THE CONVENT by James B. Reuter, S.J.
* THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT A VOCATION IS THIS:
You have not chosen Me. I have chosen you.
* GRACE COMES IN THREE WAYS:
To the mind, so that you see things with a clarity that no one else sees.
To the heart, so that you love with an intensity which no one else feels.
To the will, so that you have the courage to do things which others would find too hard.
Love is a grace. When you love someone, nothing seems hard. A mother takes care of her child all through the night, and never notices her own weariness. A wife shops, cooks, and cleans the house, and sings through all her labors. So it is with a
nun. Nothing is hard when you love what is commanded.
Our Lord Himself said:
"With Me you can do all things. Without me you can do nothing.
REQUIREMENTS: There are only two:
Fitness - physical, mental, and moral
A good motive.
* Another requirements is acceptance by a religious order. If the superiors of any congregation, after considering a candidate carefully, decide that she has no vocation for their order- this can be accepted as the voice of God.
* HOW CAN YOU BE SURE?
... You cant! you can have high moral probability- and no more. Unless an angel comes down from heaven, and speaks to you personally, a certain amount has to be left in the hands of God. This is true in all human efforts. When a bride gets married, she is never 100% sure. When a girl enters the convent, she is never 100% sure. But high probability, and the grace of God, is enough.
*PRAYING FOR A SIGN...
Do not do this! God has given you the necessary equipment to make this decision:
* Use this equipment properly, and not complain to God that He has not given you the necessary means to decide.
* Do not pray for a white rose, before noontime today. It is possible that you might receive the rose - but not from God. And you cannot force God to meet your terms upon request.
*THE REAL SIGNS:
The thought keeps coming back like the song. It pursues you year, after year. You cannot forget it.
Sometimes, at a party, or on an occasion when everyone else is joyous, you feel suddenly alone. You feel cut off, isolated, in exile. You feel: Ïf this is the world, I do not belong to it."
If you really have a vocation to serve God in a religious order, you do not fall in love. God protects His own. You may be fascinated by a boy. You may feel that you are deeply attracted to him, for a time. But it never quite works out. You are willing to fall in love. You are waiting to fall in love. You want to fall in love! But it never quite happens. At last you realize that God has marked you out for Himself. The boy you are looking for on the far horizons does not appear, because he is not.
If you have a vocation, marriage seems beautiful and good, but it does not seem right for you. There is a deep beauty to virginity which calls to you constantly.
When you look at religious life, it seems possible. To others it seems incredibly difficult, inhuman. To you it seems that- with the grace of God- you could live this life, and be happy in it.
When you pray, often you scold God. You say:"God, get off my back! I have told you already- I do not mean to enter the convent! It is my intention to get married! Now stop bothering me!"
God hears the prayer, but does not obey you. He bothers you still.
*Decide backwards! This is the advice of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
*If you try to decide frontwards, you say: "I examined my conscience and I find that what I like are these: parties, dances, dresses,movies, boys. If I enter the convent, I will have none of these things.
Therefore I will not enter the convent.
But this is contrasting the convent with youth! You are saying, equivalently: "I do not want to be a Sister. I want to be always seventeen," Youth must go, whether you marry, or stay single, or enter the convent.
*Saint Ignatius of Loyola suggests that you put yourself on your death bed, looking back. At that moment, which have you chosen? Put yourself at the Judgement, standing all alone before the great white throne of God. At that moment, which would you have chosen?
*Suppose your parents object? They object because they love you! They cannot understand the convent, because it is not their vocation. What they really want, in their hearts, is your good. They resist your vocation, because they feel that in the convent you will suffer, you will not be happy.
*But God gives the grace to you, not to your mother and father. When you hear the voice of God, and love it, and have the courage to follow it- enter the convent.
*When your parents realize that this is where God wants you to be- they will accept it with all their hearts.
*Never say one harsh word to your parents. Never accuse them of selfishness. Listen carefully to everything they say.
*But- when it comes to your vocation- you must decide for yourself.
*Some things a girl has to do for herself, even if she does them wrong.
*When do you enter? As soon as there is no insuperable obstacle, and as soon as you are reasonably sure!
*You can not put love in an icebox for four years, and preserve it- like a steak. Neither can you put a vocation in a deep freeze.
*There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the hood, leads to glory! This was Shakespeare.
* "There comes one moment-once- and God help those who pass that moment by- when beauty stand and look into the sould with grave sweet eyes that sicken at pretty words." This was Edmund Rostand, in Cyrane de Bergerac.
*The words are true. When God calls-that is the time to answer!
*Which convent is the best? Every convent is different!
* A Convent is like a husband. No two are alike. If any two religious orders were doing exactly the same thing, in exactly the same way, the Church would abolish one of them.
*Each congregation has its own special spirit. You must investigate the religious order carefully, for a long time, until you are sure that it answers your individual needs.
* It must give scope for the special talents that God gave you!
*The spirit of the order must appeal to something deep within you.
*Choosing a religious order is like deciding which boy you are going to marry. No two boys are alike.
Living with women! ...but it is balanced by this- by and large, they are the best women in the world. The convent is the only place where- if two girls quarrel- one knocks on the door of the other, at night, to say: "I'm sorry."
Living under woman superiors! ...but it is balanced by this- their first rule is to be motherly. If a religious is sick, the superior should sell the vessels from the altar- if necessary - to take care of her.
Giving up a home of your own- not so much giving up a husband, but giving up children! It is balanced by this- though the Sister has no children of her own, she has fifty children every year, who love her. Sometimes they confide in the nun more than they confide in their mother!
Poverty- when you take this vow, you free yourself forever from the problem of the peso. And if your life is hard, you will discover that in the convent happiness grows in inverse proportion to comfort.
Chastity - when you take this vow, you are freed forever from the burden of the flesh. The love of man is like a flame-it burns bright; sometimes it flickers; sometimes it goes out. But the love of God is sure. You might turn away from Him-but He will never turn away from you.
Obedience - when you take this vow, you can say of every moment of your life: "God wills it! God wills it!" When the bell rings in the morning, it is God standing at the foot your bed, saying: "Please get up." When you go down to the chapel to pray even if you fall asleep, you are in the right place, facing the right direction. The vow of obedience brings peace- peace of soul.
*IF YOU HAVE A VOCATION, DO NOT BE AFRAID!
* IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIFT THAT GOD CAN GIVE!