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Many years ago, BYU German Professor Michelle Stott James shared a profound spiritual experience with Sister Columba, a Catholic nun, that touched her to the deepest center of her being, James said at the Devotional on Tuesday. 

Although she had grown up as a member of the LDS church, attended her church meetings and Seminary classes, and frequently bore testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ was true, James couldn't comprehend how it could be that she'd never felt anything for Jesus Christ—certainly nothing like the level of worship and gratitude for Christ that she experienced from Sister Columba. 

"That afternoon with this frail nun in the quiet parlor of the convent became the definitive moment of my spiritual growth, as it launched the quest to know my Savior which has shaped my entire life," James said. 

Michelle Stott James
Credit: Savanna Sorenson/BYU Photo

According to James, the dividedness she experienced in connecting with Christ and His Atonement comes because our bodies are made of two disparate elements—the mortal body and eternal spirit—that provide us with two distinctly different mechanisms for comprehending the world. 

"[Although] our mortal perception is always limited by the bounds of language, culture, personal baggage and emotional states.. . . There are no limitations to the possibilites of our spiritual perception, except the limits that we place on our own efforts to develop this aspect of our being," James said. 

Now, as she reflects on her experience with Sister Columba, James believes that developing our love for the Savior is something that we must do. She suggests that this can happen when we:

  • Keep the commandments
  • Make space for Him in our lives
  • Serve others

If you missed James' remarks, the Devotional can be streamed on and will be archived on

Next Devotional: Tim McLain, Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology​

The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Mechanical Engineering Professor Tim McLain on Tuesday, June 28, at 11:05 a.m., in the JSB Auditorium

His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYU Radio.

Writer: Beau Jones