In view of that, I have typed up the whole story of my experiences thus far, for your reading pleasure and hopefully edification at the goodness of God to one little insignificant, very imperfect girl. This will also be my second-to-last post -- I will do one more, tonight or tomorrow, saying goodbye. And then that's it!
Oh yeah, and still nobody has told me that I need to delete anything, so it seems like this blog will be staying around. (I just obviously won't be updating it.)
Okay. Now for the "autobiography." If something is vague, by the way, it was done on purpose. I can't reveal all my life to the internet.
I've wanted to be a nun since I was very small: six years old, to be exact.
It is no coincidence that this happened in the same year my family stopped going to the Novus Ordo: you may roll your eyes, but I know that had much to do with it. My mother bought me a children's life of St. Therese that Christmas, and that year or the next we read a life of St. Margaret Mary as our bedtime story-book. I guess my vocation (if vocation it truly be) came through them. St. Therese taught me the beauty of religious life; St. Margaret Mary taught me about its suffering. After that I devoured every saint-book I could find, especially the ones about nuns: St. Catherine of Siena, St. Rose of Lima, St. Catherine Laboure, and many more.
I continued in this sort of daydreaming desire to become a Sister for many years, until my family left Germany, where we had been living, and returned to the US, where we lived on an Army base in KS. There were tons of other kids to play with (none of which were religious in any way), and I was nearing my teens by that point, so I sort of stopped thinking about being a nun. It wasn't that I decided I didn't want to be a nun, but just that I was surrounded by a secular culture which simply could not stop discussing who liked whom and what they would do when they started dating, and I was immersed in it. This state began at age ten and was pretty bad for the next two or three years. After that, I sort of "allowed" the possibility of entering religious life back into my mind, but I still didn't take it seriously.
Finally, one Sunday when I was fifteen, maybe sixteen, a group of Dominican Sisters showed up unexpectedly at our church. They gave a presentation on their life after Mass, and my parents stayed (a bit of a sacrifice: we had a long drive home) until it was over. I remember looking at the slides while the Sister spoke, and my eyes filling up a bit. This was what I wanted. Nothing else would do. I fiddled around for months, and then eventually I contacted the Dominicans' Mother Superior and discussed things. They were in New Zealand, which I admit added significantly to the attraction. I emailed Mother Superior back and forth for a few more months, and then, having concerns about a certain policy, asked the proverbial wrong question. She never wrote back. I was disappointed and a little bitter. So finally, one day I talked to one of our priests about it. He told me that if it didn't work out, it was obviously because God didn't want it, and that for all I knew, He may have saved me much more heartache than I had presently to deal with. That really helped me, and I waited fairly patiently for something else to happen.
Just over a year ago, finally things got moving again. My good friend Victoria invited me to come with her to a retreat given by the Daughters of Mary in NY. My parents gave permission, I went, and instantly I fell in love with all of it. But of course, it wasn't half as easy as I had expected. Again there was a policy that caused trouble, but it was a lot worse this time, and I struggled for about seven months to bring myself in line with the group's opinions. In that time, I spent a week at the convent, and loved it even more. I was determined to overcome the issue. So eventually I convinced myself that I agreed with the policy, and was allowed to proceed. I started getting everything together, filled out papers, had a physical. Most importantly, I had to finish highschool, because my diploma was a required part of the application papers. I spent about two months frantically writing papers and crying half-heartedly over how impossible it was, drinking tea, and taking tests with little preparation. I finished about six months' worth of French II lessons in one month. I'm still inordinately proud of that.
So finally, by the end of July I had everything but a letter of recommendation from our priest. I requested that, and waited impatiently. On August 1st, the priest came to our house to talk to me and my parents. Long story short, he convinced me of my error in ignoring the issues with the congregation I wished to join, and recommended that I wait and pray about what I should do. So I did. Before the conversation, I had intended to override whatever he said, but it made too much sense, and God gave me the grace to obey His Will, spoken through His servant. I had been supposed to enter at the end of September, so I had to call the Novice Mistress and tell her that I wouldn't be coming after all. She is a very gentle person, and she definitely made this difficult thing easier, for which I thank her.
I started looking into different congregations. I was torn between the vita mixta, or half-contemplative, half-active way of life lived by most of the congregations I was interested in, and the more difficult to find (and difficult to live) fully contemplative life of a Carmelite. None of my Carmelite investigations succeeded, however, so I assume it was not God's Will.
In September, I visited the Sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas in Arizona, threatening everybody that I was going to dislike it. I told the Sister in charge all of my problems, and she gave me some advice. At the time I had little emotional investment in this congregation, but I decided "with my brain" that I should enter there. Sister recommended that I enter as soon as possible, so I planned to try for the beginning of November. I came home and told the priest, but he had other ideas. He wanted me to visit one more convent before I made any more rash decisions. Of course, when my plan was met with opposition, the convent in Arizona became the most desirably place on the face of the earth; but I could see that Father's plan was prudent, so I acceded with a rather bad grace and began attempting to contact a small Dominican congregation in Michigan. Finally, with some help from Father, I got a hold of a Sister by phone, and blurted out that I was interested in their convent and could I visit and when, please, Sister? (I was trying to get the thing over with.) She told me that I had to write a letter and do things properly. Annoyed, I wrote the letter and waited complainingly for an answer. In the meantime, I contacted a wonderful group of Italian Sisters by email, and was just about ready to fly over there to visit. When I tried to seriously plan it, though, I found that it would take too long, and when I asked the advice of the Sister in charge in Arizona, she recommended that I stay within my own country, and choose what was practical over what was exciting. She was clearly right, and I agreed (a bit tearfully) and waited for the Dominicans' letter. It finally came, and for a time we corresponded by snail mail -- just to find out, in the end, that they do not have visitors' accommodations and they would not be accepting postulants until the end of August 2014. Frustrated, I informed the priest and begged that he would allow me to dispense with this third visit. I had found out that if I wanted to enter with the Sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas, I had to do it by the beginning of January.
Then commenced another month of waiting. I was getting nervous, because it was almost December and I had no word from Father. At long last, on December 6th he visited us again and granted his permission. He added a stipulation, though: I was to visit a certain couple of Sisters in Boston, not to join, but just to "see," saying it would prove useful sometime. I obeyed happily, not caring what I had to do as long as I could get to Arizona by January 6th. I started buying up postulant's clothing and getting ready, and I successfully made that Boston visit...gracious, I think only two weeks ago. I believe I learned much, though it did not go the way Father was imagining, and I gained the prayers of two very holy Sisters. I'm sure that God organized it the way He did for a very good reason, and I am content.
Now I'm becoming a postulant, God willing, in a matter of days. I bought the last supplies I needed a few days ago. All I have to do is give my flight information to Sister, wait three days, and say goodbye to my family.
This chapter is almost over, but the story's got plenty more chapters to go. While I feel certain that this is my vocation, I have learned from experience that God's ways are not ours, and He may require me to leave the convent, for a different one or for the world. If that happens, I will try to accept it, but for now, this is my path. It is more beautiful than anything else I could ever have imagined, and I am very grateful: to God, to my family, to the priests and Sisters who have guided and prayed for me, and for all of you who have prayed for me as well. God bless you all.