Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Made a Decision!

Back home at the convent, and so happy!

So I seem to have come to a decision on everything. I'm staying here at the motherhouse, keeping the nurse's aid job that I have, and going on the insurance here, finding doctors here, and all that jazz. I'm really happy. I think I wanted to keep my daycare job in CT because I love it, but it's comfortable, and I was nervous about starting the nursing job. But I started, and it's hard, and it will take time to get all the skills to become second nature, but such is life. It's going to be great. My directress and I sat down on Sunday night when I got home and put the numbers together, and it's looking like if I save all the money I make, and work at least four days a week, I can pay off my debt in 20 months!!!!!! This is incredible! I've never sat down and worked it all out like this, but it seems so much more manageable now than it did before. It's such a relief.

My daily schedule is all over the place now that I've started working, but some things stay the same across the board...and one of those things is learning Spanish! We use Rosetta Stone to learn the languages of the community, one of which is Spanish, and in the postulance, that's the language we learn! So off I go to practice! What keeps me going is knowing that someday I can speak to my sisters who don't speak English!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Student Loan Dilemma

Today I return to the convent and all my beloved Sisters! It feels like I've been away forever, but at the same time it feels like no time has passed at all! I miss everyone so much though.

Currently, I have a bit of a dilemma related to my student loans. I have a few different options of what I can do.

Option 1: Stay in the convent I live in now (our provincial motherhouse) for the next year and a half, try to pay off my $20,000 of loans, and hopefully enter the novitiate in August of 2011 with the other two postulants who are currently with me.

Option 2: Stay at the motherhouse for the summer and work, then, if my old boss here in CT has a job for me at the daycare I worked at for four years, return here for a year and work at the daycare in an attempt to pay off the loans. I would return on the weekends to the motherhouse. Good plan, except I probably wouldn't be able to be a postulant since I wouldn't be living in one of our convents. I also may not be able to enter the novitiate until 2012, which wouldn't be the worst thing since there's another girl who wants to enter soon but has more loans to pay off than I do, so we might be in the same group.

Option 3: Move from the motherhouse to our infirmary and work as a nurse's aide in what is basically a nursing home for our sick and elderly sisters. I may still be able to be a postulant, since I would still be living in a convent. However, I'm not licensed as a CNA, so I would have to try to get that, which costs more money.

The other problems involved in all of this are:
- The loans are supposed to start being paid off six months after I am no longer a student. I was a full-time student last semester, but the various places that I have my loans with refused to acknowledge that fact, even after many phone calls and faxes where they told me the loans would still be deferred. I had originally thought that the job I'll be starting this week was going to be full time, but now I don't think it is, and so I was going to start paying the loans back in July (6 months from when the loans people say I stopped being a full time student), but without a full-time job, I don't know that I'll make enough money for it to work. I guess this means I now have to start all over again with the loans people. Heaven forbid they listen!!!!

- As I am no longer a student, I am no longer covered under my parent's insurance. We could pay a large sum to have me covered under their insurance, or we could pay a still-large-but-less-large sum to the Sisters so that I would be under their insurance (which is very good insurance). Once I either enter the novitiate or make first vows (I can't remember), I would be under the Sister's insurance for good, and they would pay it. But technically it depends on where I end up working, and whether I'm living with my parents or at one of our convents.

Ick. What a mess. My directress and I will be talking about all of this sometime this week, once everyone is home and settled. There are just so many questions that cannot be answered until I have other information, which makes it complicated because it's not a matter of just me making up my mind what I'd prefer.

After Mass this morning, I was talking with a couple people that I got close to through working with the LifeTeen group as youth ministers. They reminded me that if God wants me to be in religious life, He will make a way, the funding will come through. I have to remember that all is in God's hands, in His control. They also told me a story about Fr. John Corapi and how he hadn't had the money to enter the seminary, which I will put in here as soon as I can find it. I'd rather not try to recount it from memory, lest I get it wrong.

"You can lose everything else, but don't lose hope." ~Fr. Corapi

Friday, June 18, 2010

Some Charcoal Drawings

Since 8th grade, I have loved drawing with charcoals. My Language Arts teacher passed around paper and charcoal sticks one day in class...I can't even remember what we were supposed to draw, but I know that from then on, charcoal has been one of my favorite kinds of art. Every so often, I pick it up again and create some things.

Yesterday yielded this...

And today, this...

They are far from perfect but I don't practice much, so that's what I get.

The first drawing is of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the second is my favorite saint, Saint Philomena. Here's a bit of the story of this incredible Saint.

On May 24, 1802 in the Catacombs of Priscilla in rome, and inscribed loculus (space hollowed out of the rock) was found, and on the following day it was carefully examined and opened. The loculus was closed with three terra cotta tiles, on which was the following inscription: "lumena paxte cumfi". It was and is generally accepted that the tiles were meant to be read with the leftmost tile placed on the right: "pax tecum Filumena" which means "Peace with you, Philomena." The images on the tiles also indicated her virginity and that she was martyred. Within the loculus was found the skeleton of a female between thirteen and fifteen years old. Embedded in the cement was a small glass phial with vestiges of what was taken to be blood. In accordance with the assumptions of the time, the remains were taken to be those of a virgin martyr named Philomena.

On December 21, 1833, the Holy Office declared that there was nothing contrary to the Catholic faith in the revelations that Sister Maria Luisa di Gesu (1799-1875), a Dominican tertiary from Naples (as well revelations of the same nature to two other separate people), claimed to have received from the Saint herself.

According to Sister Maria Luisa di Gesu, Saint Philomena told her she was the daughter of a king in Greece who, with his wife, had converted to Christianity. At the age of about 13 she took a vow of consecrated virginity. When the Emperor Diocletian threatened to make war on her father, he went with his family to Rome to ask for peace. The Emperor fell in love with the young Philomena and, when she refused to be his wife, he subjected her to a series of torments: scourging, from whose effects two angels cured her; drowning with an anchor attached to her, but two angels cut the rope and raised her to the river bank; being shot with arrows but on the first occasion her wounds were healed, on the second the arrows turned aside, and on the third, they returned and killed six of the archers and several of the others became Christians. Finally the Emperor had her decapitated, which occurred on a Friday at three in the afternoon, as with the death of Jesus. The two anchors, three arrows, the palm and the ivy leaf on the tiles found in the tomb were interpreted as symbols of her martyrdom.

In these visions she also revealed that her birthday was January 10, that her martyrdom occurred on August 10 (the date also of the arrival of her relics in Mugnano del Cardinale), and that her name "Filumena" meant "daughter of light". (It is usually taken to be derived from a Greek word meaning "beloved".)

Since the majority of the information that we know about St. Philomena was received through private revelation, the Church says that we may choose to believe it or not, and that either way, we do not go against the teachings of the Church. I, personally, believe very strongly in my dear Saint and plan to take her as my patroness in a few years when I profess my first vows as a Sister.

Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ponderings about Marriage and Celibacy

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Megan, is getting married in November of this year, and I am one of her bridesmaids. Since she and I were both in the state for the first time in 6 months, we met at the bridal store on Saturday afternoon with her mom and younger sister (Bridget...another very old, very dear friend) to find me a bridesmaids dress. Bridget and their mom already had dresses, as did Meg, and they knew the designer they wanted, plus the color, fabric, and style. So the selection process was very easy. I tried on maybe ten dresses but it turned out to be the first dress I tried on that I finally chose today. I love the dress I chose. It's floor-length, deep purple satin with a sweetheart neckline, ruching on the whole midsection, and then the skirt flows out from the ruching. It's strapless, but has spaghetti straps which I will be using. My mom and I went back to the bridal store today, I tried on the dress again to show her, and we paid for it. In the car on the way home, my mom and I were talking about weddings and bridal parties and all that jazz. It's a subject that I haven't thought much about, ever...until I started seriously looking into religious life. I wasn't someone who had ever thought about her dress, or what the perfect guy would be like, or what the wedding colors would be. I thought about my bridesmaids enough to know that I wanted my group of close friends from Girl Scouts to be in the bridal party (two of those friends are Megan and Bridget). But really. That's all the attention I ever paid to that subject. I suspect that throughout high school and college my friends and I were too wrapped up in some very intense issues, and there wasn't any time to think about anything past college. Now I'm hitting that age where my friends are all in serious relationships, and more than a couple are engaged or have gotten married within the past year, and it has just got me thinking. Sometimes I worry that I'm making the wrong choice, that maybe I'm supposed to get married. After all, "everyone else is doing it." I guess I'm just not interested. It's not that I'm averse to marriage or that I hate men or think I'm better off on my own. I'm just not interested. I don't think about marriage and get excited...but when I think about religious life, there's that flutter of excitement inside me.

My idea of a good romance novel is Pope John Paul II the Great's "Theology of the Body." Early in my encounter with this collection, I came across the phrase "continence (virginity) for the Kingdom of Heaven." This is heavenly romantic bliss if ever I heard it.

"If the meaning of life consists in making a gift of self to others and living in a communion of persons, should not all people marry? The answer is that all are called to 'marriage,' but not necessarily in the physical sense. Some are called to marriage as we usually understand it. Others are called to be the spouse of Christ (women religious) or the spouse of the Church (male religious) and live a celibate life for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Men and woman who live this commitment are a sign to us that we are all made for union with God, which is the ultimate fulfillment of the human person. They remind us by their lives that we will all fully participate in this union in heaven. Their gift of self to the world bears spiritual fruit through the power of the Holy Spirit.

"Continence for the kingdom of a charismatic sign. The human being...who, in the earthly situation where people usually marry, freely chooses continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, indicates that in that kingdom, which is the other world of the resurrection, people will no longer marry. This is because God will be 'everything to everyone.' In him [the risen man] there will be revealed, I would say, the absolute and eternal nuptuial meaning fo the body in union with God himself through the 'face to face' vision of him..." (TOB March 24, 1982; pp. 267)

"Earthly a sign that the body, whose end is not the grave, is directed to glorification. Already by this very fact, continence for the kingdom of heaven is a witness among men that anticipates the future resurrection...[It] bears, above all, the imprint of the likeness to Christ. In the work of redemption, he himself made this choice for the kingdom of heaven." (TOB March 24, 1982; pp.267-268)

Wow wow wow!!! JPII's work is incredible, I would suggest it to anyone. It's a very large compilation, covering so much beautiful subject matter. It started as a series of talks he gave weekly over a period of a few years in the beginning of his pontificate, and was eventually published as a book. Anyone who has ever read any of JPII's writings knows that they tend to be very theologically deep and there are people like Christopher West who create explanations of the Theology of the Body for those of us who want to understand but do not possess the knowledge and understanding that comes with many, many, many years in the study of theology and philosophy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Tridentine Mass, and Praying the Mass

Today I attended Mass at a nearby church that has a Latin or Tridentine Mass. This is only the second time I have attended a Latin Mass, and it is certainly different from what I am used to, but at the same time it's very beautiful. Side-by-side Latin-and-English missals are very helpful. I still found it hard to read simultaneously the English translation, the side notes on what I was supposed to be doing, and the Latin text to keep up.

(Me and my chapel veil)

A little background information:

The Tridentine Mass is a common name for the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until promulgation of the later form of the Roman Rite. In nearly every country it was celebrated only in Latin.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a moto proprio entitled "Summorum Pontificum" accompained by a letter to the world's bishops. The Pope stated that the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal is to be considered as an "extraordinary form" of the Roman Rite, of which the Missal as revised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 is the ordinary, normal, or standard form. As a result, some refer to the Tridentine Mass as the "extraordinary form" of the Mass. The 1962 Tridentine Mass is also sometimes referred to as the "older form" to differentiate it from the newer form of the Roman Rite in use since 1970.

Other names used include Traditional Mass and Latin Mass - though the revised form of the Mass that replaced it also has its official text in Latin, and is sometimes celebrated in that language.

As I was reading through the Latin-English Missal, I was struck by a quote from Pope Saint Pius X...

"Don't pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Corss, and repeated every day on the altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens on the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says to him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass."

Wow! I had never quite thought of attending Mass in this way. When I got home from Mass, I was doing some research and found an article written by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. and I would put parts of it in this post, but the whole thing is really phenomenal and I'm going to put the web address here so you can just read the whole thing for yourself!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hail, Mary, Full of Grace !

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary! I decorated the mantle again.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary, originally the Sacred Heart of Mary, is a devotional name used to refer to the interior life of Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and above all, her virginal love for God, her maternal love for her Son, Jesus, and her compassionate love for all people.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

I decorated the mantle in my house! (I'm home from the convent for a two-week "vacation")

I have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart, so I want to share with you a little bit about what the devotion is all about.


Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus goes back at least to the 11th century, but through the 16th century, it remained a private devotion, often tied to devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ. The first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated on August 31, 1670, in Rennes, France, through the efforts of Fr. Jean Eudes (1602-1680). From Rennes, the devotion spread, but it took the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) for the devotion to become universal.

In all of these visions, in which Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary,
the Sacred Heart of Jesus played a central role. The “great apparition,” which took place on June 16, 1675, during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, is the source of the modern Feast of the Sacred Heart. In that vision, Christ asked St. Margaret Mary to request that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be celebrated on the Friday after the octave (or eighth day) of the Feast of Corpus Christi, in reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice that Christ had made for them.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus represents not simply His physical heart but His love for all mankind.

The devotion became quite popular after St. Margaret Mary’s death in 1690, but, bec
ause the Church initially had doubts about the validity of St. Margaret Mary’s visions, it wasn’t until 1765 that the feast was celebrated officially in France. Almost 100 years later, in 1856, Pope Pius IX, at the request of the French bishops, extended the feast to the universal Church. It is celebrated on the day requested by our Lord—the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, or 19 days after Pentecost Sunday.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Current Reading

A few weeks ago I was in our community room and a book in the cabinet caught my attention. It was "The Diary of St. Faustina", a book I was familiar with but that everyone seemed to have read and I tend to shy away from anything overly popular. But I picked up the book and sat down and started to read. Now I'm in the middle of it, and I love it! ! ! ! St. Faustina was who Jesus revealed the image of Divine Mercy to in the early 20th century. The words that Jesus speaks to her, and the way He does it, remind me very much of what is revealed to Anne, a lay apostle. Her website is here: I came across Jesus' revelations to Anne a year and a half ago at the March for Life in Washington D.C. when I was handed a little booklet called "Heaven Speaks to Young Adults" and at first it looked ridiculous, but once I started to read it, I fell in love.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Beloved" - Tenth Avenue North

This is a beautiful was written as if God is singing it to you and me. A beautiful reminder of how deeply He loves each one of us. This is why I want to be a Sister.

A Day in the Life

Here's a bit of the daily schedule of a postulant. This is what we did each day during the school semester.
5:15 am: Wake up

6:00 am: Chapel for meditation

6:25 am: The Angelus and other verbal prayers

6:30 am: Mass with morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours
* We are not a monastic community so we are not bound to praying the Office, but we choose to as part of our commitment to prayer.

7:10 am: Breakfast

7:30 am: outside to pray Rosary and the Stations of the Cross

8:10 am: Formation Conference...we meet with our directress and learn about different parts of religious life, from the community to the foundress, spirituality, prayer, etc.

9:00 am: Class
* Classes went from 9-11:45 and from 12:45pm - 3:30 pm. We didn't all have class for all of this time. If we weren't in class we were studying, doing service around the house for the other sisters, or learning Spanish, one of the other languages of the community. In the novitiate, they learn German.

12:00 pm: Dinner

12:45-3:30: Class, etc. (same as morning)

3:30-4:00 pm: Exercise
* This can be taking a walk, volleyball, riding bikes, or any number of other things.

4:15-5:15: Holy Hour
* This includes Eucharistic Exposition, adoration, any personal prayers or devotions, journal writing, spiritual reading, and scripture reading. We also pray evening prayer (vespers) from the Divine Office together as a community.

5:15-5:45: Supper
* After supper is a little bit of free time. When the weather is nice, we like to take walks together.

6:30-7:00pm: World News

7:00-7:20 pm: Reading about our foundress
* Depending on the night, after this reading, we might have free time, or game night, or bell choir practice, or preparing for any kind of upcoming event. On Friday nights we watch movies.
* Bedtime is any time after 8:30 typically. Lights out is at 10:30pm...though some of us try our best to have our lights out far earlier.

The Stages of Formation

I had wanted to first share my vocation story, but I don't have access to the computer on which the story is saved, so I can't post it for another week and a half. In the meantime, I will explain the various stages of formation.

Keep in mind, this is specific to my community, although there are many elements that are the same in others. Don't assume that every community does things in exactly the way I'm going to delineate.

Stage 1: Discerner
This is where I am. Technically, a discerner is anyone who is thinking about religious life. I started this stage as a senior in high school, and had I stayed in school, I would now have finished my junior year of college, so it's been a few years. 5 months ago, I moved to the convent that I am in the process of entering formally, and so since I have not formally entered, I am still a discerner. The way I am doing it, I follow the entire schedule of a postulant, no exceptions. I'll make a different post with our daily schedule. However, I did not have to go this route. I could have selected different parts that I wanted to follow. But as my goal was to enter formally as a postulant, I chose to act as though I were one.

Stage 2: Postulant
A postulant is someone who has formally entered the community, but has not yet made any real commitment. Postulants can decide to leave the community at any time for any reason. They are under the direction of a directress, or a Sister who is in charge of the formation process of a postulant. This stage lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, although it is usually the full two years. Our postulants take college classes and earn their Associates Degree in Religious Arts.

Stage 3: Novice
The novitiate is two years. The first year is referred to as the "canonical year" and is very strict. It is meant to be very contemplative, devoted mostly to prayer. The novice adopts a modified habit...the habit is the same for all the Sisters, but novices wear a white veil instead of a black one. Novices do not take classes. They do various jobs around the house, like working in the laundry and as sacristan in the chapel. The second year, they can take classes again, but there is still a more regimented prayer schedule. After the novitiate, a Sister has to have to discipline to make her own prayer schedule and balance it with her particular ministry.

Stage 4: Temporary Profession
A temporarily professed Sister has made her first vows and adopted the black veil. She has made a committment to the community and it is now more difficult for her to leave. Also called Junior Sisters, these Sisters can either return to college for degrees in nursing, education, or a plethora of other majors, or they can head straight to a particular ministry. We work mostly in healthcare and education, but there are sisters in many other ministries. Junior Sisters renew their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience every year for up to 6 years.

Stage 5: Final Profession
When a Sister makes her final vows, she is a full-fledged member of the community. She is able to be a member of provincial and general councils, and can make the kinds of decisions that would have a large impact on the community along with the other Sisters. At Final Vows, the Sister receives a gold wedding band worn on the ring finger of her left hand, signifying her marriage to Christ and the Church.

* Please note that this is just a very basic description of the different levels. There is so much more to it all that I have written here, but I wanted to give you at least a basic idea of what it takes before you can make your final vows.

Disclaimer of Sorts

I just want to say that I will not be mentioning the names of either my community or any of my Sisters. This is simply to protect all my Sisters. I do wish I could at least name my community, because that could add so much to what I have to say (at least I think it would). However, it would be irresponsible at this time. So please accept my apology in advance for any vagueness.


Hello! My name is Katie and I am 21 years old. I live in the northeast U.S. and I am currently in the process of entering religious life! Currently I am what is known as a "discerner"...this means I live at the convent, follow the life of a postulant, but my application is not done yet. This is a very interesting position to be in, which I will explain later. But with God, all things are possible, and if it is His will that all works out in this way, then I know it will. Stay tuned for more information!