Entering the Convent: Answers

So I’ve gotten a lot of questions ever since I made it publicly known that I was entering the convent in September. I’ve taken questions people have asked me on Twitter, and I’ll also add in questions that people have asked me in real life. Here we go!

What order are you entering? The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, IL (closer to St. Louis than Chicago)

So, you’re really entering? Like you’ve applied and all? Now I think I get this question a lot because people think I’ve only contacted the community and started discerning with the community. But, although I’m still discerning with the community, I have finished the application process and was accepted in March. I’ve been preparing all my things and getting ready to enter in less than a month.

How did your family and friends react when you told them you were discerning? My family and friends have always known I was discerning, so they weren’t that surprised. I think the most surprising thing to my family and friends was the fact that I was going to enter right after entering high school. Many people close to me would question why I was going so far away, so early, etc. It was mostly difficult to explain that I was doing this not because I just wanted to, but because God is calling me to do so.

How did you discern entering the convent? I had attended immersion retreats at a House of Formation, and so it was very natural for me to discern the religious life. But, discerning was definitely a lot of prayer and spending time with God. There were several moments that really stand out in my life, which was when the Lord was calling me to be a sister, and that I needed to stop running and give Him my fiat (yes!). I also experienced moments when I saw the joys of spiritual motherhood, and that was really instrumental in my discernment as well.

How did you choose a particular order? For me personally, I have always felt drawn to this certain community. There was a special joy that exuded from them that drew me in more than other communities (who were also very joyful). I think the biggest part of this is you don’t really choose a community, God leads you to one, and then you discern with the order about whether you’re being called there or not.

How long did it take to discern? I had always discerned the religious life, but it wasn’t until the summer before my junior year that I was really open to the idea of religious life. I seriously discerned for about two years.

Tips for other discerners? Be open to what the Lord might be calling you to do. I know that it might seem really scary at times, but the Lord will give you so much joy and peace when we trust Him. Also, people often think of the religious life as giving up things or being restricted, but as one of the Sisters I know really likes to say, “the religious life is giving up something beautiful for something more beautiful.” And I like to say, “what’s more beautiful and loving than our Lord?”

“In the Silence of the Heart…

…You speak.”

Audrey Assad’s song, “You Speak,” speaks volumes about how we can listen to God. With constant noise from the world, it can be painfully difficult to hear God’s voice. He is speaking to us, but the main problem is we’re not listening. I used to be among the many people who pondered how others “hear” the voice of God.

People usually credit their vocation with hearing the voice of God, but what does that even mean? Do they actually hear an actual voice? Is it loud and booming, or is it sternly soothing? I had all these questions before I finally heard the voice of God.

Even in 1 Kings 19, Elijah realizes the Lord is not in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, the Lord is in the “sound of a gentle blowing.” The truth is, God is found in the stillness and silence. I know for myself, it can sometimes be difficult to focus when everything is silent. But, God does speak in those moments of silence.

The distractions of this world are usually too loud for us to truly be in the Presence of the Lord. For many, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful opportunity to leave all the worries of the world and to come into God’s presence with an open heart and eager ears. Personally, the first time I really heard the voice of God, it was during Adoration as I was kneeling in the confession line while looking at the Host in he monstrance.

One thing that is interesting about hearing the voice of God is…you usually cannot physically hear it. It is not a voice that you expect to resonate in your ears. Instead, the voice of God is like a silent feeling, thought, or image that comes into your being. Some cases, it may be unsure where these thoughts come from, but that is why the discernment of spirits (by St. Ignatius of Loyola), is so incredibly helpful. It can help you to realize whether these thoughts are actually divine inspirations, or just something that you think of.

So, if you want to hear the voice of God, the first thing I would tell anyone would be to listen. And to actually listen. Don’t just sit there and let your thoughts wander off, truly immerse yourself in the moment that you are with the Lord. Calm your heard and recollect your thoughts. Pay no attention to whether you’ve been sitting there for an hour or 10 seconds. In that moment, truly open your heart and mind to the Lord. An idea, image, phrase might come to mind or maybe you’ll feel an immense sense of peace. When you hear God speak to you, there is such a beautiful peace that is simple indescribable, but I hope you all can experience it as well.

I’ll be praying for you, so please keep me in your prayers, too!

 

 

 

 

 

An Update: Hoping to Enter a Convent

I recently announced on my Catholic Twitter account that I am currently in the application process to enter a religious order. This blog post will hopefully answer a few questions, or if anyone stumbles across this article, that yes, young women still desire to enter the religious life (especially more “traditional” orders).

So, who am I? Well, I can’t completely answer that, but I’m a 17 year old senior at a Catholic high school. I participate in a few extracurricular activities, I love music, and I’m a hardworking student. Recently I heard from some classmates about the realization that religious sisters are “normal.” But, the sisters they had met belonged to an order with many older sisters, didn’t wear a religious habit, etc. This saddened and shocked me since I was so used to seeing young, joyful sisters, who are “normal,” and do many things other people do, too.

I realized that some people expect religious sisters to come from a certain mold; pious Catholics since birth, no social life, unhappy, and not pretty enough to find a spouse. Oh! But how that’s completely the opposite…God does not call a specific type of person. He has made us all unique, and so He calls us each in a different way. Some were atheists, non-practicing Catholics, home-schooled, dated, etc. The main point is, religious sisters were not born in a specific mold, and no vocation story is ever the same.

Anyways, it’s a little bit different to be surrounded by classmates who are occupied with college applications. The variety of questions similar to “where are you thinking of attending for college?” have made me a little bit annoyed. Of course everyone assumes that most teenagers will attend college after their high school education, but I can’t say that I’m entering a convent…well, because I haven’t been officially accepted, yet! I wonder why hardly anyone promotes the priesthood or religious life, it’s sometimes seen as a secondary option, and that saddens me.

So going off of the title of this blog post, it may seem a little against the culture of today’s society to enter a convent. To take radical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience is a foreign, or crazy idea to many. “The world has so much to offer.” Sure, but nothing will ever compare to the love of the Lord. As St. Gerard Majella remarks, “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” Women and men that discern the priesthood or religious life are not losing, but they are gaining an incredible life. A life that closely reflects the life of Christ is truly a joyful life.

Expanding on my vocation story, at one point in my prayer, I encountered the merciful love of God. It was at this moment that I knew, “How could I ever say no to this love?”I had been previously distracted with other things that did not bring me towards the Lord, but He looked upon me with love, just love. I realized He was telling me that even if I didn’t choose Him, I have free will and whatever I choose to do with that free will, God will still love me no matter what. That absolute love that I encountered brought me to tears, I felt at peace in my heart once I decided to follow His will, not my own wants.

Over the past two years, I have been making strides in my discernment. I’ve met various religious sisters, but one religious order had always attracted me. I made a weekend visit at their motherhouse, and recently came back from a longer visit. My time with them was beautiful, I had felt such a peace and joy that is indescribable, but I definitely felt the Lord calling me throughout my time there. During this longer visit, I asked to enter, and received the application papers.

Although I have a long way until I’m officially accepted, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about what will happen. Of course I realize that the past Thanksgiving could be the last Thanksgiving I ever spend with my family, and the same with the upcoming Christmas days. But, the Lord consoles and rewards us when we selflessly give ourselves back to Him. After all, we are only able to do all these things because God has given us free will, and more importantly, He has loved us first!

That’s all I have for now! I’m deeply sorry for being gone from this blog for so long, the past couple months have especially been hectic with my convent visits and school work. Thank you for your patience, and especially for all prayers! Please keep me in your prayers, and I will keep you in mine.

~VibrantCatholic

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Religious Sisters & Habits

I’ve been struggling to find topics to right about and also the time to write them, so I’m hoping this blog post will be somewhat interesting and detailed enough. Among the many drafts I’ve started, a few of them are related to the religious life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the most clearest idea of where this blog post is headed, but I’m sure it’ll be somewhat interesting anyways!

So, this morning I went to Mass and since our parish is the only one with Mass on Saturday mornings out of six parishes in our city, there’s typically a large crowd reaching almost 150 people. As I was looking around (yes, I get distracted…a lot) I noticed there were three different women religious orders being represented. There was a young Nashville Dominican, four sisters in a blue habit and white veil (I still haven’t figured out their order, but our pastor calls them the “blue sisters”), and several sisters belonging to the Rochester Franciscans. While I was observing these women, I gleefully noticed that the ones in habits were probably half the age of the ones without habits.

Now, to explain why that’s significant to me. For those that do not know, I have been thinking about the religious life since about second grade. After writing about that in an essay, my teacher made me pen-pals with a friend of hers– a Nashville Dominican. This Nashville Dominican’s parents are at the same parish as I am, so every summer I’m able to talk with her while she’s home on a home visit. She was and still is such a vibrant part of my discernment. When I grew a little older, there were several years in which I did not want to take part in any discussion about the religious life. My extended family always liked talking about the religious life and would encourage my cousins and I to discern the religious life or holy orders (for men). So through all that discussion, I did not want to hear them constantly talking about the religious life, and tried to get rid of any thoughts of the religious life.

But, I really couldn’t. I started going to immersion retreats at Mater Redemptoris House of Formation in LaCrosse hosted by Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. For multiple years, I went to the retreats, and every year I left with my heart being a little more open to the religious life. And I do have to say, I admire the FSGM sisters a lot, and think they’re really really awesome.

So now, going back to a more general topic! All the schools I’ve attended have all been influenced by the Rochester Franciscans. As I was recently reflecting on which Sisters had impacted my discernment the most, I realized that I had never once thought about becoming a Rochester Franciscan. Many say that the habit does not make a religious sister, and I would agree…but it is the habit that can be a subtle sign of Christ and His love in the world. Also, I’ve honestly understood why someone wouldn’t want to wear a full habit. I mean, you’re basically proclaiming to the world that you’re married to Christ!! But even if it relates to humility or that’s a reason, there’s something about a religious sister in a habit that makes people revert their thoughts to God, even if just for a small fraction of a second.

On the retreat that I go to with about 10-15 other girls in the summer, one thing we all were looking for in a religious order was that they wore a full habit. As we searched through bins of religious orders, we focused our gaze on those with full habits. In this time and age, it’s harder to outwardly show that you love your faith without the fear of being persecuted. I mean, just a few weeks ago, someone related to me that I could be seen as intimidating to others since I talk about Catholicism and our faith too much. Although at first I thought that made perfect sense, I then realized it didn’t. Why should I be afraid to express my faith? After all, should I deny the wonderful Lord just because I wish to be accepted by everyone? No, because God deserves the best from us and the best does not include being afraid of expressing our faith.

Back to the topic of religious habits, I’ve heard people talk about how LCWR orders are receiving the same amount of vocations as CMSWR orders. But if you take into account that LCWR accounts for about 80% of religious sisters, then the numbers going into each CMSWR order would definitely be higher than those entering LCWR order. There’s got to be a reason why right? One thing for sure, is that the youth of today yearn for the truth. Our world is so filled with lies and innuendos about what happiness really is. It isn’t the material possessions or lustful relationships. That’s why those that realize those things bring about nothing but temporary happiness, try to find the Truth.

So what should anyone take from this entire blog post, mini rant (maybe?) of mine? It’s that young women and girls are thinking of the religious life. But to prevent these people from seeing more “traditional” sisters in their full habits, is something that should never occur. Most people appreciate the full habit because it is such a beautiful sign of a bride of Christ! Also, I don’t mean to be negative of any sort, but to share my experience and perspectives on this. Of course, not all religious sisters in one order or another may share the exact same views.

Also, it was another glimpse at my life and my ongoing discernment process. I would really appreciate all your prayers, and please let me know if I can pray for you! I found out this morning that the parochial vicar at my parish passed away, so prayers would be very helpful once again.

 

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Discernment/Vocations

Discernment…I’m mostly going to focus on discerning your vocation in life.

Once, a very wise seminarian told me, “You’re never too young or too old to start discerning.” And I think that’s something that everyone should keep in mind. Even if you’re only in middle school or already have a stable job, it’s never the wrong time to listen to what God really has planned for you.

I think it’s extremely important for people to understand the process of discernment and meaning of their vocations. Often times, when the word vocation is mentioned, only religious life is thought of. But, that’s not true since vocations includes all states of life; married, consecrated single life, holy orders/religious life.

Discerning a vocation is something I think everyone should spend some time in their life doing. To be honest, I was scared at first of discerning my vocation. What if it’s not what I want it to be? That’s the biggest question I had for a number of years, but through the past year I realized something. True happiness and joy doesn’t come from doing what I want, but it comes from doing the Lord’s will in whatever he wishes for my life. Even if I become what I want, but without considering the Lord, I’ll never be truly happy.

After I got through the stage of fear, it came to the point where I had to consider how much I trusted the Lord. For my confirmation saint, I chose St. Faustina. One of the most important sayings from her is “Jesus, I trust in you!” Taking from that statement, I devoted myself to put less trust in worldly things and trust more and more in the Lord and his incredible plan for my life.

One thing I think is crucial in remembering while thinking about discernment/vocations, is that all these things are revealed through God’s time. There’s a purpose to everything, even if we can’t tell what it is. Discerning our vocation is one of those things that takes time and trust, we can’t expect to get answers quickly. Sometimes the answer might be something we didn’t expect, but it’s the right one.

Some tips I’ve been learning as I’m still figuring out my vocation:

  • Find a spiritual director (most likely a priest, religious sister would be best. But, there’s also great lay people that can really help your spiritual journey)
  • Prayer and trust…always!
  • Adoration and speaking with the Lord can really help you develop communication with the Lord.
  • Mass and the Sacraments are other great ways to develop a better relationship with the Lord.
  • Talk to people! (Discerning the priesthood? Talk to the vocations director of your diocese! Discerning the married life? Talk to possible future spouses that will bring your closer to Christ!)

Well, that’s all I have for today. If you have any other thoughts on this, please let me know in the comments, or contact me! 🙂

Just know I’ll be praying for your discernment and vocations as well! Please pray for me also, since I’m still unsure of my vocation.

Have a wonderful day, and possibly just say, “Jesus, I trust in you!” And really mean it.