Women of Christ Wednesday: Linda Hernandez

I first met Linda back in my college days. She worked in the library and was part of my Bible study. After college, we met again at an Awakening retreat and a year later, she came to visit me and told me that she was entering the convent. I decided to ask her about her discernment process and the order she decided to join.
Who are the Disciples of Christ and how did you meet them?
Discipulas de Jesus (disciples of Jesus) are a religious community of consecrated life established in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1986–a new congregation that has been instituted in less than 30 years. They seek to be like Jesus (hence, Disciples of Jesus) and imitate Mary as women.  Their charism is to evangelize. They emerged out of the Charismatic movement, so their prayer style is charismatic. I met them at my current parish, St. Charles Borromeo, about almost five years ago when I was sent there to take formation (FTCM) courses and was very attracted to the life and prescence of God that irradiated from this one sister. It was through the youth group (which is also charismatic and which they advise) that I was led closer to them and to their praying style. They’re the kind that sing and dance for the Lord joyfully.
Tell me about your discernment process. How did you know/decide that religious life was your calling?
My discernment process has been pretty long…I did not grow up going to church, but when I began to do so, I fell in love.
I remember purchasing a missalette, and in the cover was an image of St. Therese of Lisieux. The image caught my attention so much. That’s all I remember, but it struck me and I still remember where I was.
I also remember reading about St. Lucy. I looked at her story because my middle name is Lucía–or Lucy in Spanish. I loved her story and it resonated with me. I knew at that moment I wanted to be consecrated and I admired her courage, chastity, and determination. I wanted to be like her since then. I came home telling my mom I didn’t wish to marry, but to be consecrated like St. Lucy. I was born premature, and was the first child to survive. My mom couldn’t have kids, so she prayed to Our Lady and promised to take me to the Basillica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico). I see this as a type of consecration, even if she was unaware of it. It reminds me of the story of Samuel, when his mom couldn’t have kids and prayed and Samuel was born. Later, God calls Samuel to be a priest.
Of course, years passed by for me as well. The later signs for me have been answered in mass and in prayer. I told God, I’ll go in..maybe in 2 years or so. I felt Him call me closer. I shook my head and gave excuses. Every excuse I threw at Him, He seemed to take care of. I wanted to provide for my family, but at the moment I didn’t have a stable job. I sought, prayed about it, and wouldn’t make it. I asked Him to close the doors and open the ones He wanted me to walk by. And He did. I asked Him to shout because I couldn’t hear Him well. Oh, He even called me out during class. People I didn’t even know (and those I knew) began coming to me (different places, sometimes several times a day) and asking me if I would be interested in religious life, had I considered? Or saying they saw God’s prescence around me..I knew it was His grace and His way of telling me to go in.  I told Him if He wanted me sooner to provide scholarships for my sister. The next day or two she sents me a picture message with an image of an award letter for a scholarship. I said I at least need to save up for her laptop. The next day or so, she brings one from school for her to use throughout the semester.The day I made my decision in my heart, I felt at peace with my heart and happiness radiated, even though I didn’t know how it would all work out. When I set a “date” to go in, the next day in morning prayer (Lauds) I read: “My L ord, Jesus Christ, has placed a ring on my finger; he has adorned me like a bride with a crown” preceeding Psalm 63. And ” He who is the Lord of the angels is the one who I am betrothed.” And ” God is her help.”
Also, I realized that the week I made my decision it was all vocational readings for mass. And the day before I enter is the Annunciation feast day, when Mary says “yes”. Too much coincidence? I did not do it on purpose; I wasn’t aware of these details until afterwards. You can say “what a coincidence.” I say, “Wow, God, I hear You loud.”
Who are your go-to saints?
In prayer, I always address God first throughout my day. I’ve learned to ask daily intercession of our blessed mother, Mary, and through the rosary. I want to say “yes” to whatever God asks of me, but my natural inclination is not always to say “yes,” therefore, I must pray for intercession. This has helped strenghten my vocation and ward off evil waiting to attack, strenghtening me to turn away from sin. My go-to saints are: St. Therese of Lisieux (of the Little Child of Jesus)–I ask her to pray for me, and my patron saints: St. Francis of Assisi & St. Lucy, who was virgin & martyr, consecrating herself to the LORD despite all oppositions, even until death. I find her intercession important, especially in terms of chastity, to ward off lustful desires. Also, recently, the prayer to St. Joseph has also helped.
What advice would you give to people who are discerning vocations?
If anyone is discerning, I urge them to pray about it. Daily mass is recommended and frequent visits to adoration, as well as meditating on scripture and praying the rosary more often will help lead them in the right direction. Pay attention to the signs; be receptive. Is it something you desire? God does not force a vocation, it is an alignment between what one deeply desires and what He has in store for our happiness. Join discernment groups, such as the Come and See meetings (Vengan y Vean in Spanish), inquire, and don’t be scared too peek!
As of this blog post, my friend is now starting her novitiate, so please pray for her!

Women of Christ Wednesday: Leah Darrow

Photo courtesy of The Grable Group

Photo courtesy of The Grable Group

Back when I was in high school, I used to be obsessed with America’s Next Top Model. I got into it when I found out that one of the contestants, Heather Kuzmich, had Asperger’s Syndrome. Little did I know that I would later learn of another contestant who left the modeling lifestyle and became a well known Catholic speaker. When I first heard of Leah Darrow, I knew her as a speaker, not as a reality show contestant. Later on, I watched her when she gave her conversion story on The Journey Home and found myself fascinated.

After watching her testimony on The Journey Home, I found a video clip of her elimination from America’s Next Top Model. I watched in awe as the judges said that her outfit was more suited for a “secretary contest,” telling her to take off her jacket since she was wearing a tube top underneath. In my honest opinion, she was definitely less “soccer mom” than Tyra Banks declared her to be.

With beauty queens these days showing themselves to be less-than-stellar when it comes to world matters, Leah Darrow stands out as a woman who wears a better crown on her head: the crown that God gives to all of his daughters. And the fact that I first knew her as a speaker rather than a reality show contestant tells me that she’s come a very long way.

What did your time on America’s Next Top Model teach you about being on TV and the “glamorous” lifestyle?
My time on ANTM taught me that there is no such thing as the “glamorous lifestyle” – that’s only something that Fergie and Beyonce sing about. The lifestyle perpetuated by fashion, music, and movies is one focused on instant gratification and constant conformation to a ridiculous standard of beauty and entertainment that one has no control over.
Tell me how you met your husband and how things are for you and your family now.

We were introduced by friends. When we met in 2008, Ricky had just returned from his first deployment to Iraq (he’s a US Army Special Forces Green Beret) and was prepping for his second deployment, so, a “relationship” was a bit out of the question. We started and maintained a friendship, and for the next four years and really got to know each other. In 2011, we just happened to be in the same place, at the same time — and that’s when Ricky knew I was the love of his life and he couldn’t live without me…that’s at least my version of the story.
What advice would you give about relationships?
We are obsessed with relationships today and define ourselves by them. Sadly, we have forgotten the art of friendship. We end up dating strangers and attempt the friendship while we navigate the dating process. Try friendship out first before you go and date a stranger. People who have a strong relationship with Jesus tend not to jump into relationships too quickly because they have a stronger sense of self, worth, and dignity. When we allow our identify to be defined by HIM, we don’t seek it in the world or in others.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty should inspire and empower love. Beauty should not reduce a person to a collection of parts or use. True beauty is rooted in service to another – “The beauty on the outside never gets into the soul. But the beauty of the soul reflects itself on the face” Ven. Fulton Sheen.
What is your favorite go-to outfit for a typical day? How would you describe your style?
My favorite go-to outfit for a typical day is something that snot, markers, and banana can be washed out of quickly – my fashion choices are now inspired my daughter, Agnes. However, I’ve always leaned toward classic pieces that stand the test of time. I update them with accessories (jewelry, scarves, jackets, shoes) but rarely go with “trends”. Instead, I stick with what works for my figure and budget.
Who are your go-to saints?
I like St. Theresa of Avila because she’s feisty and she ‘gets’ my lack of patience that I am forever trying to quell, Venerable Fulton J. Sheen because he is a pro when it comes to evangelization with a microphone, and St. John Paul II because, well, he’s John Paul II.
What would you say to girls who want to audition for reality TV shows or pursue a career in fashion/acting?
Don’t audition for reality TV shows. It’s not worth your time and people rarely take you seriously afterward. Just take a look at all the reality TV contestants out there today and their lives – for most of us, it didn’t exactly help our situation in life.
Acting and designing are both amazing creative arts that require God-given talent, time and practice. In either one of those fields, a strong faith community is a must for accountability and support.
To see more of what Leah Darrow is doing right now, go to Leahdarrow.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.