This is the first instalment of a three-part series on the Theology of the Body of Pope John Paul II, and its special meaning for women who have left the religious life.
“For my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9) Have you ever thought of these words, especially as you struggle day by day, or even moment my moment in your transition home from the convent? In my own life, my time of coming home from the convent helped me to see how utterly helpless I was, and there were times that I felt so overburdened with my fragility that I wondered how God would bring good out of it. While I believed the mystery of the cross – that God brings good out of every evil and weakness – I found such difficulty experiencing it in my own life.
I doubt I was the only person that experienced immense guilt, fear, shame, and acceptance when I came home. Honestly, speaking with many of the young women from my class who also left, it is a common experience. Even though I made the decision to leave the convent after much discernment, I constantly doubted myself if I did the right thing. Before I knew it, I was absorbed in fears of making any decisions due to an immense feeling of shame.
While I knew these were lies from the evil one, I could not seem to shake off all these struggles, even as months went by. It was then that I knew that that God was calling me to abandon all to Him and to let Him take my weakness. I knew that He had the most perfect plan for me from before I was born and so would take my weakness and use it for His glory. It was amidst all this that God reached out to me and healed me through St. John Paul II’s catechesis called Theology of the Body.
I came across Theology of the Body in St. John Paul II’s “Letter to Women” in a Catholic study group called Endow (Education on the Nature and Dignity of Woman), and this began to touch the deep recesses of my heart. Amidst my pain and suffering of trying to figure out who I was again, St. John Paul II encouraged me that I had an immense gift to give to the world as a woman. Through his letter to women, this saint led me to encounter the heart of God the Father in a profound way.
In my own life experience of coming home from the convent and adjusting, God called me to know ever more deeply of my immense dignity as His child, and to trust in His Divine Providence. When coming face-to-face with my own fears and inwardness, God touched me with the beauty of human relationships and what it truly means to love through Theology of the Body. I hope to share that with you in the coming posts of how this catechesis led to deep healing in my experience of coming home from the convent, along with how it might help you in your journey. I pray that in this blog series, God speaks to your heart in how he calls you to love and communion with Himself in your experience of coming home from the convent.