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