Pain and Healing


Today, I saw about Mother Mistress’ Silver Jubilee a few months ago, and it stabbed at my heart again. I should have been there. I saw the photos, I saw Mother Mistress and my dear friends in the novitiate and I saw the abbey and the choir and it pained me. I torture myself by looking for news from them, I know that. I have no right, no reason to feel this pain and this longing. I am mourning the loss of something that I never had to start with!

do believe that [marriage] is probably your path. Oh, how those words stung me! I am happy, but I am not at peace. I know, I know that the door to religious life is shut behind me. I took my foot out of the door when I was given those well-meaning and true but still stinging words. Now, I’m like a toddler throwing a tantrum because they want to get into the one place they’re not allowed. Not only that, but they also don’t want to leave the room they’ve been let into. No wonder God doesn’t listen to me anymore, doesn’t speak to me anymore. No wonder He didn’t want me.

I long for that peace, that total trust in God that I’ve lost. I can feel a stirring within myself, a desire to return to that. I can only describe this as a kind of progress. For a long time I have felt a great affinity with that famous prayer of St. Augustine, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet, only all aspects of faith. I’m not angry, although I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been. I’m just hurt and betrayed and I want to turn to God for comfort but I’ve lost my trust in Him. How can I trust in His will again when it has lead me to so much pain? How can I trust that I even know what His will is? How do I know that I was even doing His will?

Lord, have mercy.


7 thoughts on “Pain and Healing

  1. Dear Emily Ann,

    I know it’s sort of bad etiquette to give unsolicited advice on someone else’s blog, but if you’ll bear with me…

    I read through quite a bit of your blog because I was looking for information on St. Cecilia’s (as I’ve been thinking about possibly trying to make my annual retreat there at some point). I know discerning can be terribly hard, and the grief that you’ve been describing in this post and others has really touched my heart.

    So please forgive me if I’m stirring up more difficult feelings for you, but I just really wanted to say: a lack of peace like the one you’re describing really doesn’t seem to be something that you should ignore or try to “get over” by sheer force of will. If you are really not at peace with where you are in your discernment, this might be God’s way of trying to tell you something. (And this “something” might not be simply a call to greater detachment—even those of us who want to give our entire lives to God are still human, and God does want us to form certain healthy attachments to some things at certain points in our spiritual lives.)

    Doing God’s will might make one unhappy in the short term sometimes, but even amidst this unhappiness there should ALWAYS be a sense of peace.

    Unless you’ve really discovered something that would make it truly impossible for you to enter religious life—like some sort of canonical impediment that can’t be dispensed, some catastrophic health problem, advanced age, etc.—then you shouldn’t consider the door to be closed, locked, and barred. Even being told “not right now” isn’t the same thing as being told “never.”

    Hearing that you “probably have a vocation to marriage” isn’t the same thing as getting a definitive last word from on high. And even if you were to have a vision of an angel come to you to tell you that you didn’t have a religious vocation, there is still a lot of careful discernment that would need to happen to determine whether or not that vision was an authentic messenger of the Lord (as opposed to a diabolical illusion or a natural hallucination).

    There are many saints who were told that they didn’t have a vocation to religious life, who still followed the promptings of their heart and eventually were able enter communities—such as St. Andre Bassett in Canada, St. Faustina, and I think also St. Catherine Laboure. Sometimes, I think God does want to test our resolve by having us continue to pursue a holy aspiration (like entering religious life…) even in the face of external discouragements and our own internal doubts and questions.

    But once again, I apologize if I’m stepping on your toes here. (Ultimately, I guess I’m just trying to share something that I wish someone would have told my younger self.)

    • No apology necessary! Thank you very much for your comment – it is definitely something I will take on board. It is not impossible for me to enter, so you are very right that “not right now” does not mean “never”.

    • I will also add that St. Cecilia’s is a beautifully peaceful place, and they take the care of their guests very much to heart so if you do ever get the chance to go there, it’s very much worthwhile.

  2. OFM@3057-Moo says:

    Emily Blessed Blessings My Sister in Christ,I heard today a Friend of Mine on facebok does Retreats At The Franciscan Community I entered in tonight I told myself wow,and he loss of not being Franciscan came back to me I went through photos and thoughts and Prayed for Them,i am remembering you n Prayer Sister,Know that Christ is Within Your Heart,ontinue to Pray From You Heart.
    In Christ Jesus,

  3. You’re probably tired of me commenting and saying nearly the same thing every time, but I just really want to help somehow.

    Obviously, you know that if you were told that marriage is probably your path, then it probably is. Sisters know these things — they are given special help by the Holy Ghost in order to know them. And if it wasn’t God’s will for you to be a sister, than you wouldn’t have been as happy in that state as you will be in whatever state God is calling you to. He knows best. I’m afraid we all just have to trust Him, even though I know from experience that sometimes it doesn’t seem to us like He’s making sense. But it’s just because we’re too blind to see it.

    • OFM@3057-Moo says:

      We don’t allways see things when we are in them fully ,We must Choose To Pray through them,Victoria I Love Your Sharing.I am keeping You in Prayerful Prayer as well.
      In Christ Jesus Our Lord,

    • I always enjoy comments, so really don’t worry!

      I do know in my heart that God knows best, but I am quite the sensitive soul so I don’t take things like this in the best way. Trust is not something that comes very naturally to me, so feeling it has been broken is not something I deal with well. But may God’s will be done!

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