“Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatever I have or hold Thou has given me; I restore it all to Thee, and surrender it wholly to be governed by Thy will. Give me only Thy love and Thy grace, and I am rich enough to ask for nothing more.”
—St. Ignatius of Loyola
On entering a convent, you surrender your life to God. On leaving a convent, even more so, you surrender your will as well. All of your plans, your desires, your hopes, your dreams, your struggles, your perseverance: these now seem completely pointless. You wonder if they meant anything at all.
The truth is: THEY DO!!!
What dearer things to your heart do you have to offer your Beloved than these? Only your will is fully yours; surrender that, and we have given Him everything!
It is hard to imagine that we could be happy while following a path that is different than what we originally wanted. But His path (this “road to Calvary” really), is your path to holiness, to Union with Him, which was the whole purpose of your having entered Religious Life in the first place!
What is Religious Life if not a gradual surrendering of our will in order to become conformed to His, and thus enter into complete union with Him? When He called you out of the convent, He desired to quicken that process. He did not wish to wait any longer to possess you entirely. Therefore, you are still called to this union; you are still called to give yourself entirely to Him; you are still His beloved Bride!
Now you have given Him your memories, understanding, your time, your work, your obedience, poverty, and chastity, your religious family, customs, and life: wait and see what He does with them, because He was the one who had given them to you for a time. You’ve grown, you’ve loved, you’ve surrendered; this is the image of His life on earth.
You are not as far as you think from living in a perfect imitation of Jesus’ life, which is the true “Religious Life.”
One word I must speak to You tonight,
In it is summed up in my heart’s prayer.
In it is my sorrow, joy, desires, love,
Gifts, pleasures, temptations, illness;
Ah, Jesus, everything!
I will not moan or groan at Your Hand,
Only Your will, my Jesus, is my own.
I have nothing to give, I am empty.
So take my whole soul, my yes,
Thank you so much for this post!!!
Yes! Thank you Rachel for the beautiful reflection!
Having recently left religious life, all the posts I’ve read have resonated with my soul, especially this one. It is comforting to know that I can still be HIS in a deep and profound way. It’s also a solace to know that I’m not alone in this process – that other people have not only experienced what I’m going through, but have found a way to synthesize their religious experience with their new situations and have found peace and joy in their lives. Right now, the future looks a little intimidating; and I would very much appreciate your prayers. Thank you.
Angelina, you are most certainly in our prayers! May God bless you and thank you for taking the time to write your comment!
Hi Angelina – I just wanted to second Leonie’s words – you’re very much in my prayers too at the moment – I’ll be at Mass in 1 hour and 10 minutes and today, you’re my intention 🙂
On this exact day last year, I had just landed home in Australia, having returned from a convent on the other side of the world. Re-settling takes time… but it meant so much to me to know that others were holding me up in prayer. So know that others now hold you up in prayer, too!
Authentic fraternity in Christ… gotta love it!
Wow! Exactly 1 year! I’ll pray for you especially today – or rather Australian yesterday 🙂
You are certainly not alone, Angelina! I’m sure everyone who reads this will pray for you because they understand the trials through which you are passing. But they are PASSING… 🙂
If the future looks intimidating it is because God usually doesn’t dwell there; He is here with you now, drawing you closer to Himself. And He does ”know the plans (He) has for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
So true! 1 Cor 10:13 “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
I’m up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep for missing religious life… and this post hits home. Thank you. I’ve said many times that leaving the convent was harder than entering. I’m not sure there is anything more difficult than totally abandoning our will to His. And I find, for myself at least, that it is not an abandonment that is done only once, but rather time and time again…in the unexpected moments, like tonight, where memories hit and I find myself in the garden with Him, struggling to pray “not my will, but Thine.” This post is a helpful reminder that it is in that giving of my all – especially my will – to Him that I am closer to what I loved and longed to do in religious life: make a gift to Him of my entire self.
Dear Amata, we will be praying for you! You have a beautiful perspective even though it is very difficult. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.
I left religious life over two years ago. I was distraught. You give so much when you leave your family and loves behind, totally trusting that THIS is where you are called. Leaving is hard. Sooo hard. I promise you, there is great Joy on that path as well. I have found such Grace and healing, I am actually entering a new religious community in just 9 days! I will add you to our prayer list and we will pray not only for a healing spirit to be delivered to you, but for understanding and unending love!
Thanks for sharing Jacqui! We will pray for you as you prepare to enter the convent!
This post, Rachel, is SOLID GOLD. I have nothing at all to add to it, but simply couldn’t go past it without commenting to affirm you for your wisdom and thank you for sharing that wisdom with us!
It very much resonates with my own reflections, looking back on this past year of life after the convent. And seriously, upon seeing what it is that you have articulated above, and upon witnessing His gentle, healing touch acting upon my heart, what more can a gal do but give thanks? And praise? Blessed be God in all His gifts!
And in all sincerity – thank you for your post!
Thanks for taking the time to comment! Everything added to the site makes it better!
If it resonates with your soul (and others as well) then it is only because it is not from me…Praise God that He has put this on my heart for me and you both! I have needed to re-read the post several times in order to realize what it was that I found to be such a grace, so I can truly say: It is ALL HIS!
Woah. Thank you for letting the Lord use you as His instrument of grace for what seems like many women thus far (and surely more to come). The simple, beautiful words are a perfect reminder for me as I enter more into His Passion. Thank you!