Three little letters: J.C.L!

Post- comprehensive exam smiles!
Three little letters but they caused a lot of work, study, stress and even some sweat and tears along the way. But it was worth it!

J.C.L is the title which we are given after we complete our studies in Canon Law at a licentiate level. It stands for Juris Canonici Licentia, literally, licence in Canon Law. It has been a long and busy two years of study and exams but the time had come to transform that knowledge into some kind of coherent thoughts and follow through with the Comprehensive exam. The Comprehensive exam is a one hour oral exam which is carried out before four professors. You are permitted to pick fifteen themes out of seventy-five to get you started for the exam but you are expected to know all the themes in the Code of Canon Law which is not mean feat I tell you!

So after we finished classes and our exams for our other course, we had a few days to prepare for the dreaded comps! Our residence Deschatelets was so quiet. First year students had mostly gone home as they had concluded their studies for the year. Second year students were hibernating and studying hard to be ready! Prayers were sought far and near and I am grateful to all those who prayed for a successful exam and who sustained me during those days who prayed, offered Masses, lit candles, send best wishes, calmed my nerves, sent funny text messages to keep me laughing, emailed and were united with me on this very important stage of my academic journey.

So on Tuesday 27th of May, at 11am, I made the sign of the cross, called upon the saints and angels and knocked on the office door where the exam was to be held. Thus began the great interrogation! The exam was not easy but it is not supposed to be! As canon lawyers we need to know the material as we become a reference point for many people who will seek out canonical advice. Yet, it is not possible to know everything and that’s what the many manuals, commentaries and books which have acquired over these two years are for. It is important to know where to look when necessary. Some parts of the hour exam went slower than others but I was very happy to be finished and hoped that it was sufficient enough to get me through and get my qualifications. Thanks be to God, it was and the next day I received news that I had passed and we received all our grades for the rest of the courses! The Lord is truly good and does wonders with our weaknesses if we let Him work through us with his power.

After comps, there was time for lunch and then I hopped on the bus to Montreal to visit my sisters who have been like Moses for all the exams which I have had, with their ‘arms raised in prayer’. There was a tinge of sadness attached to this trip as it was the last time I would make the monthly journey there to link back into community. I was very happy though to spend time with both communities and we thanked the Divine Master together for having brought me to Canada, to know the sisters, to have successfully completed my studies. I know that we carry each other in prayer and join in the bonds of communion that make us sisters and disciples.

With Sr. M. Ferdinanda from our Toronto community,
who was also a missionary in Ireland for 9 years.

On Friday, the journey took me to Toronto to our community there as that was where I was flying back to Ireland from. Again, it was great to see the sisters and we received a wonderful welcome and abundant hospitality. To say that it was a rollercoaster of emotions was an understatement. Whilst I was looking forward to going back to Ireland to see family, sisters,friends and take up the next stage of the journey, I was very sad to say goodbye to the sisters and the wonderful friends who had been pillars of strength and companionship for me during my time in Canada. God alone knows how much they mean to me and I pray He will bless them according to their needs and intentions. The more I go further on in life, the more I see that the Lord does put the right person upon our path at the right time.

As I studied for the comprehensive exams, I came across this quote which was in the footnotes of the course notes for Sanctifying Office. I thought it summed up how I felt about my experience in Ottawa to an extent. I had been on pilgrimage.

“A pilgrimage is a time of evangelization, a time and a place where the word of God is offered, proclaimed, and received in a heart that is listening. By breaking with his or her daily life, the pilgrim is more receptive to the unexpected and to what the Spirit is saying to the churches [...] The long period of time spent along the route is necessary to give full value to the arrival, and to ensure that the pilgrimage itself develops into the full meaning of an interior journey‟,” in G. ANGELO, “Santuari, pellegrinaggi e liturgia,” in Notitiae, 28 (1992), p. 249.

Yes, even though it was an intense time of study and research, understanding and memorizing, it was a huge step forward on my own journey of life. By immersion in a climate of student life and also by being away from a community structure, I had ‘broken with daily life’ to be more receptive to the inspirations of the Spirit and to respond to this invitation which had been offered to me, to use specific gifts and talents for the Kingdom of God. The Lord always gives a hundredfold in a bid to bring us always closer to Him!

Canada, it has been a wonderful wonderful experience! How blessed I am to have had this time. May the gratitude that abounds in my heart be transformed into prayer for my superiors who have permitted me to continue my studies, to those whom I have met upon the way. I pray that I can carry out this apostolic mission when I will have the opportunity and put this knowledge and study at the service of the Church.