A Woman of no Standing


#1

I have lived almost 60 years and have finally come to face something. It is a realization, a painful fact that I must face, that I am a woman with no place in the Church I love so much.

My parents were not Catholic and I was raised with many misconceptions, which I did not believe, handed to me as facts, but I still knew I was His handmaid. I would look at the sisters and nuns I had the opportunity to see and long to be as beautiful as they. But physical beauty was never my strong suit and I was mostly led to believe by my peers that any compensation by being intelligent, talented or any other redeeming quality was not in my corner, so I had to fight and pray to find myself and where I might fit in His Plan.

Lacking in almost any virtue was difficult, but I still sought it out for myself. I thought maybe I was called to religious life. However, it was made perfectly clear that I had no money, no standing, no talent that was needed... nothing. My marriage was a non Sacramental disaster that produced one lovely developmentally handicapped daughter. After I had my marriage annulled, I adopted another special needs daughter. It was the right thing to do, but none of this filled that emptiness which was trying to do His will

I tried with no success (mostly major failure) to be a part of single again ministries. I visited some religious communities and various ways of the consecrated life, all to no avail. When I spoke to people in the vocations office, I left in tears. I was told to, "Focus on being a good mother to your daughters." Of course I do that. Yet, there is that heavy cloud of painful desire to be something, someone, a great love, just as Jesus wants. Therapists have admonished me not to attempt to fill my void with my offspring. It is unfair, so I do not do that. But as a role model, I am nothing.

I have tried to start my own congregation of lay associates. One for women over 45 who have lived and still not found their niche. We are few and none of the others must deal with that burden of being too ugly for others to respond. I am working on it and praying each day that if saints can get through it, so can I. I put on the full armor of God and give my sisters a strong face.

I suppose the worst part of this all and perhaps the most painful, is that if a woman is a widow, she is not blamed, is held harmless and is accepted by many people in almost any variety of vocations. I did not get my annulment to marry again. Lord, no! I wanted to just be free to serve Him. I fear, I am not made for that either. Divorced women all try to find another one who can give them companionship. If a widow re-enters the world, she is met with some empathy, an assumption of her worthiness as a wife and that she will always be loved, even in death.

An annulled woman is a reject. She is assumed defective. That is if she got an annulment for no other reason than to be completely free of the so-called marriage My ex husband was standing, breathing and so he qualified. We never went out or shared any moments. We did not have to do anything special to achieve natural conception, because it was a rare occasion where he touched me while he was drunk. Sadly, I learned that he suffers from a mental illness. It was not his fault, but he couldn't have a "relationship".I still have no idea what having one of those is like. I have always been single. And, no one will ever admit it, but a woman like me is frowned upon in the Church. Even trying to find life as a consecrated lay woman is discouraged. You are not trusted. Something is wrong with you. You are damaged goods. Oh well. If it did not hurt so much, I could go on, facing that fear that I have carried all of my life. But, I am living all of my worse nightmares: Alone, ugly, useless and with no where to go, but to wait for my final reward. If I haven't screwed that up and that is not waiting for me, nothing but the life of a servant for those I had wanted to love when I was on earth.:nerd:


#2

YDear Iris
You do sound very sad, yet how strong of you to raise your handicapped daughter and even to adopt another. That is rare. My sister, who has five of her own, adopted 2 handicapped boys, one severely so, and one of my brothers who has three of his own, has adopted 3 handicapped children one severely so.

What a brave and wonderful company persons like you and these two of my siblings are.
Far from being as you see yourself, you are a courageous and blessed woman.
As handicapped children are handicapped for life, I would imagine that religious institutes would understand that your motherly duties would always call you, and always be primary to your loving mother-heart.

The sister mentioned did receive an annulment from a disastrous marriage that would have your hair standing on end!

You DO have a great and extraordinary love.
You take care of two of His special little ones.
Jesus said “whatever you do for even the least of these, you do for me.”

Every little thing you do for those girls you do for Jesus Himself!
My dear, I shall rejoice when I see you in heaven, rewarded overwhelmingly for your care of two of the Lord’s little ones. Remember how He loved little children…and when handicapped, some persons can have a dependency that calls forth the maternal.

I once wrote the following:
Some of the words came to mind as I answered you:
Understanding

My dear, I love you,
but the reasons matter not.
One cannot argue with the fact of love
which is entirely of the stuff of God.

Yet, my dear, we sometimes seem estranged!
my thought and heart have failed to closely match your own
and we leave each other alien for a while–
even wounded for life–
though both are imaged in love of the same eternal God!

The wonder perhaps is that we meet at all
for each created being is possessed of logic,
of identity unique within itself
which only appears reflected in others’ lives and thoughts
for none can know or judge but by a private consciousness.
**
Each soul remains hidden within divine Love’s mysteries
manifest in wondrous individual expression.
It is a whole world, formed and blessed,
and burdened with heavy crosses, perhaps?
a world in value, goodness and giving apparently slight?
yet perhaps its’ all–the sum of what God grants it
for His own secret delight!**
**
After death many surprises await,
of treasure buried in simple human hearts
concealed perhaps in ugly shapes, foolish deeds and ordinary lives
and in lives that others might choose to brush aside or to crush
as crippled, useless, unbalanced, peculiar, unwanted, unworthy…

He miniaturises His special created delights sometimes–
persons negligible even to themselves.
And it pleases Him that our least ones He shall exalt
before the vast and great and good.**

From God alone comes union and mutual understanding of souls, minds and hearts.
True comprehension waits upon
the fullness of eternal communion, begun in Eucharist.
Until then I only know, like you, the truths as I allow Him
to speak them in my limited, biased self.

I cannot know and love you, dear, nor you myself,
unless God grants this gift.
This does not mean that I do not love you.
Just that I love the best that I can.
Forgive me all the rest. And I, you too.

With love and prayer for you and your girls, you wonderful woman,

Trishie


#3

Dear Iris,

i believe your reward awaits you, and its beautiful.
Dont worry if the world doesnt love you. The God Almighty does.

I too love you. You surely have a beautiful heart,thats what matters ONLY.

May the Lord be with you and continue to bless you.
Amen.


#4

Iris, you are beautiful to me. A beautiful woman living a beautiful life doing beautiful things for your daughters. My heart goes out to you for the pain you are in.

Your perseverance in trying to find your place in the Church makes you a role model to me. I'm sorry you have not had support in your efforts. Please do not give up your search, nor the hope that you will one day learn what God's plan for you is. It took 22 long years full of suffering for me to find the right priest to help me carry the load I bear in my soul, and another 18 months to realize he was the one designated by God for that task. Sometimes His gifts are not obvious.

I will be praying for you daily. God bless you, Iris!


#5

Sometimes, this is where things can go astray in The Church. All the words we read coming out of Rome, for one, may convey joy and hope on many subjects, but sometimes these inspirational words and concepts are not put into practise at parish level and in some institutions in The Church - and joy and hope can be dashed as it meets up with one's everyday reality and personal experience. This can be very hard indeed, I know from experience, if one is in such a parish or approaches (or belongs to) such an institution, but the failure of human beings in The Church at parish and institutional, even diocesan level, cannot cancel out one iota the validity and truth of what The Church is saying to us.
It is some human beings and some parishes, diocese even, and some institutions that are failing to put into practise what The Church and The Gospel proclaims.
Sometimes we can see, even identify, what is happening in all of these, but helpless it seems to address it with any measure of success. It is very hard not to become angry, bitter and discouraged, but fight against anger, bitterness and discouragement we must. I know this and from personal experience. I am now 66yrs of age, living the single celibate chaste state under private vows (with spiritual direction) and for near on 30 years it must be, and my marriage was annuled some 20 years ago. I also suffer Bipolar Disorder.
I am humanly alone, humanly physically and mentally unappealling (quite ugly:banghead: :)) and assessed useless in quite human terms.........a neighbour in passing commented one day something about me not being able to find a man:shrug:

.........nothing but the life of a servant for those I had wanted to love when I was on earth

That kind of suffering makes for holiness - if one can reflect for a while on Jesus and how His Life ended in such apparent total human failure and execution. If I can reflect for a while how our Glorious and Majestic God denied Himself totally of All Divinity, Glory and Majesty and became as one of His own creatures subject to cause and effect in His own human life (as we are) and alife that led to such tragic circumstances and execution. His human life was not one of glory, nor Glory, but of a servant to people. We may not be able to find human companionship anywhere, other than with Jesus, truly man and Truly God always with us - and as we walk in the servant footsteps of the One who came to serve and calls into service and as servants. I can either leave that as 'fancy words' on a page, or take up my cross and follow Him.


#6

Prayers offered for you.True beauty is not physical.


#7

My prayers also, Iris :)

True beauty is not physical

Very true and this is where our spiritual 'eyes' and standards clash totally with those "of this world". If we live The Gospel, then we are counter cultural. And live in this world we must - and as leaven - until called from it. And it can be just humanly difficult sometimes living in this world and in the midst of its contrary values and concepts and probably most especially if one is alone to some degree or other.


#8

I recently came across a quote from John Milton (who wrote Paradise Lost), and English poet who went blind (possibly through glaucoma). He was upset with God at this apparent injustice but found comfort in realising that God doesn't need our talents or our work, but our hearts. It sounds to me as if you have already given yours to Him, so don't lose courage now or begin to doubt His love for you. The inability to be consecrated seems like the end of the world, I know from personal experience, but your life isn't over yet, and there are many twists and turns along the way that God uses to help us get closer to Him. I would never tell you to give up your hopes or dreams, but I would definitely counsel patience and trust above all else.

You might find my blog about discernment At Any Age of some encouragement, I don't know, but I definitely found this poem helpful to me...

On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

by John Milton 1655

I believe that this is a poem of encouragement, saying to those who feel themselves useless because of some personal impediment, "God does have a job for you--in HIS time he will reveal it to you. Until then, trust Him and be patient."

One of the posts that might help you in my second blog, Monastery Musing is this recent one, A Carmelite Week , written about the anniversary of my first attempt at life as a Carmelite. I, too felt the stab of regret and loss, but God showed me once again how much He cares for me. As a mother, you might relate to the part about giving a child shots. I, too am a mother of an adopted child and have been through hell and back with that as well as with my vocation, so I will pray specifically for your intentions and offer my next Holy Communion for you.

Prayers. :gopray2:


#9

Thank you, nun, for your most encouraging words! Everyone has answered with heartfelt kindness, but yours have come as close to addressing my feelings as any.

I was speaking with a friend the other day. She is another single woman with no obvious prospects (she is not Catholic nor does she really understand the faith), but she always talks of the man coming to her that God promised. In many ways, I admire her faith in that belief. But as for myself, I know that if I said those things, I would be a fool. There is no man.

That thought used to be painful, but I prayed for God to take that pain away, and He did. So I do know He does help. At one point, when I was young, I prayed devotions for a year, asking for the man who was meant for me to be found. When nothing happened or changed in my life, I was sad beyond words. I cannot describe the void there is in a person's life when they feel they have no vocation. That is what was left. Yes, I had children to raise, but the whole point to raising them is for them to eventually leave and parent themselves. The bond of love lasts, but the single woman, with child or childless, job or jobless, has that inexplicable VOID in her heart that nothing will fill. That is when I thought that just as I felt when I was young, that I was called to religious life.

Seriously, one of my biggest problems is the attitude people have about an African American woman who was married. The Annulment means nothing. It is as if I am a used garment on the racks of the Goodwill Store, unattractive, out of style and does not fit anyone. I will read your blog, but I feel like that garment will eventually be discarded and simply part of a landfill, useless, repugnant and out of sight.

Eww! I hate to sound so desperately pathetic, but it does feel good to express what is inside for a change.

Iris Marie


#10

[quote="irisfromohio, post:9, topic:292235"]
Thank you, nun, for your most encouraging words! Everyone has answered with heartfelt kindness, but yours have come as close to addressing my feelings as any.

I was speaking with a friend the other day. She is another single woman with no obvious prospects (she is not Catholic nor does she really understand the faith), but she always talks of the man coming to her that God promised. In many ways, I admire her faith in that belief. But as for myself, I know that if I said those things, I would be a fool. There is no man.

That thought used to be painful, but I prayed for God to take that pain away, and He did. So I do know He does help. At one point, when I was young, I prayed devotions for a year, asking for the man who was meant for me to be found. When nothing happened or changed in my life, I was sad beyond words. I cannot describe the void there is in a person's life when they feel they have no vocation. That is what was left. Yes, I had children to raise, but the whole point to raising them is for them to eventually leave and parent themselves. The bond of love lasts, but the single woman, with child or childless, job or jobless, has that inexplicable VOID in her heart that nothing will fill. That is when I thought that just as I felt when I was young, that I was called to religious life.

Seriously, one of my biggest problems is the attitude people have about an African American woman who was married. The Annulment means nothing. It is as if I am a used garment on the racks of the Goodwill Store, unattractive, out of style and does not fit anyone. I will read your blog, but I feel like that garment will eventually be discarded and simply part of a landfill, useless, repugnant and out of sight.

Eww! I hate to sound so desperately pathetic, but it does feel good to express what is inside for a change.

Iris Marie

[/quote]

Iris - I can't say whether your calling to religious life is a substitute for wanting a man or indeed a 'Christ shaped' void that can only be filled by God in religious life but I can see that you are hurting. You aren't the only one who has ever felt alone or unloved or that you don't fit in anywhere, and it isn't because you are African American or because you were married and got a divorce. I, too, have a failed marriage, but that doesn't define me. It was a sorrow and I wish it had never happened, but then regrets and remorse are only constructive if they lead us to do something positive with our lives and not allow them to disempower us. Satan uses our own self-loathing against us, to make us feel that we are not and can not be loved, even by God. Don't let him trick you this way. We can't change many things in our lives, but then again, there are many that we can and should, especially our attitude to life itself. Every thing is a gift, even suffering, if viewed through the eyes of God's love.

I disagree with those who have told you not to fill up your life with children. It may be that this is your vocation, to serve others in ways that many can't. I wondered briefly if this was my calling too, when I was fostering children, and then when I took guardianship of one and adopted another one. But when they were grown, and my longing for religious life was still there, I knew that God had used me for a short time to take care of His children, but that He had other plans for me now. Your vocation may be to care for children (not everyone can take on someone else's child and care for them with the love of a parent) or it may be that God is using you for this for a limited period of time and then He will have another mission for you. And that may or may not be religious life. Being single doesn't mean not having a vocation. Loving and serving God is not limited to those in community (what about hermits or diocesan priests?) or to those with a specific mission. Even as a single woman, you can dedicate yourself to God through prayer for others or serving others in some way. We will never fill the void in our hearts through what we 'do', only through our trust in God. Your friend's faith in finding a man is admirable in that she refuses to allow despair to overwhelm her. Our faith in God needs to be just as strong - that He knows and cares and is taking care. God is testing your faith only to strengthen your trust in Him. Let Him do His work and relax a little.

If you could only see yourself through His eyes, you would know that He sees you as valuable, capable and loved - always. Your love for Him is obviously strong, now let your trust in Him increase to that same level. To doubt your own worth is to doubt Him as a creator because He doesn't make mistakes. He created you for Himself, and as long as you are trying to please Him, He is pleased.

Prayers for you.


#11

Oh, no one told me that devoting my life to my children was not my vocation or calling. It was the exact opposite. I am the one who feels that it is not enough. That feeling is complicated for me to explain, I suppose. It really just seems as though no one understands, I have no where to turn and I am of no use to anyone. Not even my kids. They are growing up though and making a way for themselves. When they insult me, as so many children these days do, it is so painful and really makes one think that the truth is that I am nothing.

Locally, this diocese has functions and groups for widowed persons. The only things available about annulments are for people who want to remarry. As I have stated before, that is obviously not an option for me. Maybe after death I will be able to understand the usefulness of the life I lead, but for now, negotiating the pain is a challenge all its own.


#12

[quote="irisfromohio, post:11, topic:292235"]
Oh, no one told me that devoting my life to my children was not my vocation or calling. It was the exact opposite. I am the one who feels that it is not enough. That feeling is complicated for me to explain, I suppose. It really just seems as though no one understands, I have no where to turn and I am of no use to anyone. Not even my kids. They are growing up though and making a way for themselves. When they insult me, as so many children these days do, it is so painful and really makes one think that the truth is that I am nothing.

Locally, this diocese has functions and groups for widowed persons. The only things available about annulments are for people who want to remarry. As I have stated before, that is obviously not an option for me. Maybe after death I will be able to understand the usefulness of the life I lead, but for now, negotiating the pain is a challenge all its own.

[/quote]

Well, all I can say is to try not to let those harsh words of the children hurt you. It isn't easy I know as I had similar experiences with my daughter, experiences that were almost unbearable but the key word here is 'almost'. The thing to remember is that those who offer their lives to God are also offering to share a little of the load of His Cross, which was put there through our own sins and transgressions. He carries it for all of us, but when we offer our lives to Him, he allows us to take some of our own Cross back on our shoulders. He has told us that His yoke is easy and the burden light, but it doesn't always feel that way when we lose focus on Who is actually doing most of the carrying for us. When it does get almost unbearable and we stumble or fall, we can always turn to Him and ask for help. Like Simon of Cyrene, we help to carry the Cross, but the responsibility is not ours - and we can ask for help from Jesus, who took this responsibility upon Himself.

And try to comfort yourself (it seems hard right now I know) in the knowledge that God gives those who can bear it, more of the load, to help out others who aren't able (or are unwilling) to carry anything themselves. These people who offer themselves to God for others become saints. Maxilimilian Kolbe even offered his physical life for another, because his interior strength through his faith in God was great enough to bear the burden but not everyone is called to that level of interior strength. Suffering is a way of increasing our trust in God though so when it can't be avoided, we know that it must be necessary to help strengthen us. This time seems like a punishment but it isn't - it is an act of grace that you might not be able to see until later when the cloud has lifted from your heart. If you want to be His, a certain amount of suffering is part of the package.

All I can ask is that you do everything in your power to avoid sinking into negativity and despair. If you continue to focus on the pain, it will become stronger in your mind than God's love - and that is a lie. Be kind to yourself and do something you like - watch a good movie or visit a beautiful park or have a relaxing bath or eat a favorite food. Enjoy the gifts of this life and see the beauty the creator has put everywhere.

Usefulness is a state of mind. As you said, we might never know the full purpose or story of our lives until we are with God and He can explain it all to us. We don't need to know, just to love and accept that we are each given a tailor made Cross, designed specifically to help us achieve sanctity and to prepare us for life with Him. As St Paul said, '... our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.' Rm 8:18

Never forget our goal is not in this life, but the next.


#13

Iris, I felt so sad reading your original posting.

I'm a single Catholic woman 'on the other side of 55', and I sure as heck don't know what God wants of me for my life, either!

I think it's a lot worse for those of us who are single. We're all alone; unlike you, who has children. Singles are pretty much the 'forgotten demographic' in the Church anyway, unless you're loaded with 'gifts and talents' and are a whiz at organizing. Only then does a Catholic who just happens to be single (a 'never-wed') get any sort of attention.

If you live a more or less 'hidden' life (as I am now, with a different living situation-I had to move from my long-time home in May and am now in a subsidized apartment), then you're pretty much forgotten or just plain overlooked.

Singlehood often 'sucks', but what else is left?


#14

Thank you, Barb! I know no one in my age group who is a single woman over 55. And, I bet the reason for that are the reasons you state. It is so much different for men, I am guessing. At any rate, being single with or without children has very little disparity. The young people get their own life. I am asked to a scant number of social gatherings. In fact, I went over to a family friend’s house with one of my daughters to watch a movie (I didn’t care for) once this year. That was my first social event in over a year. I don’t feel missed. I have mobility issues and my family will not help me get to mass, so I EWTN & have the home Eucharistic Ministers bring Christ to me each week.

I have been trying to form a congregation of religious and the attitude of the bishop’s office is dismissive. There is one woman in the diocese who is establishing a community. She was always single, but from a very wealthy family and was able to purchase the property where their community lives. She has photographs of clergy all around her on their website, but I am constantly warned about my need for discretion. They live a very Marian charism, like so many other communities. Our mission is pro-life, but concentrated on the lives who are the fruit of that choice for LIFE. We also pray for the Sacramental Vocation of marriage. I was told that the bishop doesn’t see any need for it. I am still struggling, we are in formation and I am even learning to pitch my charism in my college classes.

If someone where me, how would they perceive being “snubbed” like this? If my father left me a lot of money from his lucrative enterprises, regardless of my state in life, I think I might have more significance.

I don’t think it is easy for people to face the “void” of which I speak when they are not in our shoes. BTW, I was “married”, but if you knew the history, you would know that I have actually been SINGLE all of my life.

Thanks again, Barbara.

Iris Marie


#15

Dear Iris and Barb,

My heart goes out to you. You do have a special place in the Church. You (Iris) are a mother of two precious people. More importantly, you are a daughter of a most loving God.

I think it is really hard for parishes to appropriately recognize and help singles assimilate into parish events and activities. The core for a lot of parishes are the families with children involved in religious ed or in parochial school. When I was a laywoman, I was the only single in a 5,000 ish family parish to volunteer for a white elephant sale in my shift for getting it set up. Everyone else was "obligated" to volunteer since they had kids in school, and they asked me why I came if I didn't have to (gee, maybe that call in the bulletin was just a reminder to the parents of school kids to volunteer?). It was awkward! Part, I think, because we are as a society forgetting how to act charitably towards others through proper conversation and etiquette. The art of conversation is almost lost.

Anyway, please be assured of my prayers and support for you as you live out the baptismal call to holiness! To the heights!


#16

There is a big difference between someone who has the money/property to start a religious community and one who has nothing. Mother Teresa didn't exactly get a "hand up" from the Church, either. If it is God's will, it will happen. If not, then it was your desire and not God's will. That sounds harsh, but I don't mean it to be. It's just that sometimes we all need a reality check. Remember your first crush? You probably had your wedding planned and the names for all your children picked out, when you realized that he didn't even know you were alive! It happens to all of us. I used to feel hurt because my parents didn't send me to Catholic school, but now that I look back on it, God knew best. Had I gone to Catholic School in the 70's, maybe I would have become one of those mislead souls for whom the Doctrinal Assessment is posing such challenges... like those in the Church of Laodicea, who have lost their first love. It happens without us realizing it. Back to my point, though, the Church always looks at plan of the founder/foundress with a couple of questions in mind. Is this a work that is needed by the church? Is this need not being met in some other way? Is this group sustainable? (i.e., can they support themselves?) It is similar to how a parent looks at the person their daughter wants to marry. Does he have a job? Is he going to be able to provide for a family? Does he LOVE my daughter? Would a reasonable parent encourage their daughter to marry a young man with no job, no education, no training... just because he "loves" their daughter? Probably not. You have to take an honest look at yourself and listen to what the people in the vocations office are trying to tell you.


#17

I agree with Sr MM although it isn’t always easy to hear. I was encouraged by some people to try to start a religious community, so I did try. But after meetings with the Vicar for Religious (who took the time to meet with me and with a canon lawyer to discuss the possibilities), I realised that the work was not God’s work, but mine, and I dropped the idea.

I am not saying that what you are doing is not God’s work, merely that I don’t think that you should wonder at things being difficult. They weren’t easy for St Teresa of Avila either, who had to face all kinds of opposition to her ideas about reforming the Carmelites. She and St John of the Cross underwent all kinds of persecution, and so did some of the Prioresses that St Teresa set up in her convents.

The thing is that when we do anything for Christ, there is going to be the Cross right there. It is part of the package deal. So you really do have to ask yourself whether you are willing and able to carry such a heavy one and what your attitude to such suffering is going to be. Is it going to be complaining about perceived injustices or rejoicing that God trusts you so much?

There are many people today trying to start new communities and some of them appear to be succeeding, but many more are not. The Bishops have to make tough decisions about these things, and so do the Vicars for Religious. Perhaps you could set up a meeting with your Vicar for Religious to discuss the practical realities of your organization and see she what he/she has to say. I was very downcast after the Vicar met with me and it hurt to hear some of the things she had to say, but in the end, I knew that God wasn’t asking this of me. He might be asking it of you, but you need guidance and support from someone in authority to make it a reality.

I wrote about my experience as The Reluctant Foundress in my blog. It doesn’t all apply to you, since I was in Australia at the time and I assume you are in the States, which has more people and many more new communities springing up, but you might want to read it just to see that it isn’t ever going to be easy. Being a Founder is one of the really tough jobs, and thos who do it definitely need a calling from God to see them through the tough times. Saint Mary McKillop was even excommunicated by her Bishop at one point in time and removed as superior from her own community, but she had the support of the Holy Father. So, you are going to have to work with some of the Church hierarchy to make it work.

And no, I don’t think anyone is being particularly dismissive of you - the Bishop is just calling like he sees it for his diocese.

As for the ‘void’, everyone faces that during their life for various reasons, the death of spouse, the ‘empty nest’ when children leave, being fired from a job. It’s how we respond to these trials that affects our future. Our faith and trust is more important than our ‘usefulness’.

Prayers for you.


#18

I understand and no one ever means to be harsh when I hear those words. When I was younger... MUCH younger, I felt my only option really was a married vocation. I did not feel that I was good enough for religious life, to be honest. But my "romantic" life I always felt analogous to Howard Hugh's "Spruce Goose". All dressed up for a specific purpose, but after one short spin around the San Francisco Bay that's it. No place to go. I prayed a Rosary Novena and other Rosary devotions for a year, asking Our Mother to help me find the way to find this person who would be my husband. Nothing changed. Life has gone on, and I am living the life I had always feared when I was young. Useless, unloved, unwanted, no talent, no gifts and just an unnecessary thing in life.

I have studied this aspect of canon law for 15 years and am teased by the canon lawyers in the diocese about my superior understanding to theirs. I know there is a need, I will probably continue to direct my energies in that area, but our focus is something that is as unappealing in the 21st Century as the lepers where in the 19th. I cannot explain my situation and feelings. I suppose I cannot blame you for not believing or understanding me. I will not machonate over the finer points of my journey. It would serve no purpose.

I just don't want to be sad living my faith. And, I am confused. Is that what is expected of me? Is that my purpose, to simply do what I believe, worship and try to live our Catholic Faith while feeling that what I am is a barnacle on the back of the life of the Church, because I am not a widow nor a pure unmarried woman, but some jaded person who tried to live a Sacramental Marriage, raise developmentally challenged children in the faith, and now that that has been accomplished, I am useless. I am simply a significant mass to take up space in the church's seats and pray as I wait to die and then, just maybe, find out why God would create such a useless, nondescript, unnecessary being to take part in His Divine Plan.

Sorry, I don't mean to be pathetic. I just don't get it.

Iris Marie


#19

[quote="irisfromohio, post:18, topic:292235"]
I understand and no one ever means to be harsh when I hear those words. When I was younger... MUCH younger, I felt my only option really was a married vocation. I did not feel that I was good enough for religious life, to be honest. But my "romantic" life I always felt analogous to Howard Hugh's "Spruce Goose". All dressed up for a specific purpose, but after one short spin around the San Francisco Bay that's it. No place to go. I prayed a Rosary Novena and other Rosary devotions for a year, asking Our Mother to help me find the way to find this person who would be my husband. Nothing changed. Life has gone on, and I am living the life I had always feared when I was young. Useless, unloved, unwanted, no talent, no gifts and just an unnecessary thing in life.

I have studied this aspect of canon law for 15 years and am teased by the canon lawyers in the diocese about my superior understanding to theirs. I know there is a need, I will probably continue to direct my energies in that area, but our focus is something that is as unappealing in the 21st Century as the lepers where in the 19th. I cannot explain my situation and feelings. I suppose I cannot blame you for not believing or understanding me. I will not machonate over the finer points of my journey. It would serve no purpose.

I just don't want to be sad living my faith. And, I am confused. Is that what is expected of me? Is that my purpose, to simply do what I believe, worship and try to live our Catholic Faith while feeling that what I am is a barnacle on the back of the life of the Church, because I am not a widow nor a pure unmarried woman, but some jaded person who tried to live a Sacramental Marriage, raise developmentally challenged children in the faith, and now that that has been accomplished, I am useless. I am simply a significant mass to take up space in the church's seats and pray as I wait to die and then, just maybe, find out why God would create such a useless, nondescript, unnecessary being to take part in His Divine Plan.

Sorry, I don't mean to be pathetic. I just don't get it.

Iris Marie

[/quote]

I feel your pain but your words are so full of it that you can't focus on the joy and the love that is God, even in our suffering. You are not the first person to feel useless or unwanted or unloved, but if these are your feelings, how do you ever hope to found a religious community? All the saints experienced deep sufering but their words are always ones of hope and trust in God.

I believe you are sincere but I can't help feel that your Bishop is right. Even if God does want you to start a new community, your own pain is getting in the way. Deal with your own personal self-esteem issues before trying to do something this hard or you are just going to get more hurt along the way as you perceive one slight after another and one injustice after another. It sounds as if you are suffering from depression. can you seek some professional help for this first? I am praying for you. No matter how you feel (unloved, ueseless, unwanted), none of these things are true with respect to God. He sees you as valuable, capable and loved because He has created you and nothing He makes can be described in the terms you use.

Lift up your head from looking at the ground and look up to heaven. There is great beauty even in the void. God is there.

Peace and prayers for you.


#20

Iris,
One of the things you didn't mention (or if you did, I missed it) was the purpose of the community you were trying to found. What is it that you were wanting to do for the diocese?

While you are in this stage of waiting, I would recommend you read the lives of other founders, especially those formerly married. St. Marguerite D'Youville (recently canonized) from Canada, and Elizabeth Anne Seton come to mind. I'm sure there are many others.

This will help you-
-see the purpose in your own suffering
-see how the saints handled their sufferings
-clarify your own calling

God bless you,


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