The Transfiguration of the Lord
Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness
How Desiring Holiness Led Me to Motherhood
by Kelly Guest
I was a boy-crazy teen. As much as I liked boys, though, I loved God more. So, my senior year of high school, along with looking at colleges, I also visited convents. After all, Jesus was the one man who could fulfill all my desires. And I did desire holiness.
I did not encounter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia until my second year of college. These sisters from Nashville came to Baltimore to revive an all-girls Catholic high school not far from my home. I immediately fell in love with them⸺their flowing white habit and black veil, their joyful spirit, and their obvious love of God and the life He had given them. I visited the Motherhouse in May, asked for admittance in June, and entered in August.
In my letter to Mother requesting entrance into religious life, I took Saint Paul’s words as my own: “I wish to know Christ and the power of his resurrection; likewise, to know how to share in his sufferings by being formed into the pattern of his death. Thus, do I hope that I may arrive at resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).
I loved every day of the five years I spent in the convent. They were not all easy; no life is. But every day brought me closer to the realization of my desire to know and love Jesus in his suffering and in his resurrection. I was, indeed, transformed⸺a new name, Sr. Anne Joachim; new style of clothing, the beautiful black and white Dominican habit; and a new mission, teaching young people. The time I lived as a religious sister was a great blessing.
Yet, as the time drew closer to renew my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, my thoughts began to turn toward marriage. My last year in the convent, I struggled with this desire. I felt that Satan was tempting me away from the beauty of consecrated life. It was a time of intense prayer, begging God to “lead me not into temptation” and that His will be done.
I was two weeks away from renewing my vows and the desire to marry was still invading my heart. So, I went to see Mother. With tears in my eyes, I shared my struggle. It must be Satan, I told her. In a time when vocations were needed, why would God not want me to stay? I prayed and prayed, and the feeling would not go away. Why wouldn’t it go away?
“It is not Satan; it is God. He has something else in mind for you, Sister. It is time to go home and discover what it is.” With these words from Mother, the struggle ended, and peace came. I called my parents, purchased a plane ticket, and headed back to Baltimore.
It was difficult to take off the habit. It was scary to think of what was to come next. I still had a desire for holiness. But how was God going to fulfill that desire now? What was the next step?
“It is good to be here!” Peter exclaimed during the Transfiguration of the Lord. I felt the same way about the convent. A piece of heaven on earth, the Motherhouse radiated the glory of God. Just as Jesus did not want the three apostles to remain on the mountain top, though, I was not to remain in the convent. Little did I know that a whole other transformation was awaiting me.
Not long after coming home, I met the man I would eventually marry. Living faithfully the teachings of Humanae Vitae (which I read in the convent), God blessed us with nine children here on earth and one in heaven. I was, once again, transformed⸺a new name, from Kelly Hauf to Kelly Guest and Mommy; a new style of clothing, from stylish to comfortable; and a new mission as wife and mother. This time of motherhood has been a great blessing.
The vocation of motherhood is no less a holy calling than religious life. Daily, I am called to share in Christ’s passion as I bend my will to the greater good of my family. I see the glory of Christ’s resurrection as my children grow and become men and women of God. With Peter, I can definitely proclaim, “It is good for us to be here.”
Ironically, my husband built our house on a small hilltop. At times, that hill has been Mount Tabor, where we have been transformed into the people God is calling us to be and sharing our joys. There have also been times when our hill has been more like Calvary, learning to die to self and sharing in sorrows. Hopefully, ultimately, our little hilltop home will be the Mount Olivet from which my family will ascend to holiness.
Daily I desire to be transformed into the holy woman God is calling me to be, and daily God provides me with the opportunities to become holier through my vocation of motherhood.
About Kelly: Kelly Guest has been blessed with many opportunities to share God’s love. She was a Dominican Sister of Saint Cecilia in Nashville for five years. Back home in Maryland, she taught middle school social studies, was the education coordinator for a Catholic Charities program for pregnant teens, a Director of Religious Education, and is now a youth minister for her parish. Her greatest opportunity (and challenge), though, is as the mother of nine wonderful children and wife to one great guy. You can find her at Nun2Nine.com and CatholicMom.com, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @nun2nine.