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JJJPK

Preparation for entry to Religious community

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JJJPK    19
JJJPK

Hello all!

I hope you're having a lovely evening! I come, seeking your two cents about preparation for entry to Religious Life. 

Here is my (brief and basic) background. I'm seventeen. I'm joining the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles on September 15th. I do have a spiritual director, who has given me much sage advice and sound council, however, he is a pastor now, so we don't get many opportunities to meet. 

So, basically, of late, I have been feeling really lousy in all different kinds of ways. While there is always an underlying joy and a sense of peace, I've been experiencing a lot of trials. And its been stupid, petty, little things that are just nagging at me. For example: I have felt envious of people who are more beautiful or who are more pious than me. I have felt annoyed with my parents and siblings. And I have felt a deep, overwhelming sense of complete inadequacy and weekness. I have been trying to go to the chapel daily, but I often don't, and give in to laziness. I have tried to incorporate more fasting into my routine and I am woefully weak in this area. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is so week! And mind you, these are not heroic St. Anthony of the desert style fasts, I was simply trying to avoid sweets for one weekend and I didn't . . .of course. I feel like I am constantly commiting some sort of sin, be it from omission or otherwise. I was not prone to scruples before this, but it was probably just because I was so slothful, that I didn't even have a clear perception of my own sinfulness. I'm unwilling to deny myself and suffer, and at the same time this makes me miserble and fills me with self loathing. I feel like I must constantly be doing good, but then it seems like such an exhausting weight, to be continually dying to self. I have been reading a lot about the little way of St. Therese lately. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around it, though it seems so appealing! She mentions, 

"Resign yourself, to stumbling at every step. Love your powerlessness, and your soul will benefit more from it than if, aided by grace, you were to behave with enthusiastic heroism and fill your soul with self satisfaction and pride." 

I have a difficult time comprehending this! How can I love my powerlessness (i.e. falling into sin), when sin is the thing that separates me from God? Therese had such a profound trust. Clearly, I am a far cry from her child-like simplicity. I am proud and concieted and discouraged when I fall. I forget which saint said this, but it was something to the effect, that we should not be surprised when we fall, but when we do good. 

Surprisingly, I have not had any major doubts about entering the community. I am very excited and eager to start a totally new way of life and self abandonment. I can't wait to begin living the vows and I know the structured life will be very good for me.

But yeah, these are the basic struggles. When the Prioress of my (soon to be) community told me that the devil is very active before a candidate enters, I believed her, but not as earnestly as I should have! 

By the way, I apologise for any typos. I'm not very dextrous when it comes to typing on the keyboard of my phone. 

Please pray for me dear friends, and know that I will pray for you! 

JJJPK

 

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AveMariaPurissima    901
AveMariaPurissima

Hello JJJPK! :) Congratulations on your upcoming entrance to the Benedictines of Mary!! :heart: 

Hopefully others more qualified than I will address your concerns.  They are ones I have experienced too, so I would appreciate others' insights also!

1 hour ago, JJJPK said:

I have been reading a lot about the little way of St. Therese lately. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around it, though it seems so appealing! She mentions, 

"Resign yourself, to stumbling at every step. Love your powerlessness, and your soul will benefit more from it than if, aided by grace, you were to behave with enthusiastic heroism and fill your soul with self satisfaction and pride." 

I have a difficult time comprehending this! How can I love my powerlessness (i.e. falling into sin), when sin is the thing that separates me from God? Therese had such a profound trust. Clearly, I am a far cry from her child-like simplicity. I am proud and concieted and discouraged when I fall. I forget which saint said this, but it was something to the effect, that we should not be surprised when we fall, but when we do good. 

A couple books I would highly recommend, if you have the chance, are I Believe in Love by Fr. Jean C. J. D'Elbee and 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.  Both of them explain St. Thérèse's little way better than I ever could.  But my understanding is this: It's not our sin itself that we love, but through God's grace and goodness, He can bring good out of it and use it to help us grow in humility and trust.  Every sin, recognized with humility and repented of, can be a stepping stone that leads us back to our Lord's heart if we use it as an occasion to deepen our conversion.  So often we'd love to have the satisfaction of seeing ourselves do well.  But if I keep trying, and despite my best efforts, mess up, those falls give me reason to return to Jesus and deepen my humility and my trust and reliance on Him.  Fr. Gaitley emphasizes a three-part understanding of how to live the little way: recognize our littleness and weakness, trust Jesus completely, and never stop trying to do our very best, like the little child St. Thérèse writes of, who keeps trying to climb the stairs but can't even make it up the first step.  

I hope that made at least some sense.  It's late and my writing isn't coming out as well as I'd like!  May the Lord bless you!!

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BarbaraTherese    1,913
BarbaraTherese
13 hours ago, Sister Leticia said:

the Enemy does indeed become very active when someone seeks to follow Jesus

:like2:

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sr.christinaosf    512
sr.christinaosf

I can relate - make it a daily practice to turn to God in prayer for the strength - and even the willingness to do what He wants you to do.

Could you contact your SD/pastor and ask to meet with him briefly about these struggles - I think that might be good.

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CatherineM    6,169
CatherineM

Transitions are always difficult. You're experiencing some of the things I did before leaving for college or before my oldest went off to Navy boot camp. Add in the fact that your boot camp is to train you as a warrior for Christ, the Devil will find you a tempting target. 

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Francis Clare    630
Francis Clare

Congratulations as well!!  Disclaimer:   I am not a religious, I am a SD and have met with many soon-to-enter the convent and just-left-the convent women.  To echo some of the other sentiments, don't be so hard on yourself.  This is a very opportune time for the Evil One to be at work in your life and in your thoughts.  You've most like got a ton of "stuff" to get done or take care of before your entrance date, so please don't burden yourself with additional devotional practices at this time.  After you enter you will have plenty of time for learning the devotions and practices of the Community. After all, it is a time of discernment and learning.  

When we try to add additional "things" we "think" we should do in the midst of doing what we "must" do, that's where things get muddy and self-doubt enters the picture. Is it possible to have a chat with your Formation Directress (I'm not sure what your Order calls this position) and just unburden yourself with what is going on?

After meeting with many candidates throughout the years, I can assure you that you're not the first woman, nor will you be the last, to experience this.  Please don't be so hard on yourself or start having doubts. The Lord has called you to where He wants you to be in this season of your life.  Go into Ephesus with confidence, with hope, love, and gratitude that He called and you obeyed.

I will keep you in my prayers.

 

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vee    4,728
vee
On 2017-08-09 at 8:24 PM, JJJPK said:

"Resign yourself, to stumbling at every step. Love your powerlessness, and your soul will benefit more from it than if, aided by grace, you were to behave with enthusiastic heroism and fill your soul with self satisfaction and pride." 

I have a difficult time comprehending this! How can I love my powerlessness (i.e. falling into sin), when sin is the thing that separates me from God? 

I have my doubts if St Therese  meant powerlessness in reference to sin or at least sin alone. Remember she also said " all is grace" and I think the two are connected. She was also happy to see herself weak and in need of God's help.  Something I think is poverty of spirit. She knew she could do nothing on her own. I think it will all make more sense when you enter and are living it, then you will see your powerlessness and stumbling!  If you don't understand something in her writings set it aside and reread it after you've entered  it may make a whole new world of sense then  plus there are smarter people there who can explain things better!

I think it's good to pray and sacrifice before you enter. St Therese said prayer and sacrifice are her invincible arms, so yes keep up your usual practices. I've never done so myself but knowing others who joined the military they focused on training before they went to boot camp so they would be better prepared. If you stopped your usual prayers and sacrifices now it would be similar to the would be soldier stopping their daily training.  Don't go crazy though like someone joining the military and prior to boot camp saying ok I'm going to go from the couch to running five miles a day. They are better off starting at a shorter distance and working their way up. Maintain your current practices in a similar way. 

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dominicansoul    4,458
dominicansoul

#1 The Beast is all riled up because you are entering one of the most badass communities in these United States

#2 You're getting all wrapped up in becoming a Saint in 24 hours...don't even try that, you'll go crazy.

#3 Once you enter, your Superiors will straighten this out.  Well, actually, living an horarium kind of puts all things into place and your disorganized, ruffled self calms and settles down into the beauty of living religious life.

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truthfinder    1,340
truthfinder
4 hours ago, vee said:

I have my doubts if St Therese  meant powerlessness in reference to sin or at least sin alone. Remember she also said " all is grace" and I think the two are connected

I

In the Carmelite classic, Divine Intimacy, one of the meditations is precisely on powerlessness in sin.  I don't have the citation now, but if it's wanted I could dig it up.  I believe the author did draw on St. Therese's writing. It's very much about realizing that being holy and becoming a saint is not about how much you can do, but rather accepting that it is all God's grace. 

JJJPK, you write that you feel inadequate and weak - this is your powerlessness.  Instead of feeling like you need to do more, acknowledge it, embrace it, bring it to God - and for your own sanity, mention it to your superior or confessor/sd.  Prayers for you, and all the best. 

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TheresaThoma    2,286
TheresaThoma

Hi!

I hope things are going better for you now. But I thought that I would just throw my 2 cents in as well. You are about to make a major life change and so it naturally will be hard. So keep things simple and be gentle with yourself when you aren't able to meet all your goals. You aren't going to be perfect and the community is not expecting you to be perfect. Just try to keep up with what you were doing before. I agree with Francis Clare about talking to the formation directress she can probably give you the best advice about what to do (and what to avoid)

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Saintclare2009    12
Saintclare2009

I would like to give advice too. I hope and pray you will enter, as Satan hates godly people ( none of us are perfect, only Jesus is) he knows our heart, character and motives. God knows you are trying hard to do what's right, and he is pleased with our efforts in trying to love and obey him. There are a couple of books I would recommend. St Therese, story of a soul. Nights bright darkness is a wonderful book, it's about an atheist ( not that you or I are at all of course, but she falls in love Jesus and is head over heels in love with our Lord!( She is now Catholic) it's by Sally read and her conversion, which we all need our hearts to be renewed and realize loving and obeying Jesus is all that matters! It can be done! By depending on our comforter, the holy spirit who lives in our heart! God bless you, we all struggle with sin, if anyone days they don't, I would then worry. But you are on the right track... keep going as Jesus will never leave your side. :)

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