The End of the Story

Leaving the convent and returning to the world was quite the experience, to say the least.  Did you feel the same way?  I was in the convent, going about my day and then two days later I was in a car driving to my parents’ house.  My routine was suddenly turned upside down.

I certainly did not know where I was going or what my future would hold.  It was difficult to fight off the anxiety and fear.  Now what?  Where will I work?  Can I find a job?  What kind of job?  Do I have clothes?  Where can I live?  Once the immediate needs passed, other questions set in.  Do I have a vocation at all? Is there a plan?  Do I have a path?  Is my holiness in jeopardy now that I am back?  Does God still love me?

Though I have been back for a few years, the latter questions still periodically crop up in my mind.  As I am in the heat of the moment, feeling rather hopeless and confused about my future, nothing seems possible.  I am a weak sinner and ending up in Heaven seems basically impossible.  Oh, if only I were St. Teresa of Avila or St. Francis de Sales (for example), then I would be fine!

But recently I realized that they probably felt the same way at times.  When they were alive and struggling through life just like me, they had to feel confused, lost, unsure, etc. because they did not know what would happen in the future.  They did not know if they would end up in Heaven and they certainly did not know that they would be canonized by the Church!

But I know the end of their stories.  Therefore, it is easy to view the difficulties they experienced as being “no big deal.”

Yeah, St. Therese died from TB, but so what? She ended up in Heaven, so it’s fine.

St. John of the Cross was thrown in prison but he was holy so I am sure that was easy for him.

Bl. Margaret of Castello was abandoned by her parents, but she totally got over it.

Really? Do I really believe this? That these saints were not human at all and did not struggle? It is ridiculous, and yet I think I slip into this very easily. And more than that, I somehow think that what I am experiencing is so much worse! It’s rather funny, actually.

So what can I learn from this? Today is passing and tomorrow will come and surprise us all. What I am experiencing right now will not necessarily determine my future. Many studies show that envisioning what you want and how you will attain it increases the chances of it becoming a reality. This is not the case only for material wealth and worldly success. I need to picture myself in Heaven with God and imagine myself acting in ways that will get me there! When St. Thomas Aquinas was asked, “What does it take to become a saint?” He answered, “Will it.” Is that not the same thing? We have to be like little children and trust that the Father wants us to be eternally with Him in Heaven infinitely more than we want it for ourselves!

Finally, we need to have confidence that what Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel is TRUE:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.

You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.

If there were not,

would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back again and take you to myself,

so that where I am you also may be.

Where I am going you know the way.”

John 14:1-4

 By Rosa Mystica



While in the convent, my class read Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. I had read this book a few times in my life before the convent and I was excited to read it again. If you have never read it, it is one of those books where you notice so many “new” things each time you read it.

Because my class was reading it together, we discussed it at times during recreation. One of the parts that some of us had difficulty understanding discussed abjection. What exactly does abjection mean? If you look up “abject” in the dictionary it says:

  1. utterly wretched or hopeless
  2. miserable; forlorn; dejected
  3. indicating humiliation; submissive: an abject apology
  4. contemptible; despicable; servile: an abject liar

In this section St. Francis de Sales discusses accepting and even cherishing abjection. (If you want to read this section, you can read it here). I feel that the time after one leaves the religious life is a perfect time to put this into practice. But why do I say that?

When you live as a sister or nun in a religious community you are poor. You know that going in and you are happy about it! When people hear about what you are doing, they generally respect you for it. “Oh Sister, let me buy some food for you!” If your habit is getting a little tattered and stained, someone might offer to purchase material for you so you can make a new one. If you run out of gas because you are lost and don’t have money to buy more, it is probably pretty easy for a stranger to stop and fill up the tank for a woman in a religious habit. If someone spits on you in the subway, you’ll know it’s because you’re a woman religious and you can joyfully accept “all for Jesus!”

But what about when you return to the world? You are still poor. But it’s different. It’s abject poverty. When you go out wearing the same clothes every day because you only have one outfit, people might notice and judge you. If you run out of gas, will anyone stop and help you? If you can’t look quite “together” for your job interview, will you get the job? If someone sends a rude gesture in your direction for no apparent reason, how will you handle that?

St. Francis de Sales encourages us to use these situations as opportunities for growth. Sure, it’s easier said than done. But God allows every situation in our life for our sanctification. Even if we felt that being in the convent was our path to holiness, it isn’t right now because we are in the world. This isn’t easy to accept, but it is worth considering and taking to prayer. May God bless you!

by Jane F.