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Entering The Convent, The Orthodox Way


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Marigold and Mantellata, I may have mis-typed.... that should have been no coffee other than at breakfast... and breakfast was after Morning Prayer, Mental Prayer, Mass, and a few chores! So..... my memories of those hours aren't so many! We didn't get caffinated drinks other than breakfast for the most part (and the coffee was pretty weak, to be honest...), so the first few weeks were tough--more than I had anticipate! - as I detoxed.... not proud, but the reality... :paperbag:

I am in awe of fourth grade teachers, Mantellata, and I think you can probably use all the caffeine and all of the sleep you can get! It's a great age, but they will keep you on your toes!

Marigold, I hope those are good tears, dear sister. Better to deal with a little of this now while we are here to hold you a bit.... it can be really tough, especially when there is family drama going on. My parents were separated too, and they tried to 'look right' for my entrance... but all the unresolved unsaid stuff and the sadness (you can guess....) led to a huge fight IN the airport on the way home... and I didn't know what was going on and how rough it was until after I returned many months later. And I didn't have siblings, so that wasn't a factor for me... but it must be really hard. That's why I'm saying to give yourself a little time and space to talk to God about this each day... so it won't build up so hard. And we are here if you want to journal on line or PM me or any of us, we are here for you.

I think the heart necklace is a beautiful idea; if they won't let you wear it on your baptismal cross, perhaps you can put it on your prayer rope - that is usually allowed in Roman communities.

Do what you can do and don't do what you can't do. If you can be there for them, that is a gift; if you need to take time for yourself, that is fine too. Keep your focus on what you need to enter well... and to have the best memories that you did what you could do when you could... but we're not superwomen, either. It is HARD to go through these last weeks... but it means that ther are many, many graces available to ask God to give to those who are trying to surround you with love.... the Beloved is rich, and loves to bestow gifts at the bequest of his Bride....

You may be the only Bride of Christ who is going to be interviewed by Homeland Security! Imagine! What a chance to pray for all those who will be going through those interviews!!! And YOU will know some of the interviewers, too... .that is a privilege to be able to carry Christ to them in your heart.

Hang in there, and feel free to 'journal' on this thread if it would help you....

Blessings, and peace....

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I was thinking about how to start this topic, and kept running into things that would need to be explained to a (mostly) Roman Catholic audience. And I thought that there was no way to cover all the d

Reason #193 why Mother is the best Abbess EVER: [i]Dear Marigold,[/i] [i]I feel as if there is a ghost in chapel these days -- I go in and it seems someone should be there only I don't see them

I can't find the words to thank you all individually, so THANK YOU and know that I'm praying for all of us here. Feeling a bit more human today. I slept for about 13hrs, woke up to an unexpected le

Oh - tip on the Homeland security interview (been there).... it's amazing how far a yes mam, no mam, yes sir and no sir will take you. (Rather than a simple yes or no). They are very big on that here and even foreigners can impress with those two little words. Keep your answers simple and direct and look 'em straight in the eye. Americans are huge fans of what I used to think was "staring". Mostly just be yourself.... :)

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Yes, I agree Mantellata, as much as you can... think Edwardian Farm and you'll do fine. :)

The eye contact thing is big over here -- overemphasized, in my opinion, but yes, do it if you can as much as you can. I

t may help to remember something that I suggested to Lil'Red a few weeks back when she had a TV interview she had to do and she was SCARED!!!! I told her that Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote to a friend of hers that she was sending the friend a photo 'and it would bring Jesus to you, because I was thinking of Him when they took it." I love that idea... and I think God can look with love on those with whom we interact if we let Him look through us.

Also, at one point Princess Diana asked (Bl.) Mother Teresa of Calcutta how she stood all the people taking her photo and wanting to talk with her. Mother Teresa told her that it was simple; she had made a deal with God that she would get one soul released from purgatory for each photo taken!

You aren't having photos, but maybe you can ask God for a blessing for someone for each question they ask - that should make you smile!

HOpe you are sleeping well as we speak - and I love the 9 to 9 idea....

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I was a Staff nurse on a busy hospital ward up to two days before I decamped to France to enter.....no time or space to become a nun 'in advance'....just grabbed the passport and ferry schedule and ran!

I echo the advice, be you now, don't anticipate the nun you will become. I found going to bed at 9pm much harder than rising at 5am, and the cold early morning chapel with my stomach gurgling I well remember............

We are by nature adaptable - it is one of our best features as humans. You will adapt when you get there, as you have adapted to the delay when basically you thought you were on your way in February!

Nunsense said it all I think. A wise woman in the true sense of the word.

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For your reading interest: the What to Bring List.

1. Certificate of baptism, chrismation and/or reception into the Church
2. Bible: whatever you are reading
3. Books, icons and prayer ropes you are currently using for spiritual reading and prayer. (Please check titles with abbess.) All other books and icons should be put in storage, or given away if you would not want them in the event of leaving the monastery
4. Alarm clock
5. Sewing kit: needles, black, white and grey thread, thimble, small scissors etc. for mending and small sewing projects
6. Toilet articles: toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, deodorant etc. Anything you are using is probably fine, but check with the abbess. Please no perfume or makeup
7. Rain coat or poncho and umbrella
8. Heavy coat, hat, gloves, snow boots for winter (plain dark colors or black preferable)
9. Comfortable shoes with rubber soles. No high heels or loafers: please, oxfords or sandals. Black preferable
10. Wardrobe for summer and winter: skirts of reasonable length, long sleeves, please no bright colors, halter tops etc. No shorts, but blue jeans to wear under skirts can be useful. Long underwear and plenty of sweaters etc. for winter. Knee socks and/or dark-colored tights. Headscarves (plain, dark)
11. Summer and winter nightgowns, plain, dark color full length robe and slippers
12. Hobby or craft materials, musical instruments, may be useful. Please check with the abbess before bringing
13. Any photographs of yourself, your family and home that you would like to share with us so we can get to know you better.

I was glad to see that I already have pretty much everything, based off recalling what the then postulant had and also common sense. Amused that heels and makeup had to be explicitly refused! The rubber soles are because of the bare floors which can be quite noisy - I had DMs the first time and they did clomp a bit. All I need is the nightgowns and robe.

Mother seems to have changed her mind or forgotten that she'd said I could bring all my books immediately. This is not to worry, it'll make the journey easier and I can just leave a box with my housemates or parents.

This is quite a detailed and formal way of doing postulancy. Whether it's because it's the US and legislation and detailed paperwork are the way they do things there, or whether it's a nefarious Latin influence - I don't know. I'm grateful because it takes a load off my mind and stops me bombarding the Reverend Abbess with questions like 'But what if the clock [i]ticks[/i]??' Other houses may find that it's better to receive a person in their everyday clothes with just a toothbrush, but for me it's good to have it all down in one place. It frees up head and heart space to concentrate on the things which are actually important, like learning to live in very close proximity with these great women, learning how to pray, and working hard on the gardens and goats and whatever else they've got in store. :)

Edited by marigold
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There are various problems with the phorum at the mo. I have been having trouble all week.

So glad 'the list' has nothing on it you were not prepared for, and that it gives you the head space you need........not long now!!!!!!!

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[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1319454706' post='2326182']
I was thinking about how to start this topic, and kept running into things that would need to be explained to a (mostly) Roman Catholic audience. And I thought that there was no way to cover all the differences and similarities in a one-off post, that they would all come out better in the natural course of conversation (providing you want to converse). So I decided to post a letter that I wrote to my aunt when she first heard that I had decided to become a nun. Since I'm still unsure about how much to specify, I've edited place names etc. Hope you enjoy it! Feel free to comment/ask questions.

[size=4][i]Hello![/i][/size]

[size=4][i]It's so good to hear from you! When I saw your name in my inbox I thought perhaps I was going get trouble from you as well, so it was a nice surprise to read that you are curious and don't think the world is coming to an end.[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]We talked for a while yesterday, me and mum and dad, but I don't think we understood each other very well. [Dad] thought I'd gone a bit astray but that I should be allowed to give it a go. [Mum] got angry and said she felt she'd failed. What I tried to express to them, but might not have got across was that, on the one hand it has a lot to do with them - if they hadn't been such amazing parents and siblings, and brought me up so well, I wouldn't have the strength and the love that I do. On the other hand it doesn't have much at all to do with them. My decision is not a judgment on their lives and beliefs, nor is it just rebellion - if it had been, I wouldn't have gone around with a knot in my stomach for a year, worrying about how to tell them.[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]She asked what had become of the desire to save the world, and then I understood, as you maybe have done too, how impossible it was to explain to someone who hadn't had that experience. It was like speaking two different languages. For her, it looks like I've given up, like I'm going and hiding myself in the forest. For me it's the other way round. I see the world's need and want to be enough, want to be everywhere and help everyone. That passion remains. But I've understood that it can't be done, humanly speaking it can't be done. But it is my belief, which is to say the belief of the Orthodox Church, that if I withdraw and apply myself to prayer and work, then God can somehow act freely. I'm not standing in the way. And in that way it becomes unlimited, and can be enough for the world.[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]I don't know when I 'came up with' this idea about becoming a nun, it's always been there in the back of my mind ([Mum] says she regrets letting us watch The Sound of Music so often!). I just didn't have the right context. But then I was received into the Orthodox Church, and the week before I was received, a friend and I went to visit the monastery in Essex, and that was the last piece of the puzzle. I knew this was the life for me ... though I don't really like this concept of 'calling'. It doesn't need to be so abstract I think. It wasn't a choice as such, although I have chosen a particular monastery and must continue to choose it every day when it gets difficult with the family and there's all the nonsense with papers for the visa. It was a bit like when I first met Josh, you probably know what I mean, you just know that this person is going to be a big part of my life. That's what I felt. Monasteries are going to be a big part of my life.[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]That it then ended up being [the eastern U.S.] doesn't seem so remarkable, you end up wherever you end up, and it's these women I'm in love with, and precisely this place I want to live out the rest of my life. Of course it's not an unhealthy community. I'm encouraged to be myself and do work I love. The abbess has said I'm going to take care of the gardens and I'm very happy about that. It's a simple life, not so mysterious. They get up early and go to bed early, and during the day it's work on the farm or in the house, prayer in the chapel, meals and a little rest. On Sundays some families come to the liturgy and share a lunch afterwards - and that's when you get to taste real American food![/i][/size]

[size=4][i]The monastery itself is small. You can look at their website although they're not very good at updating it. We share patron saints, that's how I found them, when I was looking for information about mine. It's a big white house on a hill. On the farm they have sheep, goats, a few oxen, chickens and ducks. Fruit and vegetables of course, and lovely flowerbeds around the house which aren't so lovely this year since [Mother Abbess] has had cancer and it's she who is normally the gardener.[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]One of my friends wondered what would happen if this turned out to be a phase, and I subsequently wouldn't be able to leave the monastery. I told her it takes nearly ten years to decide if you want to stay or not. During the testing time of the first years, you can leave almost without saying goodbye. In contrast to what we've perhaps believed, it's not at all closed-in. No 'cloister' so to speak, no walls, the car doors are never locked.[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]But I don't find it frightening to think of a whole life in the monastery since I enjoy it so much. It's already like home. Rather, it's difficult to be here in London when I just want to be there![/i][/size]

[size=4][i]And it's the joy which draws me, the joy of working on the farm and praying often, and the joy I see in the nuns, that they've lived there for many years and still are joyful, relaxed, funny and intelligent. I want what they have. The steady joy which might not always express itself in loud laughter and shouting but which glows in their faces. In some way there aren't so many boundaries for them, they talk as easily with a stranger in the food shop as with a close friend. Perhaps that is what comes out of the daily rhythm, pray, work, eat, sleep. The days are the same, so eventually it becomes like one long day, and the spirit is freed to get on with other things. Maybe this is getting into mysticism's territory, but really it's just so everyday, so happily everyday, and that is what I love.[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]It's not about being holy or moral or even good, but about being alive or dead. In some very real way has "for his sake everything else lost its value for me." Of course it hurts to decide to leave friends, family, London, the familiar. But let it cost, because I receive so much joy. No other lifestyle has given me this joy and this satisfaction. This is what I am in the same way musicians and actors feel that it is something they are instead of only something they do. But my friend could be right, maybe it is a phase. Only one way to find out![/i][/size]

[size=4][i]Love to [your daughter].[/i][/size]

[size=4][i]Marigold[/i][/size]

[size=4][i][img]http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d42/burning_string/mk.jpg[/img][/i][/size]
[/quote]

Ha ha, this is a very beautiful letter, and I can only think of what my letter would have looked like:

[i]Dear parents,[/i]

[i]I left for the Carthusian Monastery. See you soon (Maybe).[/i]

[i]Miles.[/i]

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[quote name='maximillion' timestamp='1335629204' post='2424375']
There are various problems with the phorum at the mo. I have been having trouble all week.

So glad 'the list' has nothing on it you were not prepared for, and that it gives you the head space you need........not long now!!!!!!!
[/quote]

No, just a week God willing! :) Glad it's not my computer playing up...


[quote name='Lisa' timestamp='1335630400' post='2424379']
I'm so glad things are going well; that list looks pretty good.

Interview on Monday?
[/quote]

Yep. And the upside of having absolutely no idea what to expect is that I'm not nervous! :hehe2:

[quote name='FuturePriest387' timestamp='1335630481' post='2424380']
Ha ha, this is a very beautiful letter, and I can only think of what my letter would have looked like:

[i]Dear parents,[/i]

[i]I left for the Carthusian Monastery. See you soon (Maybe).[/i]

[i]Miles.[/i]
[/quote]

Haha! You be nice now :rules:

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Dear Marigold,

This is so exciting, for you and for us!!!!

That list is practical and simple. You wouldn't believe some of the things that were on mine 35 years ago!!!! This one has enough details and suggestions to be helpful, but gives you the ability to use what you already have. How honoring of holy poverty!

Question -- do Orthodox nuns take the same vows as Roman nuns? (Poverty Chastity Obedience).... I believe the concept of 'cloister' or 'enclosure' is a little ldifferent -- and sometimes there is a very limited external ministry - what is the custom in your house?

Can you tell those of us who truly have no idea :unsure: what the entrance ceremony is like (if any)... and what the other ceremonies are likely to be? Am I correct that if all goes well (we pray!) that we are unlikely to have any further contact with you unless you are able to send a letter to a Phatmasser?

We just want to know.... so we can pray for you & support you.

Also, is there anything we can do to support your family & friends? They are welcome to come hang out with us if they would like to do so... sometimes it can help if they can see that others are also doing this thing and are happy ....

What time will your interview with the Homeland Security people be? Just tell us what time in Greenwich Mean Time and I can put up a time calculator so we can all know when to pray.... ;)

Anything any of us in the states can help you with?

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[quote name='AnneLine' timestamp='1335637381' post='2424409']
Dear Marigold,

This is so exciting, for you and for us!!!!

That list is practical and simple. You wouldn't believe some of the things that were on mine 35 years ago!!!! This one has enough details and suggestions to be helpful, but gives you the ability to use what you already have. How honoring of holy poverty!

Question -- do Orthodox nuns take the same vows as Roman nuns? (Poverty Chastity Obedience).... I believe the concept of 'cloister' or 'enclosure' is a little ldifferent -- and sometimes there is a very limited external ministry - what is the custom in your house?

Can you tell those of us who truly have no idea :unsure: what the entrance ceremony is like (if any)... and what the other ceremonies are likely to be? Am I correct that if all goes well (we pray!) that we are unlikely to have any further contact with you unless you are able to send a letter to a Phatmasser?

We just want to know.... so we can pray for you & support you.

Also, is there anything we can do to support your family & friends? They are welcome to come hang out with us if they would like to do so... sometimes it can help if they can see that others are also doing this thing and are happy ....

What time will your interview with the Homeland Security people be? Just tell us what time in Greenwich Mean Time and I can put up a time calculator so we can all know when to pray.... ;)

Anything any of us in the states can help you with?
[/quote]

I'm happy you're excited! I just spent a couple of hours repacking and cutting application form photos to [i]exactly[/i] 2 by 2 inches. My room is looking rather empty and I've put post-its with names on the few things that I won't have time to return to their owners - just a couple of books, and my guitar that I'm giving to a friend. This coming week is busy so I'm getting all the 'bits' done now. It's strange, I keep having these little moments when I really doubt the kindness and/or the welcome of the mothers and sisters. I'll remember some remark or indiscretion completely out of context, and feel very unsure about wanting to put my lot in with these mean, mean ladies :hehe2: This morning all I could think about was the difficulty of getting dressed in a freezing, dark room, all the dull moments, even the stings and nettle scratches I got while working. Ridiculous things. Glory to God, at the moment I have some perspective on these little fears, but it's still unsettling.

To get down to your questions: yes, Orthodox nuns make vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability. They're not reeeally the focal point of the ceremony though, they come in a wider context of questions and answers in a dialogue between the bishop and the candidate. The 'moment', if there is one, is the cutting of the hair, that's why it's referred to as being tonsured and not making vows. I do have the text of the tonsure service somewhere, probably in the suitcase I just put away, so if you're really interested I can quote from it directly.

The [i]entrance[/i] ceremony... I don't actually know exactly. It's very brief, and involves blessing the Beautiful and Glorious Scarf. It'll probably just be one or two prayers tacked on to the end of Vespers.

As I've written here before, 'apostolates' can vary hugely, from prayer and and welcoming guests (like mine) to running whole schools and hospitals. As such, the amount of time a monastic spends outside his/her residence also varies. I don't know how to explain this in a way that doesn't make it sound like a free-for-all, because it's definitely not, it's just... we don't think in juridical terms. A monastic generally speaking would not go somewhere other than where their work required them to be; they are dead to the world and practically, that means no gallivanting around when you don't need to be. Every monastic's heart is (should be) in the monastery, so if you're finding reasons to stay 'outside' then something's wrong. So yes and no: we do have places where you only leave the premises for medical reasons, but we don't think of them as a particular classification of monastery.

Speaking of being dead to the world, you're right in thinking I'll just be communicating by letter with you and perhaps Sr. Faith and Sr. Maria Teresa (Aya Sophia). (It's just occurred to me - what's up with collecting Carmelites? :hehe2: ) You're free to pass on iwhat I say so long as the monastery and the sisters, including me!, have anonymity. That is quite important.

I doubt any of my friends or family will be interested in VS; all this God talk, it'd be too much like going to church and we can't have that! But what you can do is pray for them, that they come to know the Lord in whatever measure they're capable of. And prayer is the one thing [i]I[/i] will need an endless supply of, that's what you can do for me!

Interview's at 8 a.m. on Monday!

:love:

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[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1335647992' post='2424485']
I'm happy you're excited! I just spent a couple of hours repacking and cutting application form photos to [i]exactly[/i] 2 by 2 inches. My room is looking rather empty and I've put post-its with names on the few things that I won't have time to return to their owners - just a couple of books, and my guitar that I'm giving to a friend. This coming week is busy so I'm getting all the 'bits' done now. It's strange, I keep having these little moments when I really doubt the kindness and/or the welcome of the mothers and sisters. I'll remember some remark or indiscretion completely out of context, and feel very unsure about wanting to put my lot in with these mean, mean ladies :hehe2: This morning all I could think about was the difficulty of getting dressed in a freezing, dark room, all the dull moments, even the stings and nettle scratches I got while working. Ridiculous things. Glory to God, at the moment I have some perspective on these little fears, but it's still unsettling.

To get down to your questions: yes, Orthodox nuns make vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability. They're not reeeally the focal point of the ceremony though, they come in a wider context of questions and answers in a dialogue between the bishop and the candidate. The 'moment', if there is one, is the cutting of the hair, that's why it's referred to as being tonsured and not making vows. I do have the text of the tonsure service somewhere, probably in the suitcase I just put away, so if you're really interested I can quote from it directly.

The [i]entrance[/i] ceremony... I don't actually know exactly. It's very brief, and involves blessing the Beautiful and Glorious Scarf. It'll probably just be one or two prayers tacked on to the end of Vespers.

As I've written here before, 'apostolates' can vary hugely, from prayer and and welcoming guests (like mine) to running whole schools and hospitals. As such, the amount of time a monastic spends outside his/her residence also varies. I don't know how to explain this in a way that doesn't make it sound like a free-for-all, because it's definitely not, it's just... we don't think in juridical terms. A monastic generally speaking would not go somewhere other than where their work required them to be; they are dead to the world and practically, that means no gallivanting around when you don't need to be. Every monastic's heart is (should be) in the monastery, so if you're finding reasons to stay 'outside' then something's wrong. So yes and no: we do have places where you only leave the premises for medical reasons, but we don't think of them as a particular classification of monastery.

Speaking of being dead to the world, you're right in thinking I'll just be communicating by letter with you and perhaps Sr. Faith and Sr. Maria Teresa (Aya Sophia). (It's just occurred to me - what's up with collecting Carmelites? :hehe2: ) You're free to pass on iwhat I say so long as the monastery and the sisters, including me!, have anonymity. That is quite important.

I doubt any of my friends or family will be interested in VS; all this God talk, it'd be too much like going to church and we can't have that! But what you can do is pray for them, that they come to know the Lord in whatever measure they're capable of. And prayer is the one thing [i]I[/i] will need an endless supply of, that's what you can do for me!

Interview's at 8 a.m. on Monday!

:love:
[/quote]

So I take it you're entering very soon? If so, I'm both happy for you and sad for me since I will no longer have someone to talk to about the Monastic life. Isn't it the practical thing to do to wait for some random stranger on the internet? :P

Edited by FuturePriest387
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[quote name='FuturePriest387' timestamp='1335658079' post='2424549']
So I take it you're entering very soon? If so, I'm both happy for you and sad for me since I will no longer have someone to talk to about the Monastic life. Isn't it the practical thing to do to wait for some random stranger on the internet? :P
[/quote]

Yes, very sensible :)

Just got back from what was, God willing, the last or next-to-last Sunday Liturgy with my parish community. Everyone seemed to have had the same thought and so I've been inundated with good wishes, promises of prayers, cards, gifts and chocolate (they know me well!). I'm a little taken aback that this has happened before I even have finalised travel plans, but I'm so grateful and happy and feel very loved.

Getting up at the crack of dawn to go to the interview tomorrow!

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[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1335718463' post='2424768']
Yes, very sensible :)

Just got back from what was, God willing, the last or next-to-last Sunday Liturgy with my parish community. Everyone seemed to have had the same thought and so I've been inundated with good wishes, promises of prayers, cards, gifts and chocolate (they know me well!). I'm a little taken aback that this has happened before I even have finalised travel plans, but I'm so grateful and happy and feel very loved.

Getting up at the crack of dawn to go to the interview tomorrow!
[/quote]

Oh wow, so you're entering either this week or the next? You must be both excited and a little nervous. I know I would be.

But I must say I feel regretful for just having befriended you recently. I wish I had done it sooner. I don't suppose you'll have a computer there (Or did I already ask that?)?

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