Dr. (Sr) Mudita Menona Sodder’s contribution to SILENT VOICE is well known to the readers and does not need further introduction………GREG.
Presently I am in silent mode as I am busy with publishing work. Trying to complete a book I am working on. Sending you my vocation story which I wrote for my province to celebrate the year of consecrated life. I hope you enjoy reading it. Happy Holidays.
HE LOVED ME ENOUGH TO LEAVE ME FREE.
At age three I had a crisis – overhearing my elder sister and brother preparing for First Holy Communion saying, “Only Catholics can go to heaven” I was worried about my Hindu friend, Padma, my neighbour, so I asked my father, “Daddy, will Padma, a Hindu, go to heaven?” He wisely explained that heaven was like a big palace with many doors. “You will enter from one door and Padma from another, but both will meet in the centre of the hall”. I was happy and satisfied with his answer.
In standard VIII we were studying the Holy Trinity in our religion class and my best friend, Usha Nair, a Hindu, asked me to explain the same to her. I had not understood the Trinity myself, so how was I going to explain it to her? From pillar to post I went in search of a convincing answer. The parish priest, other priests and nuns, my religion teacher Fr. Francis Vaz, my parents, no one could satiate my hunger and curiosity to find an understandable answer. They told me the same standard stories I had read in books. All of thirteen years, I was desperate for an answer. I stopped praying and told God that I would resume talking to Him only after he had answered me. It was 1969, the year when man conquered the moon. I rationalized: a human being, a creature of God, was able to conquer another creation of God, the moon, but human beings would never, ever be able to understand God.
How would I, a little creature of God demand a comprehension of the Creator? I had found my answer and was able to convince my friend as well. It was here that I first felt the glimmering of a call to religious life.
Three years later, my final year in school, I fell seriously ill with a triple relapse of typhoid and nearly died. Doctors gave up hope of my living. I had a presentiment that I would die on 13th December. Before I died I wanted to see my father, a priest and my friend. On the night of the 13th, my mother forcibly made me keep my eyes open. The entire neighbourhood was around my bed. I was lifeless and could not speak. Miraculously, as the sun rose on 14th December, 1972, life slowly entered my body and I was able to speak. At 6.30 a.m. my father arrived, followed by Fr. Francis Vaz, and a little later, by my friend Usha. I was very weak, could not attend school the whole year, was restricted to study only one hour a day, appeared for the Board examinations and surprisingly, still stood first in the school. This only affirmed for me God’s special treatment and call to me. I wanted to join religious life right away but my parents asked me to wait till I was twenty-one.
A favourable marriage proposal from a professor came. I refused though he tried very hard to make me change my mind. He genuinely loved me and even attempted suicide. Eaten by guilt, I prayed to our Lady to save him and she did. But I knew that I did not love him and a priest whom I consulted told me that I was not responsible for the professor’s life.
During this time, egged on by some friends, and just for fun, I answered an advertisement from Sophia College asking for a Junior College Principal. I got a call, but did not respond. Then one day in December, to escape from studying, I accompanied my mother going on a condolence visit to a friend at Breach Candy. I decided to take some testimonials and visit Sophia College at the same time. Though it was after College hours, the Principal Sr. Mary Braganza and Vice-Principal Sr. Gaitonde came down to meet me. They checked my testimonials and after a few questions, offered me the post and prepared to type the appointment letter as they wanted me to start work on 2nd January! It was then that I had to confess that I would not be able to accept the post until I had completed the second year of M.A. To my amazement she showed no annoyance, in fact, appreciated my telling her the truth. This touched a sensitive chord in my heart. I went home thinking, “These nuns are different”.
My heart and my eyes were fixed on joining religious life after my M.A. examination. My parents suggested that I rest and relax for six months first. I was to join Mary of the Angels Congregation where my aunt was a nun. I posted her a letter about this. But she never received it! God’s ways are not our ways!
There was a letter waiting for me when I returned home on the last day of my examinations, 25 June 1979. It was from Sophia College asking me to phone the Principal. I did this a week later – to find they were offering me a teaching post required immediately in the Sociology Department. Several other colleges, including my own college in the neighbourhood, informed by the University, had also written, offering jobs. My parents suggested that I join my own College in the neighbourhood. When I made this known to Sr. Braganza she upbraided me for refusing a Catholic College! Holding to my decision for the neighbourhood College, I slept in peace!
The peace lasted till 2 a.m. when I woke up very troubled and prayed at the family altar till suddenly all doubts were resolved in favour of Sophia College! I can only believe that the Lord made this choice for me. I accepted immediately and taught in the College from 1979 to 1980. I entered the Society as a candidate in June 1980, made my First Vows in 1983 and my Final Profession in 1993 and have worked in the Society of the Sacred Heart ever since!
I must add as a footnote, that the Professor continued with flowers and gifts to try to change my mind. He finally stopped when I put it to him that true love would respect the choice of the loved one. He later married a nice girl. He loved me enough to leave me free and taught me the true meaning of love!
Dr. (Sr) Mudita Menona Sodder RSCJ
Patna, Bihar, India