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Canine conundrum


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floscarmeli

Hello!

I’m sure this topic has been broached on this forum before. I’ve been discerning a vocation for about a year. The desire to live the spiritual  life has been much longer, but it has crystallized into wanting to be a Catholic nun. I’m a 33 year old woman who was baptized Catholic but was never confirmed. I’m currently in RCIA working on being confirmed. I’m interested in the new Carmelite monastery in Fairfield, PA. 

I would leave it all behind in a heartbeat—if it wasn’t for my dogs. I have two terriers who have been very special to me and who are like my children. The older one is entering his golden years, and I can’t see leaving him to join Carmel and letting him spend his last years with someone else. 
 

I’m torn. My longing to live solely with Christ is nearly unbearable. But I feel like the dogs have been provided as a sort of roadblock. It’s very painful some days, living in two worlds can be taxing. Do I need to learn to live in the world *and* be perfectly devoted to Christ? Is there any religious order that’s a little more relaxed that would allow my dogs?

I appreciate your time, advice, and prayers. May God Reward You. 

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Definitely a difficult call, but have you been in touch with Fairfield at all? Being a woman of a similar age, for many of these bustling, traditional monasteries, 30 is too old, especially since you are not confirmed.  You may be worrying a couple years in advance for something that can't happen anyways. 

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You might find a religious order prepared to take your dogs. I expect if they had a good amount of Land it might not be such a huge  problem.  But leaving pets is one of the detatchments which is expected in most cases. 

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First of all, let me say my input will not be helpful..except to validate your feelings!

That is a really difficult situation to be in!!

Nothing like dealing with the feeling, of abandoning our faithful fur companions; add to the guilt, that most likely would arise from the separation. 

 It's not like one can "explain" the reason to our fur companions for a major change they are about to experiance and why.

Possibly going into a monastery that have their own canine "look outs" or joining a community that has a convent cat..just isn't the same thing. 

There is alot to consider. 

I remember back in the day...being in a similar situation. I would have to leave my long term feline behind...but yet...it was ok that Mother so-so was photographed holding their convent cat! So...its acceptable the sisters have one (or two...you know..for rodent population control)...yet I have to abandon and leave mine behind. Boy did I say alot of prayers! Lol

My investigation and research yield zero results. Times and circumstances may have changed that aspect though.

I am sure others on here, will be able to help guide you with their excellent input. 

You are not alone, in having that situation to consider. 

May God bless you in your journey!

Edited by nikita92
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Totally Franciscan

I have had dogs all my life, sometimes two or three at a time.  I now do dog sitting and have quite an extensive clientele.  So, I know dogs!  One thing that impressed me that I had not known before, is that dogs respond to love no matter who gives love.  One of my clients tells me that in the parking lot, she opens the car door, and her dog runs straight to my front door.  While under my care, the dogs seem quite happy with the love and attention I give them, as well as the walks and treats!  While they are with me, I notice no sadness or depression. I always make sure it is a fun experience for them.  After finding a wonderful home for your dogs, they will be fine, healthy, and happy.  It will be much harder on you than the dogs.  Detachment from things of this world is part of religious life.  Knowing your dogs are well cared for will make that transition easier for you.  

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People leave behind, um, people when they enter religious life. Human beings. Family members. I'm sorry, but if you find the thought of leaving behind animals, no matter how important they are to you, a virtually insurmountable barrier, then it probably is a sign that you care more about them than about religious life. Nothing wrong with that. But part of religious life is detachment. 

As has been said, make sure they are well cared for. If your call is real, it will override this.

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14 hours ago, truthfinder said:

Definitely a difficult call, but have you been in touch with Fairfield at all? Being a woman of a similar age, for many of these bustling, traditional monasteries, 30 is too old, especially since you are not confirmed.  You may be worrying a couple years in advance for something that can't happen anyways. 

might argue that this would put her in a position that they would make an exception.  Being a recent convert or revert puts her in a different position than a young lady who has been a practicing Catholic but is just now responding. It's true that the tend to accept only younger women, but I do know the JMJ's have made the very occasional exception for one they truly believe has a calling. 

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I am not familiar with this monastery - but cloistered Carmelites are expected to be detached to a huge extent. (Not that all religious life does not involve detachment, but, in a house of active Franciscans, one might just find a pet - not that everyone can bring one along.) I wonder (and cannot know) if this is more a reason you are thinking of not to pursue such a life - very strict and austere - than what would prevent you for doing so.

Converts, or those who come to devotion in mature years, often have a period of having a sense of needing to do the extraordinary. Focus on your Confirmation now - by the next Easter vigil, you may be able to see things more clearly.

Edited by gloriana35
typo
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4 hours ago, JHFamily said:

might argue that this would put her in a position that they would make an exception.  Being a recent convert or revert puts her in a different position than a young lady who has been a practicing Catholic but is just now responding. It's true that the tend to accept only younger women, but I do know the JMJ's have made the very occasional exception for one they truly believe has a calling. 

Well this is good to know.  But I still stand behind my question about whether or not the OP has contacted them.  Not to put the cart before the horse, so to speak.

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2 hours ago, truthfinder said:

Well this is good to know.  But I still stand behind my question about whether or not the OP has contacted them.  Not to put the cart before the horse, so to speak.

I get it. I just didn't want her to be discouraged from writing to them to tell her story and ask.

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ReasonableFaith
On 4/8/2021 at 3:32 PM, floscarmeli said:

I would leave it all behind in a heartbeat—if it wasn’t for my dogs. I have two terriers who have been very special to me and who are like my children. The older one is entering his golden years, and I can’t see leaving him to join Carmel and letting him spend his last years with someone else. 

It would seem a reasonable approach to contact the community to see if they would be interested in discerning with you. If so you could get to know them while they get to know you. You may even experience what they think about dogs.  Some communities have dogs, others do not.  One of great comfort was the Great Dane, Br Jude, at The Abbey of St Walburga.

There may be no need to worry about the older dog or either dog.  If you were ever asked to join the community you could then express your preference to being a dog or dogs.  The community would then give  a determination and you would be free to act accordingly.  

 

 

 

 

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profer_lumen_cæcis
2 hours ago, ReasonableFaith said:

 If you were ever asked to join the community you could then express your preference to being a dog or dogs.  The community would then give  a determination and you would be free to act accordingly.  

 

 

 

 

I don't know--it seems to me that a community might be leery of one who expresses a preference to being a dog or dogs.

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On 4/9/2021 at 3:49 AM, Nunsuch said:

As has been said, make sure they are well cared for. If your call is real, it will override this.

I want to second this, in both aspects.

I once knew a religious community with two dogs, and I have to say, while the sisters all loved caring for them and taking them for walks, I got the impression the dogs were less happy with the arrangement. I believe dogs only cope well with so many "pack leaders", not with 20 sisters or so taking the role in turns. So, even if the convent would accept you as well as your dogs, it might be not in their best interest to expect them to become "convent dogs", shared with everyone.

But I find the other point Nunsuch makes even more important, and I have another little story to illustrate this: I once knew someone who was on retreat discerning for a religous order. During this retreat, she noticed that her biggest concern was not the substantial changes this would bring to her life - but the fact that she would have to leave a certain collection of things behind. She found herself thinking about this collection much more than was warranted, as she noticed herself. And luckily her retreat guide could help her to realize that this was basically her mind's way of telling her "I'm not ready for this!".

If you feel that you cannot leave your dogs, even if you know that they will be happy, then this could really be a sign that at least now this life is not your vocation. And I think a good community will notice this - they might allow you to bring your dogs with you, but only if you could just as well leave them with a good new owner.

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