A Vocation Question


#1

I'm considering religious life, or maybe it's considering me. Not sure which way it works exactly except that it is a persistent thought that will not go away.

There is a community I've been quite interested in, but after reading some of the vocation director's blog, I have some concerns.

Now I realize we are all human, including nuns! so please do not take this as me being harsh or judgmental.

The vocation director has been in the monastery for 18 years. Last years Lenten reflection talked about how she gave up cream and sugar in her coffee. But while traveling during Lent, for a period of three days, she allowed herself to have cream and sugar as well as to sample various flavored creams with the excuse that she deserved it due to her traveling hardships.

Is it a red flag that a vocation director of 18 years can't give up cream and sugar for Lent?

I'm so far from holy, please do not see this as judgmental. But if I do enter a religious community, it seems as though that community should challenge me to be better. Am I being too harsh?


#2

I believe it's not just the community that has to challenge you, but also yourself once you enter. St Therese of Lisieux entered in a monastery that was not very observant and there were nuns who were taking liberties with the rule. Even the prioress had her defects to the point that it was causing scandal. But St Therese tried her best and said that even if everyone would break the rule, it was not an excuse for her to be unfaithful.
Certainly, this is not the case for the vocation director of your community, because the example with the cream and sugar is something minor.
One should enter religious life in an observant monastery, but I would say that the cream and sugar it's not a sufficient reason to give up on your interest for this community in particular and if you are really called there you can become holy despite of the defects of others.


#3

Something as minor as "cream and sugar" should not be a deterrent to religious life!!

We all at some point convince ourselves that what we are doing is okay, without thinking. Have you ever wondered if she sincerely regretted doing that? It's probably not hypocrisy as when burden or trials in life hold us down, we seek some kind of relief. In this case I think that it must be cream and sugar.:shrug:

We all make mistakes at some point, but just the fact that she was giving up something that was hard for her to live without, to me is admirable.

Please, I pray that you should not just consider the actions of one, but many things before making a firm decision.
I wish you all the best in your decision and all decisions to come in life!
:D


#4

[quote="Jenny35, post:1, topic:329693"]
I'm considering religious life, or maybe it's considering me. Not sure which way it works exactly except that it is a persistent thought that will not go away.

There is a community I've been quite interested in, but after reading some of the vocation director's blog, I have some concerns.

Now I realize we are all human, including nuns! so please do not take this as me being harsh or judgmental.

The vocation director has been in the monastery for 18 years. Last years Lenten reflection talked about how she gave up cream and sugar in her coffee. But while traveling during Lent, for a period of three days, she allowed herself to have cream and sugar as well as to sample various flavored creams with the excuse that she deserved it due to her traveling hardships.

Is it a red flag that a vocation director of 18 years can't give up cream and sugar for Lent?

I'm so far from holy, please do not see this as judgmental. But if I do enter a religious community, it seems as though that community should challenge me to be better. Am I being too harsh?

[/quote]

Sometimes the most effective way of growing in holiness in religious life is by dealing with one's own judgments of those one lives with! I know you aren't being judgmental in your post but you will find many instances of things like this in every community! This is the meat of the challenge to become holier!

Religious life in community is not a place where you find people who will hold you to a high standard of living by their very example at all times - and it shouldn't be so. That doesn't build holiness. What does build holiness is letting the humanness of each sister (all her faults, annoying habits, rule bending, sins, sorrows...) rub against the humanness of you (all your faults, annoying habits, rule bending, sins, sorrows...) and finding a way to live in charity and grace in that space.

The sisters in any community you might join will fail to live up to your expectations. That is a for sure given fact! You will fail to live up to their expectations. It isn't wrong to have expectations (it's good and quite normal!) but its good to know from the beginning that they won't be met and that is when you have an opportunity to practice charity, gentleness, patience, meekness, obedience, poverty, prudence, and temperance - that's when you have the opportunity for growth in holiness. This is the challenge in religious life that you are looking for... it's just not in the form you expected it to be in.

I hope this helped put a new perspective on your question. Prayers as you discern!

SM


#5

Travel can be very stressful. I don’t know if you realize this, but in Lent, travel can be a reason for eating dishes with meat (normally a big no-no). That is a much bigger deal than a self-imposed penance like not adding cream and sugar to coffee. If the Church recognizes that travel can cause hardships and dispense with the prohibition with meat… well, I doubt we should be scandalized at a private and personal penance being suspended for a day. Of course, no doubt rigorous and/or scrupulous people would say that travel is “just an excuse” and demand that everyone abstain from meat… but the Church knows better and is wiser. I know someone who can’t stand coffee, and mixes it with hot cocoa to be able to drink the stuff down for a hard day. It would be uncharitable for her to NOT drink coffee because she wouldn’t be as well tempered… Sisters are human beings. They vow to “strive” for perfection, not “be perfect”. As long as they’re trying, that’s what counts. So what if there’s a glitch in a privately imposed penance? She might have been extra nice to someone who really irritated her on the plane or train. She may have given up her aisle or window seat to someone who requested it. She may prayed the Office a lot more devoutly than she normally does. Who’s to judge? It’s one thing to see someone publicly break their vows in a serious way. It’s totally another to see someone not doing a “good thing” that they are not obliged to do.

Also, building on what others have said… St. Therese’s sisters were discussing among themselves what her obituary would say. The convent sent lengthy obituaries of the lives of their sisters out to other Carmels and friends. These obituaries would bring out the virtues of the deceased sisters. Well, some of these sisters were scratching their veils and wondering what the superior could come up with because the Little Flower was not special in any way! Little did they know that she was to be a canonized saint and a doctor of the Church! So here’s a Doctor of the Church who got judged because she didn’t get up quickly enough to accompany another sister to the visitor room (so that another sister could enjoy this because of her sacrifice), and she was scolded for being “lazy”. St. Therese was also the one to say that after committing a fault, a person was to run back to God! We don’t know how a person measures up in the sight of God. Even the Bible says that the just man falls several times a day. We don’t know if the sister you were talking about even committed a fault. All we know is that she chose not to do a lenten penance that she had chosen. Seriously. For three days. Wow.


#6

You *will *be affected by the prevailing mentality of the community you join, whether strict, lax, or in between. But more important than mortifications are fidelity and charity. Are they docile to Church authority, both in teachings and discipline? Is there a spirit of charity there? If not, I'd discern elsewhere.


#7

[quote="Ad_Orientem, post:6, topic:329693"]
You *will *be affected by the prevailing mentality of the community you join, whether strict, lax, or in between. But more important than mortifications are fidelity and charity. Are they docile to Church authority, both in teachings and discipline? Is there a spirit of charity there? If not, I'd discern elsewhere.

[/quote]

The poster wasn't talking about an issue of faith, morals or obedience... It was sugar and cream in a coffee. It is hardly an indicator of whether a community is strict or lax... It's proof only of the humanness of one member! Even in very strict communities there will ALWAYS be a member that does something that proves their humanity... And it will annoy the others. That's how you practice holiness and charity. It's easy to be charitable to someone who is perfect. True charity responds to imperfections and neediness.


#8

I wish I had never posted this. Sorry.


#9

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