[quote="marymartham, post:12, topic:196607"]
Thank you for your kind message. I am supportive of the religious life, but this particular order is just such a severely restrictive life. I just don't understand why it needs to be the way it is and I have read a lot about it. I just keep imagining myself or my husband dying and the family not being able to grieve with my daughter. I have not heard a theological basis for why in times of crisis a cloistered nun can't take a short break to care for someone. Why can't they at least be able to go to their parents' funerals? That just seems so wrong!
Why can't they have a week off once a year? I think they don't let them out because they are afraid that if a nun takes a week off they may decide not to return.
Why can't they communicate by email or telephone? I mean, what's so special about paper? Surely, at one time paper letters were not allowed before it became accepted! Why allow the nuns to communicate with their families at all? Why do their letters have to be censured?
And most especially, I come back to the story of the Good Samaratin. It just seems so very clear to me that God does not want us to be so holy that we can't be "distracted" by the people who need us the most.
I hope this rant is not offensive to anyone. I am trying to be respectful but I also have what I think are legitimate questions. I really am just trying to wrap my mind around this and come to some sense of peace.
I appreciate your post- I am discerning a cloistered vocation (Carmelite) and my dad has been struggling, I think for the reasons you mentioned. I know that the strictness of the cloister varies from order to order, and even within the same order. (In Carmelites O.C.D, there are two different constitutions) I can only speak about Carmel OCD, but I'm pretty sure paper letters have always been ok. Some convents do email, it just depends. I know at least one reason for using paper to write letters is the self-discipline it takes to patiently wait for a reply, which is hard to do when you're used to texting;)
The cloistered vocation is linked very closely to "active" vocations in a special way. Their lives of prayer and self-sacrifice support those actively ministering in the world. Many priests and others serving the world have relationships with cloistered nuns, and the graces that the nuns gain for them enables them to be in the world. It's a mystery, but it has to do with us being members of the Body of Christ: think of the cloistered members as the heart of the church, hidden, but pumping much needed blood to the rest of the body. The arms and legs would not be able to function if the heart failed.
Also, it helps to think of the Blessed Mother, who performed no public ministry, but "kept things in her heart"
One thing that my dad has a hard time with is seeing how a life of constant prayer can do the world any good, when there are clearly hungry poor and sick who need assistance. It is hard to answer because we don't usually see the results of our prayers in this life. One good explanation that I've heard is that a cloistered nun no longer belongs just to her family, she belongs to the entire world, and her vocation is to love the entire world and offer it to God. God uses paradoxes a lot, and the idea of limiting contact with the outside world in order to serve it seems counterproductive, but so did dying on a cross in order to defeat death.
As for not letting the nuns leave for fear of them never returning, I think that fear is little misplaced. The very strict regulations are usually proposed by the nuns themselves (or the foundresses) From what I can tell, it's getting them to leave when they have to go to a doctor or something that's the hard part, not keeping them in:rolleyes:
I know it's easier to say than to do, but try not to let yourself get upset imagining scenarios where it would be difficult on either yourself or your family & daughter. Trust that God will give you the grace to handle them when they arrive. C.S. Lewis pointed out in Screwtape *That worrying about future trials is often a distraction from what is important at the moment, especially as you have no way to know which trials you will face. You can be sure that they can't *all * happen (or that any of you will be around when they do- not trying to be depressing, just saying)
I will keep you in my prayers, and all other parents who are struggling with their children's vocation. It's tough when your kid announces that their life will not look ANYTHING like what you had in mind, but if it is their vocation, it is the only way they can be truly happy in this world and the next.***