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University and the Convent...


profer_lumen_cæcis

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A lot of commenters are saying that they wouldn’t be comfortable with having their seventeen-year-old daughter get married, and I agree that for the very large majority of people seventeen is way too young to marry someone. It’s also overwhelmingly rare to be ready to enter a convent at that age too. At the same time the religious vocation is not at all the married one and the formation is far more intense. A seventeen-year-old girl who decides to be married has several months of guidance under a priest before she’s locked in for life, and it’s probable that she was head over heels in love when she made her decision. A seventeen-year-old girl who enters Carmel will have at the very least five years (now I believe it’s nine) to discern before her perpetual profession. Let’s say she enters at 18 after graduation; if she leaves Carmel after two years she will only be twenty which, at least in the US and Europe, is not very old to start university studies. Whether she would have the means to do so is a completely different story. 
It definitely takes a special strength of character to enter Carmel at seventeen or eighteen, and very, very few nowadays are gifted that vocation. Speak with your spiritual director about this. If you truly are called to the religious life so young you should not be forced to wait. 

21 hours ago, Lea said:

 

Hey there, as someone who only thought about religious life forthe first time as a sophomore in college, I just can say that living on my own made a huge difference. It is a great opportunity to mature, to live responsibly and certainly changes the relationship to ones family. [Actually, it made my mother see me as the adult I am.]

 

But if it turns out that you go @Lea is 100% correct and living alone can help you to discipline yourself, give you great freedom to mature in the faith, and in some cases could even be a very meritorious sacrifice for Our Lord.  

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profer_lumen_cæcis

Wow, thank you all ever so much for the replies, advice, and prayers! I honestly cannot thank you all enough! Since there are a wide varieties of topics to cover in a response, I'm going to work on sending some direct messages if that is alright :) 

 

One thing I do want to make clear, however, is that I am not hesitant to attend college because of worry of student debt. Thankfully because of a scholarship opportunity I don't believe that would be the case, and thus my parents also would not be paying for college.

 

Again, I am so grateful for the responses! Please know that you all are in prayer :) 

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9 hours ago, SicutColumba said:

At the same time the religious vocation is not at all the married one and the formation is far more intense.

This is true.

There is a bit of a catch 22. A younger person may know themselves and life less. However if one discerns out, as most do, the psychosocial impact is lessened if it occurs at a younger age. Sometimes I wonder if this is not part of why some communities have age cutoffs at 30 or even younger. 

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45 minutes ago, Lilllabettt said:

Sometimes I wonder if this is not part of why some communities have age cutoffs at 30 or even younger. 

That’s a really good point that I’ve never thought about. I’ve heard that age cutoffs exist because at a certain point it might be too difficult to conform your behavior to the religious life because you’ve spent so long living in the world and you’ve formed your own (not necessarily bad) habits. But that would make so much sense that they don’t want to damage the livelihood of a person. 

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i think that your parents are right because in this day and age women should go to college. if you discern out of your order it will be hard to find a job without a degree.

 

also, something like carmel seems like a lot for someone who is 17. i don't understand why traditionalists are all about young vocations, strict rules, etc. know what your getting into before applying hun.

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25 minutes ago, valleri said:

 if you discern out of your order it will be hard to find a job without a degree.

 

At this age, if she discerns out, she'll probably start college. When my daughter entered Carmel out of high school, we made sure that she had all her ducks in a row, so to speak, so she could begin college shortly after arriving home. But that didn't happen, and I would say she's the happiest 20 year old woman in the world right now!

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1 hour ago, valleri said:

 

i think that your parents are right because in this day and age women should go to college. if you discern out of your order it will be hard to find a job without a degree.

 

also, something like carmel seems like a lot for someone who is 17. i don't understand why traditionalists are all about young vocations, strict rules, etc. know what your getting into before applying hun

 

If the Church allows entry to Carmel at seventeen then it’s not too much for a seventeen-year-old who is called to enter. If God is calling her to join so young then it is her duty to answer. The strict rules have been laid down by the Church to be freely and joyfully followed by those who have chosen to do so. 

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On 1/14/2021 at 10:33 PM, profer_lumen_cæcis said:

One thing I do want to make clear, however, is that I am not hesitant to attend college because of worry of student debt. Thankfully because of a scholarship opportunity I don't believe that would be the case, and thus my parents also would not be paying for college.

You have an opportunity to go to college and get a degree debt-free and you’re seriously not planning to take it? 

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2 hours ago, underatree said:

You have an opportunity to go to college and get a degree debt-free and you’re seriously not planning to take it? 

College is not for everyone. You shouldn't feel that you have to go to college just because you were a good student and then received a large scholarship. I'm in a similar situation as profer_lumen_caecis: I wanted to enter religious life straight after high school, but my parents are making me go to college first. Thanks be to God, I've been offered a large scholarship, so student debt won't be an obstacle to entering the convent. However, college itself I do see as an obstacle, especially since my heart isn't in it and I just want to enter as soon as possible. Though I've always been a good student, these next few years are going to be a struggle to get through, since I have no interest or desire to continue my schooling. 

2 hours ago, GraceUk said:

Personally speaking I think it's far too young to actually enter a convent. And too young to get married.   Most places don't accept such young people. Twenty one should be the absolute minimum age I think. 

We shouldn't put limits on God's grace. If He truly calls someone to enter religious life at a young age, it's because they are prepared for it. Let's not forget the numerous saints who entered the convent at a young age, or who died as martyrs. Youth doesn't necessarily mean immaturity. 

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Not knowing the type of community you feel called to enter, it's a bit hard to declare either positively or negatively that a college education, whether partial, or taking a full degree, would be beneficial in your religious life.  But [1] all forms education and experience are in fact beneficial to any and everyone, and [2] if you are interested in a community with an active apostolate, getting advanced education in the area in which they serve, such as education or nursing, is a definite plus.  Even vocational studies can be of help.  In the religious life there's a need even in contemplative communities for such people as dieticians and office managers, infirmarians and those with some training even in making the garden bloom better or have learned how to sew.

The convent will be there 2 or 4 years from now.  You will only be strengthened and better prepared for your future life if you take the time now to expand your knowledge and experience base.

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I really shouldn't be up this late... but since I am I thought I'd post this. Great story, and she explains really well her decision to enter so young. https://www.homeofthemother.org/en/about-us/servant-sisters/testimonies/2047-sr-kristen

 "I knew that God did not want me to wait. If He had told me my vocation now, at fifteen, it was because He wanted me to enter now and not wait." - Sr. Kristen

Edited by PaxCordisJesu
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21 hours ago, PaxCordisJesu said:

College is not for everyone. You shouldn't feel that you have to go to college just because you were a good student and then received a large scholarship. I'm in a similar situation as profer_lumen_caecis: I wanted to enter religious life straight after high school, but my parents are making me go to college first. Thanks be to God, I've been offered a large scholarship, so student debt won't be an obstacle to entering the convent. However, college itself I do see as an obstacle, especially since my heart isn't in it and I just want to enter as soon as possible. Though I've always been a good student, these next few years are going to be a struggle to get through, since I have no interest or desire to continue my schooling. 

We shouldn't put limits on God's grace. If He truly calls someone to enter religious life at a young age, it's because they are prepared for it. Let's not forget the numerous saints who entered the convent at a young age, or who died as martyrs. Youth doesn't necessarily mean immaturity. 

College is definitely not for everyone, you’re right. Trade schools and/or apprenticeships can be great for many people. When I was in religious life, I remember the superior wishing for a few more plumbers and electricians as postulants!

Even in a cloistered community, previous degrees and job training can be of great benefit to a community — think about nursing (every community could use nurses), accounting (many communities have to pay someone from outside to do their bookkeeping), mechanical engineering (especially in old houses things break all the time), horticulture (many congregations pay a gardener or groundskeeper)... the list goes on. Even if your major isn’t something that’s immediately useful to the community, anything that is true is in some way a reflection of the ultimate truth that is God. Study itself is a spiritual discipline, requiring patience, perseverance and commitment to the task at hand despite lots of more appealing distractions. 
 

The opportunity to get an education for free is a tremendous gift. Please try to be open to the possibility that this is in fact a gift from God, and don’t let impatience or frustration with high school prevent you from accepting this beautiful, useful gift. 

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10 hours ago, underatree said:

College is definitely not for everyone, you’re right. Trade schools and/or apprenticeships can be great for many people. When I was in religious life, I remember the superior wishing for a few more plumbers and electricians as postulants!

Even in a cloistered community, previous degrees and job training can be of great benefit to a community — think about nursing (every community could use nurses), accounting (many communities have to pay someone from outside to do their bookkeeping), mechanical engineering (especially in old houses things break all the time), horticulture (many congregations pay a gardener or groundskeeper)... the list goes on. Even if your major isn’t something that’s immediately useful to the community, anything that is true is in some way a reflection of the ultimate truth that is God. Study itself is a spiritual discipline, requiring patience, perseverance and commitment to the task at hand despite lots of more appealing distractions. 
 

The opportunity to get an education for free is a tremendous gift. Please try to be open to the possibility that this is in fact a gift from God, and don’t let impatience or frustration with high school prevent you from accepting this beautiful, useful gift. 

Plumbers are an essential!  I can't speak to religious life, of course, but in the course of 42 years of marriage, and the raising of three children, I've worn so many hats that I can't count them all.  You can never know what you will be called on to do -- and that's a general rule of life, not just religious life.

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