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Entering The Convent, The Orthodox Way


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Marigold, I think these feelings are perfectly normal, and maybe more so as you are moving to another country. In the last 6mths or so before I entered Q, I changed my mind countless times! I was afraid of being apart from my friends and wondered if I would get there and suddenly realise it wasn't for me. Quite a number of people had also told me that someone as active and energetic as I am, someone so involved in the parish, and an attractive young woman (dont think they had their glasses on at that point!) entering an enclosed community was complete madness. Worse, people told me I was running away.

Even this evening I have had a wibble or two - what am I doing? What if it falls apart again? etc.

Keep your eyes, eart and mind on Christ, ask Him to lead you, and to hold you, and you will be fine :console:

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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

[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1320102495' post='2329528']
Sisters and brothers, please put in a heavenly word for me. Right now I'm feeling the weight of how lonely this path is. Can't really describe it, it's like a combination of wanting desperately to be at the monastery (they're eating supper as I write :() and not at all wanting to enter and embark on a lifetime of what seems like just losing everything. Perhaps it's imprudent to post these thoughts but I would really appreciate a prayer.
[/quote]


Very human, marigold. But imagine what it would be like NOT to enter and see what your feelings are. St Ignatius said to imagine yourself in the experience, watch your reactions, then imagine the alternate choice and watch your reactions.

Sometimes when I think about trying again, I get very scared, but then I think about NOT doing it, and I get a feeling of loss and longing that is much more real than the fear.....

Trust that whatever happens, for now, you need to do this. Let God take care of the outcome, you just take care of the details.

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Marigold, is it possible you are projecting into the future, trying to respond now to circumstances that are not yet? You have grace sufficient for now, not for Jan or Feb '12. The Lord is giving you all you need, from moment to moment. All your VS friends say above applies. Read and be strengthened. "Be not afraid."

As for going through patches of "not feeling" like monastic life, this is where it is very helpful to be able to act without reference to feelings. Feelings don't last and won't see you through much of anything. A simple, peaceful choice using your will and entrusting all to God is much more reliable and likely to carry you forward.

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[quote name='Aya Sophia' timestamp='1320109513' post='2329587']
Marigold, is it possible you are projecting into the future, trying to respond now to circumstances that are not yet? You have grace sufficient for now, not for Jan or Feb '12. The Lord is giving you all you need, from moment to moment. All your VS friends say above applies. Read and be strengthened. "Be not afraid."

As for going through patches of "not feeling" like monastic life, this is where it is very helpful to be able to act without reference to feelings. Feelings don't last and won't see you through much of anything. A simple, peaceful choice using your will and entrusting all to God is much more reliable and likely to carry your forward.
[/quote]


It's hard to make a 'simple peaceful choice' when one is not feeling peace. I don't think she said she wasn't feeling like monastic life but that she was 'feeling the weight of how lonely' her choice would be, and this is a fact. Monastic life can be lonely, even in community. But there are blessings that come as well that make the loneliness less, especially the joys associated with community life and a closer union with God.

Our fears do tend to focus on the future a lot, so this is a good point - that she needs to focus on what she has to do right now and not on what 'might' happen in the future. But St Ignatius had no problem with us meditating on the future possibilities and trying to discern our affinities. Emotional feelings can be misleading, but affinities can guide us accurately if we let them.

My concern is that sometimes it sounds as if we need to 'stop feeling' things, and as human beings, our feelings are a great gift from God. They are also what makes it possible for us to feel empathy and compassion for others. We just need to be sure that our feelings are well ordered, just as we need to have a well ordered conscience.


PS - I always like to remember that Our Lord felt deeply and intensely during His agony in the garden. He was sad and afraid. He was human, and showed us that being human means being sad and afraid as well as being obedient to God's will. He will give us the strength we need when we need it, but it's okay to need it too. Our weakness brings us closer to Him as we depend on Him to be our strength.

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[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1320102495' post='2329528']
Sisters and brothers, please put in a heavenly word for me. Right now I'm feeling the weight of how lonely this path is. Can't really describe it, it's like a combination of wanting desperately to be at the monastery (they're eating supper as I write :() and not at all wanting to enter and embark on a lifetime of what seems like just losing everything. Perhaps it's imprudent to post these thoughts but I would really appreciate a prayer.
[/quote]

I can certainly imagine feeling this way! I think I would probably feel similarly. Maybe it's the fear of having to give up so many things. Try to not listen to the fear part of it though :) like others said, if you think to yourself of not entering the monastery, - do you feel a sense of loss? that seems to be greater than fear... fear could be a way to distract us, though it's a very human thing. When I had fears about potentially having to leave my family, I thought - it's not like I'm leaving them, it's more like I'm surrendering them to God, I will still love them, but God will take care of them.. and I will love everything as before but in a more detached way. Christ would come first and I would give away everything to gain Him in a greater way. I know it's scary. :( I am praying for you! God bless you :)

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Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement, it's so kind, and exactly what I needed to read this morning. I thank God for you.

I guess it's just, I've had to fight so hard for this and give up so much already, that I'm terrified of any sign of hesitation in myself.

Nunsense, I experimentally imagined emailing Mother Abbess and telling her I'd changed my mind. It was a horrible sensation and I got the sense of loss and longing that you described. I realised there was nothing to keep me in the world, not [i]really[/i] keep me - suddenly travelling and coffee shops and pretty parish boys didn't seem so important :rolleyes: So, I pick myself up and keep doing all the meaningless little tasks that make up everyday life here, until I get my paws on a visa and make a beeline for that plane... :)

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[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1320149636' post='2329750']
Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement, it's so kind, and exactly what I needed to read this morning. I thank God for you.

I guess it's just, I've had to fight so hard for this and give up so much already, that I'm terrified of any sign of hesitation in myself.

Nunsense, I experimentally imagined emailing Mother Abbess and telling her I'd changed my mind. It was a horrible sensation and I got the sense of loss and longing that you described. I realised there was nothing to keep me in the world, not [i]really[/i] keep me - suddenly travelling and coffee shops and pretty parish boys didn't seem so important :rolleyes: So, I pick myself up and keep doing all the meaningless little tasks that make up everyday life here, until I get my paws on a visa and make a beeline for that plane... :)
[/quote]

marigold - it was St Ignatius' idea, not mine, but I have used it a lot over the years. It's a funny thing about human beings, but we always want what we don't have - the old 'grass is greener' idea. When we are in the convent, we wonder if we should be out, and when we are out, we want to be in! It seems to be our nature to be dissatisfied with where we are - not content to just 'be'.

Yesterday I had to drive to a nearby regional centre - pretty much a small city - and I knew that I could basically buy anything I needed there - lots of things that I can't get in my one-horse town where we have one shoe store and one chemist (pharmacy) and one of almost everything except pubs and fish and chip shops of which we have several! :P And yet, when I had the time free after my interview, I just didn't want to go into shopping centres or to the downtown mall... it all seemed like too much 'busyness' for me and too many people, and all I could think about was getting home again. I think I am learning that this world has nothing to offer me that I really want. There is plenty on offer, but nothing I want. It made me so eager for the cloister again. And I keep telling myself to remember this if God willing, I do end up back in the cloister and I ever get that feeling of loss or wanting something more. I am not saying there isn't a lot of beauty and joy in the world - there is. But when one has a cloistered heart, then it needs to be in a cloister! :)

I am very fortunate in that I have done and seen so much and been so many places, so there is nothing more I want to do except be with God. For those of you who are young, I can only say that yes, you are giving up a lot - a lot of experiences and meetings with different people and places to see... but even if you did do all those things, like I have, you might also find that none of those things was what your heart was craving for. St Augustine knew it when he said that our hearts are restless and will not rest until they rest in 'Thee, Lord'. So, be assured that you are choosing the right path, if you truly have that craving in your heart for God, and this is the direction you feel He is pulling you - trust that call.

If I knew then what I know now, I would do what you are doing. You have so many more years to offer in his service. May God bless you for your loving offer to Him.

I will keep you in my prayers.

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I was thinking more about Deus' [url="http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/116685-do-you-have-what-it-takes/"]Do You Have What It Takes[/url] thread and realised I've been sliding into a very dangerous trap. Having 'picked' a monastery and then ended up with more than a year in which to essentially twiddle my thumbs while waiting to enter, I started 'looking around' at other places and fantasising about what it might be like to be there. For a time I thought of it as not closing any doors prematurely (and I do think there is a place for knowing what goes on at other houses), but I realised it's not that, what I was/am doing is equivalent to flirting with other men even though I'm engaged.

The trouble is, and this is where Deus' thread comes in, that I do have what it takes. Aside from perseverance, which only time will tell if I have, I can do a lot of stuff that would be beneficial to any monastery. I'm young and strong. I'm not educated but I have a lot of practical skills, and having always lived in and out of my family's and friends' pockets, community living is great. But it's a very fine line between recognising abilities and getting haughty about who to 'bestow' them on.

My monastery is imperfect. I lived there long enough to see that in plain view. So the challenge is to humbly accept that the Lord has brought me to [i]this[/i] place at [i]this[/i] point in time, and stop looking around before I've even arrived.

Just thoughts...

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Yes, really lovely :) I did freak for a nanosecond when I read it, but then I thought how amazingly amazing it is that I'm going to be allowed to be part of these amazing women's lives. In a *monastery*. I can't believe I'm going to call a monastery home! :love: (Wait, I thought I had gotten over the squeeing stage...)

When visiting monasteries I've always wished I could have a life like that. And the past two years have been so hectic what with travelling to and from the monastery, changing jobs, moving, fighting to defend my choices... Now there's nothing more I can do while we wait for the visa, just sit back and enjoy the ride... and I don't know quite what to do with myself. :hehe2:

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