Reality of Religious Life


What are common temptations faced in the religious life? I recently read a fasting book about people who live in a monastery. The strict time schedule including prayer and examen of conscience leads me to believe it must be easier to live a sinless life there. No tv, food is rationed, no spouse nor children. The clothes they wear does not show much wealth or promote competition. No makeup. No possessions. There is a lot of self-discipline, humility, and moderation in that lifestyle. I appreciate it. Rising early in the morning to pray. Having a prayer routine and regulated meals.
I’m confused if I’m called to a religious life. I may have romantic ideas about the Christ-centered life of nuns. It seems like I can abandon all my worldly sins once for all, but rarely are things in life so easy.
How can I lead a Christ-centered life in the modern world full of distractions and easy temptations?
The Saints almost seem unfathomable. If that is the level of holiness required to enter heaven, I wonder who is good enough to enter. Perhaps I should focus on myself and learn self-discipline.


“The pettinesses of the cloister are inevitable,” Our Lord said to Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity, OSC, the Poor Clare mystic of Jerusalem. If you read her book, there are detailed other problems that can arise.

Novices get scolded by their formators. This is done to make them run to Jesus instead of clinging to the Novice Mistress. Lots of varied emotions in the novitiate.

Acedia – lack of enthusiasm for religious practice – can also be rampant.

Sexual temptations of varying sorts. Read the Conferences of St. John Cassian for more information.

Whatever you’re called upon to do, there is always the temptation not to do it.

Our Lord told St. Faustina that religious land in Hell because they won’t practice interior silence. Another reason for religious landing in Hell is not living their vows. That says a lot.

Have you read “Dark Night of the Soul?” I always point discerners in that direction so they can start GENTLY working on their faults – one at a time – before entering.


An unwise choice. Given that he was starved, tortured, beaten, imprisoned. A very unloving choice indeed.


You’re welcome to your opinion. However, those who have read it have thanked me for suggesting it.


There’s a good novel called In This House of Brede you might enjoy. It’s fiction, but gives a pretty good account of religious life and religious women, the good and bad.


As does ‘The Two Nuns’ by Anne Hurè. Exceptionally well written


It remains that the only people who can accurately and wisely describe religious life are those who have lived it, or are still living it.

From the outside looking in and from the inside looking out are 2 very different animals entirely

This is why postulancy even before any Vows are taken. And why Order offer live-ins.
The life has a totality and an entirety and an integrity like no other,


My point remains and not answered.


I like the idea of totality, entirety, and integrity.


What do you mean by novices get scolded by their mistresses? Is it to test they are living their lives solely to please Christ? They are seeking the approval of God alone.


I believe some of the hardship and the joy of religious life would be living and working with the same people and their quirks 24/7 every day. That would provide enough material to avoid purgatory and become a Saint if one embraced it lovingly. St. Therese. St. Bernadette and St. Faustina put up with a lot.

I agree with the above poster. You have to experience that life before you fully understand it.


Both Sts. Jane Frances de Chantal and Therese mention such.

The Rule of St. Benedict says that community members have to be corrected in various ways. Harshness works for some, gentle persuasion for others.

In her advice to superiors, St. Jane mentions seeking out sisters whose feelings were hurt by their words (correction).

St Therese mentions “severely scolded a novice” and seeking her out to become friends again. She mentioned elsewhere that she scolded novices so they would seek out Jesus instead of her. I am drawing the conclusion that she didn’t want the novices developing an attachment to her, which would violate the rule against particular friendships.

Religious life is also full of correction – or being judgemental, as the world would say.

I would suggest seeking out a Visitation monastery and making a silent retreat there.


I didn’t know there was supposed to be an answer. You stated your opinion. I had mine. She doesn’t have to take me up on it. I found Dark Night helpful, so I suggest it to others. A Dominican novice mistress of my acquaintance said she used it for her novitiate, and the sisters enjoyed it.


I don’t know if I could do this. The Severe correction would lead me to grow resentment for some people hurts me not them. That is a little scary. I could imagine that shattering me - overly sensitive self would probably be crying almost every day. I cannot do harsh words. I wouldn’t listen anyways.


You’ll never know until you try. I am in no way a spiritual director, I just make information about the way of life known to the world. The older vocations wonder why they are rejected, and it’s usually because of their lack of docility to correction. As one Carmelite prioress put it, the older vocations didn’t persevere unless they were exceptionally graced. Religious communities also have the chapter of faults. One cannot defend oneself against accusations there.

Read The Golden Arrow, which describes how the sister’s spiritual director took care of her faults one by one before she entered Carmel. Dark Night of the Soul describes spiritual beginners, etc. Seems to take the examination of conscience a step further.

If you’re just wanting to emulate the cloistered life, write out a personal prayer rule and develop the cloister of the heart.

We will keep you in prayer.


why does religious have to be so intense? Why are things for our own good ultimately have to hurt us? Why do we have faults to begin with?
It’s like I’m attracted to religious life. I imagine myself crying almost everyday then not listening well to harsh words or correction. Accusations must be even worse. How do people keep their personally when subjected to uniformity? This is some hardcore stuff.


Keep in mind that temptations are different for different people and not everyone confronts temptations in the same way. Also, formation has changed somewhat from order to order. I think that most formation sisters now are more prone to guide a postulant or novice in their spiritual development. While there are rules and decorum to abide by in each “house” one will not get beaten over the head with a big stick or receive a tongue lashing that will leave scars on an aperient, things have changed since Vat. 11. Few people enter religious life as “Saints” and these days-hopefully-most will benefit in some way-even if it isn’t what the Lord calls tem to do. Oh yeah…don’t be snarky with Rosebud. I don’t like it.:frowning: Peace


I wasn’t being snarky. Please remember I am on the autism spectrum, and if ppl don’t spell out their grievances, I won’t understand what they’re talking about. I don’t understand what her gripe is. I made a simple suggestion, and I feel I’m being beat up for it.


I think Cloisters has very good intentions in making religious communities known-it is in a sense general information. The “been there, done that” is helpful, also. As another poster has stated you would need to “try” the religious life before you can make the decision to swim at the deep end. If a person is overly sensitive, doesn’t like corrections and thinks they would cry all day-then perhaps religious life would not be a good choice. That is not to say it isn’t the right choice, but to weigh things carefully. Peace.


Hence my reason for encouraging the cloistered silent retreat with the Visitation. She needs to see if she can stand being behind the wall to begin with. I advised one discerner to do that, and now she is scheduled for a vocation retreat.

Thank you for understanding my apostolate. I do try to be as general as possible. I have never said anything about being a spiritual director. We do not offer such services, and suggest that a discerner retain an SD locally, if viewing SD through a Jesuit lens.

I am a lay Dominican, and our Dominican form of spiritual direction is very hands-off. The person is encouraged to read the spiritual classics, and check in with a confessor when a problem arises.

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