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IgnatiusofLoyola

What Happens When Nuns/sisters Leave The Order?

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HisChild
[quote name='Sister Marie' date='28 March 2010 - 07:10 PM' timestamp='1269828606' post='2082336']

My community is pretty moderate and it is interesting to see how that works out in "inter-community" relationships. Our sisters study at the archdiocesan seminary, as do many other communities of religious women during the summer. When I studied last summer, I felt quite lonely. The sisters who wore "full" habits wouldn't even say hello to me, and the sisters who wore no habit wouldn't say hello to me either because I wore a modified habit. There were a lot of comments judging how each particular community lived. We aren't supposed to be exactly the same, although we are supposed to be faithful! I couldn't believe that it would be so difficult for religious women to be charitable to one another but it is sometimes a real problem. We are living in a time of fear of the other; in our country, in our communities, and in religious life. It is true that we need to speak the truth, and that there are definitely guidelines that are necessary to abide by in order for community to be faithful to religious life. However, this truth needs to be spoken with charity and generosity. In addition, the differences between active and contemplative communities need to be realized and embraced as different but important gifts to the Church and to religious life.

Many prayers for all you brave souls out there!
Sister Marie
[/quote]

Sister Marie, thank you for your visible witness of your vocation to Jesus. It's so heartening to see sisters in habits. Among other things, it really does provide to the laity a religious moment - a time out, if you will, in our crazy and sometimes horrid world that our Lord is in our midst during our struggles. The habit, "even" modified, also often provides to a young woman or man a seed, one that may grown into a vocation. So thank you.

I have seen, in my discernment, the polar opposites you speak of. I really felt for you when I read your words of loneliness. When I had first begun discerning in the 90s, we did not have any sisters in the diocese that wore easily identifiable habits. But of course, I knew that those sisters existed somewhere. One day during a religious life discernment retreat we were all sitting in a big circle talking about religious life and its various forms. I asked one of the sisters who was sitting there in jeans what was the difference between her congregation and those that wear habits, because I was really that ignorant and didn't know. And back then, I didn't have the easy access of the internet to be able to even find that out. She became so irate, and yes I mean lividly irate. Her face turned red and she started going on and on about how the sisters who still wear habits are backwards automatons, etc. I was so floored. And because of my question, even asked in innocence, she would not speak to me for the rest of the retreat.

Likewise (and I won't mention if this was a community I entered or just visited, for charity's sake) I remember one community who had a basket in their recreation room that contained correspondence and newsletters form other communities. One night the sisters all sat around this table pulling items from this basket and would proceed to talk about how this community wasn't 'really' sisters because they were no longer using a grill in the parlor and sometimes went out to Mass, that community wasn't 'authentic' because they altered their veils and you could ~gasp~ see their bangs/hair and foreheads, etc. Another night we were all sitting outside during recreation. I had asked if there were others considering entering the community any time soon. The conversation spiraled into talking about those who'd entered and left, and let's just say the conversation was not charitable, accusing these poor women and laying bare their faults to everyone sitting there. At first I thought it was horrid that these women weren't there to defend themselves, but then I realized it was a blessing to not have to hear what these nuns were saying about them. It really made, in my eyes, these nuns who seemed so beautiful in pictures, look quite ugly in reality in these instances.

So, I unfortunately understand where you're coming from. I think that many, if not most, of us who've left communities, and had experienced the pain we had over that leaving for whatever reason, can say that these experiences came from those communities that are more traditional. It just reminds me that the habit does not make the community. I'm not sure I can articulate what's in my heart but let me try... While I would wish to wear a habit to be a visible witness for Christ, I have also seen in my own religious life journey that in the more traditional, fully habited communities sometimes the loving compassion gets lost among the tunic folds. I found myself more than once wanting to shout out that just because you're a nun doesn't mean you cease to be a Christian person.

Yes, I know we (the laity) sometimes place religious on pedestals, expecting them to be somehow better than the rest of us... but you know what? They really should be! I pray I do not scandalize you with my fervent thoughts. I once read this book about an old woman in Europe who had visits from many souls in purgatory. She said a lot of these souls were monks and nuns (that wasn't what the book was about, I just remember her talking in one chapter about religious), that since our Lord gave them the gift of their vocation, more was expected of them. Their entire lives were about leaving the world behind to follow Christ singularly so when they sin against charity, etc. their sins are more grave for this very reason. So lest someone think I'm being unfairly critical, I don't mean to come across as too harsh, but in the same respect, I also believe that while we're all on a journey toward Christ, religious life should be an opportunity for monks/nuns/sisters to practice MORE charity, not less.

At any rate, lest my post be a complete downer, I have also had some lovely experiences from both traditional (Sisters of Life) and more moderate (Hawthorne Dominicans) congregations. The Sisters of Life, when I was with them as a postulant in 94, were a beautiful witness to those who wished to offer their lives to Christ. I rarely witnessed anything in my 4 months with them other than sisterly charity and friendliness. They are a community I'd recommend to all. I visited the Hawthorne Dominicans in 92, I think. It was actually my first exposure to the Sisters of Life as they took classes together. Until Cardinal O'Connor and Mother Assumpta helped them design their new habits, they wore a modified beige habit and were completely content with what they had. I think they were happy to be in any habit, to be honest. :love: Anyway, the Hawthornes modified their habit due to their apostolate. With their work with incurable cancer patients, they found a slightly shorter habit and veil was more practical. Although one might think they'd be sad with all the death they witnessed, these sisters radiated joy and charity with their patients and also with each other.

So, dear Sister, I just wanted to share that I understand what you speak of... and also to exhort those that reads these posts down the line who are discerning religious life to carefully discern your vocation to ANY community. What's the old saying? Don't judge a book by its cover. A pretty habit does not a holy community make. I just see so many posts here go on about the habits. This one wants to join this community because the habit is so traditional and so pretty and that one wants to join that community because the veil is to the waist or the habit is in the color she likes. And they think that BECAUSE of the habit and the traditional horarium or the grill separating the sisters from the people, makes the community somehow better or more authentic. These habits, these rubrics ARE beautiful, and can be incredible tools to help one along the way to holiness, but don't get seduced by the externals to the point that you do not see the inner heart of the community. Some of us have been there... and then post here today.

God bless you Sister for your vocation and your service to the Church. Have a blessed Holy Week and a beautiful Paschal season.

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HisChild
[quote name='IgnatiusofLoyola' date='28 March 2010 - 07:33 PM' timestamp='1269830025' post='2082346']
Geez, no wonder the other nuns were mad at her! Even nuns have to sleep SOMETIME!

It doesn't excuse the abuse against her, but if someone woke me up several times a night to share her ecstasies, I would be less than ecstatic. LOL
[/quote]


I fell in love with St Maria Maddelena de Pazzi many years ago. In fact, I entered DCJ in 93 on her feast day because in all the saints books I'd read, she seemed so incredibly holy and wonderful. Then I read her book from the Classics of Western Christianity. As I read in further detail about some of her ecstasies and the things she said to her sisters, I kept thinking, 'Wow, she really is a bit of a nutter, isn't she?' LOL! As soon as I saw her name again, I started laughing. I still love her, don't get me wrong, but she was just something else. Fool for Christ, to be sure. The pragmatic Teresa of Avila probably would have had a field day with her!

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Antigonos
The more I read in this thread, the more I begin to feel that a great deal of the current situation depends on two things:

1] that the changes made by Vatican II opened a big can of worms. Prior to that council, religious orders seemed to be more homogenous -- the main distinction being active/contemplative, and that the various "branches" [if that is the right word] of a particular group [i.e. Franciscans, Benedictines, etc.] conformed to certain norms that made each Order unique and instantly recognizable. Liberalization brought a certain degree of chaos in its wake, with a lot of tried-and-true practices being modified without due thought as to the long-term consequences.

2] Leadership comes from above. On a local level, it is the Abbess/Prioress/Mother Superior who can make a major difference in how her nuns behave, with regard to charity and the avoidance of back-biting and gossip, etc. And at each successively higher level, right up to the Pope, it needs to be reinforced, but for that, it needs a clear vision of what the Church is meant to be. It seems to me, IMHO, that ever since Vatican II, the Papacy has been unclear on how much of the legacy of Vatican II it wants to encourage, and how much it has realized was a mistake in the long term.

From this outsider's view, I sometimes think the Church needs another Counter Reformation if it is not to fragment even further. Times change; solutions over a thousand years old do not always meet today's requirements. Perhaps the Church needs a new form of religious life for women which meets the need to live a consecrated life IN the world, while conventual life needs to return to its roots. [Maybe there is, and I simply don't know about it]

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Totus Tuus
[quote name='Antigonos' date='29 March 2010 - 01:29 AM' timestamp='1269840559' post='2082435']

1] that the changes made by Vatican II opened a big can of worms. Prior to that council, religious orders seemed to be more homogenous -- the main distinction being active/contemplative, and that the various "branches" [if that is the right word] of a particular group [i.e. Franciscans, Benedictines, etc.] conformed to certain norms that made each Order unique and instantly recognizable. Liberalization brought a certain degree of chaos in its wake, with a lot of tried-and-true practices being modified without due thought as to the long-term consequences.
[/quote]

Sorry, I get nauseous anytime someone starts to blame a situation on Vatican II. It's become the scapegoat of Catholicism, and it's not right. Liberalization is not equivalent to Vatican II. It came from, among other things, a misinterpretation or ignorance of what the council actually said. Having the sexual revolution occur in conjunction with the council didn't help matters, either.

You may acknowledge that already, I just wanted to point it out for any unsuspecting readers who may happen upon this thread.

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Antigonos
[quote name='Totus Tuus' date='29 March 2010 - 02:26 PM' timestamp='1269862012' post='2082545']
Sorry, I get nauseous anytime someone starts to blame a situation on Vatican II. It's become the scapegoat of Catholicism, and it's not right. Liberalization is not equivalent to Vatican II. It came from, among other things, a misinterpretation or ignorance of what the council actually said. Having the sexual revolution occur in conjunction with the council didn't help matters, either.

You may acknowledge that already, I just wanted to point it out for any unsuspecting readers who may happen upon this thread.
[/quote]


Then you think it was the sexual revolution which caused the disintegration of so many religious communities and so many nuns and priests leaving religious life, rather than Vatican II? Did [i]everyone[/i] misinterpret it? Were its decisions so confusingly written? [I'm quite serious about wanting to know your opinion; I'm not being sarcastic]

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vee
[quote name='Indwelling Trinity' date='29 March 2010 - 01:02 PM' timestamp='1269831768' post='2082368']
Laughing... she is one of my favorite siants but I never really thought about being woken up so much especially with the little sleep you get in Carmel! I think i thank God for my deafness...:topsy: I would have slept like a baby! :rolling:
[/quote]

:evil: Deafness schmefness you would have been right there helping her. [size="1"]Considering your age you probably were too![/size] :o :whistle: :blowkiss:

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vee
[quote name='HisChild' date='29 March 2010 - 02:02 PM' timestamp='1269835361' post='2082404']
I fell in love with St Maria Maddelena de Pazzi many years ago. In fact, I entered DCJ in 93 on her feast day because in all the saints books I'd read, she seemed so incredibly holy and wonderful. Then I read her book from the Classics of Western Christianity. As I read in further detail about some of her ecstasies and the things she said to her sisters, I kept thinking, 'Wow, she really is a bit of a nutter, isn't she?' LOL! As soon as I saw her name again, I started laughing. I still love her, don't get me wrong, but she was just something else. Fool for Christ, to be sure. The pragmatic Teresa of Avila probably would have had a field day with her!
[/quote]

:lol: I started off thinking she`s nuts and have only been able to add the holy part more recently. I still cant call her wonderful yet though as only Teresa and a couple of other saints have achieved that status in my heart. Do you know how the other nuns reacted to St Maria or treated her because of the phenomena surrounding her?

For those that dont know anything about her there is a 30 min audio program on ewtn that I thought was a nice intro. Among other things it covers her vision of purgatory and why we should pray for those who are there. Pretty sobering stuff.

To listen [url="http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/intro.asp"]click here[/url] and search for de pazzi in the program box and you will get two search results. The one I suggest is from the Super Saints series.

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laetitia crucis
[quote name='vee8' date='29 March 2010 - 10:32 AM' timestamp='1269869570' post='2082568']
:lol: I started off thinking she`s nuts and have only been able to add the holy part more recently. I still cant call her wonderful yet though as only Teresa and a couple of other saints have achieved that status in my heart. Do you know how the other nuns reacted to St Maria or treated her because of the phenomena surrounding her?

For those that dont know anything about her there is a 30 min audio program on ewtn that I thought was a nice intro. Among other things it covers her vision of purgatory and why we should pray for those who are there. Pretty sobering stuff.

To listen [url="http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/intro.asp"]click here[/url] and search for de pazzi in the program box and you will get two search results. The one I suggest is from the Super Saints series.
[/quote]


I think I am pretty much where you are when thinking about St. Magdalene de Pazzi. :lol: I found out about her through St. Alphonsus Liguori -- mostly in his [i]True Spouse of Christ[/i] -- and repeatedly thought, "Wow, this nun is NUTS. :twitch: And SUPER HOLY. :notworthy: "

She is basically one of those saintly "untouchables" to me... kind of like Catherine of Siena and Veronica Giuliani. Sooooo [i]incredibly[/i] holy that I find it difficult to remotely relate to any of them.

There should be a saint of "normalcy". One that committed venial [i]and[/i] mortal sins, yet rose above it to live a life of virtue (with the occasional struggles along the way)... in an attainable way. Someone EVERYONE could relate to, no matter where you are in life. Is that a tall order? :lol: :hehehe: Does a saint like that even exist?

Does anyone have any recommendations? Sometimes I need a little saintly inspiration, but find it difficult amongst so many "giants" of the spiritual life. :sadder:

P.S. -- Sorry... :blush: ...I kind of hijacked this thread here. :hijack:

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Cherie
[quote name='laetitia crucis' date='29 March 2010 - 09:54 AM' timestamp='1269870854' post='2082574']


She is basically one of those saintly "untouchables" to me... kind of like Catherine of Siena and Veronica Giuliani. Sooooo [i]incredibly[/i] holy that I find it difficult to remotely relate to any of them.

[/quote]

And Gemma Galgani!

Bd. Bartolo Longo was a satanist priest before he converted. And there was a Carmelite ... I want to say Herman something? ... who was an atheist before he converted and became a Carmelite.

And I always recommend "[url="http://www.sophiainstitute.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=305"]A Bedside Book of Saints[/url]" because it highlights the HUMANITY of some great Saints, and some pretty humorous stories! :)

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vee
[quote name='laetitia crucis' date='29 March 2010 - 11:54 PM' timestamp='1269870854' post='2082574']


Does anyone have any recommendations? Sometimes I need a little saintly inspiration, but find it difficult amongst so many "giants" of the spiritual life. :sadder:

P.S. -- Sorry... :blush: ...I kind of hijacked this thread here. :hijack:
[/quote]


Oh dear God its Monday ... again....

I like the topic you mention so how about a new thread for it. I will be happy to offer my two cents... on Tuesday :mellow:

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laetitia crucis
[quote name='CherieMadame' date='29 March 2010 - 11:07 AM' timestamp='1269871633' post='2082578']
And Gemma Galgani!

Bd. Bartolo Longo was a satanist priest before he converted. And there was a Carmelite ... I want to say Herman something? ... who was an atheist before he converted and became a Carmelite.

And I always recommend "[url="http://www.sophiainstitute.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=305"]A Bedside Book of Saints[/url]" because it highlights the HUMANITY of some great Saints, and some pretty humorous stories! :)
[/quote]

Gemma Galgani -- SO TRUE!

And I am totally adding [i]A Bedside Book of Saints[/i] to be "wish list". :yes:

[quote name='vee8' date='29 March 2010 - 11:11 AM' timestamp='1269871892' post='2082580']
Oh dear God its Monday ... again....

I like the topic you mention so how about a new thread for it. I will be happy to offer my two cents... on Tuesday :mellow:
[/quote]

:rolling: Just a little friendly reminder from Salty. ;) :blowkiss:

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Saint Therese
I think its important to remember that 1- religious communities will usually do anything they legitimately can do help a candidate persevere(especially today when there are fewer vocations) 2- if someone leaves a community there is a valid reason and 3- If it were God's will for them to remain in the community, they would remain there.

God bless. Edited by Saint Therese

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IgnatiusofLoyola
[quote name='laetitia crucis' date='29 March 2010 - 08:54 AM' timestamp='1269870854' post='2082574']

There should be a saint of "normalcy". One that committed venial [i]and[/i] mortal sins, yet rose above it to live a life of virtue (with the occasional struggles along the way)... in an attainable way. Someone EVERYONE could relate to, no matter where you are in life. Is that a tall order? [img]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/public/style_emoticons/default/lol.gif[/img] [img]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/public/style_emoticons/default/hehehe.gif[/img] Does a saint like that even exist?

[/quote]

Does St. Augustine fit the bill? He led quite a life before his conversion. Wasn't it Saint Augustine who said, "Please Lord, make me holy. But, not just yet." I love that saying. It may not be the holiest thing someone could say, but it's so HONEST.

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dominicansoul
[quote name='Saint Therese' date='29 March 2010 - 11:11 AM' timestamp='1269875493' post='2082623']
I think its important to remember that 1- religious communities will usually do anything they legitimately can do help a candidate persevere(especially today when there are fewer vocations) 2- if someone leaves a community there is a valid reason and 3- If it were God's will for them to remain in the community, they would remain there.

God bless.
[/quote]
I have questions on #3...

God leaves the choice to us in regards to staying or going...He never forces anyone to live the life, it is not a right, but in fact a privilege...but we can always say no and walk away...

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