You Are a New Creation
by Maureen Schuler
Christian Faith Publishing

"For as long as I can remember, the Catholic faith was the cornerstone of our lives."

"As for any assault against yourself, consider that my will permits it to prove virtue in you and in my other servants. And assume that the offender does such a thing as an instrument commissioned by me. For often such a person’s intention is good; there is no one who can judge the hidden heart."—God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena

For over fourteen years, the author contemplated these words, trying to fit together how their message worked within the scope of her life experiences. Finally, she had a breakthrough realization: the bad things that happen to us are not just things that God allows to happen for our good, but those that he designs to happen to foster the creation within us of "His divine image." It is this realization that transformed an extremely painful experience in Schuler's life to one of beauty: "an awe-inspiring story of God's work of creation in my life." It is this story that Schuler feels compelled to reveal in her memoir, and she states that it is her "hope that this writing will be a manifestation of the beauty of God's creation."

Schuler begins her memoir by tracing both her paternal and maternal ancestries. Having lived through both world wars and the Great Depression, her parents were used to sacrifice and struggle. It was her mother who instilled in her the discipline of daily prayer by taking the author and her brother to daily Mass. From an early age, Schuler knew she wanted to be a nun. It was a dream from which she never wavered, and after her senior year of high school, she entered a cloistered community. Unfortunately, the experience wasn't a good one. Knowing very little about the workings of the kitchen, she was inept at the skills needed to be successful. After an unpleasant experience, she was sent home and joined another group where she was eventually assigned a teaching job.

There are some references to the life that Schuler led as a nun, though the brevity of the book leaves little room for expanding upon any one topic. Through the years, Schuler was placed in various teaching positions and was even allowed to help take care of her dying mother. After her mother's death and years into her career as a nun, she was seduced by an older nun who later lied about the incident and labeled Schuler as a sexual predator. She eventually received a degree in psychology and worked to understand this painful life experience.

This is an extremely touching book about betrayal and scandal. For example, when Schuler's seducer was questioned and laid the blame on the younger woman, not only did others believe the seducer, they shared the information with their group, leaving Schuler to face the accusations alone. The author writes honestly, boldly sharing her experience from a contemplative point of view. Having lived through the shame and sorrow of betrayal, she reached a place in her understanding of God's grace in her life from which she can truly embrace her relationship with her seducer as a lesson from God. In her book, Schuler candidly shows how she worked through her inner struggles to reach her conclusions, enabling her to explain them to her readers.

Though short in length, the book is heavy in substance. It is evident that the author has spent much time contemplating what happened to her and how to make sense of such a horrible experience. Having meditated on the words of God to St. Catherine led in part to her working out her feelings and sharing them in this book. Schuler's memoir is a fascinating work that is sure to evoke an emotional response in readers.

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