As promised, a post on my retreat.
I got to Saint Cecilia’s on Friday afternoon. Honestly, at that stage I was feeling a bit down and I kind of expected to leave and still just be lost. That evening, I didn’t really do much. The guest-mistress, Sister Clare, gave me a few books to take a look at, one on the Solesmes Congregation that had been written by one of their sisters (The Spirit of Solesmes – Sr Mary David Totah, OSB) and another book on monastic life (The Silent Life – Thomas Merton). I spent the evening mostly in my room of the guest house, reading and napping (I was exhausted).
The next morning, I went to Mass. They sing the psalms of Terce with the Mass so I got to hear that as well. They use the Novus Ordo but in Latin (except for the readings) which I was so excited to hear since I do love Latin but I prefer the form of the Novus Ordo and obviously that’s quite a rare combination so it was a great experience. I absolutely loved it, it was so beautiful. I’d listened to their Gregorian Chant on their website (so can you if you click here) and it’s even more beautiful in real life, I was totally taken aback by it. After Mass, Sister Clare came to the guest house and I had a chat with her about their life and my interest in joining them. She asked if I wanted to speak to the novice mistress and I said yes so she told me I should come to None and then I would meet with the Novice Mistress afterwards. None was again beautiful, the way they sing is incredible. Afterwards a woman came and led me to one of the parlour rooms and I met with the novice mistress, Sister Mary David. She was lovely and she was very helpful. Bizarrely, she is a friend of one of my mother’s old work colleagues. I know the family very well, they are very devout Catholics and Sister Mary David said they’ve even been to the abbey to see her. It was so funny to find that we had acquaintances in common.
I left my meeting with Sr Mary David thinking ‘this is it’. The feeling had grown in the time I’d spent there and I just had this overwhelming sense telling me ‘this is where God wants me to be’. I can’t even describe it, I can only say it came from God. Their liturgy is perfect for me, I love the Gregorian Chant, it just felt so right and so perfect. I was kneeling in my pew at None, sitting right at the front so I could look down the transept at the nuns (guests sit in the transept, the nuns are in the nave) and just thinking more than ever that I belong on the other side of that grille. My next stage would be to spend about 3 or 4 weeks having a live-in so I could truly experience their life. If I could, I’d honestly do it tomorrow but I realise I do also have to be realistic and sadly that probably won’t happen until after I finish university. But I know now where I want to serve God with and for the whole of my life!