You asked...she answered!!
|Please ignore the crooked picture and messy house. This picture was taken in OUR house (obviously)..the sisters don't have crooked pictures, air conditioners or messy house.|
Sr. Veronica of the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth is answering your questions in three Parts.
You can find Part I here
The grass is always greener...so from my perspective as a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes think if I was a nun and could spend the bulk of my day/week at Mass, in prayer, at adoration, studying the Bible, and reading the works of saints, all my problems would disappear! Can you speak to the humanity side of the convent? What are the struggles/temptations that plague your order and maybe are universal to all nuns?
Interesting question! Well, you're right when you say "the grass is always greener"... People always think that we're just floating on clouds all day long and only come down to breathe when we go out on apostolate...or, they think that we're miserable in the convent and only smile when we're out of it! (depending on who you talk to). Actually, life in the convent is very human and very much like living in a family. We "rub elbows" with each other and sometimes drive each other crazy, but that's what family is all about, right?! We're like true sisters, with both the ups and the downs. Our prayer life is what keeps us centered and focused, and we have the privilege to have Jesus living right with us in our chapel and a schedule which lets us spend time with Him every day, but our lives (though not as hectic), are filled with the "little things" too, like laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening, mowing the lawn, taking care of our German Shepherds ( we even have puppies sometimes!) , stacking wood for our wood burners, and just caring for each other, as well as spiritual reading, preparing for talks, adoration, going to Mass, and all the things you'd imagine a sister normally doing.
I think some struggles and temptations we have are probably very similar to yours, but on a different plane. Prayer can be difficult and dry sometimes, and just like your relationship with your husband has to deepen every day, and you don't always feel the "ooey gooey" feelings for him that you used to, so our relationship with Christ has to move beyond the consolations of the desperate "run to the church" where you feel that everything will be all right and you get a "spiritual high" to loving Jesus and trusting Him even when He sees far away or does't answer our prayers as we want Him to. Also, we have our own little worries and concerns for our sisters and house ( for example, we just had to put one of our dogs down, and it was very hard for us because they become "one of the family") However, we don't have the same levels of worries that you have, which frees us up to pray and bear the weight of others' pains on our shoulders and bring them to prayer. We get very serious prayer requests every day, and I must admit, they always remind me to "kiss the habit" and thank God for my vocation!
Probably, the hardest, and most blessed, things to live are the vows, especially obedience, and being asked to do the things that we'd rather not or given a "no" when we want a "yes". But, doesn't that frustrate your kids, also? Pope Benedict said that the more we become like Christ, the more our wills are conformed to His and the less suffering we experience based on wanting something which isn't God's will. There's still suffering -that's life, and that's the cross, and whether your a saint or an atheist, a housewife or a habited nun, it'll come, but it's what we do with it that determines whether we have peace or anxiety and unnecessary pain. I've tried to learn that it's just better not to fight God from the outset...but I've still much more to learn!
Secondly, and much lighter, have you ever been "hit on" in your habit? And my husband adds, did he succeed in getting your number?
Who in their right minds would hit on a nun?! Although, I must admit, the old men at parish missions sometimes can be a bit smitten, and I suppose they have asked for our number, but it's usually to send a donation! We gave a Confirmation retreat a few weeks ago, and I think some of the boys fell in love with the sisters, but it was actually great because they were the ring leaders of the class, and they were "eating out of the palm of our hands", so we had the class./ Sometimes the boys tell us ( myself and another sister who play the piano and guitar and sing together) that we should be on "American Idol" and that they would vote for us...does that count?
One of my kiddos is curious if they sleep in their habit.
Kids always seem to ask that! Actually, my sister Amelia (who's lovely blog this is) also wanted to know the answer... No, we don't sleep in our habits, but just in normal nightgowns or whatever. However, we each have our own cell -no, not because the convent is like a prison!- after the Latin word "caeli" which means "heaven", so each of our cells is our little Heaven! So, we never go outside of our private cells without our habits on or our head covered. Nobody sees us sleeping but Jesus!
My 9-year-old AnneMarie would like to know how often you get to see your family, or if you areo allowed to have friends outside of the convent.
Good question, AnneMarie! Well, as a professed sister, we generally go home every year for about two weeks (which is what I'm doing now) and our family can periodically come and visit us at the convent. When you first enter the convent as a postulant or novice (i.e. the first three years), our sisters generally don't go home, but their families can come and visit them every three months or so. The reason for the separation is not because your family is a bad influence or anything like that, but because when you enter the convent, you have to attach to your new family, the sisters! It's easiest to do that when you don't see your family all the time, but we never stop loving them, and actually, I pray much more for my family now than I ever did before when I was with them, and I feel like I have a deeper relationship with my parents than I did before entering the convent, because we see each other on a different level. My parents talk to me about things they never would before because, not only am I their daughter, but I'm also a religious
I do keep in touch with some friends sometimes outside the convent, but usually what happens when you become a sister is that your sisters in religious life become your friends, so instead of going over to your friends house to have a good time, you live with your friends and can have fun with them all the time, and believe me, sisters can have lots of fun! We put on skits and costumes, and dance and sing, and laugh a lot! You should see us at Christmas...I reckon I get just as excited as you do for the holidays...or Easter, or our feast days..
Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part III.