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What Happens When Nuns/sisters Leave The Order?

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Totus Tuus
Nunsense - I think you are spot on in believing that a book of that nature would help many women. If anything, it should be read by women before they enter! I experienced what a religious of another community called the "stardust phenomenon" (haha!) where I fell head over heels in love with a community only to realize after "being dumped" what the issues were in the first place! I think it's so beautiful when a girl is completely in love with a community that she can see no wrong, but I think, considering the numbers who in reality do leave religious life (just because that's how reality is), something like this book could also serve as preventative medicine.

I don't know if I would want to contribute/ how much my story would actually help someone, but I will think about it. I would definitely read it, though. Definitely.

In addition to what you said about the book, a lot of the observations you made really struck home with me as well. For example, talking about how being expelled from religious life can psychologically be more painful than a divorce I think is [i]SO[/i] true!!

Anyway, I think it was a very thoughtful post. God bless.

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MarieLynn
I have read and re-read the stories of the other posters on this subject, and altho' my experience was very painful at the time, I was never subjected to the nastiness of the Community that so many of you have experienced. My heart goes out to all of you. The pain I experienced came after I returned home.

I learned a lot about myself while I was in the Religious life, I remember on Pentecost Sundays, when the gifts of the Holy Spirit were placed on my prie-dieu in the Oratory, I always seemed to get Charity and Piety - I know now that the Novice Mistress was trying to tell me something. I also learned how to do things "perfectly", be it cooking, cleaning, or whatever. Just OK was never good enough, and I had to learn that sometimes the hard way. In a lot of ways it shaped me into what I have become today, and for that I will always be grateful.

When I came home, my parents were extremely disappointed with me, my father did not speak to me for several days. In his eyes I had let the family down. The Parish priest also expressed his feelings, and told me I was selfish, as my family had sacrificed a lot in allowing me to enter the convent straight from school, and had provided the dowry and all the necessary things I took in, and now I had come home and in his eyes I had thrown it in their faces.

The worst thing for me was that the Order I had been a part of, which had a foundation in my home town, did not want contact with me, they told my Mother that I had thrown away my vocation, and that the Good Lord would not call me again, which hurt really badly. I was literally left high and dry, and so angry that I lost my Faith for a few years, and shunned the Church and its teaching - a reaction to those who were in God's service and not the Church itself, I realised later.

Some of those I really needed reassurance from, were lacking in charity, and in doing so, made the hurt all that much worse.

I hope and pray that the book you are thinking about writing, nunsense, will in some way change the way a lot of these Orders treat those who" return to the world", because the hardest thing for me was to accept the snub of my former community in my home town. At a time when all was confusion and mixed feelings - a little kindness and reassurance would have gone a long way.

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nunsense
[quote name='MarieLynn' date='27 March 2010 - 04:21 PM' timestamp='1269667284' post='2081157']
I have read and re-read the stories of the other posters on this subject, and altho' my experience was very painful at the time, I was never subjected to the nastiness of the Community that so many of you have experienced. My heart goes out to all of you. The pain I experienced came after I returned home.

I learned a lot about myself while I was in the Religious life, I remember on Pentecost Sundays, when the gifts of the Holy Spirit were placed on my prie-dieu in the Oratory, I always seemed to get Charity and Piety - I know now that the Novice Mistress was trying to tell me something. I also learned how to do things "perfectly", be it cooking, cleaning, or whatever. Just OK was never good enough, and I had to learn that sometimes the hard way. In a lot of ways it shaped me into what I have become today, and for that I will always be grateful.

When I came home, my parents were extremely disappointed with me, my father did not speak to me for several days. In his eyes I had let the family down. The Parish priest also expressed his feelings, and told me I was selfish, as my family had sacrificed a lot in allowing me to enter the convent straight from school, and had provided the dowry and all the necessary things I took in, and now I had come home and in his eyes I had thrown it in their faces.

The worst thing for me was that the Order I had been a part of, which had a foundation in my home town, did not want contact with me, they told my Mother that I had thrown away my vocation, and that the Good Lord would not call me again, which hurt really badly. I was literally left high and dry, and so angry that I lost my Faith for a few years, and shunned the Church and its teaching - a reaction to those who were in God's service and not the Church itself, I realised later.

Some of those I really needed reassurance from, were lacking in charity, and in doing so, made the hurt all that much worse.

I hope and pray that the book you are thinking about writing, nunsense, will in some way change the way a lot of these Orders treat those who" return to the world", because the hardest thing for me was to accept the snub of my former community in my home town. At a time when all was confusion and mixed feelings - a little kindness and reassurance would have gone a long way.
[/quote]


Once again, at a time when someone needed to be treated with love and care, they were treated instead with negativity and rejection. My heart goes out to you MarieLynn for your past pain. Of course, this situation is not unique to religious life since often those who have been through a divorce or annulment (for whatever reason) are made to feel guilty or bad about themselves. In some cases, friends even feel too awkward to continue a friendship because they don't know if they are supposed to stay friends with the husband or the wife. But in the case of ex-religious, one should be able to expect a certain level of kindness and charity on behalf of the communities, and families and friends should try to realize that this is as hard as the loss of a loved one, no matter what the situation or how it came about. This if serious grief stuff happening here!

I would like to write the book, but it won't happen unless those who have been through the experiences want it to, because my story alone isn't enough for a book, or even to draw any reasonable conclusions. I could consider it for a PhD thesis I suppose and then advertise for contributions, and that may be the way I end up going, but for now, I just thought I would see if anyone here wanted to step forward. It isn't easy because no one wants to give the appearance that they are trying to excuse themselves or their behavior, since we all know that in any relationship, there are always different sides to the story and no one wants to apportion blame. But there does seem to be a pattern emerging that it would be good to see addressed.

Whenever someone tries to give their life to God, it should be an occasion of rejoicing, and if it doesn't work out, then it is almost like a miscarriage, a sadness that is hard to bear, and should be treated as such. I had a miscarriage a long time ago and at the time, many people expected me to feel nothing about it because, after all, it was hardly a baby yet, they would tell me. But the death of any dream is never an easy thing, whether it be motherhood or marriage or religious life, and as humans, we need to treat each other with love and compassion during any period of grief or 'apparent failure'.

I would just like to see anyone who tries to live religious life treated with respect and consideration, because the intentions of someone who tries are pure and holy and honorable, no matter what the eventual outcome turns out to be. Edited by nunsense

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DevotedtoHim
This is a totally interesting thread. I know I have made a lot of mistakes and have acted without maturity, etc., so I guess I don't have much worry about making myself look even worse at this point.

This sounds really crazy, but when I first started discerning, I stupidly joined a cyber group that I thought would be of use to me in making connections and also maybe I would find support. For discernment. Anyway, right before I joined, the group had kicked out a member but the moderator had forgotten to kick the woman out and she read all the really bad things they said about her. (It was terrible and really sick) There was kind of a famous Canon Lawyer on the group, and the direction of the group was taking made her sick and she left. I read a lot of the posts and thoughts the women were really cruel. The bickering, name calling, etc., was awful. I ended up meeting the girl who got kicked off and she coudn't have been nicer. Anyway, I learned a big lesson. First of all, you don't really know who is on the internet and you definitely can't expect somebody to be kind/compassionate/faithful. Of course, now I think the whole group is some kind of nun fetish/creepy group or even something worse.

I have spent a lot of time with my Spiritual Director going over all of this, and he keps telling me that "community is what you make it."

As for the friends I have met - I met some really cool people in my immediate area, and we hang. That was totally a blessing. Everytime somebobdy wants me to join another group, I feel sick.

I hope some body will gett tat itw Edited by DevotedtoHim

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nunsense
[quote name='DevotedtoHim' date='27 March 2010 - 08:34 PM' timestamp='1269682449' post='2081212']
This is a totally interesting thread. I know I have made a lot of mistakes and have acted without maturity, etc., so I guess I don't have much worry about making myself look even worse at this point.

This sounds really crazy, but when I first started discerning, I stupidly joined a cyber group that I thought would be of use to me in making connections and also maybe I would find support. For discernment. Anyway, right before I joined, the group had kicked out a member but the moderator read all the really bad things they said about her. There was kind of a famous Canon Lawyer on the group, and the direction of the group was taking made her sick and she left. I read a lot of the posts and thoughts the women were really cruel. The bickering, name calling, etc., was awful. I ended up meeting the girl who got kicked off and she coudn't have been nicer. Anyway, I learned a big lesson. First of all, you don't really know who is on the internet and you definitely can't expect somebody to be kind/compassionate/faithful. Of course, now I think the whole group is some kind of nun fetish/creepy group or even something worse.

I have spent a lot of time with my Spiritual Director going over all of this, and he keps telling me that "community is what you make it."
[[[
As for the friends I have met - I met some really cool people in my immediate area, and we hang. That was totally a blessing. Everytime somebobdy wants me to join another group, I feel sick.

I hope some body will gett tat itw
[/quote]

I didn't get what you mean because of the typos at the end, but you are right in that anything read online has to be taken as needing more substantiation because of the lack of personal contact.

Things written online can also be taken the wrong way because of the lack of body language, so someone may sound mean and yet not mean to come across that way. In discernment, it is always good to have a live human spiritual director and even some friends to discuss it with if possible, but I have fuond phatmass to be a real phamity and support for me over the past three years and no one has ever been mean or cruel to me. We have disagreed, like any family, but that is nothing. This is a good place, but as you said, everything written online should be verified.

I hope your discernment is all going well for you.

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Totus Tuus
[quote name='MarieLynn' date='27 March 2010 - 01:21 AM' timestamp='1269667284' post='2081157']

When I came home, my parents were extremely disappointed with me, my father did not speak to me for several days. In his eyes I had let the family down. The Parish priest also expressed his feelings, and told me I was selfish, as my family had sacrificed a lot in allowing me to enter the convent straight from school, and had provided the dowry and all the necessary things I took in, and now I had come home and in his eyes I had thrown it in their faces.[/quote]

I have thought a lot about this point in the past. I am pretty sure that any anger or disappointment (not the same thing as sadness/empathy) with a child for leaving a community can be a sign that the fact their child was a religious made them feel like they were successful in their own spiritual lives. It makes some feel that as long as their child was a religious, they were good with God. The fact is, there's something seriously flawed in your spiritual life if you are angry with a child for leaving religious life. It's the same as when mothers make their daughters take ballet their whole lives, whether they like it or not, because the mother is trying to relive her childhood through her daughter. Don't know if that makes sense. But it's always disheartening to me when this happens with parents because they really won't be able to empathize properly if they're preoccupied with what "you" have done to their persona by leaving religious life.

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IgnatiusofLoyola
[quote name='nunsense' date='26 March 2010 - 09:01 PM' timestamp='1269655260' post='2081040']
I think that it is fascinating that this thread was started by a non-Catholic, because it has brought up issues that we as Catholics need to address, for the good of our beloved Church and for individuals within her embrace. The mystical body of Christ has been sick for awhile in many and various ways, and we all need to help her get well again through our prayers, and in any way that we can contribute positively. Thanks IgnatiusofLoyola for starting this thread!
[/quote]

Thank-you Nunsense. I had no idea what a "Pandora's Box" I was opening when I asked my question, but maybe it's like the "Emperor's New Clothes" where it takes a child to ask the question that no one else wants to ask. I hope that people have been helped, not hurt.

Rejection has been a constant theme of my life, and as others have pointed out, many of the experiences people have in corporate life and or after divorcing are very similar to those when leaving a convent, so your stories have also helped me, even though I have never been in religious life.

One thought--Perhaps the focus of the thesis or book should be on those communities that handled the leaving process well, as a positive example. Also, doing it that way wouldn't ask ex-religious to re-live their bad experiences. One other reason behind this--When books are written about Catholic sisters/nuns, the "publicity machine" tends to focus on the incidents in the book that are most "horrible." Thus, a book recounting negative experieces could be seen by some as being against Catholicism or religious life, when really, it hightlights the problems that any group of people working and/or living together has. Many of the stories told were similar to the experiences I had after 20 years at a corporation, of being rejected, and finally leaving.

There is a recent book called "Unveiled" by Cheryl Reed. I suspect that many of you would have issues with the book and with some of the communities she highlights. But, I wanted to read the book because I was interested in the "inside scoop" on religious communities. And, Ms. Reed spends most of the book focusing on loving, caring, hard-working communities. She mentions a few bad experiences, but plays them down.

However, the publicity for the book always mentions the Passionists in Ellisville, who whip themselves on the rear to identify with Christ. In the book, only a few pages are devoted to this order, and they come across not as "masochists" but as women who are very sane. They also shave their heads, and say that one of the main reasons they do it is the very practical one that the headpiece they wear beneath their veil fits better on a shaved head. In the book, they are very open about it, and even joke about it. Again, it's not a mysterious, strange rite. I was impressed the Passionists were willing to be open about their lives. But, the press picked up on the "shaving heads" because that was a good "news hook," when, in reality, it was a very small part of the book, and indeed, a very small thing for these Sisters.

So, I'm afraid that a book discussing the negative sides of the religious life would be treated the same way by the press. However, most of you have mentioned at least one very positive experience. Perhaps the book could focus on those.

I may not be Catholic, but I am very supportive of religious life, if that is where a woman feels God is calling her. In the Anglican tradition, there are also orders of relgious men and women. Someone in an earlier post on another thread mentioned that they were surprised that the Lutherans had nuns, because Martin Luther spoke against them. Well, I know nothing about the Lutherans, so can't speak to that. The beginnings of the Anglican tradition (while not necessarily something to be proud of) are VERY different than the rest of the reformation movement. (I don't agree with all that King Henry VIII did, but Catholicism had some early Popes I'm sure they're not proud of, too--but the good rose above the bad.) I don't think most Anglicans are fond of Martin Luther--I'm not.

So, the sad stories you've told don't turn me against Catholic religious life--they are simply a reminder than nuns and religious sisters are human like everyone else. Edited by IgnatiusofLoyola

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HisChild
I agree with you, Ignatius. I believe that the book, should it be done, should be done delicately simply because of the secular world and how that book might be portrayed. While it's important that those who've been in religious life tell their tale to those who enter to perhaps help them avoid the romanticism that many young women are seduced by, it's also important to not be a cause for scandal because there ARE some wonderful communities out there.

When I was discerning religious life, I had visited a ton of communities and in almost every one I visited I met a young sister, usually no older than her 30s who said that if it wasn't for her vows, she wouldn't remain in religious life... or if she had to do it over again she wouldn't. I remember one at a monastery in AL (for those who are wondering, the answer is yes, THAT monastery), one in Nashville, one in NY and one in a monastery in CA. Thinking back on them today, it makes me wonder if either they're sisters who remain victims of others' unkindness or if they're the ones who are unhappy and are unkind to others. One never knows, really. But it does emphasize the humanity of them all, doesn't it?

I had actually written a really large post and it was just wiped away. Figures. LOL

I may try to repost something later. I wanted to touch on how I was treated once I returned, not only by my parish and other priests I tried to talk to, but even by some of those on here. And to exhort everyone to think back on your own poor experiences so that you're able to treat those who enter and leave with love and support. I'm going to be swamped this weekend and next week (I sing in the choir) but will try to post. If not, everyone have a beautiful weekend and a lovely and prayerful Holy Week!

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mariaassunta
Sometimes when we leave an order we need to first ask ourselves what was the root of problem, Why where we not happy etc? I am not saying giving excuses but just saying sometimes we ourselves are the problem. For example we enter upon the life, later taking vows of Chastity, poverty and obedience. We need to die completely to ourselves in order to live as Christ, as it says in the Holy Mass, "Through Him, with Him, In Him". I know for myself from personal experience it took much humility, maturity and listening to realize the love of God and the love that my dear Sisters in Christ have for me, then was I able to see more clearly things from a different perspective.

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Cherie
[quote name='HisChild' date='27 March 2010 - 11:33 AM' timestamp='1269704025' post='2081315']

When I was discerning religious life, I had visited a ton of communities and in almost every one I visited I met a young sister, usually no older than her 30s who said that if it wasn't for her vows, she wouldn't remain in religious life... or if she had to do it over again she wouldn't.
[/quote]

Goodness, that is sad.

I remember a Sister I spoke to on the night before I left saying she wished she had had the courage to do what I was doing. So sad - I still pray for her.

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Cherie
[quote name='angelofmary' date='27 March 2010 - 11:46 AM' timestamp='1269704798' post='2081320']
Sometimes when we leave an order we need to first ask ourselves what was the root of problem, Why where we not happy etc? I am not saying giving excuses but just saying sometimes we ourselves are the problem. For example we enter upon the life, later taking vows of Chastity, poverty and obedience. We need to die completely to ourselves in order to live as Christ, as it says in the Holy Mass, "Through Him, with Him, In Him". I know for myself from personal experience it took much humility, maturity and listening to realize the love of God and the love that my dear Sisters in Christ have for me, then was I able to see more clearly things from a different perspective.
[/quote]

I agree that self-knowledge is extremely important, and that we should always strive to perfect ourselves in charity, as that is the purpose of religious life. That's part of why I always recommend "My Sister St. Therese" for people discerning. St. Therese went through a lot of misunderstandings from her fellow Sisters, not to mention a lot of dysfunction from her Superiors, and the book highlights those, and her saintly reaction to them.

I don't think any of us who have left religious life are saying that the life is supposed to be perfect, where all the Sisters are always in good moods and always act saintly and charitably, because that's not life, it's especially not religious life, and if anyone expects religious life to be like that, they are going to be sorely disappointed. Part of becoming a Saint is having "Saint-makers" -- people who give you the opportunity to act charitably toward them when human nature makes you want to strangle their necks! Obedience is a huge part of religious life -- you are giving up your WILLS ... the most precious God-given thing a human being has. It's a big deal, a big sacrifice, and it's a beautiful thing, as well. God works miracles of grace through obedience, and He's done it since religious life came into existence. Every Sister must die to herself in imitation of Christ. St. Teresa of Avila had a quote, I can't remember it exactly but it was basically, "You are not here to indulge yourself, you are here to die for Christ and save souls." I had that on a holy card in my breviary. Anyone who enters religious life should be aware of the profound (and yet beautiful and fulfilling) sacrifice that religious life is. But I don't think any one of us are saying that religious life ISN'T supposed to be that way.

Most people are mostly discussing the manner in which they left, not the life itself. The reason someone isn't happy in religious life or a particular community is a private matter and something that is between themselves, God, their spiritual directors, and their Superiors. It seems as though it boils down to the fact that it's not God's will that the person stayed in that community, plain and simple. While God certainly allowed that time for His own purposes, He also showed each person that it wasn't His will, in some way or other.

But I can say from experience that there were many abuses of obedience in my previous community. There were many problems, many things that good priests have commented on and have tried, in all charity, to point out. I never want to be inflammatory. I am grateful for the time I spent there, and I love all the Sisters dearly. But it's important to know and acknowledge legitimate problems in a community. That's not being disobedient, that's not even being uncharitable, that is using one's God-given reason to discern His will for your life and what the Church expects of a healthy religious community.

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Antigonos
[quote name='IgnatiusofLoyola' date='27 March 2010 - 06:17 PM' timestamp='1269703075' post='2081310']
I may not be Catholic, but I am very supportive of religious life, if that is where a woman feels God is calling her. In the Anglican tradition, there are also orders of relgious men and women.
<snip>
So, the sad stories you've told don't turn me against Catholic religious life--they are simply a reminder than nuns and religious sisters are human like everyone else.
[/quote]

Like Ignatius, I am not Catholic, nor am I a Christian even. But the posts on this, and other threads, I find extremely interesting and often inspiring. My own religion does not have any tradition of [1] separating oneself from the world, and [2] having spiritual havens for women. One has to work at improving one's spirituality while living a "normal" life.

My first knowledge of the Christian approach to religious life came, as with Ignatius, IIRC, via the book [and film] "The Nun's Story". Now, this is set in the late 1920s, and 1930s, and in Europe. The process of becoming a religious seems quite different: instead of a single postulant entering, a group -- 20 or more women -- enter simultaneously. The entire discerning process seems much less intense and lengthy [Sister Luke only mentions a single interview with the Mother Superior]. The choice of community seems to depend mostly on the charism of the community [in her case, nursing and missionary work, because there were relatively few secular nurses in a Catholic country] and not on any personal attraction to either the sisters or the monastery. Friendships between sisters were definitely discouraged; one's only companion was supposed to be Christ [indeed, at one point in formation, Sister Luke thinks it would have helped to "compare notes" with other Sisters, but this was impossible]. The connection with friends and family outside was to be severed. [Sister Luke was allowed 4 letters a year to her family] The nun was to strive for complete detachment from the things of this world, to concentrate on Christ and Christ alone.

But the number of women who leave is also much smaller than it seems today, and one didn't transfer between communities. Sister Luke notes that 3 of her group of 40 postulants leaves; several novices also do not take vows of profession, but in the main, those who entered, stayed. Does this mean that they were more certain in their vocations than today? When I look at old photos of nuns, we don't see them smiling; nowadays, we hardly ever see them NOT smiling. Is this significant? And lastly, when Sister Luke left, she agreed never to assume the habit of religion again [I read somewhere that Marie-Louise Habets, on whom "The Nun's Story" is based, did indeed return to the convent at some point, but did not persevere], yet reading this forum, it seems as if many of you have been in more than one convent.

Are these differences due to Vatican II, or a difference between the Old World/New World models of religious life? Are the forms of spirituality so different between, say, Dominicans, Benedictines, Franciscans, or from convent to convent inside of one order [apart from the dichotomy of active/contemplative life]?

I really would appreciate some illumination on this -- thanks in advance!

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Indwelling Trinity
My friends:

I have been reading this thread today and my heart only wishes to embrace each of you tightly to my heart. I too early in my religious life have gone through the same to the point of havien been totally broken. I know first hand your pain. It took years for my heart to heal. The worst part for me was My soul had been Marked as a religious and no matter what I knew i could never be truly a part of secular life for it seemed so empty of the profound meaning of life I had learned in the convent. I was blessed to have my current sisters stand steadfastly by me through those difficult times.

But in the end all was blessing for through such deep suffering, I grew, I learned to Love Passionately and to be compassionate of others pain and loss. Most of all I learned the price of loving as Jesus loved. Of slowly being crucified by love and saying yes to whatever he allows even as i struggle under the wieght to remain faithful. I think if I had never suffered as i did, I would not be the person I am today. Despite trials and suffering, My heart is happy and peaceful and in my deepest self secure in His merciful love for me. The same Love He bears each one of you. How redemptive our sufferings can be.

For myself... when thinking of starting the community Envisioned in my heart, I knew that tender compassion for each other had to be at the heart of it. A tender but open truthful love for each other where time would be given for true growth. But even in the healthiest communal life one cannot escape the cross for it is part and parcel of belonging to Jesus in Love immitating his own life uniting ourselves with him.

Embracing the cross is never easy but once embraced it becomes a source of true love and peace and holiness. Always remember the stone rejected became the cornerstone and that he who was seen no more than a worm became the source of salvation to all. The same is true of our lives. We who have been seen as less than; i beleive have great power before God in interceeding for souls. Let us turn our pain into an asset for loving deeply in Christ and let us each learn to rejoice that we too have been privelged to share in His cross. By our own pain we can be a witnesss of compassion to others lifting tem up by our example... as little one not seen fit to be counted as worthy.... but who is more worthy of God's love than and mercy than his broken little ones?

Truly we have been blessed and if we choose can give witness more eloquent than words of what true love should be in religious life. You have now been gifted with the sign of the cross. Should you enter religious life again.. use this gift and be an example of compassion for your communities and the fire will spread....and in our littleness God will renew things in His spirit by using that which is nothing to complete His greatest works of love.

I am nothing but I rejoice in it for it allows me to fit deep within the heart of Jesus my safe haven. Personally, should God ever give me enough health back to begin this community, I would cherish more 3 little souls who had been so broken and learned how to love humbly, than to have two dozen degreed self sufficient ideal nuns who did not know compassion and humility.

Rejoice that your spouse has chosen to share his rejection and Passion with you for surely it is a gift from the cross. A gift he shares especially with those little ones he has chosen. It may not look like it or even less feel like it... but each of us have been blessed ! Let us not waste such precious gifts.

I love you and tenderly embrace each of you with all my heart!

Indwelling Trinity

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tinytherese
This thread is seriously creeping me out. This is so sad. I remember on a vocation visit where I told the prioress about the relationship with my dad and I. She actually told me that I deserved the various abuses that he did to me. She insisted that in her experience with abuse, there is no innocent party. So to her, I was at least partially to blame for some of the abuse. I believed her at the time, but not anymore. I had trusted her so much and so I thought that she knew best. She seemed like such a wise woman. I don't believe that she intended to hurt me at all, but that she was simply uneducated and didn't know how to properly handle the situation. I know I mentioned that on another thread in the past.

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Sister Marie
God bless all of you! Formation is tough. As a young sister, I have been told many times by my seasoned sisters, "You have been called to be a vowed, religious woman... not a novice." I think that we are in the midst of a lot of emotional energy as far as communities and formation are considered. Wow... that sounded really new agey, but what I really mean is that things have changed drastically in the relatively recent past and communities are still in a state of reaction. Some have gone one way and others another way. What we have learned in society outside of the convent is a lot about human psychology and mental health. Not all of that has reached the convent yet. I am just fresh out of the novitiate and I love being a religious. I recognize though that there is still a lot of growth for my community in particular and for religious life in general. (Again, I don't mean this in a post-Christian, post-Jesus way... I believe in the Church, period, end of story.) I will keep all of you in prayer. It is a difficult time in religious life and in society as a whole to give yourself entirely to Jesus. I pray that those who have been wounded are healed, and those who are just beginning are realistic and honest. All that is necessary is to love God!

God bless!
Sister Marie

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cmaD2006
[quote name='tinytherese' date='27 March 2010 - 10:48 PM' timestamp='1269740931' post='2081722']
This thread is seriously creeping me out. This is so sad.
[/quote]
TinyTherese -- don't be creeped out by what was said. I think it just turned out that there were many of us on Phatmass that had experiences (positive and not-so-positive) and we felt a need to share them. What can be seen throughout the thread is that religious sisters and brothers, priests, deacons, lay persons in ministry, etc. are called to holiness but are all humans and sinners. And there are a number of us who have tried to enter religious life that still need to heal, and with God's grace we will be able to.

[quote name='Sister Marie' date='27 March 2010 - 11:29 PM' timestamp='1269743372' post='2081763']
I will keep all of you in prayer. It is a difficult time in religious life and in society as a whole to give yourself entirely to Jesus. I pray that those who have been wounded are healed, and those who are just beginning are realistic and honest. All that is necessary is to love God!

God bless!
Sister Marie
[/quote]

Sister Marie -- thank you for your presence in this thread and on the phorum, and thank you so much for being so compasionate.

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nunsense
[quote name='Antigonos' date='28 March 2010 - 03:53 AM' timestamp='1269708804' post='2081355']
Like Ignatius, I am not Catholic, nor am I a Christian even. But the posts on this, and other threads, I find extremely interesting and often inspiring. My own religion does not have any tradition of [1] separating oneself from the world, and [2] having spiritual havens for women. One has to work at improving one's spirituality while living a "normal" life.

My first knowledge of the Christian approach to religious life came, as with Ignatius, IIRC, via the book [and film] "The Nun's Story". Now, this is set in the late 1920s, and 1930s, and in Europe. The process of becoming a religious seems quite different: instead of a single postulant entering, a group -- 20 or more women -- enter simultaneously. The entire discerning process seems much less intense and lengthy [Sister Luke only mentions a single interview with the Mother Superior]. The choice of community seems to depend mostly on the charism of the community [in her case, nursing and missionary work, because there were relatively few secular nurses in a Catholic country] and not on any personal attraction to either the sisters or the monastery. Friendships between sisters were definitely discouraged; one's only companion was supposed to be Christ [indeed, at one point in formation, Sister Luke thinks it would have helped to "compare notes" with other Sisters, but this was impossible]. The connection with friends and family outside was to be severed. [Sister Luke was allowed 4 letters a year to her family] The nun was to strive for complete detachment from the things of this world, to concentrate on Christ and Christ alone.

But the number of women who leave is also much smaller than it seems today, and one didn't transfer between communities. Sister Luke notes that 3 of her group of 40 postulants leaves; several novices also do not take vows of profession, but in the main, those who entered, stayed. Does this mean that they were more certain in their vocations than today? When I look at old photos of nuns, we don't see them smiling; nowadays, we hardly ever see them NOT smiling. Is this significant? And lastly, when Sister Luke left, she agreed never to assume the habit of religion again [I read somewhere that Marie-Louise Habets, on whom "The Nun's Story" is based, did indeed return to the convent at some point, but did not persevere], yet reading this forum, it seems as if many of you have been in more than one convent.

Are these differences due to Vatican II, or a difference between the Old World/New World models of religious life? Are the forms of spirituality so different between, say, Dominicans, Benedictines, Franciscans, or from convent to convent inside of one order [apart from the dichotomy of active/contemplative life]?

I really would appreciate some illumination on this -- thanks in advance!
[/quote]


The Nun's Story, as you point out, is based on pre Vat 2 experiences. Most communities have changed a lot since then, especially the active ones (teaching, nursing, etc). There are still cloistered communities where much of the tradition is still the same as pre Vat 2, but with varying degrees of changes in each individual community.

Don't forget that society as a whole has changed a lot since Sr Luke's day, with women's lives changing radically since the end of WW2. Girls often went straight from their father's house into a convent with no experience of the 'world' at all. Today, young women are encouraged to attend college and to work in the world for a time before discerning religious life. This has to have a tremendous impact on their views, attitudes and behavior, and how they relate to some of the rules of their community, especially during the period of formation, when one has no power whatsoever, and often is told not only what to do, but even what to think. I am not speaking for all communities here, but many or even most are very strict during the period of formation before vows are taken but then relax a little after the sister has taken vows.

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nunsense
[quote name='cmariadiaz' date='28 March 2010 - 03:36 PM' timestamp='1269750974' post='2081834']
TinyTherese -- don't be creeped out by what was said. I think it just turned out that there were many of us on Phatmass that had experiences (positive and not-so-positive) and we felt a need to share them. What can be seen throughout the thread is that religious sisters and brothers, priests, deacons, lay persons in ministry, etc. are called to holiness but are all humans and sinners. And there are a number of us who have tried to enter religious life that still need to heal, and with God's grace we will be able to.



Sister Marie -- thank you for your presence in this thread and on the phorum, and thank you so much for being so compasionate.
[/quote]



What she said to both of you. :)

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vee
[quote name='Antigonos' date='28 March 2010 - 02:53 AM' timestamp='1269708804' post='2081355']
When I look at old photos of nuns, we don't see them smiling; nowadays, we hardly ever see them NOT smiling. Is this significant?
[/quote]

I dont think it is significant. Im not sure exactly when people started smiling in photos but for the longest time it was customary for anyone and everyone to not smile.

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DevotedtoHim
A quick post to say I'm sorry for the weird typos at the bottom of my post. I'm traveling and am so not used to this keyboard. I thought my post wasn't going through so I stopped. I wanted to end by saying that I hope that others learn from hearing stories. In my case, even though I witnessed a weird deal on a stupid online group, it made me think, especially since it was spiritually based and I saw totally mean behavior that wasn't spiritual. In the long run, it was good because even though it was internet and not real, it woke me up to expectations and all that, most especially with myself. I know I have made a lot of mistakes in my own life and continue to do so but taking a better look at all of this has made me stronger. Someone asked me how old I was in a different thread in a really mean way; I know I'm not that mature in some ways. If that had happened before I would have fallen apart, now I can just say "yeah, I know I'm not perfect." So basically that applies to looking at communities for me because the truth is that no matter how great everything is I am going to have to remember everybody is still a human and humans are not perfect Sorry for the rambling I have been thinking about this a lot.

Also, since I don't have much time, I just wanted to say Indwelling Trinity, I really like your posts and also your comments and personality. I would give you a star or whatever or go to your profile but I am going to lose my connection really fast. I just wanted to say that.

Thanks for listening.

Katherine

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