Monday, January 24, 2011

so you want to be a nun...

... You think, "If only", applying today's knowledge and hindsight to yesterday's ignorance or naivety. Living your present in regret of the past, you wonder "If only I hadn't flitted away my youth, I could have been a nun." If only.

It's one thing to learn from our past, it's another thing entirely to be consumed with regret which leads to despair. Too often I hear fellow female Catholics say "I missed my calling." I used to say that. But did I really? Did you?

I tend to think if it was a true calling, one ordained from the will of God, we would have most certainly known at that time and not some 20+ years later when we are unable to act upon it. We would have felt the call, pulled to it like a magnet. This is how I know I am not called to be a nun. When I converted in 2005 my vocation was already chosen for me, motherhood. If I was truly meant to follow Christ from the confines of a convent He would have seen to it that I would have at least discovered Catholicism at a more opportune time in my life.

He picked the time He picked for His reasons to know, but most importantly, for me not to question. To continue on desiring something against God's will for me is spiritually corruptive.

To have a true religious calling is a rare thing, a very special grace filled and rare thing. And though many may desire it, the truth is God calls only those special few that have the ability to handle such a monumental gift. It doesn't mean He loves us less or thinks us less special and deserving. It just means He knows us best. Better then we know ourselves.

I've visited and stayed at enough convents now to know there's no way in hell I can wake up at 5am seven days a week. Nuns are tough broads and I am too soft.

Instead of saying we missed our calling to a religious vocation, think instead that our calling is exactly where we are in our lives. Maybe you are living your vocation and are exactly where God wants you to be at this particular moment in your life. Instead of looking back with regret and trying to look ahead to what may not be, just live where you are with gladness and thanksgiving.

My vocation is motherhood. And being single. I'm not always thrilled about my circumstances but God has never steered me wrong before. I've always come out every situation with a little more knowledge, a lot more patience and my trust in Christ reaffirmed.

This advice can go for anyone in the discernment process. If you are finding all your attempts and inquiries combated and it seems if all the odds are against you, it is quite possible you do not have a religious vocation. At least not at this time. God needs you to wait a bit. It is not necessarily "No", maybe just "not now".

I have been told that when you're truly following God's will there comes a certain peace. If you are constantly struggling to see your dream of becoming a nun/ priest/ monk become a reality then maybe you need ask yourself is this something YOU want for yourself or what God wants.

I hope this doesn't seem like I am discouraging vocations. On the contrary, I want people to live their vocations joyfully and without regret... their vocation of married life, single life etc. Please know that just because you might not have a religious calling doesn't mean you have no calling. Christ calls us all. But most importantly, He calls us according to our capabilities.

Domenico Ghirlandaio, Calling of the Apostles.


Cruise the Groove. said...

"I've visited and stayed at enough convents now to know there's no way in hell I can wake up at 5am"

I guess thems is the nuns that sleep in.
I know of several orders that arise at 2am to chant Matins...but hey do go back to sleep for a couple hours.

Adoro said...

I agree with you Cres, but let's define this a little bit.

The reality is that holiness is in the present moment and is not completely dependent upon some state in life we have to follow BEFORE we become Holy.

Truly, a Vocation, a state in life to which we are called and for which we are created by God Almighty is also going to bring us to the heights of holiness we can obtain on this side of the veil should we choose to cooperate with Him every step of the way...but that fact does not negate the holiness to be found NOW, in the present moment!

It is the holiness we choose in our uncertainty that leads us to understand and know our Vocation, ie our formal path to Holiness.

BTW...I love the Cistercians and if I were younger I think I would have gone there but their door is closed to me. And...they get up WAY too early! Seriously! Matins at 4 am!!!!!!!

That's when I have my most vivid epic dreams!

(Yeah, I'd give up that entertainment for God if He called me soul still aches for that monastery. But His will is clear; family but not immediate family. OK.)

And yes, Crescat, your Vocation is motherhood, but you know as well as I do that God may call you to more than one Vocation in your life. Look at St. Frances of Rome as an example!

I love your posts and your surrender; you are in the right place. You know who and what you are but you never stop seeking God's will for you in the next step.

God bless!

(Oh, gosh, I sound like a cheesy new-age Christian-influenced internet "oracle", like something you'd find on "blogthings"!) Ach! Kill me now! Please!

SoonerScotty said...

Absolutely awesome post!!

Angela Messenger said...

You are on the road to holiness, Kat. And who knows - you might be the mother of a priest! (I would much rather be that than a nun!)

margaret said...

I think that in as far as the world has infiltrated the church our idea of vocation has narrowed. Just as the world has decided that love = sex and barely allows for any other kind of love to exist so also has feminism in the church robbed women of the knowledge that marriage, motherhood, nursing, teaching, etc, are vocations. I think that's why you often hear women saying they missed their vocation to be a nun, it's the only thing they can still describe as a vocation. We've narrowed the word down to those that take vows.

Rick said...

One lesson from your experience is to discern the call if and when one gets the chance. Click here for post.

If one did not get a chance or failed to check it out then one needs to remember that God is a loving Father. He is the One Who calls and will not be so mean and rigid if the person was unable to respond correctly at the time. I am a father too with 3 daughters. They sometimes get it wrong but I still love them and will not hesitate to die for them. So, one must not beat oneself up and simply grow in the love of God wherever she finds herself. That ultimately is the calling; the state of life is a vehicle only.

Lianna said...

Wow! This is crazy! I have been thiking about these exact same things lately! So true! Thanks for an awesome post!

TCN said...

Really, if you can't be holy where you are, how do you think you can be holy in a convent? Do it now, and if it is to be so, God will find a way. So often this longing for the convent (which I sometimes share, usually about halfway through the laundry) is a longing to be somewhere, anywhere, else where we can be alone and pray. So, go be alone and pray, for that hour between the kid's bedtime and yours, or in the morning before they come blasting downstairs. This is not rocket science.

And then look at the women who had families, even royal families, and ended up in a monastery. It can happen, just not yet.

Anonymous said...

I never did have a call for religious life, either. Nor the call to marriage or motherhood. I've made private vows, signed before my confessor, and for now that's enough for me.
I have a particular admiration for the Redemptorist order, and I try to offer prayers for them. I like to "adopt" certain religious orders and pray for them. For me, that's the next best thing.

Piotrek said...

Married people wake up at 2 a.m. to fulfill their calling too.

Azariah said...

I've never believed that everyone has a vocation. I've been married, single, seminarian, looked at religious orders and I still don't know what I'm suppose to be. There's only one vocation (if you want use that word) and it is called love. We're called to love. Peace out.

Anonymous said...

Nuns are tough broads????
Mothers are tougher!
Vocational motherhood is NOT for wimps.

Anonymous said...

What your vocation is may not necessarily be what your surface personality likes, in my experience. And where you are physically may be radically contrary to what one might expect - (this i took from the bipolar catholic guy

I'm good at counseling desparate people, I've been put in that position over and over, and I often don't even like the people.

Interesting post.

Robert said...

Awesome post, Kat! I came across this prayer from one of the desert fathers not too long ago, and its effects are just what you described today: "Lord, as you will and as you know, have mercy."

God's blessings!

Owen said...

"Please know that just because you might not have a religious calling doesn't mean you have no calling. Christ calls us all."

It's the message of St. Andre Bessette and, of course, of Opus Dei (and many others).

3puddytats said...

I'm up at 5-5:15 every morning to get ready for kitties need their breakfast..doesn't everyone get up at that time?? :) My workday starts at 6:45..

The 22 shelter horses I help care for on Saturdays have their breakfast at 6:30 am..

I don't sleep in much on the weekends or I am jet lagging come Monday...


The Ironic Catholic said...

"Really, if you can't be holy where you are, how do you think you can be holy in a convent?"

Amen to that, and this post.

Anonymous said...

@familytreedude "Mothers are tougher". No, single virgins with no vocation(like me) have to be tougher in a world (and sometimes a church) that despises virgins

Casa Santa Lidia said...

Age limits on entrants to religious life are entirely modern, and a response to the crisis not in vocations but religious life. All through history, people have been called to radical renunciation, or withdrawal from the world, or however you want to phrase it, at any age and every age. Yes, most went when they were young (some were even "donated" in childhood) but plenty of older spinsters and widows entered religious communities too. I suppose if one appeared too set in one's ways or was likely to overburden the community in some way then that person was judged unsuitable. But there were no brochures in the parlor which said "Applicants considered up to the age of 40."
So, never give up. If you feel called to religious life, keep praying and keep looking and stop worrying about getting up before the chickens! O:)

Maria said...

Much to my chagrin: single life is not a vocation...

Just another mad Catholic said...

Two points

A) The father of a Clergy friend of mine was Ordained in his late 80's (after his wife had died), the writing in his ordination card reading 11th hour :), then when he was blessing a Rosary using the old formula his son (a wonderful priest) tried to correct him, Fr Gordon Sr. then remonstrated Fr Gordon Jr. that he was his son, Fr Gordon Jr. then reminded Fr. Gordon Sr. that he'd been a priest for longer :)

2) Fr. Pere Surin, S.J persuaded his mother to enter the Carmelites at 56 - she persevered right through to final vows and beyoned.

Owen said...

Never say never is pretty much the message here. Good message.

Maria said...

No convent want old women. Sadly they are as age driven as the rest of American Culture. The world wants young nuns...young, beautiful nuns who gave up surgery for God, as I like to say.

Maria said...

No convent want old women. Sadly they are as age driven as the rest of American Culture. The world wants young nuns...young, beautiful nuns who gave up surgery for God, as I like to say.