Anyone who has left the religious life and regrets it?


#1

In 1964 at age 21, I joined a Discalced Carmelite Convent. I loved the life and felt this was the right place God wanted me to be. Looking back I see myself as too immature at the time and was too shy to talk with anyone regarding the reasons I thought I should leave, and realize now that it probably could have been worked out if I had talked with the Mother Superior openly. I am beyond the age now where I could go back.

The years after I was there Vatican II changes began and I was lost in a world where there seemed to no longer be reverence at Mass, Our Lady was shunted to the back of the bus, the Eucharist was put to the side and it appeared to me that the Holy Sacrifice had turned from God-centered to Socializing-centered. At that point I no longer practiced my faith. I always prayed and tried to center my life and actions on Our Lord. At one point I thought I had found a church that allowed the Latin Rite and communion on the tongue, but it turned out to be bogus and the priest was one of those caught molesting an altar boy. The church closed and there were no more in the area that offered the mass of adoration and the Latin vernacular.

So I tried to live a God centered life in spite of all this but always missed the Church and the Sacraments.

I twist of fate (really a jolt from God I am sure) in the last few months has led me to ache for the religious life again. There is now a church in the area where holy Mass is offered in the traditional form and I have returned and am so happy to be able to worship God in a reverential manner and to receive Holy Communion again.

The ache is still here though, particularly for the Carmelite life I did not live. I am offering up the sorrow to Our Lord, and have received a lot of comforting from Him.

I have gotten through a lot of the grief and know it is His will that my life has been as it is, but I began to wonder about those who have left the religious life and may be going through anything similar to what I am experiencing. Maybe someone would like to join this thread and know they aren’t alone. May God love you and keep you close and heal your wounds.


#2

Your story is touching and heartbreaking. My Church is pretty true to the Roman Catholic teachings and we do have a Latin Mass. I love it and wouldn't trade it for the world.

I do know someone who left Religious life but I'm not sure if she regrets it. She's a very Holy person and then when I found out she was entering a convent, I was surprised at all. I thought for sure she belonged there. But I really missed her. A few years later, I saw her at Mass with her family dressed in normal clothes. I thought maybe she was on breske. After Mass, I went over and asked her brother how long she was home. He said For good. She left the convent. I was shocked. I thought it was perfect for her. But its her decision and I'm sure she's happy. Maybe she will try again in the future. Right now, I'm really trying to figure out my vocation


#3

Your story is indeed the story of a painful journey.

Sometimes it can be that the person who has an ardent love of God and desires to give themselves wholly to Him and on the outside of religious life looking on it can think intellectually and in heart that the way to live out this ardent love of God and to give themselves wholly to Him is in the religious life. There can be a difference between what one thinks intellectually and what one is feeling in one’s heart and to where God is actually calling one and still a call to give oneself wholly to God in a loving embrace. It takes spiritual direction and possibly a journey of discernment to discern one’s call and vocation.
The person who has gone into religious life with all the best reasons on actually experiencing the life can discover that one does not have a call to that particular lifestyle, that particular community. Such a person may have a call to religious life, or they may not.

To go into religious life and then leave and find one has regrets about leaving may be the entering into a journey of a painful process of detachment from self - such regrets can also have other reasons. It takes ongoing spiritual direction.

Hence, the very wisest of moves is to seek out a spiritual director. Online Catholic Discussion Sites can be very helpful indeed and the potential exists for much good from various perspectives to be done and for the sake of The Kingdom. When it comes to one’s call from God and vocation and particuarly if one is confused for some reason, sites such as CAF here have a limited role almost always - wise and sound personal spiritual direction on an ongoing basis is the path to travel.

TS


#4

Thank you TiggerS.

I know there is no reason why someone could not live a contemplative life as a lay person and I believe that's where I've been led. It is all about the love of God and not the trappings.

I posted this because there may be some who are also working their way through the sorrow to the light and wouldn't mind if a fellow traveler cheered them on.

God bless you.


#5

[quote="anndh, post:4, topic:230546"]
Thank you TiggerS.

I know there is no reason why someone could not live a contemplative life as a lay person and I believe that's where I've been led. It is all about the love of God and not the trappings.

I posted this because there may be some who are also working their way through the sorrow to the light and wouldn't mind if a fellow traveler cheered them on.

God bless you.

[/quote]

Hi anndh - I was in religious life and left. I found it a very painful journey from the time of making the decision to leave, leaving and then the not knowing to what I was called, only knowing to what I was not called and the journey into the light of recognizing my calling and embracing it (although that is back many years now). I sure could have used some cheering on from fellow travellers back then:thumbsup: It took me years to adjust to the lack of 'trappings' in all their expressions as they exist within religious life. I certainly do not regret leaving religious life - but I am grateful to my journey within it. It taught me much that I would find invaluable in my life now in the single lay state under private vows to the evangelical counsels and with ongoing spiritual direction. It can have its "pinpricks" (St Therese) as can any vocation - my burden can be at times is that people around me consider me a failed religious who has never gotten over it and hence never married. I am anything but that and did not embrace this way of life until I sought very wise spiritual direction from a priest who knew me very well indeed.

God's blessings on you and yours also.............TS


#6

I was in religious life for over 25 years & left. I entered real young at the end of the '50s &
left in the early '80s....Yes, I still miss my religious life. But, what's more puzzling is how much the Congregation has changed! I would never want to return to the kind of life they live now! So maybe it was a blessing in disguise? If you want to contact me personally, I'd be very happy to write to you....I am still trying to return to religious life: this time to a contemplative community the uses the TLM & is orthodox, etc.


#7

[quote="anndh, post:1, topic:230546"]
In 1964 at age 21, I joined a Discalced Carmelite Convent. I loved the life and felt this was the right place God wanted me to be. Looking back I see myself as too immature at the time and was too shy to talk with anyone regarding the reasons I thought I should leave, and realize now that it probably could have been worked out if I had talked with the Mother Superior openly. I am beyond the age now where I could go back.

The years after I was there Vatican II changes began and I was lost in a world where there seemed to no longer be reverence at Mass, Our Lady was shunted to the back of the bus, the Eucharist was put to the side and it appeared to me that the Holy Sacrifice had turned from God-centered to Socializing-centered. At that point I no longer practiced my faith. I always prayed and tried to center my life and actions on Our Lord. At one point I thought I had found a church that allowed the Latin Rite and communion on the tongue, but it turned out to be bogus and the priest was one of those caught molesting an altar boy. The church closed and there were no more in the area that offered the mass of adoration and the Latin vernacular.

So I tried to live a God centered life in spite of all this but always missed the Church and the Sacraments.

I twist of fate (really a jolt from God I am sure) in the last few months has led me to ache for the religious life again. There is now a church in the area where holy Mass is offered in the traditional form and I have returned and am so happy to be able to worship God in a reverential manner and to receive Holy Communion again.

The ache is still here though, particularly for the Carmelite life I did not live. I am offering up the sorrow to Our Lord, and have received a lot of comforting from Him.

I have gotten through a lot of the grief and know it is His will that my life has been as it is, but I began to wonder about those who have left the religious life and may be going through anything similar to what I am experiencing. Maybe someone would like to join this thread and know they aren't alone. May God love you and keep you close and heal your wounds.

[/quote]

I suspect that a number of people, probably mainly women, regret leaving religious life, whether in the Pre-Vat II days where there was a lot of verbal abuse to young religious, also during the pre-Vat II days where those who left were discouraged from further exploring religious life in different communities, and during the later periods of upheaval. Now all this is different, both for the traditional and the 'updated' communities.

...you could join a religious group such as a local one in your diocese, that practices the rosary or adoration, or a lay group affiliated with a religious community. There are many such, Benedictine oblates, Franciscan and Carmelite lay groups(Dominican? I am not sure, tho' I don't know why not)--to express your newly rediscovered devotion. Especially as you are visiting a church with the traditional mass, there mush be fellow parishioners with these interests and affiliations.


#8

Hello, 1234,
I dont think you quite understand if your were not in religious life at that time...You seem to convey that Pre-Vat 2 religous life was somehow depressing or not open enough. That was not my own personal experience. What we had cannot be replaced by life in the frilly Post-Vat2 communities nor by prayers & devotions at the parich community level. I still do miss my community as it was but would not want to re-enter it as it is. Thank God I left in time!


#9

[quote="HOLYHEARTS, post:8, topic:230546"]
Hello, 1234,
I dont think you quite understand if your were not in religious life at that time...You seem to convey that Pre-Vat 2 religous life was somehow depressing or not open enough. That was not my own personal experience. What we had cannot be replaced by life in the frilly Post-Vat2 communities nor by prayers & devotions at the parich community level. I still do miss my community as it was but would not want to re-enter it as it is. Thank God I left in time!

[/quote]

No, but some communities were quite nasty to their young members. If you read their memoirs, sometimes the stories they tell are quite horrifying. This does not necessarily apply to all of the communities or even most of them, nor does it suggest anything about today's communities. But I have read that for example, girls were often dismissed from the large postulant classes for minor infractions. Those girls never re-considered religious life again. What a waste.


#10

I realize looking back on this that I was certainly flip in talking about "trappings". I have to live in the world and practice my faith and love and commitment. This is not an easy thing. And as for the trappings, to this day and probably always I will miss the holy rule, the community, the holy habit, the liturgy and hours and all the rest of it. It was very hard to give that up. I have to say that I was fortunate to live in a monastery where there was no abuse, only supportiveness and a lot of joy. That's what I experienced except for the Novice Mistress who was a bit of a drill sergeant,(her job) but a caring one. If anyone has seen "Interview with a Carmelite Nun" on YouTube you will see what I mean about the happiness, interior joy and humor of the nuns. Sister Cushla is a bit hard to understand being in New Zealand, but her message is very clear.

So pre Vatican II I found very positive experiences. After Vatican II from what I've heard, the monastery went along with some of the liturgical changes and I'm told they no longer wore the habit and took to dancing as part of the Mass. I am very happy to know they went back to the strict rule. I don't think I would have done well at all with the changes, and being Irish, I believe I would have broken the Grand Silence a time or 2. The sad part in the changes was the lack of reverence and depth of devotion which was what the life was all about.

Thank each of you for responding. I am gaining a lot of insight and it also helps me stay fast in determination and deeper devotion to what God wants me to do. I'd love to hear from anyone who wants to share in this. May the road rise to meet us and may God hold us in the palm of His hand.


#11

Well, I think vocation is a mystery and difficult to understand. But I'd been informed that if I want to join religious life just focus on God and don't look anyone or anything. And I think it's a very good advise which I realized it when I went to live in 3 months in Discalced Carmelite convent. And it's wonderful experience although it was very tough and difficult and I believe that only by grace that I could stand for 3 months there.

Now I still discern about it whether it's God's will or not. Many things to be considered.

Wina


#12

Remember you don't have to enter the Discalced Carmelites. There are lots of other communities, enclosed and not. ;)


#13

Of course. Thanks for the tip.


#14

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