Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! We've still got another nine and a half hours before the new year hits but whatever, I'm excited. I'm going to a friend's house later on and I'll be staying over there. I rarely do much on New Year's Eve, mostly I just hang out with my family - yeah I'm that cool - so for me just going to hang out at a friend's will be a nice change, though I do feel bad leaving my poor mother alone.

For me I'm excited about the new year because for me it's going to bring a lot of new changes: my first community visits are in January and hopefully this year I'll find the community God is calling me to enter. It's far too hopeful to think that next new year I'll have entered, that's basically impossible, but I do hope that 2013 will see me in the convent. I'll also be graduating university, which is scary enough in it's own right because I don't know what I'm doing after I leave. I hope that the next year will be a real turning point towards the life I want to lead.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2011


Due to the general business of Christmas I haven't been able to blog much, I've been far too busy with family and friends. It's like midnight now and I can't sleep, hence why I'm here.

I've emailed St. Cecilia's now so hopefully I'll hear back from them soon and get a meeting sorted with them. With Carmel already sorted, I'll be on the right track which is so exciting. I'm putting Tyburn on hold at the moment so it's just Notting Hill Carmel and St. Cecilia's and I'll see how things go from there. When I get back home I'm so excited to tell Father Philip how it's all going - a real, non-internet person to share it with!

On a completely unrelated post, I've broken 1000 views. I can't believe my little blog has gotten that many views, it's awesome. Thank you all so much!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Saint Francis

Saint Francis, you gave up riches and glory to follow the way of God and renounced your earthly father to follow your Father in heaven. May those who now struggle against their families as they too try to follow the way of God find comfort and inspiration in your example of holiness. Pray for us who are still struggling, that we may find as you did the strength to follow God despite the hurdles that we may encounter. 


After many prayers I have come down to three communities I want to visit.
1. St. Cecilia's Abbey
2. Tyburn Convent
3. Carmelites Notting Hill

I posted before about the letter I wrote to Tyburn. I haven't heard back yet but then again I went home a week later and it is Christmas so the post is probably a bit slow at the moment. But a few days ago I emailed the Carmelites and the prioress invited me to meet with her in the new year. So in January I've got an appointment to meet with her! It's all suddenly so real and scary but in a good way. It's exciting to be making this step further. I'm also going to email St. Cecilia's. I am a bit worried that all these visits are going to cost me a lot, in trains up to London and then getting across to the Isle of Wight but I'll just have to learn to be more frugal I guess. Good lesson for the future, especially with having to pay my loans back before I can enter.

I'm so excited now about my first visit to Carmel! It's so crazy to think that as I visit these places, one day I might be there for the rest of my life. Perhaps a little premature to be thinking about that but then again that's kinda the whole point!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


I haven't written anything in a while. I guess when I'm home it's a lot harder, I don't have that time to myself the way I do when I'm away. Every time I just want to be by myself in my room I'm told off for being anti-social or it's all "what are you hiding?" The answer to the latter would be well, this blog and my forums. So anyway that's why I haven't written in a while. Another reason is that I like to write when I'm happy, not so much when I'm sad. Recently I've been sad, hence the lack of writing.

My mother is still upset. It got to the stage where I just got so upset I told her I wouldn't do it. I just couldn't take it any more, I've had the worst term ever and with all of that still going on I just snapped. So now I'm kind of at this crossroads. I want to continue, the calling is still there in my soul. I crave the life still. But can I really cause my family this much pain? If that's just one reaction and I can't cope with that, how on earth am I supposed to cope with everyone's reactions? It just seems all too much.

I haven't heard back from Tyburn yet or contacted the other communities. I want to start the visiting and I feel like that will really tell me if this is my calling but now I have to do it all in secret and in hiding. That is very frustrating. I'm almost wondering now if it's all worth it, if there's a point in even trying.

I might make an appointment with one of my parish priests when I get back. He's also a convert and also experienced trouble with his close relatives when discerning the priesthood (we had a little chat after Mass one day) so he should be able to sympathise with my struggles.

Please keep me in yours prayers. I'm feeling a little desolate at the moment.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Religious Names

I always feel like names have a lot of meaning. In a way, our names encompass a huge part of our identity - who are you without your name to distinguish you? I find that's the case even though names themselves are not unique to the individual. My first name is not a Christian name, and though it's not hideous I has been thinking for a long time about using another name - actually my confirmation name, which is why here I am known as Emily (Emiliana). Perhaps another little sign of my vocation but who knows. Regardless, I want to change my name when I enter religious life. Because my name is not a Christian one I want to take a new name to truly, deeply signify the conversion of my life from a life of this world to a life of consecration to Christ.

These are my choices so far, in order of preference. Feel free to let me know what you think and if you're a fellow discerner, what yours are!

1. Sr. Mary Agnes
I really want to honour the Blessed Mother in my religious name. One of my favourite saints is also St. Maria Goretti, so it also honours her. My all-time favourite saint is St. Agnes, so I would just love to take her name as my religious name. If the community prefers single names to the double names I would still choose Agnes. People might think it's old-fashioned but I don't care about the name itself, I care about the incredible, faithful servant of God that it would be in honour of.

2. Sr. Mary Ambrose
Again, the Blessed Mother and St. Maria Goretti. St. Ambrose is a great and wonderful saint but honestly it is mostly in honour of a wonderful priest who taught my RCIA. I was at that parish for three years and he helped me so much in my faith journey and I owe much to him.

3. Sr. Maria Albertina
And again the Blessed Mother and St. Maria Goretti. See a pattern here? Blessed Albertina is another virgin martyr (seeing a pattern here!) from Brazil. Still a Blessed, not canonized yet. But I am also half-Brazilian so I wanted to have an option where I honoured a saint from my homeland, since there are not that many. English saints abound, Brazilian saints not so much.

If I were to get a title it would be "of the Most Blessed Sacrament" because I have a great devotion to the Eucharist, I attend Daily Mass as often as possible (about five days a week) and Adoration every week (which is how often it is offered in my parish).

Monday, 12 December 2011

Different orders

I've been wondering lately about visiting communities. It's like all these questions are going around in my mind: how many should I visit, should I visit different kinds of orders, when should I visit them. I want to visit soon but that may not be possible to do other than for short periods of time because of my university commitments.

So far I've pretty much only wanted to look at Benedictine communities. I've been reading the Rule of Saint Benedict and something kind of just spoke to me, which is weird because it's not even a spiritual rule but very much a disciplinary one. But sometimes you can't question these things too much, they are what they are. And I had my two communities I want to visit because I thought to myself I want to get an idea of the different communities to see what is out there rather than just jumping in with the first community I visit (which I can totally see myself doing, I get overexcited sometimes). So that seemed sensible. But now I'm wondering if maybe I should visit a different kind of community as well. I have been to one cloistered community as part of an RCIA retreat where we went to loads of different churches across the city and we visited the Carmelite monastery and got to meet one of the sisters. Honestly it didn't exactly endear me to religious life, the word "silence" was used far too often for my liking (nice oxymoron there). But on some level I do wonder if that experience stuck with me somehow because until then I had only ever known apostolic sisters from having gone to a Loreto school. Recently the idea has kind of come to me that maybe I should visit some Carmelites as well. I keep thinking about a community I came across in my research and thinking about going there. After the Benedictine communities it was one of the other ones I felt more drawn to.

Why are there just so many orders? It's so difficult to figure out where you're meant to be!

I've got a big assignment due Wednesday so I may not be blogging again until then. Until then, God Bless.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


This morning I went to a Penitential Service at my church. I'd never been before but I wanted to go to Confession so it worked out perfectly. It was really nice because there were a load of kids taking their first Confession. There was one poor little kid who was in the line looking like he was about to cry. Aside from the sheer terror I had at realising that I had to confess face-to-face, it was a nice service. The reason I bring it up is that I spoke to one of the priests after Mass.

We've got two priests at my parish, and a few weeks ago I went to speak to one of them about my discernment. I mentioned St. Cecilia's and Father Philip said he knew the community and offered to let them know I was interested and pass on my contact details to them. Which is pretty scary (nuns would know who I am!) but I was like sure, sounds good. I spoke to him after the service today and he said he's emailed St. Cecilia's, so I may hear from them at some point soon. Which is awesome, so now I've got contact with both communities and just need to keep hoping and praying!

By the way, totally check this out: Nuns and Sisters: Devoted to Preserving Images of the Traditional Habit. It's really interesting to see how many different kinds of habits there are out there.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Patron Saints

First: I sent my letter to Tyburn Convent! I posted it after Mass today. I'm getting really excited now. I want to visit them next term, I'll hopefully have a gap between my exam and when the next semester of classes starts.

For a while now I've been thinking about patron saints. There are people who talk about the saints they chose at Confirmation and have these wonderful, beautiful stories of why they chose that saint. Honestly, I picked mine because I wanted one with a pretty sounding name. Mine is Saint Emiliana, hence why I am known in the internet world as Emily. I only realised recently that I don't think my choice was random at all. I think that without even realising it I chose perfectly. Saint Emiliana is remembered with her sister Saint Tarsilla, they are virgin saints from the 6th century. About the sisters [source]:

Tarsilla and Emiliana were two paternal aunts of Saint Gregory the Great, and it is this holy Pope who narrates their touching story. They renounced the world together, together consecrated their virginity to God and remained in their house as if in a convent, far removed from the conversation of the world. Encouraging one another to virtue by discourse and example, the two sisters soon made considerable progress in spiritual life.
They had a sister named Gordiana, who had taken the same engagements, but little by little fell back into affection for the world, to the great grief of Tarsilla and Emiliana. With gentleness they reproached her, but the inconstant spirit of Gordiana soon forgot their charitable lessons. One day Tarsilla had a vision, in which Pope Saint Felix, her uncle, appeared to her and showed her a palace of marvelous beauty, saying to her: “Come; I will receive you into this habitation of light.” She fell ill with a fever the next day, which rapidly grew worse. While in her agony, with her eyes lifted to heaven, she cried out to those surrounding her, “Make way! Jesus is coming!” Soon after speaking these words, as she gazed at the vision, her soul was delivered from the bonds of the flesh. It was December 24th. The fragrance with which the room was filled confirmed the vision the virgin had had before dying.
A few days afterwards she appeared to her sister Emiliana, saying: “My sister, come! I did not celebrate with you the birth of the Lord, but together we will celebrate the feast of the Epiphany.” “If you call only me,” Emiliana replied, “what will become of our sister Gordiana?” “Come,” Tarsilla answered sadly; “Gordiana has decided to remain with the worldlings.” And after that vision, Emiliana fell ill and joined her sister for the feast day.
I was reading about her and it occurred to me Saint Emiliana essentially lived the same kind of life that I would as a sister. She lived as a monastic in her own home, with her sister. It made me realise that no matter what saint we choose and no matter what reason we choose them for, they will still be an inspiration and an example for us. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


My last post was about how I was drafting a letter to send to Tyburn Convent. That letter is now written, signed and sealed and waiting for a stamp. I've lost my purse, hence the lack of stamps. But once I find it the letter will be stamped and send of. I'm excited but at the same time a little bit terrified. It's like this is the first big step I've made. It's one thing praying and thinking and writing about it, it's another thing entirely to contact a community and say "I think I'd like to join you one day". On some level it feels very invasive, me as this complete outsider trying to gain access to something so intimate. It does feel very strange writing to these complete strangers and wanting to be a part of their community. But I've found my purse so I can buy the stamps now!

I've got the joy in my vocation back. I think it's because I'm hoping to find a community that I like and that wants me and then I want my mother to visit it. I'd like her to be able to see the place I want to join and ideally even speak with one of the sisters. Obviously they can give a better explanation of their life and I am sure they'll have had sisters who had doubting parents before. I'm going to write to St. Cecilia's now as well, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

I can't believe I've got a letter written and I'll send it hopefully tomorrow!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


I'm drafting a letter to write to Tyburn Convent. Eeek. It feels kind of weird writing it - it'll be even worse when I actually put pen to paper (I'm drafting on my laptop). I'm writing to a complete stranger (and the Mother General no less!) and basically saying "I'm a good little Catholic girl, please let me join your convent." It feels so bizarre writing to a community that one day could be my home in such a formal way but I suppose it must be done. I obviously want to be taken seriously as a discerner! I might have someone read my letter before I write it out to make sure it makes sense. But once I've written the letter and bought some stamps I'll have made a first step!

Monday, 5 December 2011


So I told you I'd explain more about my mother's reaction to my vocation and so here it is.

She did not take it well. She cannot understand the beauty of the life or why I would want that life. She thinks I've been wasting the time I've spent studying. She took the aspect that I wouldn't be seeing my family very hard and she did take it very personally. I tried to emphasise it wasn't definite and it wasn't on a whim and it wasn't just to hide from the world. At first she was shocked and upset but on the later days she just seemed angry at me. She kept telling me I hadn't thought about it enough and I was just annoyed at that because I have and am thinking very carefully about this. It's very typical of her, she can't see anything beyond her own take and tends to then try and impose that on others.

I'm not feeling as negative as I was but I'm still sad. I think until now I had an almost selfish view on my discernment - I thought very much about myself, what I was giving up, could I live that life. I think I got so caught up in my own joy that I forgot the effect it might have on other people. I knew the sacrifices I was choosing but I forgot the sacrifices I would be imposing on others. I feel so impossibly short-sighted for not realising those things. It makes me wonder if I should have waited to tell anyone, if I just got so caught up in my own blinding excitement that I failed to see something important, something that would have made me realise I should have waited?

For the first time, I feel this doubt. Not that I am called, I still feel sure of that, but doubt as to whether I can really do this. I can live that life and make the sacrifices, I know that, but can I cause that much pain to my loved ones?

Saturday, 3 December 2011


The last time I posted I was going to tell my mother I was thinking of becoming a nun. I told her last night and I wish I could say it went well but I'd be lying. She was very upset and just cannot see why that life would appeal to me.

I'm not going to write any more just now but I just wanted to say that. When I go back to uni I'll write a full post on it. I'm just very sad now.