Life Hacks, Convent-Style

Happy Easter, Leonie’s Ladies!

This being a joyful season, we’ve decided to kick off with a light-hearted post, along the lines of the “Ten Things Only 90s Children Will Understand” lists that you see on Buzzfeed. Except that this is a list of Life Hacks that Only Someone Who Has Been in the Convent Will Understand – and please feel free to add your own! (It would be great to be able to post a list of them on forums for people who are discerning religious life.) Here are a few to kick off with…

Problem: you’ve been given a shirt or t-shirt from the community’s storeroom that is (at least) one size too big, creating an unsightly bulge of cloth under your postulant vest/habit.

Solution: you will need one ribbon, long enough to fit around your waist several times, and two safety pins. Put on the out-sized shirt, then lay one end of the ribbon over your stomach and wrap the longer part once around your body. Overlap the ribbon and pin in place. Then wrap several more times above and below the original level, not too tightly, and pin. This will keep the shirt from bulking up. Use your postulant vest or sweater to conceal this arrangement.

Problem: your hair is in need of a good clean, but you won’t be able to wash it until the time allocated for showers that night.

Solution: dust some talcum powder into your hands, and pat lightly onto the hair on your scalp. Massage in until the powder disappears. This isn’t as effective as washing, but it softens and brightens the hair enough to get you by! (NB: my hair is light brown. I don’t know whether this would work on red or black hair.)

Problem: there’s a crease in your shirt/skirt/habit, and ironing day is days away! Argh!

Solution: get some water in a cup (assuming you’re doing this in your cell), and pour a small amount onto the crease. Gently massage it with your fingers until the crease flattens out, and then allow the damp patch to dry. Best to leave it overnight if you can, but it can be done with something you’re wearing at the time.

Any more?

The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For…

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our convent-themed Mad-Libs this week!

Here is the completed story…

By Christopher John SSF from Chuncheon, South Korea – TongdosaUploaded by Caspian blue, CC BY 2.0,

It was evening recreation at the Convent of Saint Erasmus of Humpty Doo, and 24 Sisters were gathered around the table.

Old Sister Giuseppe Methodius, who had spent a long afternoon singing, baking and reading, sat back in her chair with a ­smile. The novices had vanished from the room a few moments earlier, giggling, to prepare for a skit they had been rehearsing in secret. For a few minutes, only whispers and clatters were heard, and then a young Sister poked her head around the door.

“Sisters,” she declared with a bright smile, “we present the Life and Martyrdom of Saint Lucian!”

At that, two more novices appeared, armed with a mop, spatula and toilet brush, and one of them wearing a lamp that she had converted into a helmet. She bowed to the audience, then growled, “I am the Emperor Trebonianus Gallus, slayer of 2000 Christians!” (Loud cries of “Boo!” from behind the scenes.)

“And I,” said the other, “am Lucian, a humble keyboard shiner and convert to Christianity!”

Thence followed a dramatic battle, which ended with Lucian falling to the ground, the toilet brush plunged into his heart. At this, three of the junior professed, who had been briefed earlier by the playwright, leaped up from their chairs and declared their intent to become Christians as well. Trebonianus obligingly provided each of them in turn with a holy death, swinging the mop so enthusiastically that the prioress had to warn him to be careful of the bookshelves behind him.

The last of the three, Romulus, knelt placidly: before submitting to the final blow, he declared that before the day was through, Trebonianus, too, would become a Christian. Trebonianus dispatched him and laughed monstrously, then stopped and stared as the narrator, now wearing a set of golden wings, descended upon the martyrs and swept them up to heaven with a chorus of Now Thank We All Our God. Trebonianus fell to his knees and piously embraced the Christian faith. After a long pause, the narrator declared, “The End.”

Old Sister Giuseppe Methodius clapped along with the rest as the actors tugged off their costumes and sat down around the table. One of them turned to her and said, “Sister, tell us a story about when you were a novice!”

So she began:

It was evening recreation at the Convent of Saint Erasmus of Humpty Doo, and 24 Sisters were gathered around the table…

Just for Fun!

This week, we have an interactive activity lined up! Some of you may have played “Mad Libs” before, but if not, all will be explained below.

In this game, I write a story (with, of course, a convent-related theme) for publication at the end of the week, but leave blank certain words throughout. In the meantime, I’ll tell you the kinds of words that I need to complete the story, and you are invited to submit them in the comments below. The final story will include a combination of different people’s answers – please be as imaginative and humorous as you like!

Here’s what we need…

1: Saint’s name

2: Place name

3: Number

4: Two more Saints’ names

5: Three verbs

6: Adjective

7: Another Saint’s name

8: Three household objects

9: Ancient Roman name (male)

10: Number

11: Occupation

12: Name of a hymn

Read the completed story here!