Awaiting Convent Entrance (some thoughts)

I’m someone who goes to Google often whenever I have a question, so naturally, I went looking for advice and written experiences from other women before they entered the convent. I found a few, but I’m still searching for more. I decided to write my own thoughts before entering the convent in hopes that if another young woman decides to search the same things I did, that she’d be able to find this and be comforted and know of my prayers for her.

How do I feel? I get that question a lot when people ask about when I’m entering. Am I scared? Excited? My typical answer is, “a little bit of both.” Some days I’m ecstatic about entering the convent, other days, I wish I could stop time and just sit. Time goes by very quickly as soon as you’re accepted and getting things ready for entrance. In my case, I had over five months to prepare. There were things I wanted to get done, and things I wanted to make. But honestly, I’ve only done a small part of all those things.

I don’t know if anyone else that’s entering feels this, but there’s a certain part of you that avoids thinking about when you enter. Of course, you’re looking forward to it, but counting down the days makes you feel melancholic because you know many things will change once you enter; family communications, conversations with friends, etc. So, instead of thinking about this, you ignore it. And with a little over a week before I leave my home, I think that was a mistake.

I thought that if I avoided thinking about it, I would be able to spend more time focusing on the present day with my family and friends, but I was wrong. Instead, by not realizing how little time I had left, I spent many days filled with useless time on my phone, and failed to recognize the beauty of the people in my life.

Another aspect about waiting for entrance is that you start feeling fear, and you start doubting. When I was in adoration during the camp I was at, there was a point where I just heard, “why do you still doubt?” And I realized then, that I was like Peter who got out of the boat and started walking, but then doubted and started drowning. I had applied and was accepted, but then I started doubting whether the religious life was what God is calling me to do or not. I became scared/distracted, and it became easier for me to be tempted to sin.

There was a desperate need for me to increase my prayer life. I once heard from someone that the evil one desperately tries to tempt us away while we await for our entrance day because once someone enters the convent or seminary, they’re already halfway. I had a prayer life, but it wasn’t as devout as it should be. Spending more time in adoration provided me with peace because as soon as I saw the Lord in the monstrance, my heart rested.

Throughout these months of waiting, I had been restless. I had tried surrounding myself with distractions instead of really focusing on my relationship with Christ and those around me. I was always looking for things to take my mind off of the present, and I had endlessly pretended to be oblivious about my decisions. Once brought back to the reality of the days I had left, I would be slightly uncomfortable because I had not yet learned to embrace the life God was calling me to.

So, to any of the young women that is awaiting their entrance and reading this, know you are not alone. There are many struggles and temptations during this time, but find comfort in the Lord because He will give you rest. Spend time with your loving family and friends. Take in every moment without the need to constantly document it on your phone. Trust in the Lord, and never stop giving the Lord your fiat (yes)!

“Do not lose courage even if your worries seem difficult.  Flee in such moments to the Sacred Heart.  There you will always be consoled.”  – Mother M. Anselma, foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George

In Christ,

Vibrant Catholic

P.S.~ I do realize that this blog post might seem a little disorganized, but I guess in a way it does help to show how my mind has been on so many different topics lately. Please keep me in your prayers, and know that you are in mine!

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?”

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.


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.


With decreasing involvement from Cultural Catholics what do we need to do to revitalize faith?

This was originally supposed to be a one paragraph assignment, but I ended up going a little overboard. We were discussing Cultural/Cradle Catholics. These were just my views that I compiled together.

There are many ways to revitalize faith among Cultural Catholics. For example, DynamicCatholic has started to make their Rediscover Catholicism book for a lower price so parishes will be able to hand them out during Easter or Christmas masses. The lack of faith in Cultural Catholics comes from the loss of tradition in many parts. Reverence of the mass is lacking in many parishes and churches, and that is one of the reasons why there is a lower mass attendance. Cultural Catholics need to see true examples of vibrant Catholics in the world. We ourselves need to be Catholics, true Catholics, in order to revitalize the faith in other Cradle Catholics, and even in converts and those who are not Catholic.

    Religious sisters and brothers in traditional habits are good examples of the joy in Catholicism. Traditional habits are a sign of the vows of religious life. There is an increase in religious orders with traditional habits, and a decrease in the orders without habits. This means that young people are now finding something more special in traditional orders. They can see the joy and youth of those in traditional habits, and they’re an example for Cultural Catholics to know that there’s joy in the Church. From my personal experiences, I have not met any traditional religious sisters or brothers who have not been joyful. There is misconception on the religious life and how only those who are “not good enough for the secular world” waste their life and so decide to enter the religious life or priesthood.

    Traditional religious life needs to be shown to all, to let them see the inspiring joy that’s possible. Instead of showing orders without traditional habits, we should show the immense beauty in those orders with habits. How else are we going to show the world that people choose this radical way of living and following the evangelical counsels. Also, we should find ways to promote the priesthood, by publishing vocation stories or having conversations with seminarians and priests. In the Diocese of Peoria, seminarian trading cards were made to create a “culture of vocations,” and it was a successful idea in spreading awareness of the call to the priesthood.

    Many cradle Catholics think that mass is repetitive and they find no interest in attending. The focus shouldn’t be on gaining higher numbers in mass attendance, but to have a fire burning in every Catholic’s soul that won’t be easily blown out. Often time, music genres like Praise and Worship are used at mass as an attempt to attract people. Unfortunately, Praise and Worship fails to give true respect and glory to the sacrifice of the Mass. It strikes a series of feelings at that moment, but then the person will not be able to participate in Adoration, since they will find that not as interesting. Traditional music forms such as Gregorian Chant bring more reverence to the Lord. Modernism can ruin the image of the Catholic Church if it gets too out of hand, there needs to be reverence. When a cradle Catholic goes to mass, they should be able to experience that reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, so that they, too can show the same amount of respect. If we instead incorporated modern ideas and and concepts into the liturgy in order to “keep up with the times,” in what way would we be different than the Protestants?

    Events such as Steubenville conferences are targeted to bring a rediscovery of one’s Catholic faith, especially among the youth. They sound like a great idea, but often times, it  just end with a “retreat-high,” and end quickly, but of course, there are exceptions to it. What really needs to happen is a way to make known the reverence and “genius of Catholicism” as Matthew Kelly often states. There needs to be more promotion for adoration, liturgy of the hours, discernment retreats, etc. Although at first they might seem boring, but in the long run, it is from those hours in adoration that many vocations to the religious life have sprung to life. Cultural Catholics need to have a lasting impact of Catholicism, not something that is quickly found and gone.

    There is a Catholic community on Instagram and another one on Twitter, which many have joined and in the big picture, it’s all a part of the New Evangelization. Others and myself included have used our Catholic twitter accounts to reach out to those who many not be accurately informed about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Social media is one of the ways that many have utilized in trying to bring a revitalization among cradle Catholics. There are priests, religious, and laypeople who have incorporated Catholicism into their social media. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, the “MediaNun” on twitter is a religious sister of the order of the Daughters of St. Paul, an order that has a habit. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that orders keeping the habit are old-fashioned and can’t get with the times, it means that Tradition can still be relevant in all time periods.

    One of the most important reasons why many have strayed away from the Catholic faith is because of the recent scandals that have caused many to be heartbroken and confused. There’s a large number of uninformed cradle Catholics who still do not know the true teaching of the Catholic Church and this causes problems. There needs to be more individuals who can show the faith authentically, not by false actions deceiving others. Cultural Catholics are sometimes waiting to see those living authentically and striving for true holiness, and Pope St. John Paul II has often said, “Be not afraid.”

    Ascension Press is a very good example of the New Evangelization, especially Fr. Mike Schmitz. When Fr. Schmitz gives a talk, people can see his eyes light up with the Holy Spirit. This is how every Catholic should look to everyone, we need to be the first ones who have that excitement about our faith. Only until then can we inspire other inactive cradle Catholics and non-Catholics to explore the Catholic faith more deeply.