Myriam de Soto

61 years; Painter and Theologian; Spain; Institute of Our Lady of  Schoenstatt.

What experiences have shaped you as a woman?

My parents’ faith and my mother’s strong personality have undoubtedly had a huge impact on me as a woman. But also friendship with other women, their love and devotion, their appreciation of beauty and their religious sense, have been decisive for my development as a woman and for my vocation to the consecrated life. On the other hand, there were the times when I could devote myself to painting, fully or part time, in Spain, where I went to university and worked for several years in the artistic and cultural fields, or in Belgium, where I completed postgraduate studies. These were periods of personal and professional development. I also had the opportunity to study religious subjects and for almost four years I worked in an aid organization that is active in various social areas, which complemented my previously more aesthetic view of the human reality.

Where in your life have you experienced God?

There was a natural religious atmosphere in my family that found continuity in the Catholic school we attended. The first “personal” experience of God came at the age of 10 through an illness that isolated me from my family and social environment for five years. During this time I had to develop a special creativity, which crystallized in my love for nature and art. I looked for entertainment and company in everything. I found it in painting, in classical music and not least in prayer. During these years I also developed a great love for reading. In the biographies of some saints I found models of life that inspired me to strive for something great and beautiful. Finally, at the age of 34, after two long friendships and after meeting a great woman who belonged to the Institute of Our Lady of Schoenstatt, I found my vocation and the beauty that I had always been looking for.

What do you see as the challenge for women today?

In the midst of so much confusion in our current culture, given the wide range of options that women’s “liberation” and, even more, gender liberation have to offer, being a woman is hard work – at least according to Christian culture and anthropology.

I believe that the greatest challenge today is to cultivate our childlike roots. Only from the knowledge that one is deeply and unconditionally loved – in the final instance by a God who is Father and good – does it become possible to grow with the necessary freedom, to make decisions and to dare to be a daughter and a woman corresponding to one’s own being. In this way, a woman can contribute according to her vocation with all her potential and her natural abilities: in the family, at work, in society, in the life of the Church. In this way, she can contribute to making this world a home, a better place to live, a bridge to heaven.

What would you like to change through your life in this world?

I believe in the existence of a God who is love and who gives himself wholly to each of his children he calls into life. I hope to be a faithful witness to this truth that I believe in. In this sense I work in a spiritual family, in a community without external walls, which sends me to be the leaven of Christian life in the part of the world that has been entrusted to me. From the shrine, in accordance with my secular and consecrated calling, I may help others walk the path to the house of the Father, at the hand of Mary, mother of the new covenant. On the streets of our world, she inspires me to be a place of deep encounter with this God who is truth, goodness and beauty of the fullness of life to which we are all called, especially for women.