Can't become a cloistered nun... now what?


I’ve been discerning religious life for a while and I so badly wanted to become a discalced Carmelite. Alas, the Lord has spoken through my doctor and it was a resounding no.

I have medical problems I was born with and I was very open about this with the community I was discerning with and they were very accepting of it. I did not actually apply, but was about to. So for my last to-do before applying I went to see my specialist to speak to him about it. I explained what life in the monastery would entail, and what they expect of me, and asked for his opinion especially whether or not he thought living the life in the monastery would ruin my health. He was sensitive to my desire to be a nun but told me what would happen if I slept that little and just lived that austerity. It would ruin what good health I do have and I would probably die young. So, this doctor is not the one who would be filling out my medical for the monastery, and my family doctor knows little about my specialized needs (it’s a fairly rare condition that basically all doctors who are not specially trained in the area know nothing about) so I know my family doctor would give me a pass for the medical, but I feel that would be dishonest of me to hand in a medical that says it’s okay when I know very well that my specialst says no. So to me, that’s a no from God.

So now I’m thinking…okay…God, you lead me this far… now what?? I’m so lost. I really don’t want to get married because of the demands of husband and family. I don’t want my attention divided. I’m so sad that I won’t have the veil and the community and the prayers with them. I’m heartbroken… It’s one of those things where I didn’t realize exactly how BADLY I wanted it until I knew I couldn’t have it. You never know what you’ve got 'till it’s gone…

Yes I could become a consecrated virgin or a diocesan hermit but that’s just… I don’t know. I’ve read about those vocations before and what sticks in my mind is that those two vocations are not consolation prizes for those who are rejected by monasteries. And the only reason I’m looking at them now is because I can’t become a nun! Oh Lord help me. Oh to be a nun! Such blessed women.

Right now, all I want to do is run off to some cabin in the woods and hide. What drew me to the monastery was the austerity, the silence, the solitude, the giving up all wordly cares and joys, the penances. How on earth is that possible when forced to live in the world? I feel so lost. I look at what the world has to offer and it’s not appetizing at all. I just want to be alone with Our Lord but I can’t have that now.

I take solace in how when Jesus walked on this earth he surely felt like he didn’t belong here. I must have felt how the things most people care about really don’t matter at all and he surely felt no desire for what the world wants. He must have grieved so much at seeing the sins of the people around him. And I can grieve with him in all this as well, except that I have much of my own sins to grieve over as well. I just don’t know what to do or where to go.


Perhaps you can find a less strict order of nuns? One whose life style won’t lead to an earlier death? There are many different groups of nuns. I’d look there before giving up entirely. If God has placed the desire to become a cloistered nun in your heart, I’m sure He will provide a path to it’s realization.

God bless.


It seems like it’s not God’s will. In that case, you need to determine what God’s will is. I think it might have been Mother Teresa who said when something is truly God’s will, he will give you the means. If you can’t achieve something no matter what you try, she interpreted that to mean it was not God’s will after all…to go with what presented itself, instead, looking at that as God’s will. What is presenting itself, now?


I agree with PietroPablo. That is an awfully big and important life choice to give up on after just one try. I’m reminded of Father Solanus Casey who tried unsuccessfully to join several communities prior to his being accepted by the Capuchins.

I will offer my humble prayers for you and hope that you will offer a prayer for me when you are someday in a cloister.


Further, I don’t know that it would be God’s will for you to do something that would cause you to lose your health, die an early death. So, try to be open to God’s will. Ask yourself if you wanted to really live that kind of life for yourself or for God,

It’s disappointing, but now, accept the possibility that God’s will for you might be different than your will for yourself.

Personally, without knowing you, I’m glad that position that might cause you a premature death might be eliminated. I think your family would also give a sigh of relief. There are many other places where you are needed.

I remember I wanted to go to Ecuador. I had a really positive experience there, could not get it to work out to return. However, Mexico opened up. Do you know that now, I’m very glad Ecuador didn’t come together. I have a disability, and the cold probably would have destroyed my health. Here, it’s a perfect climate for me, but at the time, I did NOT want Mexico. I accepted it, thinking I’d just do this temporarily until a position opened up in Ecuador. No, I keep coming back here, and now, I see it as God’s will.

There was recently a story on the forum of a Trappist priest who kept getting assigned to things he didn’t want to do. He would be assigned one task after the other, and he would tell them he didn’t want to do that. Later, each time, he said he adapted and was actually even happy with each change, in all irony.


as my prayer and hope your you is to entrust you to the heart of jesus/ have a good day, patrick (i would like to write you a private email, thx)


I agree, but because of my medical issues I cannot emigrate. No country with government funded healthcare would ever take me because I’d be a burden on their bottom line, and I highly doubt a monastery in a country without government funded healthcare would take me because my medical bills are huge and they probably wouldn’t want to pay for them. I live in Canada and I have to stay here. Not so bad because it’s a wonderful country. But there aren’t many monasteries here. My options are extremely limited.

And yes, you are in my prayers.

What you’ve said is very important. For over a year, when the idea of becoming a cloistered religious would not stop pestering me, I hated it and did not want to go in this direction. I’m very attached to my family. It’s possible that it is not a desire from God, or that it is a desire from God but one that is meant to lead further on to something else. Which is all fine; whatever the Lord wants. But it leaves me very confused.

Would the Lord give a woman the desire to be his bride, to be entirely his for all eternity, only to send her off to marry a mortal man?



Actually yes, sometimes. Look at St. Rita of Cascia. She married a man, turned him around. She made peace between rivaling families who were mafia types. She saved probably an entire family. At the end of her life, she was granted her wish of becoming a nun.

Of course there’s the Blessed Virgin Mary, but that’s a special case.


Cloister is God and the soul. The building is irrelevant.

Practice covering with something that isn’t a nun’s veil.

Lead the life by praying the office. Attend Mass when you can. Pray the rosary, daily, if your situation permits.

Write your own rule of life and timetable.

The Holy Ghost works on attraction. If you’re meant to be a cloistered nun, let Him make the first move. He was just asking your permission to act.



I am aware of a Benedictine Nun who was very ill shortly after she entered the community. The Mother Superior decided she should stay despite her illness, which required kidney dialysis her entire life.

If, and you must be clear here, but if the community you have visited with is OK with your illness and wants to grant that approval, then I would still consider it. The nun I mentioned was not expected to live a long life, but has despite her illness. They discovered she had lupus. If you have not advised the community of your doctors opinion, please do so. If they then say no, well you have confirmation that this is not your calling. Otherwise, it just might be and you need to give it the best shot you can.

If not, think of Missionary work as another possibility. I wish I could remember the name of a religious community that developed just for those who are chronically ill, but I can’t. I believe it is in the United States. Maybe you should try an internet search like that. I will try myself, and if I find it I will post again.


They aren’t consolation prizes, but who is to say you can only get a consolation prize? You weren’t rejected for personal failings. Who is to say you weren’t meant for something more than the cloister? Would you have seriously considered being a consecrated virgin if you hadn’t been effectively blocked off from being a nun? The life of a consecrated virgin is a life of works of penance and mercy, to live in the world, but not be of it.


The idea of becoming a CV has crossed my mind several times but so far my discernment has focused on religious life, particularly the carmelites, because their charism and their way of life is so… me. Yes I could do a lot of what they do as a CV but it seemed to me that I would just be trying to live the life of a carmelite nun in the world. Would I have seriously considered it without being blocked from religious life? I dont know. Discerning consecrated virginity seriously didnt seem right considering how much carmelite life seemed to fit me. Can I consider it now without thinking of it as a consolation prize? That I dont know either. Wherever my path may lead, May the Lord’s will be done.


If you have any grandparents born in the UK, you could go there.
After five years you become a citizen, and all of Europe opens up to you…
Just an idea.
You are in my prayers.


No living grandparents the two that are immigrants are from a european country that has tightened up their immigration policies so i dont qualify. Bummer.


What seems like the best fit for you isn’t necessarily the best use of your talents


“Best use of talents” – another good point.

I read of a nun of the Society of Mary Reparatrix who was very drawn to Carmel. She wrote “Carmel suits me.” Then an inner voice told her “Be a Teresa at Marie Reparatrice.”

Carmel is for everyone. I think Interior Castle should be required reading in high schools. Teresa and John explain the interior life, but that’s because Carmel means “interior garden.” The Church always turns to Carmel when she wants more information on the interior life and prayer.

Teresian Carmels are based in deep prayer life and community. The O.Carms – Ancient Observance – have community, but there are more eremitical communities affiliated with them than the Teresians.

What part of Canada are you in? I know a number of religious in Canada.



This is what I was thinking too. Talk to them and see what happens.

Also, would you consider a different type of community - to be a sister? Perhaps such a life would be less demanding physically, yet you would still be in a religious community. Maybe this is something to consider.

Good luck and God bless.


I found this online…maybe this order would suit you better than the other with your health issues.

For discerners with disabilities

Benedictine Sisters of Jesus Crucified

Founded in France in 1930, the Roman Catholic Order of Benedictines of Jesus Crucified is one of the few religious orders that widely accepts women with physical disabilities.
The order maintains a U.S. presence in the Connecticut Monastery of the Glorious Cross, a fully accessible facility that is currently home to 21 sisters. Sister Mary Zita, O.S.B., vocation director, says the community is able to accept women who are blind, have heart conditions, diabetes, orthopedic conditions, post-polio conditions, and spinal bifida. They do not accept women with mental or neurological disorders.
"Our proper charism within the Benedictine family,” the community says, “is to embody a joyful participation in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Ours is a daily ‘Passover’ lived out in the contemplation of Jesus Crucified and in the radiance of his resurrection. We embody the Paschal Mystery in a monastic life that brings together sisters in good health and sisters in fragile health or with a physical handicap.
"For more information, contact:Sister Mary Zita, O.S.B.Benedictine Sisters of Jesus Crucified
Monastery of the Glorious Cross
61 Burban Dr.
Branford, CT 06405-4003

Heres more links about the order so you can investigate it more


If I remember correctly you must be 35 years old or older to begin the process of applying to be a Consecrated Virgin. You will be asked to write an autobiography and submit that for review to the individuals considering your case.

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