Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. And thank you for the men and women who have made a gift of themselves by entering religious life. Holy Spirit, please share your Wisdom and Counsel with us during this novena. We ask you to speak to our hearts now in this time of quiet prayer.
Heavenly Father, help us to draw closer to you in prayer so that we may serve you with the same gifts that you have given us. Teach us to praise you with words, with silence, with music, with art and with our actions. You are goodness, truth and beauty and for all that you have given us to deepen our faith, we give you thanks and praise. Amen.
Whether or not a person who leaves religious life discerned that on her own, it may feel like a disappointment on some level. Here you were, ready to give yourself away in the life of religious vows, and now you are no longer in the community you joined. You trek back to the secular world wondering, “What’s this all about?” You may feel like Eliza Doolittle who cried out, “What’s to become of me?” Perhaps for some it may feel that leaving religious life is simply an ending, with no new beginning in sight. But each of us is called to be a saint, and there are a number of holy people who left religious life or seminary (or were never permitted to enter), only to find their vocation elsewhere and become persons of exemplary holiness.
For the encouragement of all who are a part of Leonie’s Longing, I thought I would start a list of saints, blesseds, and other exemplary persons who at one time aspired to the religious life but were unable to enter, or were in seminary or religious life and left.
+St. Frances Xavier Cabrini – was turned away in her youth from entering religious life due to poor health; she later founded her own order.
+Bl. Margaret of Costello – expelled from a religious community, she became a 3rd order Dominican.
+St. Zelie Martin – she had been rejected by a religious order and became a holy wife, and mother to St. Therese of Lisieux.
+St. Louis Martin – could not join a monastery because he could not master Latin and became a saintly husband, and father to St. Therese of Lisieux.
+St. Anthony Mary Claret – sickness kept him from remaining in the Jesuit novitiate; he later became a bishop and founded a religious order.
+Fr. Isaac Thomas Hecker – had been expelled from the Redemptorists, then was asked by Rome to form a new community, which became known as the Paulists.
+Judge William P. Clark – had entered seminary then left and became a top advisor to President Reagan
+Elizabeth – a friend of mine who could not become a religious due to a chronic health condition…now she is a consecrated virgin with the Blessed Sacrament in her home.
+Sister Luitgard Kussman, OSB – member of Benedictine nuns in Colorado who died a few years ago; health problems led to her being released from her religious vows as a Missionary in 1945. Some years later she entered the contemplative Benedictines.
+Pope St. John Paul II—wanted to enter the Discalced Carmelites, but due to the war in Poland, they were not accepting novices at the time of his inquiry. Looks like God had other plans!
If anyone knows of others, PLEASE share so that we all can be encouraged and inspired even more!
Back in April, we launched a survey that forms our contribution to the preparatory phase for the 2018 Synod on Youth, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.
We have been blessed to receive generous and thoughtful responses from many, many former religious, and former seminarians too, from across the United States, Australia, Canada and Europe.
Thank you for sharing your experiences!
We will continue to take responses until Thursday, June 1, 2017.
If you have been thinking about whether or not to respond, be assured that we receive responses with the greatest reverence for what you choose to share. The responses are anonymous, and each question on the survey is optional – you can answer as much or as little as you like.
Only Board Members can see the actual responses; general information about trends will be provided to the diocese of one of our Board Members for inclusion in the material given to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who will submit a national report for review in Rome.
To visit our Survey Page and to take the survey, please click on the image below!
Even though I don’t know what your plan is, I know you’re making beauty from these ashes.
“Broken Hallelujah” by the Afters
Broken, Blessed, and Beautiful: Isn’t this the Paschal Mystery we proclaim? Isn’t this also how the stories of our lives are written?
As we continue to celebrate this Easter season and look to embody this message of hope in daily life, the Alleluia quiets, the joy dims, and life’s daily struggles often begin again to filter and obscure the light. The promise of Spring found in the garden on Easter morning can fade and seem far off come nightfall.
As each of us knows, the landscape of life can shift dramatically, leaving us feeling lost, broken, and discouraged. The friends of Jesus knew this well as it played out before their very eyes. The Paschal Mystery has seasons, as do our lives. Personally I’ve lived these seasons through religious life, single life, marriage, and motherhood. I’ve felt the effects of these shifting sands. The benefit of time and experience has led me to the sure knowledge: God is taking me at my word, as I’ve so often prayed Psalm 51, “Create in me a new heart, O Lord, renew in me a steadfast spirit.” Each season has its own particular challenges and joys, its own blessings and brokenness. While the details of our individual stories may vary, the Author remains the same. He is in ALL the details, the brokenness and the blessing. We are reminded that life is a journey: We are ALL works in progress, perfectly imperfect, forgiven, redeemed, and loved beyond measure by a Wounded Healer.
Luke’s Gospel tells the story of the Risen Lord’s appearance to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Aren’t we like the disciples who walked the Road to Emmaus? To them, and to us, words can barely convey the heartfelt pain, loss, and grief of the past few days. But Jesus walks with these disciples and listens without judgment to their outpouring of emotion, unrecognized, just as He walks with each of us, listens to each of us. We and these disciples are exactly where we need to be.
When they arrived at Emmaus, they invited him with these words, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening!”
And it happened while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.
He may have vanished from their sight, but most certainly not from their hearts. This encounter would provide hope and encouragement as these disciples lived out their renewed faith and Easter hope.
May each one of us invite the Risen Lord to walk with us, to stay with us. May we invite Him to open our minds and our hearts, so we may recognize Him, beautiful and broken, in our current circumstances. He will feed our spirits and fill our hearts with blessing.
By Meg Meg left community after 8 years of serving as a professed religious sister. Discernment and transition were challenging for her, but three years after returning to the world, Meg met her future husband, Mike, with whom she now has three children. At present, Meg is “rediscovering” her love for all things creative, writing poetry, visual arts, and living a healthy lifestyle. She is grateful for the opportunity to offer encouragement to those who have left religious life.