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beatitude

My next steps

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Sister Leticia

Yes, there are orders who still prefer younger entrants, but in the west/northern hemisphere, many prefer entrants who are at least in their mid-twenties, precisely because of greater maturity, life experience and so on. As you say, no experience is ever wasted. In my own congregation, which is international, even in those countries where women generally marry at a much younger age we'd think carefully about taking someone younger than 19-20.

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bardegaulois

Beatitude, this is the first visit to Phatmass I've made in many months, and this is the first thing I see here. I recall a conversation we had some time ago, which makes me especially pleased to hear your news:

God be with you throughout this process. Be assured of a place in my prayers.

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NadaTeTurbe
On 30/10/2017 at 1:56 AM, beatitude said:

It's great to see you back here, Nada. Who knows, perhaps one day we will find ourselves in the same blue outfits. ;) 

 

As you say, we need some maturity before entering religious life, so I'm waiting to finish my studies and have a bit of work experience before doing anything. But the door is open, for sure ;) 

I think another reason why our sisters are so worried about vocation is that it was so flourishing after their foundation, and for at least three/four decades. Now they are in a crisis, and some of the sisters who entered in the 60's, 70's, did not see that coming... I remember once, they told me they had for this year something like 10 postulants. I smiled, said it was a lot - some international communities that I know don't even have 2 or 3 postulants -, and the sister looked at me so sadly, and said "No, it's not, it's not enough." My heart just broke thinking about my "three" old little sisters who are so anxious about what will happen in their community :(

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beatitude

They were founded on the cusp of the Second World War, and I think the flood of vocations came because people who lived through that saw the truth of what the sisters were saying and doing about reconciliation. Today there may be a lot of violence in the world, but people tend to insulate themselves from it as far as possible, whereas in post-WWII Europe that wasn't so easy to do. I am praying that for so long as these sisters are needed, women will step forward and they will be here.

I still have so many doubts about my own vocation, but you don't need to be 100% certain of something to try it, and I don't think I can pray for vocations to this community with a pure heart when I'm saying in the next breath, "But of course it's not for me, God, it's too difficult for me." And it IS difficult. I 'click' with most of the sisters in the house where I'm staying at present, but one of them is a constant talker, and I crave silence. She met me at the train station and on the 90-minute journey back to the community it was talk, talk, talk without let-up. Today she and I went to do the shopping and I would have loved to walk in silence at least part of the way, but I heard everything - her childhood (even down to the colour of her family home), how she has a friend who used to be a train worker and how as young women they would buy clothes together, how she came to join the sisters, the list went on. If she's in a room with someone, she'll talk. It's a tough balance for me between responding politely and with interest, and retreating with tact when I need a little space. Today it dawned on me that if I enter and get sent to this house I could spend years struggling with this balancing act, and I thought longingly of my quiet little apartment and almost retracted my decision to ask for postulancy. Then the question came to me, "Do you want to be a saint?" and I realised that to say 'yes' with any sincerity I have to try this.

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Sister Leticia

Do you know one of the sisters well enough to discuss this with her? - if not directly about the talkative sister, then a generalised question about "how do you sisters cope with living in such cramped space and minimal privacy if, eg someone is noisy when you need to be quiet...?" It might be a helpful discussion, not just for this situation, but there may be some nuggets you can remember in future situations. Or the sister might simply say that the talkative sister is only like that with new people/visitors, and is normally much calmer, or that with time, they've all got used to her and don't notice her chatter so much anymore. 

If you feel you can't even do that, then try and observe how they are when the sister is chattering - body language, facial expressions etc - and observe how she is. I suggest looking at how she is because her body language might show whether she is nervous, for example, and perhaps the constant talking is her way of dealing with this. 

But - and this advice is for all discerners, not just you, dear Beatitude - DO NOT regard this sort of thing as a "get out of jail card"! (Oh no, what if I enter and in 6 years' time I'm sent to this community...?) Otherwise you could end up what if-ing about every single uncongenial community you visit and talk yourself out of applying to enter, ever, "just in case"...!!

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TheresaThoma

Is there a Sister at the house that you could talk to about this? She might be able to give some insight into this Sister and how to relate to her. 

I will pray for more vocations, the community seems beautiful but it sounds like they are not well known.

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beatitude

The sister in question has quite a nervous temperament. That has become clear over the course of my stay. The others do their best to be patient with her and just accept that this is the way she is. She herself commented to me that part of community life is about learning to bear with one another's differences, and that "it smoothens us out." I can already see how that is. Today at Mass the priest was talking about how Christ is made manifest to us in other human beings and we need to see Him in each one without exception. That made me consciously focus on this sister's good qualities instead of how tough I find it to make so much small talk, and I was surprised by how much closer to her that one simple thing made me feel. It's true that God is not outdone in generosity - you make one little act of patience and he repays you a hundredfold. "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap."

For anyone considering their call in life, I recommend this prayer that was written by Blessed Charles de Foucauld, better known as Little Brother Charles of Jesus. The sisters recite it every evening at the close of Vespers. It's beautiful.

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TheresaThoma

This reminds me of a similar but different issue that I had with a Sister during my live-in. At first things were very stiff between us and I thought that I had offended her somehow. However I realized later that it simply was we  didn't share much in common in our backgrounds which made conversation hard. Once we found some common ground it went better. It was reminded me that the Sisters are still human, even the senior Sisters!

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beatitude

I arrived home from my travels this morning to find a homemade card waiting for me from the sisters of my home region. They had all met together for a retreat, had thought of me, and had put together a card with some coloured paper. Each sister in the region has written a message inside. Some of them have unusual handwriting, so I don't actually know what they're saying, but I'm sure it's nice. :P I'm very touched.

My parents are more anxious about my discernment than they were when I first told them. I think this is due to misapprehensions about religious life. I mentioned that one of the American sisters loves to dance, and my dad said in surprise, "Is she allowed?" I hope he can meet the sisters soon. I think it would reassure him to see that they don't spend all their time kneeling in chapel with occasional breaks for a basin of gruel. Please pray for them.

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beatitude

I'm going to meet with the regional on 16th November, as I want to have this conversation in person rather than by phone or e-mail. Please remember me in your prayers on that date. :)

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