Help with confusion about my vocation


I am 99% sure I have a vocation to consecrated life of some form; the last one percent will come when I take final vows somewhere. Ever since I started taking the Catholic faith seriously, God has drawn me towards contemplative prayer. I long for the silence and solitude that fosters an environment suitable to deep contemplation, though I didn’t realize this longing until this past week.

A couple weeks ago, all I was really looking for in a community is one that is faithful to the Magisterium and has a strong emphasis on prayer. So I went for a come and see at this wonderful community that I would recommend to anyone. They’re an active community and full of very holy women. They are devoted to their prayer, they even have a daily holy hour, but they talk through the holy hour! I don’t mean they chit chat, I mean they say prayers together during the holy hour, almost the entire time.

While this is beautiful and a good thing, I just wanted to be able to allow myself to be swept away in the contemplation that God draws me to. But if I do this then I can’t say the prayers with the community and so that’s not good. This particular community also doesn’t have much of an emphasis on poverty and asceticism outside of what is demanded by living their vows faithfully. Their way of life is quite comfortable, imo.

So I realized I need something more strict. . .and then I discovered the Carthusians. WOW. If I could join, I’d go right now. The Discalced Carmelites are pretty awesome too, but I’ve visited a Discalced Carmelite Monastery for Mass and chatted with the porter, an extern sister and once with the Mother Superior, yet I never felt drawn to look further into the Carmelites. Love them, but I just don’t feel called to their order.

Anyways, my problem is that I have a medical problem. I spoke about this with the Mother of the active-contemplative order I visited earlier this month and she said it is not a barrier to join their community. It’s not like I have epilepsy or a mental health issue. But I do need to see a specialist minimum once a year, and every couple decades I need major surgery. Thankfully all my medical expenses are covered by the government, but it would be very difficult to join an order in another country. It’s difficult to immigrate when you have medical problems… So I’m pretty certain that these sorts of needs puts a cloistered order out of the question for me. How can I enter a cloistered monastery knowing I’ll have to leave every now and then, for certain, on top of whatever medical surprises happen that force me to leave more often (you never know what will happen!).

I’m extremely confused. I’ve been in the “real” world for a few days and I just feel so lacking here. I thirst for more of God, more. more. Silence. To be alone with him. To be before the Blessed Sacrament. For deeper poverty. I met this guy my age at daily Mass today and he kept looking at me during Mass and all I could think was “oh boy I hope he doesn’t ask me on a date.”. The idea of getting married? No thanks. I just want Jesus. To be with him and to be like him as much as he allows. But I have this medical problem barring me from the more austere, contemplative orders.

God has given me this health issue. It is his will for me to carry this cross. Yet he also draws me to contemplation. What could my vocation possibly be?! I’m so confused!! I’m open to whatever God’s will is–even marriage!


Why are you so sure? Have you asked someone in a contemplative order about it? Have you looked at all the options in your own country?


I have not asked this specific question to anyone in a contemplative order. I feel that there is no point in asking. Part of being a cloistered nun is the enclosure, and how can I say I want to be cloistered if I know full well that I’ll be leaving the monastery sometimes? It’s one thing for a nun to get sick after she joins a monastery, it’s totally different for a woman who is already in need of check ups and knowing her health will decline to quite a depressing level to join a cloistered religious community. Does that not render the whole cloistered thing pointless?

But then, if there were a Carthusian charterhouse here in Canada I wouldn’t hesitate to ask them about it. But there isn’t one, so.

I’ve tried to find websites for every religious community in my country. There aren’t many and a lot of the ones that do exist are very liberal, which isn’t really my cup of tea.


You might want to look into the Benedictine Sisters of Jesus Crucified. They were founded to provide a congregation open to women with fragile health or disabilities. They are mainly contemplative.


I don’t live in the countries where these sisters are located. I am not American, I’m Canadian. I kind of doubt that there is an existing order out there that would suit both the prayer life I live and also my country of residence. Besides religious orders, what is left?

I’ve heard of diocesan hermits, but when I think of these types of people I think of lonely old men who haven’t showered in a while. And then there are consecrated virgins, but aren’t consecrated virgins supposed to live lives similar to the laity? They are consecrated persons but they have normal jobs and dress like regular people; that’s my understanding anyways. Can a woman be a diocesan hermit and have her virginity consecrated? Solemnly professed nuns do this, why not publicly professed hermits too?


The answer to your last question is no. Cloistered religious do, when necessary, leave their monastery including for medical care which can’t be provided at home. this would include a vast range of things such as any sort of surgery, medical tests, scans, x-rays, etc. It doesn’t do the community (let alone the monastic themselves) a lot of good to shun such treatment since.

In your case it would no doubt depend on the nature of your health condition and how often you needed treatment and the extent of such treatment. The same incidentally is also true from an immigration perspective.


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