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To Do The Truth in Love

by Sr Tamsin Geach o.p.

‘Father, I think I may be going mad’

‘Have you ever thought of becoming a lay Dominican?’

This is more or less the beginning of my vocation story.  I was doing pro-life work full-time, and finding the relentless round of contemplating horror after horror was getting to me.  I finally thought: ‘So it’s true that killing babies is wrong, but that is not the Good News of Jesus Christ.’  Something had to be done!

I was brought up by parents who were academics and eccentrics, a redoubtable force in the C20th Catholic intellectual scene.  Both of them were converts, and brought to their faith an almost ruthless thirst for truth.  No  question I brought to them through my growing up was swept aside, though they did give me the wise advice that if something in the faith seemed too difficult or puzzling, I should make an act of faith and await understanding, which would surely come, in this world or the next.

At an emotional and intellectual level therefore I was completely convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church from an early age.  The question of vocation was another matter.  From an equally early age I was persuaded that marriage was my calling, and it was not until I was seventeen that I questioned that idea.

At that point I saw Mother Theresa, and I was hugely impressed by her and thought ‘Maybe God is calling me to this way of life?  Or to be a nun?’  I then made a sort of compromise with God: ‘If I’m not married by the time I’m thirty, I’ll think about it.’  I forgot about it, but God did not.

After that at intervals the question would come up again, and again I would sweep it aside.  In my mid twenties I had a profound encounter with the Love of God, which changed my entire outlook.  I started to see that my truest happiness lay in doing His will.  I then had a look at a Benedictine house and decided very quickly that I had no Benedictine calling.  I concluded cheerfully that this meant I had no calling to religious life.

Shortly after this I became involved in doing pro-life work.  I had my eyes opened to some of the harsher realities of life, for the women I accompanied suffered much, from abuse to mental health issues, from cockroach infested flats to homelessness and exploitation.  I quite literally saw the blood of unborn children spilt on the street (by a man collecting for a cosmetics company).  And in that time the love of God became the most important thing in my life.

I spent seven years doing pro-life work, and the conversation I relate above (with my then confessor, who happened to be a Dominican) was when I was about half-way through. I became a Lay Dominican, and it was great, but somehow not enough.  Slowly I began to feel that perhaps God was calling me to a deeper commitment.  I think the hardest thing for me to accept was that I was also in need, also the object of His love, and that to let myself be loved by Him would be my lasting happiness.  I remember asking Him to show me that He was calling me, that it was not just my own idea.  And He did, and so I came.