Sister Laura of the Angels of the Crucified Jesus and Sorrowful Mary
My name is Sr. Silvia Maria of the Merciful Love of God, I was born in Miami in a Cuban Family. My parents and our 5 brothers and sisters are very close, though we are all very different. Right after I was born we moved to Puerto Rico and we returned to live in Miami when I was 9 years old. I had a beautiful childhood with a lot of love and responsibility. Our family was well balanced with -discipline, school-work and chores, but also with plenty of sports, outdoor activities and road trips with our family and friends to many places our father wanted to take us to explore. In addition to the joy we had, one of the things that marked my childhood was going with my mother and siblings to visit an area of housing, (more like tenements)- where religious sisters took care of poor children in Puerto Rico. My Mother used to take us to bring them things and what impacted me throughout my life was that though the children had nothing, they were very happy.

I attended Our Lady of Lourdes Academy for High School and then the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. for College. While at Catholic University during a spring break, I had an opportunity to volunteer with some religious sisters in the Appalachia Mountains. I recall how we lived with the sisters in community and joined them in their life of prayer and then went out with them to serve people throughout the day. I was so moved by this experience that I called my mother and told her I wanted to live with the sisters. My Mother told me that I could help them more if I finished school. I took her words of wisdom and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and forgetting about my previous experience, I continued my studies at the University of Miami School of Law. Although I continued all throughout college and law school, I felt a gnawing in my soul to do something more profound with my life to help people. I recall being on the telephone with a a good attorney friend of mine on the eve before taking my Bar Examinations, telling her how even if I passed, I wanted to do more than law. It was not enough, something profound was missing… But at the time, in my search, I did not know what or Who this longing was for. Eventually, I ended up working as an attorney for a few short years and then in my search for that “more,” I entered the field of Education teaching and as the Director of Vocational Programs at Miami Dade College. Unfortunately, I continued to get further and further away from the Lord.

Although I had felt the call to follow Jesus more closely in Washington and even earlier in Miami, I did not pay much attention to these stirrings in my heart since I was so much involved with the things of the world. For many years I was away from the Lord and His Church, though I honestly was looking for him everywhere. One night my Mother said to me something that changed my life: “Why dont you look for God with your heart? Ask Him to speak to your heart.” From that day on and for some time afterwards I begged the Lord to reveal to my heart His Love for me. Jesus began to make himself very present in various ways: the scriptures came alive, the mass began to make sense as a place of communion with Him, the Lord seemed to speak to me through people and nature, everywhere He began to show me his love and presence in my life.

In the most profound moment of my life, our Lord showed me the amazing love He had for me in 1994 on a plane trip I was taking to China for an educational exchange between educators from China and the United States. I came into the plane one person and I came out of the plane another. All around me everyone was watching a funny movie, as I was reading a book that changed my life. The protestant book I was reading was called, The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Knee. Though I was completely unattracted to the book, moved by the Spirit, I read on. In it, I discovered how much it cost Jesus to die and that He underwent all this pain and suffering not just for humanity in general, but specifically for me. I was moved to tears and realized I had taken him for granted all my life an had not done anything to respond to so much love. So at that moment while everyone around me was laughing form the movie, at 4 in the morning, in the midst of great tears of gratitude for so much love received, I surrendered my life and every aspect of it to our Lord. He took it.

Here began my strong return to the Lord- to the House of the Father. Little by little and with great patience and mercy the Lord led me to Him, His Word, His Spirit, His Mother, His Church, His Sacraments, His saints and His Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit strengthened me and moved me to slowly but surely leave behind all that impeded my union with Him. The Holy Spirit led me to understand the truth that had been hidden from me all my life. The truth that all of a sudden made my whole life make sense, that the Lord had a plan for our lives and that the only way we would reach the fullness of what we were created for and the only way our little lives could give Him glory was in the discovering and living out of His perfect plan for our lives. (cf. Jeremiah 29:11-14). That changed everything. I went determined in search for God’s plan for my life, by looking for Him.

Additionally, I went in search for ways to return to Jesus all the Love I had received from Him, how to serve Him. I took part in various activities, but I always felt the Lord wanted more. I even discerned if the Lord wanted me to join two different evangelization communities. But in time I realized the Lord was using this time of waiting as a time of purification, formation and preparation for what He Himself had in store for me, and that it would be He who would reveal to me what He had wanted for my life. This is the way it happened.

When I least expected it and in a way that is hard to believe, the Lord revealed to me that He again wanted me to leave behind my career to follow Him more closely ministering to university students, first at Florida International University and then He moved me to the University of Miami. In order to be able to have something to give to the University students of the treasures of the Magisterium of our Church I went back to school to receive a Masters in Catholic Studies from the Long Distance Education program at Catholic Distance University in Virginia. These years with the Young adults were moments of amazing growth. Additionally, I experienced God alive, loving his children, desiring them for himself- to make them happy. I saw from up close that He acts in all His children- especially when they open their hearts to Him. I have no words to describe how beautiful was this time and how grateful I was to have received from the Lord front row seats to watch Him work in the lives of so many beautiful young people from all over the world.

How did I arrive at the home of my spiritual family, the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary? While in prayer around 1994 the Blessed Mother asked me to find a “cenacle prayer group.” I asked the Blessed Mother to lead me to where She wanted me to go. The Lord used very interesting means, (as He always did) to guide me to the cenacle rosary, masses and adoration that the Servants led (and still lead) every Friday night. Since I started attending late in 1994 I rarely ever missed a Cenacle. The cenacles changed my life. Through the masses, the time of adoration and the gifts the Holy Spirit has given to our Mother Foundress- Mother Adela, Jesus’ Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, in prayer, at Mass and in my life came alive for me. I also received the amazing gift of the spiritual help and the witness of the lives of Mother Adela and the sisters. The Lord used all this fertile soil to foment my process of healing, restoration, formation and elevation.

In 1999 the community invited me to be part of their lay branch, the Apostles of the Pierced Hearts. Later on after a retreat led by Mother Adela, the Lord allowed me to understand that this Religious Family is the fertile ground He had been guiding me to all these years. Mother shared with us that at Fatima, the Blessed Mother asked the children if they wanted to give up their lives for the salvation of the world. At that moment I felt from the depths of my heart that the Blessed Mother was asking the same of me. And in the same way that so many others had cooperated with Jesus to bring me closer to Him, for my salvation, and although all that I could give would be small, I knew at that moment that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was to give my whole-hearted “yes” to the Blessed Mother.

After receiving so much help from the community and having seen from a closer vantage point the beauty of the Religious life of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, my heart grew to truly love the community. Little by Little, I could once more hear again the stirrings in my heart, that restless desire to surrender more to our Lord, that indescribable yearning of being completely united to Him. But I simultaneously felt my incapacity to respond -to being His wife.

But by His great mercy and insistence, the Lord asked me more strongly on two occasions if I was willing to surrender to be totally His. The first time He asked was while I was at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. I had just come out of the pools of the Immaculata and I was with apostles listening to a song being played by a band. Although I had heard that song on many occasions previously, at that moment I felt the Lord was singing it to me. From the depths of my heart I told the Lord that if that was Him proposing to me through the song, that I would be able to get the music for it so that I could learn it and play it for Him. After the band finished playing, I asked the choir director where I could get the song. He must have seen something in my face because suddenly, he ripped the song out of his book and gave it to me. At that moment and through various other means, I felt a strong confirmation that the Lord was calling me to be all His. But although He was inviting me, He was also telling me as He told his apostles when he was sending them to go out to evangelize: “Go … but wait….” (Luke 24:49). After some time He again spoke to me in the St Joseph Chapel where St. Maria Faustina used to pray in Poland. In that chapel I felt the Lord exhorting me, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it cannot bear any fruit.” In Poland, the Lord was asking me to trust Him completely and to be willing to give it all, to die to myself so that He can be born in me.

In spite of these beautiful signs, I felt that in me I did not have the strength nor sufficient love necessary to be the Spouse of God. Knowing my fears, during a silent retreat Jesus invited me to trust in him by sending me the words of St. Therese of Lisieux so that I would understand as she understood that if He was the one placing in me the desire to be all His, He would Himself have to give me the graces to respond to him faithfully for the rest of my life. Like St. Therese exclaimed: “Jesus will have to be my sanctity.” What liberating words! After many years of waiting, the following week, sustained by his immense love, mercy and grace I was able to give my little fiat: “Let it be done to me according to thy Word.”

“All for the Heart of Jesus through the heart of Mary.”

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