Blog Mistress Announcement: Happy New Year and #thanksconvent!

As 2015 comes to an end, I’d like to wish you all a peaceful, happy and blessed New Year, and to express my gratitude to those who have given their time and skills to the LL blog and social media this year.

To those who have managed our Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and newsletter – thank you!

To those who did yeoman’s work getting the blog up and running on a new server – thank you!

To the many people across the world who have shared their sorrows, joys and insights on our blog – thank you!

To those who have created graphics and memes for the LL social media – thank you!

To those who have “liked,” re-tweeted, commented on and shared our posts with their friends – thank you!

It’s been an enormous privilege to have worked with you this year, and I’m looking forward to 2016!

Lastly, thank you to those who have contributed to our #thanksconvent campaign throughout Advent. We thought it would be appropriate to wrap up the year with an expression of thanks to the communities that formed us during our time in the religious life.

God bless, and Happy New Year to you all!



As the end of the year draws near and we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, Advent is a beautiful time to reflect upon the blessings that God has given us.

This year, Leonie’s Longing invites you to join our #thanksconvent movement, and tell us what you gained from your time in the convent. It could be something as simple as a skill that you picked up in religious life, or as profound as a new way of drawing closer to God that you experienced there.

You can share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter, or comment on this blog post, as many times as you like. At the end of December, the #thanksconvent comments will be gathered into a single post in celebration of the gifts that God has given us from our time in religious life!

Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day Four

Day Four: Love that is persevering, enduring to the end.

Opening Prayer: Father, by the blood of your own Son, Jesus Christ, you have set us free and saved us from death. Continue your work of love within us, that by constantly celebrating the mystery of our salvation, we may reach the eternal life it promises. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Romans 8: 31-39 Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

John 13: 1-17 Jesus would show His love for them to the end.

Reflection: We see many unfinished buildings, unfinished projects throughout Africa. Sometimes it is just that it is slow, and the funding money is not available. Or, a project is started, and a new governor comes in, and the project is abandoned. On a more personal level, sometimes we fail to follow through on our promises. We get distracted, we move on to something new. We forget, we lose interest.

But God’s love is faithful, enduring to the end. We gain insight into the persevering love of God from the prophet Isaiah. Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you (Is. 49:15).

The public life of Jesus is marked by love for His apostles and disciples, marked by love for the crowds. This love would persevere and continue till the end. Our Scripture reading from the gospel of John affirms this as Jesus continues His journey to the city of Jerusalem. There He will meet rejection and death. Jesus realized that the hour had come… He had loved his own in this world, and would show His love for them to the end. He did not turn back, did not slow down, did not shrink from what lay ahead. No, He manifested and practiced His love to the end. This quality of the Heart of Jesus is one we seek and need in our lives.

One beautiful example of love that remains faithful and perseveres to the end comes from Liv Ullman, a film actress. She saw a photograph of an old couple. The wife is in bed, and almost in a coma, living in another world, her eyes are empty. The husband on the bedside with a bowl and a spoon and he is feeding her, and looks at her so lovingly. He is making a quiet statement about his love for her. He is saying that what we once promised each other when we were young – love in sickness or in health – remains strong even today. Liv Ullman would like to make a movie from that picture, and she calls it the strongest and most beautiful statement of love that she had ever seen.

May we imitate the ever-faithful, enduring love of the Sacred Heart.

Resolution/Practice: 1. At the end of each day, resolve to spend five minutes reviewing the day. Thank God for the good. And if there is any unfinished business,= any obligations which I still have to fulfil, ask for the grace and strength to persevere to the end in bringing to completion what I have begun, what I have promised to do, or what I am obliged to do. I pray for a loving heart that follows through, and perseveres to the end, a heart like the Heart of Jesus.

2. Prayer every day for the grace of final perseverance… For example, in the Hail Mary, we say: Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

This Novena in Honor of the Sacred Heart was written by Rev. Peter Schineller S.J. for the Apostleship of Prayer/League of the Sacred Heart.

God’s Inexhaustible Providence

Rosary WMC

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.


By Seraphina.

I had a long road leading into the monastery. I believed that God had clearly called me to be His bride and so for several years I prayed and begged that it would be possible for me to enter religious life. The obstacle, however, seemed insurmountable: I had nearly six figures of student loan debt, and I would have to bring that down to zero before I could enter. During those difficult years of working two jobs, praying, and fundraising, I recited to myself the words of 1 Thess 5:24: “He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” I tried, amidst mounting discouragement, to abandon myself completely to His providence.

Even while working, my income still barely covered my minimum monthly payments. If God really wanted me in the monastery then I needed a miracle. In October I decided to pray the 54 day Rosary novena with the specific intention that I would be able to enter the monastery in June. It seemed like a long shot, but I took heart in simple confidence of the novena prayer, which confidently gives thanks for the grace asked for before it has been received:

From thy bounty thou hast given me the favor

I so earnestly and trustingly sought. I despaired not of what

I asked of thee, and thou hast truly shown thyself my Mother.

This was the hope that I clung to and I made sure to remind Our Lady of it repeatedly. Still, as the months wore on my entrance date seemed increasingly unrealistic. Through the incredible generosity of friends and family I was able to fundraise about 16% of the total that I needed, but at this rate, it would be ten years before I could enter! Still, I tried to hope, truly believing that God would provide for those called according to His purpose.

In May of that year I had one final fundraising event planned: a concert at my parish. It was a simple affair and I looked at it more as an opportunity to offer my violin talent to the parish than as a fundraiser. I entrusted the concert to the Blessed Mother. The concert went well, and afterwards I went to the parish hall for the reception. I was thinking of leaving when suddenly an elderly gentleman approached me and began speaking with me. At length, he put his face near mine and said, “Whisper in my ear the amount of debt that you have.” I told him. He said, “I may be able to help. Write to me. You’ll find my address on the $100 check that I put in the collection basket.”

I wrote to this man and then I prayed another 9 day Rosary novena to back it up. I wasn’t sure if I could believe that this man whom I had just met would be willing to make such an extraordinary gift. I prayed and waited, hoping that this was the miracle that I had been praying for!

It was May, the month of Our Lady, and still Easter; while I was walking home one day I was concluding the ninth Rosary of the novena and the bells were ringing at the church for the Regina Caeli. Just then, my phone rang. It was this gentleman, and he was calling to tell me that he had just spoken with his stockbroker in order to transfer the funds necessary to completely pay off my debt.

“He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”

I was then able to enter the monastery within two months. The Lord had truly provided for me, just as He had promised, and I rejoiced! I was absolutely overjoyed to be able to enter the monastery after so many tenuous years of waiting. At last! Although nervous, of course, I was so excited to completely commit my life to the Lord and be His forever.

Within minutes of entering the enclosed monastery, however, I began to be plagued by doubts. The Lord, Who had always seemed so near to me, now seemed elusive. I struggled in the small community and I was afflicted by a loneliness that still grieves me to recall. I prayed, I offered sacrifices, and I begged for the strength to live this life, but I felt completely abandoned and alone. I was confused. Surely this must Cell_of_a_Discalced_Carmelite WMCbe my fault! Surely God had not worked such a dramatic miracle in my life if I was not actually called to this community! What was I doing wrong? Was I being punished for all of my sins? And what would happen if I left? Wouldn’t it seem like a devious scheme that I had worked just to get my loans paid off and then return to the world? These questions circled in my mind constantly and, not wanting to be unfaithful, I remained in the monastery. I would suffer, I decided, if that was what He wanted. I tried to reflect on the Passion. But who was this God here in the monastery? He did not seem like the same God whom I had loved so ardently before… I had never before felt so abandoned by God, so punished, so… rejected.

The community that I joined lived a very radical vow of poverty. Our personal items were very limited and I was taught not to ask for anything that was not absolutely essential. I had very long hair, because I was saving it for the dramatic ceremony of the investiture where my hair would be cut and replaced by a veil. Until then I had to keep it constrained behind a short postulant veil. I thought that I had brought enough hair ties with me, but midway through the year all but one of them had broken and the one that remained was definitely nearing its end. I know that this sounds trivial but I had some real struggles because of that one hair tie. My hair kept coming loose in awkward moments, it wasn’t secure enough for all of the manual labor that we had to do, and on top of it all, I was afraid to ask my superior for another one. I didn’t have that much longer until my investiture and I really did not want the portress to have to beg one of our benefactors for something as seemingly vain as a hair tie. I did not ask, and every day I rather desperately hoped that my one hair tie would survive.

My interior struggles with the community continued to worsen and I did not have anyone with whom to consult. I was the only one in the novitiate, the community was enclosed, and Mother was already bending the rules in order to allow me to talk privately with a priest about my difficulties. I did not know what I was going to do and it was all I could do to persevere in the daily tasks while trying to appear calm.

One day we received an unexpected package from a lovely woman whom I had met in passing just before I entered. It was a very large box containing all sorts of delights: nuts, washcloths, envelopes, and other essentials. I was really not expecting to hear from this woman and I was deeply moved that she had remembered me and had been so thoughtful. She even mentioned in her card that she had prayed while she was shopping so that she would know exactly what to buy for us.

We had a very fun recreation that evening where Mother allowed me to unpack the box and show everyone what my friend had sent us. Beneath the brownie mix, the seeds, and the gloves, I found… a package of hair ties. They were the exact type that I had always bought, and there were SO MANY of them! My friend knew that the Sisters kept their hair very short, and still she had been moved to buy hair ties for us. You might consider this a coincidence, but in that moment, when I had struggled so much and felt so incredibly far from the providence of God, I knew, I knew that the Lord was truly aware of even our smallest, most trivial needs and I knew that He still loved and cared for me just as much as He always had.

I eventually left the monastery after a great deal of struggles. I learned so much while I was there and I am Good Shepherdvery grateful to the Sisters for their goodness and patience with me. I was incredibly fearful of returning to the world, at first, and it was so disheartening to think that I may not be called to be the bride of Christ after all. It was all that I could do to entrust this transition to God and try to believe that He does indeed “lead the blind in ways unknown to them” (Is 42:16). I tried to trust again in His providence, more blindly now than ever, and believe that His ways must indeed be mysterious if He would pay off my huge debt in a miraculous way only to ask me to return to the world a year later. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He guides the future as He has the past. His providence had never failed me, so I just had to abandon myself into a new, albeit unexpected, adventure. If He would provide me with something as small as a hair tie, how much more could He be trusted with all of the needs that I would encounter upon leaving the community?

It has been almost a year now since I have left the monastery and I think that my whole experience can only be summed up in one word: gratitude. I am so grateful because the Lord has provided for all of my needs every step of the way. I still don’t know really what He wants me to do five years from now, but I can try to live my life here today with great love. This is the will of God for my life – to give thanks without ceasing, and so even now I think of those hair ties with just as much gratitude as I have when I think of the insurmountable debt that the Lord Himself paid off in a heartbeat.

Deo Gratias!

Seraphina spent over a year discerning with a small enclosed community. She is currently working, spending time with her family, and praising God for His inexhaustible providence.

A Grateful Remembering

By Rachel.

June 16th passed by like any other day for me. There was nothing special about it this year. In fact, though I was surrounded by many vibrant young people who were on fire for God, none of them knew anything about what this seemingly ordinary day meant for me. In my heart I bled silently and I hid all traces of nostalgia from their view. It was the 2 year anniversary of my First Profession of Vows.

Having lived in a convent for 2 ½ years, I didn’t dream that I would leave since I was so certain of my vocation there. When I made my First Profession, I had wished I could have promised “until death” instead of “for 3 years”. Little did I know that only a year later, I would be back in the world, no vows, no veil, no reason to celebrate that “wedding day” anymore.

Anniversaries are things that generally only you (the celebrated person) remember and you find you either have to remind others or celebrate alone. When you leave the convent, there are many anniversaries to get through (the first year being the hardest of course). The difficulty is that no one else knows about them, or if they do, they hesitate to mention such a delicate subject with you. I think it would have meant so much to me if someone would have recalled that 2 years ago I made a Profession, or 3 years ago I had entered the convent, or 1 year ago I left, but there was only silence; silence and my lonely memories of times when joy had seemed so full in my heart. What goes on in your heart on these days cannot be described or understood by most of your friends and family.  You might cry and they might think you are unhappy being among them now. You may feel very confused as to whether it is even O.K. to remember that day with joy. I believe it is. Someone told me, “Never be afraid to receive the gift of consolation from Our Lord.” The memory of being somewhere else on that day (however many years ago) can be painful, but there is some joy there, too, for this prominent moment in our life in which our heart was touched and changed.

I know that the day of my First Profession was a glorious one for me! I cannot forget the immense joy I experienced of giving myself to God as His spouse and He to me. That joy was real. I praise God for that. But I also realize that since those vows are now dissolved, it no longer holds the same significance, and would be unhealthy for me to believe that it did. These moments of reality seem like band aids being ripped off to expose the wound that won’t quite heal. Yet, it is in that stripping that God can heal and soothe. In these moments He invites us to open our hearts and hear Him say, “See, I am doing something new (in you).” (Isaiah 49:19)

Maybe it feels like a lonely battle; that God has left you to your mourning and seems to do nothing new with you. I’ve found that in this case, the most effective weapon I can wield is gratitude. Start by thanking Him for life in general. Thank Him for His love (and the fact that you are alive proves that He still loves you), for family, for friends, for work, for food, for shelter, for your faith, for your parish, anything that brings you joy or used to bring you joy. Thank Him for flowers, for animals, for sunshine, or the cross you cling to and the pillow you cry into. Thank Him for tears you have shed, the healing they have already worked, the moments of consolation or relief from sorrow and every moment your heart has been moved. Thank Him for all that you are and all that you have been, for all that others have been for you and for all that God has given you and continues to give you. Thank Him for those who care for you and show you love, even if it is not in the way we desire or need it. Thank Him for the few that understand you and the many people who don’t but still love you anyway. Thank Him for music that soothes or distracts you from your pain. Thank Him for the joy-filled memories: the peace you had, the love your heart brimmed with, and the change that was worked in your soul. Thank Him even for leading you out of the convent, for in doing so He has brought you one step closer to the fulfilment of your greatest desire, the goal of your existence: UNION WITH GOD! Thank Him for the Hope of Heaven.

I’ve found gratitude to be the most powerful and peaceful means of living through an anniversary, experiencing all the human feelings that come with it, but also gleaning all the graces of that day that God desires us to. You may not celebrate it in the same way anymore, but it is still a part of your life that you cannot ignore. So, rather than try and forget it ever happened or pine for the past, thank Our Lord for every joy and grace you received from it and let Him fill your heart with new grace this day. He at least has not forgotten this anniversary. How could His tender Heart not be moved by the remembrance of a day you gave yourself to him even more completely? He wants to celebrate with you and cause you to realize how you can welcome these anniversaries with a heart of gratitude.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)