Sunday, 21 December 2008

It feels so hard...

Things have become so hard. Ever since I went to Mass and was able to pray in an uplifting way last week, I've been tempted to give in. I've noticed it gets worse when I've sinned and I seem to give in from there and continue to sin, rather than try to stay away from it. I've been horrible to live with this week; snappy, moodly - you name it. It's an awful cycle to be in because you then feel unworthy to become a religious. (I remind myself that no religious is perfect and that religious life is an excellent way of trying to perfect oneself and become closer to God, the latter being what we are all called to do.) This is a great temptation from Satan, I know, and I feel awful because I have given in all this week. I've really been weak and distant from Jesus. It just goes to show how much I need Him, so rather than walk away (this is something I have done in the past and never found happiness), I will have to pick myself up and try again to stay away from sin and be strong against temptation. The evil one seems to really be trying to lure me away now that Carmel is only 5 weeks away. He can really make you feel bad...unworthy, horrible...

Other temptations have included feeling attached to the world. I've become interested in Osteopathy since being treated myself, especially by the fact that you can work for yourself and earn a good wage. I've been driven past big houses and have felt a desire for them...and for success. So many things! But I recognised this as another temptation because a desire for worldly things doesn't come from above. God doesn't want me to become an Osteopath, He just wants me to show my commitment to Him. I've failed miserably this week, but with His love, generosity and never-ending patience, I have confidence He will help me and welcome me back. I will be like the Prodigal Son, ashamed and weak, yet running to the Lord's Eternally Open Arms.

Lord, help me to overcome temptations and to recognise them before I've given into them, that I may win a little victory for You.

This is a personal thing to reveal, but I am revealing it to help other aspirants and discerners, as they may feel the desire to give up their vocation like I have when temptation comes their way. Be strong! All I will say is, cling onto those moments of certainty you've had about your vocation. You can't get the feeling back as and when you wish, therefore it becomes easy to doubt we ever had it, even to forget it in favour of the abundant negative feelings we have. But those moments of certainty are a gift from God, where the Holy Spirit has really worked within you. Those moments should be remembered...they were real and are more important than all those negative feelings. As I write, I recall my own moments of certainty and hold onto them, for they were certainly a sign that Jesus wants me to follow Him. He doesn't expect me to be perfect, but to ask for His help to overcome my weaknesses.

Thank you for your words of encouragement.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Things are moving...

Well, it's been way too long since I last wrote and I've got no excuse for that really, since I've been off work for 4 weeks. Yes, as my job is active and involves a lot of walking, I've had to rest because of my back and hip pain. I was quite worried that this might prevent me from entering Carmel and it was the moment of realisation that it could all be taken away from me, that made me realise how much Carmel means to me.

I've been to the hospital, as well as having physio and am now paying to see an Osteopath and thankfully, it appears to be nothing serious. As long as I stretch and strengthen the muscles that have shortened from an old injury, I should be okay. It has taught me two things: 1) never ignore pain, as it gets worse and 2) God is good and I feel that my pain peaked prior to my entering Carmel so that I could get sorted first; it wouldn't work if I went in without having things resolved!

Today, I have spoken to work and as I feel that my health should be sorted by the time of my entry on 24th January, I am writing today to hand in my notice. It feels scary, don't get me wrong, but I remember that the Enemy can create negative feelings to keep us away from God. So I push those feelings of concern aside and place my trust in God, Who I know will be pleased that I am even trying to pursue my vocation. Whether it works out or not, I believe I am doing His Will at the moment.

And as for the forms, I have sent in my request to enter Carmel as a Postulant, but have one more form to sign, which needs a witness and I should be able to get this sorted today!

Monday, 24 November 2008

An obstacle?

The forms I received from Carmel are still waiting to be signed to say I'd like to enter as a Postulant. The reason? Not because I've changed my mind (although I do sometimes have the odd doubt and reality has not yet set in that I'm leaving) but because of my health.

Currently, I'm off work with a bad back and hip (likely to be linked). Unfortunately, I ignored the pain for so long, I've finally had to take time off. I wonder if this will prevent me from entering Carmel; in one respect it could, as you need to be fit to undertake the life. On the other hand, perhaps I could be accepted and avoid heavy lifting etc. All I do know, is that it's in the hands of the Lord.

Indeed, it could be a blessing that it has come to a head now, rather than later, as I have 2 whole months to rest and get treatment. I'm seeing a specialist in little over a week. So, God in His wonderful ways may have brought all this to the forefront in preparation for my entering, that my health can be resolved.

The only thing to wait for now, is for the Will of God to happen. Not for recovery. Just for His Will. And I thank Him that during this time, I am able to read the Bible and get to know Him better, as my knowledge of the Bible is poor. Who knows, I may write my next entry on my thoughts about God in Genesis!

Friday, 21 November 2008

I say YES!

Yes, I said! Lord, I want to be your spouse!

I came across an exercise for discerners which said to take 10 minutes and write as many reasons as you could for saying YES. I came up with the following - some of them greater in significance than others, but nevertheless, significant.

Here's what I came up with:
(I have slightly altered some of them to make more precise what I believe I meant at the time they were writtten)

1) Having turned away from God in the past, I now want to commit to Him
2) To make up for past sin
3) It feels right and when I contemplate Carmel, I have a deep sense of peace within
4) I’ve thought about it on and off for a long time, so think there is a strong possibility that this is what God wants of me
5) I am attracted to the life
6) In prayer, I have experienced the intense desire to give everything up to follow Jesus
7) I want to become more holy and work to save my soul
8) I want to live in the best way possible with Christ in me
9) When it comes to my faith, it feels like all or nothing
10) There are too many distractions in the world and I desire silence and contemplation
11) I love Him passionately
12) Everything seems to have been building up to this
13) My path is clear
14) I feel I’m suited to the life - I am a natural contemplative
15) I want to surrender to Him completely
16) I will be accepted for me; be able to be myself
17) It is a chance to live with like-minded people
18) I can learn and grow spiritually

After this, I noted down the areas of concern I have about going to Carmel. Of course, I have in fact made up my mind to go, so don't feel further discerning as such is possible at this point; there will be a chance for further discernment in the Novitiate. However, I feel it's important to be honest with myself about what fears I have in regards to Carmel and through facing them, I may be able to resolve them and better deal with them when I enter.

Here were those fears:

My family are against it and don’t think I’ll persevere
Only God and I know what I have experienced spiritually. Earthly parents aren't always right, yet God Our Father knows what is best for me. It is He Who I believe placed this desire within me, so He will help me to persevere should this be what He asks of me.

I will be giving up my family
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." (Mt 19:29)

They will still be my family, despite the distance and they will receive a hundredfold, too.

It may not work out and I could end up with nothing
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Mt 6:30)

I might get bored with the life
A heart that turns [from God] becomes bored with its own ways, but a good person is satisfied with God's ways. (Prov 14:14)

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Heb 12:7)

You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (Mt 10:22)

I wanted children
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

I then came across this quote:

“If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the whole world on fire.”~
St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Dominican Mystic (1347-1380)~

And on a Dominican website about confirming your vocation, I discovered this helpful paragraph:

Confirmation; experience peace with your decision. Seek confirmation by offering the decision to God asking for peace and inner joy. Look for confirmation from both external and internal sources. External sources may include sensing affirmation from people, circumstances seem to be supportive, etc. Internal confirmation usually includes a deep sense of peace, a real felt compatibility with the choice made, a sense of satisfaction, a time of tranquility sets in, etc. Although there may be some negative responses these do not change your deep convictions about the decision.


Oh Lord, I thank You. I did not have to ask You for inner peace and joy; in Your generosity, You gave it to me early on in my discernment. Lord, You have also made my way clear; there is no reason for me to stay away from You a moment longer! You have offered me a life in Carmel, to draw me nearer to You, and I accept, O Lord. I will hide myself away with You; seek only You. Let me hold Your Divine Hand and do not let go of me. May I persevere always for Your Sake.


Whilst this exercise started for my own purpose, having had a challenging day at home and facing doubts from others, I realised that this could actually help someone else who is discerning. I hope it does, as it's not easy.

Thanks be to God for the strength He has given me from the Holy Spirit, which makes me persevere!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Sorrowful mysteries

Recently, I have realised that the mysteries of the rosary can often fit into what is happening in our life, or in the lives of those around us. For example, praying the sorrowful mysteries on this Tuesday night, I have understood a little more about the pain my parents are experiencing in preparing for me to leave for Carmel in a couple of months.

I thought that I could explain this in more detail, so that maybe even one person can see how the mysteries can be applied to our lives.

The Agony in the Garden

Poor Jesus, so lonely in the Garden. Even His dearest friends could not see His agony and stay with him for an hour.

My poor parents. They suffer at this time and I cannot see their true anguish and sorrow. But though I don't fully feel their pain, I can still be there to comfort them as best I can, imagining that I am comforting the Lord Himself during His Agony.

The Scourging at the Pillar

Our dear Lord is once again alone. During His time of painful scourging, no one is there to embrace Him. He stands at the pillar alone, bearing His pain bravely and with love, yet knowing there is more to endure.

When we suffer, we often suffer alone, feeling that no one understands our suffering. Yet, what stops us from tending to the painful wounds of another dear to us who suffers, as if it were the Lord Himself?

My parents stand united in their pain, trying to be as patient and brave as they can in supporting me in my decision.

The Crowning with Thorns

How painful for Our Lord to be physically suffering, then to be mocked by people who did not know the purity of love in His heart.

I must be careful to not act out of stubbornness in pursuing my vocation and must ensure that my intention is to seek Christ alone.

Those who hurt Jesus got carried away when mocking Him. It is so easy to get carried away by doing something for the wrong reasons; all acts must be out of love, with love of Christ being before all else.

The Carrying of the Cross

Our dear Lord, how heavy was the cross; how wounded was His back from the scourging, which made it all the more difficult to bear. His tired body caused Him to fall 3 times, yet He got back up. Yet this was the first time during His suffering the Our Lord was not alone. Simon helped Him carry the cross. Veronica bravely and lovingly stepped forward to wipe His Precious Face.

My parents carry their cross at this time and I can try to follow the great examples of Simon and Veronica in stepping forward and trying to ease their pain. I can be gentle with them at every opportunity.

As for my parents, I pray that they pick themselves up and carry on, imitating the Lord as He bore His own cross. Enduring suffering and offering it up to the Lord can only be a good thing.

The Crucifixion

What pain Our Lord endured from this, not only physically, but spiritually. His poor body could barely take any more and He felt abandoned by His own Loving Father. Yet, the Father was close and Jesus commended His spirit to Him.

I place my family before the Lord, asking Him to help them during their suffering and to comfort them. Most of all, I ask that they do not despair.

I turn also to our Blessed Mother, who could never have foretold the pain her heart would one day endure, when she said yes to bearing Christ. Yet, she stood by Jesus throughout His life. She was there at His first miracle, supporting Him; she did not object when He left to Proclaim the Kingdom and she was there at the foot of the cross, so deeply saddened, yet trusting in God. Her maternal love for Jesus is also ours - we are her children - and tonight, I ask that she comforts my family, for she truly understands how it feels to grieve for a child.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Detachment from things

From sorting out many of my worldly goods, I have realised that I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to things with sentimental value. Given with love, before now, I dared not cast aside those items that represent love. For someone like me, with a poor memory, they have been a reminder of those who have shown their love for me and expressed their affection.

I have come across cards from my First Holy Communion, birthday cards from the age of 10, letters from pen-pals. I've been unable to throw all of them away and I debate over whether I should.

One of the reasons I perhaps should is to avoid pride, as some of the expressions of affection towards me could indeed make me proud. Secondly, I don't think I can take these things into Carmel; the point of my going is to leave all things behind, so that I can focus on my relationship with Jesus. Would then, these things become a temptation for looking at the past (which during times of difficulty, always looks better), would they become a form of escapism in that case, or demonstrate my inability to look forward? On the other hand, is it right to cast aside displays of affection that one has made towards me?

These are things I seriously have to consider on my journey.

Having thought about this, I recall how the disciples Jesus chose immediately left their families, their jobs and all of their belongings behind. They depended on the good will of others to feed them at times. Perhaps in my pursuit of holiness in going to Carmel, I have to do the same. What a sacrifice to make to the Lord, saying, "Lord, these things mean a lot to me, but I leave them behind for You." How pleased He must be that to save ourselves from any form of pride, we get rid of those things that can cause it (for me, this was leaving cards, which I received when leaving a job).

So instead, I will take with me to Carmel the memories of those dear to me, as well as their intentions. I will put each person I love before the Lord and ask Him to bless them. Surely this is a far greater expression of love than to hold onto physical items, which I cannot take with me when I die. As for taking them to Carmel, they will only serve as a distraction and where does it end?

Saying this, I have kept some cards back that my parents gave me, as they may wish to keep them. I've decided to put a little box aside with things in that they can choose whether to keep or not once I have gone. Therefore, I leave as much as I can behind; some things for others; some things not. But what I do take with me, is those I hold dear in my heart.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Perserverance and pain

My family is hurting so much. I see it each day. Sometimes there are tears, some fallings out and silence. What is sad is that we don't understand each other. The thing is, I am so joyful that I'm going to Carmel to be nearer to the Lord and this makes it hard to feel their pain. Perhaps the Lord is protecting me from this, as feeling their pain would weaken my resolve because I might start feeling guilty and give in altogether. The Holy Spirit helps me to persevere.

As a result of not being able to feel their pain, I try to be compassionate. It's not always easy though and I've become cross a few times. There are questions I have to answer and as Carmel is fairly austere, it is hard for others to understand enclosure, wearing sandals, having no possessions, not being able to receive gifts as before, praying several times a day etc. How can I make someone of little faith understand this? I can't.

It's sometimes frustrating that my parents cannot understand my happiness, but I remind myself of why; they think they are losing a daughter. They won't be able to pop over and visit me. I won't be able to visit them. Family outings, holidays and dinners will be a thing of the past. I will belong to Jesus. All I think of is sometime in the future when they will be happy for me. And I really believe this will happen, because they love me. All a parent wants is to see their child happy. And I have faith that Jesus will one day reward them for their suffering.

Heartless as I feel right now, I believe my pain will come nearer to leaving, or indeed when I have left. My tears will be between me and Jesus.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Good news!

I'm going to Carmel! I received a letter this morning from Mother Prioress to confirm that I will be able to go in January. I'm so happy!

I'm hoping to go either on 24th January (St Francis de Sales) or 25th (St Paul's conversion). I'd like to go earlier, but I'm having one more birthday at home with my family. It would be good to go on the 25th since I went to St Paul's School and it's also the year of St Paul. It seems fitting that this date marks his conversion, too!

Yesterday, I started to sort some of my stuff out, as requested by my mom, who wants to put some of my things in the loft. It's not easy doing this, as it's become very real and it's actually quite hard to get rid of things, which I thought would be a lot easier. With books and games, I hope to take some of them with me for the library and recreation, but many things I will have to throw or give away.

It's really happening! Next, I've got to think about work and handing in my notice. And I can now officially step down from the job offer I received. I was going to work until January, but I'm not sure I will now. I'm having problems with my hip and I'm sure it doesn't help wearing heavy kit as I do. Perhaps I will work longer if they can find me something in the office. So much to sort out!

Then, I've got to start telling people; this I think will be the hardest as I don't know how people will react. Nevertheless, it has to be done and it's a time to remain strong and focussed on Christ.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Work of the Holy Spirit

Wow, it's been too long since my last post! And things have moved on a bit since then!

After my last post, it's probably become quite clear that I very much wish to enter Carmel and that I feel that this is where I am being led. The Holy Spirit has a very important part in discernment and has worked quite hard in my life lately to inspire me and guide me...and give me a nudge at times!

Two nights ago, I was reading a website about vocations, when I was suddenly overwhelmed by the desire to delay no more and write to Mother Superior and ask to enter Carmel in January. The Novice Mistress had asked me to wait a month so I was slightly reluctant - obedience being one factor and also, a month seems a reasonable amount of time to further discern.

However, I don't think you can put a time on these things when it comes to the Spirit. The feeling was so intense that I picked up my pen and wrote a letter to Mother Superior to request the forms I need to fill in prior to entry. The Holy Spirit was certainly responsible for this special stirring within!

On my way to work the next day, I posted the letter. For the previous 2 days, I had been debating about whether to tell my boss-to-be that I was actually not likely to take the job I had been offered. This came even more to the forefront of my mind as I came to post my letter, yet I decided, no, not until everything is sorted. I talked it over with my manager, who said the same. Alas, a higher up manager came to speak to me and ask how my 2 weeks in Carmel had gone...resulting in my telling him that it went very well and I was likely to enter in January. He said he would tell my boss-to-be that I was unlikely to take this job and I agreed, as I felt this was the right thing to do. To me, this was God making something happen that I was putting off due to my own interests, i.e. The Spirit working through my boss. I feel that this has taught me to trust in the Lord more in the future and act on something when I feel/know it's right. In practice, I know that'll be hard, but I will try. I also know that if I'm slow and God wants something, He will make it happen, or give a nudge in the right direction.

Slightly changing the subject, it's really tough at home as none of my family understand and don't want me to go. I feel incredibly guilty for putting them through all this and there's nothing I can say to make things right; each week it gets harder for them...and it's hard right nowbecause I'm beginning to sort out some of my things. I know it would be so easy to give in, but I wouldn't be happy and I'm sure I'd regret it in the future. I'm starting to feel the sacrifice now (as are my family, except it's harder for them as they're not especially religious). What's hardest is staying away from arguments and becoming doubtful based on what others say. I have to keep thinking of my consolations from the Lord and those feelings of peace deep within, which said "Yes, go to Carmel. Serve the Lord".

"Lord, I love you and I trust you and I know you will help me through this."

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Looking ahead

I've not written for about a week because it has been a very difficult one in terms of getting back to normal life. I was faced with many doubts about going to Carmel, mainly about my own level of commitment long term. However, I've discovered some works by St. Ignatious Loyola and St. Thomas Aquinas on vocations and have been very comforted by what they say.

Further to my previous post about work, I have been thinking hard and feel that yes, I could put Carmel off until April to keep my job open, but:

  • Is this showing faith in Our Lord, if Carmel is my true calling - no, I feel.
  • It would be easy to leave Carmel at the first hurdle if I knew I still had a job to go to.
  • In my current job, I don't feel spiritually fulfilled, so don't believe it's my calling
  • Why put off Carmel for another 3 months? St. Aquinas says that one should not delay any longer than they can help.

So, it seems that instead of keeping a 'security blanket', I will hopefully enter Carmel with more faith and love if I sacrifice my job. After all, it's never good to hold onto things that may keep you back.

I have realised that my doubts have no real foundation; they could actually be the work of the devil, to try and keep me away from Our Lord. On reflection, there is no reason for me to not to go to Carmel, since God appears to have made my path clear. That is one of the signs that is looked for in aspirants. About my concerns of my personal commitment, I have read and been told that if God truly wants you somewhere, He will give you the strength and graces required and so I need to have much faith in Him.

I was thinking of my vocation in a similar way to dating, engagement and marriage. After 2 weeks in Carmel as an Aspirant, I have kind of 'dated' and would like to, as Americans say 'go steady' as a Postulant before I become betrothed as a Novice. If, in the first 5-6 years in the novitiate I strongly feel Carmel is not for me, then I can leave and seek further afield as to where God wants me to be. I needn't be scared, as St Therese believed that God wouldn't place a desire in her that was not possible (she wanted to be a saint before she was one!). Therefore, as I'm sure that as God placed this desire within me, despite my various worries, it must be possible for me to become a Carmelite.

If I was to not go ahead, I have to consider whether I would deeply regret not giving it a try. I know for sure, I would.

To to other women or men discerning their vocation, I would say:

  • Recall frequently what first moved you towards considering the religious life or what signs you've had in your life.
  • Think of the spiritual experiences you have had and graces you have received. Treasure and thank God for them.
  • Consider keeping a spiritual journal to help you reflect on your journey.
  • It may help to have a spiritual director - others can sometimes see more clearly whether we are called or not.
  • Go to confession, Adoration and Mass frequently where possible.
  • Be cautious, as doubts can enter the mind as you come to make your decision. Pray about them, ask God to guide you and try to weigh things up in your mind to see if they are warranted. Don't give up at this point or rush to make a decision, there will be a moment when you will be able to see more clearly - never make a decision until you are sure.
  • Don't worry about your own weaknesses, as God will help you to achieve His Will
  • Read which I found useful. It's based on St. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises.
  • If you decide to become a religious, try to stay true to it and remind yourself as to why you have made that decision.
  • Have faith in the Lord. He will make sure everything works out.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Difficult decisions

I've been back from Carmel for 3 whole days now and have missed it. It's been back to normal in many ways, but I've been faced with some difficult decisions this week.

Before I went to Carmel, I was offered a job that once upon a time, would have made me very excited. Yet, I've lost all enthusiasm about it. In fact, I am considering not taking it. I'm quite happy to stay in this job role (it's the same money and shifts) so there wouldn't be much of a difference anyway. The reason I'm not taking it? Well, is there any point if I am considering entering Carmel in January?

Carmel was wonderful in many ways. And difficult in others, such as getting up at 5.30am and making sure I put enough layers on to cope with the cold (they do have heating but sitting in prayer for an hour-no matter how many layers you have on, can make you cold). I'll speak more about what it was like another time, but I felt it necessary to speak about the tough choices I have to make over the next couple of months.

Work will hold my job open for up to 5 years in case Carmel doesn't work out...but they will only do that from April, when I have been there for 2 years. So my hopes for entering Carmel in January could be on hold for a while if I choose to go down that path. That said, I'm not sure I would even like my job held open for me. How wonderful to be given that chance, but what if things got tough in Carmel and I upped and left at the first hurdle because I had a job to go home to anyway? Would a clean break be best so that I go in with my whole heart and soul? And why wait? 6 months is quite a long time in my eyes. If it feels right, then I feel sure I should join soon.

If they did hold my job open and I felt Carmel wasn't me and wanted to go back to work, I might not get the same area to look after. Therefore, if I took this new role, there would be little chance that I would get the same job back anyway. Hence, that's partly why I don't think there's much point in accepting the position. Especially if I were to do it for a couple or so months.

If I resign from my job completely so that I can enter Carmel in January, what's the worst that could happen? I look for another job, or re-apply for the same one (they advertise a couple of times a year). The thing is, they would want 3 months notice before I return if I have a career break anyway, so I'm sure if Carmel didn't work out, I would be able to find a job in that space of time.

I sound very negative in speaking about leaving Carmel before I have already started, but taking a career break was suggested to me and I thought it a fairly good idea at first, especially with recession taking hold. And the thing is, no one knows when they go into something whether it will last. I just hope that because I have felt peace within my soul when I have contemplated Carmel, that this is God saying that it is the right place for me.

So, what with my parents voicing a degree of objection and with work decisions, it's been hard since my return home. I had felt wonderful on my immediate return home, but have felt anxious and deflated because of the above things I've had to consider. I know I need to be honest with myself and that something is niggling away that I can't quite pinpoint. Once I have done that, then I will be able to move forward and start making plans. I am going to give it a month before I make any decisions about entering Carmel. Indeed, I may even change my mind...who knows. But I hope I don't, as I would really like to enter.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Off to Carmel for 2 weeks

Well, the time has arrived and in just over 2 hours, I will be heading off to Carmel for 2 weeks as an Aspirant.

As it's a long drive, I'll be staying in a hotel overnight, then arriving at around 10-10.30 tomorrow morning, in time for Sext at 11.30.

It's really happening!!!

I won't be posting til I come back, but will update you when I do. I'm sure I'll have lots to write!

Please pray for me, that I will be able to embrace this experience with a generous heart. God bless.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The price of a soul

As a Catholic, I am well aware that if you die in the state of mortal sin, thus without having repented, then the soul goes to Hell. This is something frightening to think about at times. It is hard to turn away from sin, because as humans, we are often weak; "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Mt 26:41) said Jesus to Peter. Peter, who was our first pope, denied Jesus 3 times because he was scared. Like Peter, we often sin because of our emotions, or indeed our desires. For example, we love that chocolate, so we eat the whole bar out of gluttony; we wished we'd have gotten that promotion and feel we'd have been good at it, thus feeling proud and envious. Those are just a couple of examples. Therefore, we have to be extremely careful about how our emotions affect us, and always be on guard against sin. From experience, I know this is easier said than done!

I have read that it is good to go to confession regularly, even if you haven't committed any mortal sins, because by being 'laid back' about the 'lesser' sins, they can soon become mortal. It can even happen that after not going to confession for a while, or after failing to control oneself, you enter in to despair and think, "I don't care anymore...I can't do it" or "I can't be saved anyway". We must never think this. God can save us. We need to be willing to get rid of our sins and ready to pick ourselves up each and every time we fall. Also, during times of emotion, we need to call on Jesus to help us in a situation. Pray until our anger/despair/pride/gluttonous feelings have faded enough for us to take control again.

This takes effort and practice...something I have not mastered yet by a long shot! But when I look at someone like St. Therese, I know it can be done. Having trust in the Divine Mercy of Jesus (that He forgives us and so avoiding wanting to 'give in', as well as calling on the help of the Holy Spirit regularly will help. It is possible to receive many graces from prayer, confession, the Eucharist and Adoration...and with trust in the Lord, it is possible to improve and avoid sin.

How do I know? Through regular examination of my conscience, I know exactly which areas I am weak in...and mostly what I need to do to put things right. I have discovered that I have a lot of pride and I like people to think well of me. This is a selfish sin, which means there are times I put myself in front of others. To try and be more charitable, I have therefore offered to volunteer at a local youth group. This is just one of many examples and just one of my faults.

So why did I call this blog The price of a soul? Well, the 'price' of my soul is something I am starting to think about at some times when I am about to sin. I am taking things in small steps...I will tell you to humble myself and try to offer some advice that may help you:

1) I have tried to avoid all occasions of mortal sin (which was hard for a while and still is - there is no becoming complacent);

2) I have attempted to identify links between sins, then work on them. E.g. as mentioned above, I have realised I have lots of pride. Therefore, this is the sin I am working hard at to get rid of. When I become better at this, I will move on the the next sin I have trouble with. An example, to give you an idea, may be fasting more and abstaining from meat on Fridays and Wednesdays to get rid of the sin of gluttony.

3) How much is my soul worth? Is it worth those unkind words to someone? Is it worth that big bar of chocolate? No!

If I want to become a good nun, then I must be conscious of the impact of each of my sins, on: i) others, ii) my soul and iii) Jesus (not necessarily in that order). Our sin always affects others in some way or other. E.g. if I eat that big bar of chocolate, I am not showing any restraint, and going by those we impact, above: i) I am not having compassion towards the starving in the world. Through gluttony, we have become obese, thus putting strain on health services that could be used to help others and we may also be shortening our lives, which affects our families. ii) Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, so is a destructor of the soul (and as above, affects our health), iii) imagine the sadness of Jesus to see us greedily indulging in something that is doing the opposite of drawing us to Him.

What I will try to remember is that my soul is worth more than a bar of chocolate. My soul is worth every effort to remove myself from sin...shedding it like the skin of a snake. One day, with the help of the Lord, I will emerge a beautiful butterfly from this ugly cocoon of sin that surrounds me.

By the way, a caterpillar spends most of its life eating.

Monday, 6 October 2008


Lately, I have been praying for my vocation as well as other things and like some other people, I imagine, I wondered if all of my prayers are heard. Of course, I know the answer to this is 'yes' but I sometimes find these questions popping into my head and I feel the need to search for an answer!

God has so many prayers to hear and we often desire an answer. Whilst this question is okay to wonder on a theological level, I know I have to be careful that I don't allow Satan to convince me that God doesn't hear my prayers...he will do anything to prise us away from the One who loves us and convince us that our efforts are in vain.

So, I did a bit of research online and came across this parable:

A small village in Rural Russia was beset by drought one year and all the crops failed. The village rabbi prayed to the heavens, "Why don't you do something about this dreadful drought?" But the heavens remained silent. So the rabbi organized a charity food drive with the neighboring villages to feed his people.
When the rains came, they came in heavy and the local river flooded, killing all the livestock. The rabbi again prayed, "Heavenly Father, my people are suffering so much, save us from this flood!" But, again, no help from God seemed forthcoming. So the rabbi lobbied the government authorities to provide financial assistance to replenish the herds lost in the deluge.
Finally, in the wake of the flood, infection and disease ran through the inhabitants of the village. The rabbi prayed once more, "Now surely God you will help us!" But the diseases ran their course. So the rabbi Marshalled and organized the able bodied in the village to care for the sick.
Months later reflecting on the tragedies of the past year, the rabbi turned to God and accused Him, "Why did you not answer the prayers of my poor villagers? Why did you not send help to them when we were beset by drought, floods and pestilence?"
After many hours of anguished entreaty, a quiet voice answered the rabbi in the depths of his heart, "Of course I sent help; I sent you!"

( )

And so, of course God hears all our prayers! His ability is beyond anything we can imagine, for He created the universe. Whilst we can only do one or two things at once, His power and ability is infinite. He might not give us the answer we expect, but He always provides one. He knows what we desire even before we have asked for it and we need to put our trust in Him, that He knows what is best for us. Sometimes, we feel He hasn't answered us because we don't get what we want, but if we truly love and trust Him, then we must surrender to His Will. This is how we can show our love for Him.

Sometimes, it can be hard to pray, so imagine Jesus sat next to you, or stood watching over you. He loves you more than you can imagine! Call Him and ask to feel His presence. Then speak to Him like your dear Friend. A priest told me to tell Jesus about my day and also said that "He wants to make you his home". Invite Jesus into your heart and look to Him in every aspect of your life. Saint Therese said "Keep your eyes on Jesus, for he never takes his eyes off you."

Sometimes, we think we have no time to pray. This is sad and we must remember that Jesus gave His life for us and He would like nothing more than our love in order to comfort Him. Poor Jesus, the sorrow He feels from our sins is so great...can we not spare Him a few moments to offer Him comfort? Imagine Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; He is lonely and has no one kept watch with Him. No one is there to comfort Him in His Agony before His death. Be His comfort and simply tell Him, "Jesus, I love you."

No matter what we ask for in our prayers, we should only seek that his Will be done and we must trust that He answers all our prayers, whatever the answer is. For me, I will go to Carmel with an open heart and if I am meant to be a Carmelite, then I pray I will embrace His calling generously. If not, then I pray God will show me the path He wishes me to take.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Where I'm at

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog. I'm 26 years old and currently discerning my vocation to become a nun. It's been all I've been able to think about lately and one thing I keep doing is popping online and researching all I can about orders and other people's experiences about becoming a nun or a sister. I thought that it might help both myself and others if I wrote things down. So here I am, wondering where exactly to start!

Well, I first wanted to become a nun when I was 11. I had started secondary school and felt somewhat drawn after watching Sister Act! There were also nuns at my new school and I looked at them with a degree of admiration. There was the interest. But what about God?

I wasn't very religious up until I started my new school, but from nowhere, I suddenly experienced God in my life. I recall reading part of St Therese's Story of a Soul, although I didn't actually complete it, but I loved it and felt like I wanted to be a saint. I think this is where my attraction to Carmel came from. My relationship with God became deeper and I often prayed alone, visitng the chapel often during lunch and breaktimes. I even remember making my bedroom simplistic so that I was able to live like a nun!

Things changed, however and I felt like I wanted to be like everyone else. Everyone seemed to know that I wanted to be a nun and for some reason, I felt the need to be 'normal'. I think looking back, I felt I was different. It would have been nice to talk to someone regularly about how I was feeling and for someone who could guide me so that I didn't feel overwhelmed, as I had lots of faith but perhaps didn't know what to do with it!

And so, I wanted to be a nun on and off until I was 16, which is when I left the school and went to a non-religious college. There I met different ideas and approaches to religion and I changed...not for the better. I took a big step away from my faith and lived in sin for several years. I used to feel the desire to seek God, but felt unable due to being in love. I would even look at websites about religious orders every now and again and wonder. The relationship ended in December 2007 and during the summer, I felt that familiar knock on the door of my heart.

I answered this time; I was free to let God in. Once again, I felt the desire to become a nun and decided to go on a retreat at a Carmelite Monastery. I met with 3 of the sisters, one being the Mother Superior and another the Novitiate Mistress and explained a bit about my life, history etc. I said I felt it was perhaps too early to respond to any call. Well I was surprised when I was advised told why wait and that it's best to try it in order to know. Three people gave me the advice to try it and it makes sense because it will help me to know my vocation!

Now, I am one week away from spending 13 days as an aspirant in Carmel and I have lots of things going through my mind, ranging from I won't be able to do it to I so much desire to serve Our Lord! It is a very confusing time!

I am going to keep praying to Him to show me the way and to give me the strength I need to respond to His call. Whatever it may be...

About Me

My photo
I've just turned 27 and am entering Carmel on 24th January 2009. My first full day will be on 25th January, the Conversion of Saint Paul, of whose year this is and whose school I went to and sisters I loved. So I am depending on him to help convert me into a good Carmelite! I've wanted to become a nun on and off since the age of 11. Although I can't remember the moment I felt drawn to Carmel, I think it was partly because of reading about St Therese when I was 11 or 12. I feel I may have a natural inclination towards this way of life, altough getting up at 5.30 will not feel natural, I'm sure! I spent 2 weeks as an Aspirant in October 2008 and I loved it and came back feeling that I should go back and see if becoming a Carmelite is the Will of God and my route to holiness.

Saint Therese