Originally from the Boston area, Sr. Marie Paul Curley entered the Daughters of St. Paul when she was a teenager. She now shares the joy of her calling by serving as regional vocation director for the Daughters of St. Paul in Canada. Sr. Marie Paul is an author and screenwriter, and in her free time enjoys delving into the writings of Saint Paul and exploring the connections between faith and art.
People are too polite to ask me the first time we meet, but later, one of the first questions I am asked when someone gets to know me is: “Are you really happy being a religious sister?” I want to tell them that I’m not that good of an actress. With me, what you see is what you get. If I look happy, it’s because I really am. How could I not be happy? My deepest dreams are coming true.
When I was a kid, I dreamed big and deep. My big dreams? I planned to become a nurse, and I dabbled with the idea of being a musician, veterinarian, poet, and playwright.
Deep dreams are the ones that we don’t usually talk about. I had a lot of those, too: to fall in love and stay in love, to make a difference in the world, to really help people. I wanted to become the person that God created me to be, to find my place in the world, and to give my life away for a great cause.
When our deep dreams are fulfilled, they become a source of tremendous happiness. And I think that’s one reason why I’m so happy as a Pauline sister. As a Daughter of St. Paul, I am continually encouraged to grow into my best self by focusing my life on Christ. No Master is gentler; and no Master asks for more.
Life can get pretty full, so full that sometimes I feel my heart is going to burst. Daily, I cherish the time where I sit at the feet of my Beloved, opening myself to him and praying for those who need his loving touch. I share my life with a community of women who are united by a thirst for holiness and a yearning to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the world with the joy that only Christ can give.
The Pauline vocation demands a lot. Fulfilling deep dreams isn’t easy. I’ve discovered that if I really want to love wholeheartedly—if I want my heart to become Jesus’ heart (the deepest dream of all)—then I have to sacrifice not only the selfish part of my ego, but other parts of me, too. There’s no room for selfishness or pettiness in a heart that has to make room for the world!
This transformation is a delicate process that I sense will never be complete. Despite the sacrifices involved, I’ve also discovered firsthand the truth of Jesus’ saying that it’s in giving myself away that I find myself—or rather, that I am found. This “being found” by Christ Jesus is the source of my greatest joy, unimaginable to me before.
I think the real key to being a Pauline is to feel, like St. Paul, an inner urgency to communicate Christ’s joy and hope to as many people as possible. Sometimes this urgency becomes so great that I lose perspective, like when I have a bad writing day. (I define a “bad writing day” as a day when I erase more words than I write.) But then I remember that Jesus doesn’t care about my limitations. And being divine, he doesn’t actually need me to do anything except be open to his will. He is the Resurrection and the Life, he is the One who saves. What he seems to want from me are simply my efforts and my heart, and then he uses those in some mysterious way to offer grace to others.
I’m convinced that I will spend the rest of my life and a good chunk of eternity “untangling” the threads of grace God so mysteriously weaves through my life. Our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, once summed up our Pauline mission this way: “We are the pen of God; we are the voice of God.” Imagine saying this and really believing it: God is so close that God writes through me; God can speak through me!
That’s a great description of this happy mystery of my life as a Pauline: God’s incredible closeness and astonishing desire to offer grace through me.