The Death of A Friend When they Join-Up


#1

My two closest friends have both become cloistered religious. It is as though they have died! The first was a girl who I had been friends with for 13 years and then she suddenly called me to tell me that she was entering the Carmelites the following month and that we would never be able to speak again except through letters at Christmas and Easter. She entered during my freshman year of college four years ago, and I have written several unanswered letters to her. It is so hard to continue to write to someone who may not even be receiving my letters and who may not be able to return them. I am afraid that I broke some rule I knew nothing about that has made her unable to write me. I know that she is alive because I call her sister every once in a while just to make sure, but that is all I know of her. She has a new name, a new life, and yet a part of me has died with her gaining all of this.

My second friend is even more difficult to deal with. He was a close friend who helped me through a serious injury that I went through in college. He ended up falling for me and me for him, but I discerned that we were not meant to be. We remained friends and he told me and everyone that he was going to go on an extended retreat at a monastery to discern his next step in life. Almost a year later he has not left. He was an extremely likable person and those of us who knew him best have been angry with him for so long. I think I finally figured out that it is because we never got to say goodbye. He left saying that he would be back in our lives soon, and now he has a new name and we cannot communicate with him.

So, the point to all of this is:
If you are thinking of entering an order inform your friends of the terms and conditions under which they can reach you, and how often they should expect an answer. Also, give them a chance to say goodbye to you, and to get used to the idea that they may never have the chance to even say hi again. When you enter the order you lose a lot, but you also gain untold riches, those who are left behind must continue to live this life and all that has happened is that they have lost another light in their life; another source of comfort and encouragement and love and joy and laughter and so much else. So, don’t leave them out in the cold unprepared. Give them at least the consideration to let them know where you are going and if and how they might ever hear from you again.

PS: I highly encourage many young people the world over to become religious and to join cloistered orders. I think that it is an important and noble and beautiful life. But it is your choice and others have to live with it, so have the charity to prepare them.


#2

Luke 9:59 - 62

[59] But he said to another: Follow me. And he said: Lord, suffer me first to go, and to bury my father. [60] And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God.

[61] And another said: I will follow thee, Lord; but let me first take my leave of them that are at my house. [62] Jesus said to him: No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.


#3

I remember reading somewhere that religious orders can censor and even withold mail depending on what is written, ask a priest for advice on writing a suitable letter, if your friends sister has contact with your friend get her to ask why she isnt replying to you,


#4

Most people who join religious orders do not just walk off into the sunset with someone they meet on a whim like the apostle did. The friends I know who entered spent months and months anguishing over the decision. They did lots of research into the orders they were joining, they prayed about it they talked to spiritual directors about it, they talked to their families about it. They just did not talk to their friends about it.

My particular stories are just illustrations for those who might be entering. They are just a story painted with a very broad brush to try to encourage those who are considering, especially a cloistered religious life, to prepare their friends a little.

I have contemplated for most of my life the idea of entering an order of nuns or sisters, but because of my experience with my friends, I know that I would try really hard to prepare my friends. Not out of looking back, but because I would want them to experience joy, not grief, like the joy that they would experience if I were to get married. I would want this for them and not out of a desire to increase my joy, but out of a desire to give them at least peace in my decision.


#5

[quote="RadRomCath, post:2, topic:314235"]
Luke 9:59 - 62

[59] But he said to another: Follow me. And he said: Lord, suffer me first to go, and to bury my father. [60] And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God.

[61] And another said: I will follow thee, Lord; but let me first take my leave of them that are at my house. [62] Jesus said to him: No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

[/quote]

Jesus was only referring to those who are weak and do not really have the desire for the Priesthood, as if He has anything against a saint wannabe saying goodbye to his friends. Didn't He Himself take leave of His Mother? In all honesty, by not informing them, the guy was being very inconsiderate. Is it really the way God wants him to act.


#6

So I voted "you're looking at this all wrong." As one who has entered a seminary (admittedly secular, not religious) I can relate just a little to the decision the OP's friends made. I'm not cloistered (and also study in my home town) but my life is now here and not back in the world which I left and there are many people and things which I've had to leave behind for the sake of my vocational call and the kingdom.

What I would say to the OP is be patient and keep writing. You're friends may not be able to respond to you now (for whatever reason) but that's not to say that they're not reading your letters and being nourished by your words. The decision to answer a call to priesthood (in my case) or religious life, often comes with a sense of loss - both of those who are called and for the people which we have to leave behind. What I have found invaluable has been the support and encouragement which I've received from my family and friends - particularly those who aren't in any way religious. I've been touched and humbled by it and it's helped me when I've needed it most.

So keep writing, but more importantly, also keep praying.


#7

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