paddle board and paddled out there, yelling, “Ma’am! Shark! Shark! You have to get out of the water!” But she didn’t respond. She just looked at him, as the shark swam closer. He was getting nervous: “Ma’am! Shark! Get out of the water!” She still did not respond. And then, he realized: She’s a foreign tourist. She doesn’t speak English. He wondered, “What am I going to do?” And then, he demonstrated the Jaws soundtrack. And she was like, “Ahh!!!!”—and moved as fast as she could to the beach!
That’s how Jesus is with us. He comes to us and speaks to us personally, in a language that we can understand. St. Catherine of Siena once said that God is “pazzo d’amore”—literally, crazy in love, with us. It’s true. From all of eternity, He desired that you “be;” that you exist. He knows and loves everything about you—your likes/dislikes, your favorite food, your secret hope and dreams, your sorrows and joys, the way your hair does that funny thing in the morning. . . . He wanted to make you in His own image and likeness, a unique and unrepeatable reflection of His eternal glory. There is nobody like you, and there has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like you. Look at your fingerprints (even your elbow prints!): think of all the time He spent making each circle and swirl totally unique. And then think of how much more thought and care He must have put into your soul!
Think of those most beautiful, amazing thing that you’ve ever seen, heard, or tasted: Niagara Falls, the Milky Way, the roar of a lion, a thunderstorm, maple trees in the fall. You are more beautiful, more awesome, than all those things rolled into one. The human person is the pinnacle of creation. Your worth doesn’t come from what you can do, or how much money you make, or who your friends are. Your worth comes from the fact that you are created and loved infinitely by God, because you are you, and because He is Love. He loves you for you—the you-you, that maybe you try to hide sometimes. We are made for infinite communion with God and each other in heaven, and He has a unique mission for us.
The plans he has for us are so much bigger than the ones we have for ourselves! It’s true. I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to a pretty normal Catholic family. When I was in sixth grade, I dressed up as Mother Teresa for All Saints’ Day, and a thought came to my heart: “You’re gonna be a nun.” I was like, “No!” And I pushed it away for years. It wasn’t until university, when I began to fall in love with Jesus and the Church, that I began to be so deeply struck by the culture of death on campus: people didn’t know how much they were worth, how beautiful they were. I finally had enough courage to say “yes” to Jesus’ call (which filled me with such profound peace and joy), and shortly thereafter, my friend told me about the Sisters of Life, where Jesus called me to enter. We take a fourth vow to protect the sacredness of every human life, and we primarily serve pregnant women, help women who have suffered the wound of abortion find hope and healing, and offer retreats for young women and men.
He chose me. And He chooses you, for a unique mission. Pope Benedict XVI said, “Each one of us is loved, willed, and necessary. Each one of us is the result of a thought of God.” He has a plan for you. He is calling you to rise up, to claim your sonship, your daughterhood, and to not be afraid to do something great with your life and your love. The world is literally dying for your witness. Be not afraid! Be not afraid to say yes! Give God permission!