Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Letter to My Mother

Dear Mum

I feel like I've spent my whole life trying to do the right thing by other people, to do what they would want and what would make them happy. I feel the pains of others in a very deep way and I hate to be the cause of that pain, my instinct is always to try and heal it. But I have also realised that as much as this might be considered an admirable quality, it has its downfalls. The downfall is that I care more about the happiness of others than my own and am somehow willing to forsake my own happiness for the sake of others. Again, while this may be considered admirable in small doses as an overall life pattern it is unhealthy. I feel like I have spent my life jumping through hoops, trying to do what I've felt others wanted me to do and trying to fulfil expectations that I cannot explain the origin of. I feel like I am constantly trying to be the person others want me to be and I just can't do that. It is simply my nature, not only in what I do, also in who I am. But it has left me frustrated and unfulfilled.

This isn't about anger or resentment. It's not about running away or cutting myself off from the world. I know that it must seem that way but it truly isn't. What it is about is happiness. I truly think that this is what will make he happy. I know it is difficult to understand why such a radical form of life could make me happy. And maybe this will come to nothing and I will realise that this life is not for me. But maybe it will come to something. If there is even a chance that this is what will make me happy then how can I not follow that? I truly believe there is a chance that this is what will make me happy. It is not as simple as making a decision and that's forever. All I want is a chance to investigate, to try. If I at least have that then even if it doesn't amount to anything I can look back without regrets, without wondering constantly "what if?" I don't want to spend my life with a "what if?" hanging over my head.

Do not think for a moment that this is out of a lack of love for my family because that is not true. I love you more than I can express and I probably don't express it enough. I am not setting out to hurt anyone and I do not want to hurt anyone. But I also cannot live my life solely guided by whether or not my family approve of my decisions. I have to do what I think is right for me, what I think will make me happy and trust that when it comes down to it my happiness will testify for itself. Sometimes I have to take a leap of faith. This is a leap of faith. I can't be sure but how many decisions in life is anyone really that sure of? Life isn't about getting things 100% right. A visit may tell me it's not right, but I've learnt something from that. I believe very strongly that it's not what you do that counts a lot of the time, it's what you learn from it that matters.

I have always felt a draw to this kind of life, a draw that I neither understand or can ever truly explain. It is something you truly have to experience to understand. I do wish there was a way I could properly articulate it but there's just no way. The best way I can try is to say that I long for simplicity. There is a hustle and bustle to the world that I find overwhelming and quite frankly unnecessary. What I want is quiet and simple and peaceful. If I think about a "normal" future I can't see those things. In this life I see exactly what I want. I see joy and peace and calm and silence. I see a place where the unnecessary is stripped away and I can truly be myself.

I love you.


Religious Names - Take 2

Several months ago I posted on the religious names I wanted to take. At St. Cecilia's they submit three to the Abbess, who then chooses one. Apparently at one point the Abbess just chose for you and that was that but they changed it because so many women entered with saints they felt particularly devoted to and wanted those names. This seems to be fairly common practice in communities that take on religious name. I chose that list a long time ago and since then I've changed one of them and felt more strongly about others so this is my revised list.

I always liked the format of Sr. Mary [Something] so all the names I would submit would be in that format. I would want to honour the Blessed Mother in my new name as I can think of no greater inspiration that her.

1. Mary Agnes
I have always had a great devotion to St. Agnes ever since I heard her story. It's one of those purely subjective things that I can't explain but I have always felt a deep connection and devotion to her.

2. Mary Ambrose
As I posted about a while ago, I was actually confirmed on the feast day of St. Ambrose. This one is after both the great Saint and my old parish priest who taught my RCIA class.

3. Mary Paul
One of my favourite saints has always been St. Paul. I think that as a convert myself I felt a connection on that level but also because he reminds me of God's infinite mercy and love (I posted about my devotion to St. Paul a few weeks ago).

Instant Gratification

We're so used nowadays to having constant instant gratification. We've lost the ability to look at the long term and delay gratification. It's like we've developed blinders that stop up from seeing past what is directly in front of us in the here and now. Our entire culture has become about instantly gratifying whatever desire you have and catering to whatever our latest whim might be.

As Catholics we go against this every day. Though we are in this world and as prone to flights of fancy as anyone else we also look to something greater. We look to the future, to the day when we will one day be united with God in heaven. What we do is not just about the consequences in the here and now but how those actions affect the state of our soul. We look forward to an unknown day when we will go before the Lord and answer to Him.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


The hardest thing I will ever have to give up to enter religious life is something I never even had in the first place. It is a fantasy I have clung to, for reasons I don't fully understand.

We went to high school together, I moved to the school in the 11th grade. We only had one class together and I remember when we first met I found him highly annoying. Over the semester we became friends. He's a good guy, he's sweet and funny and charming although he'd never believe those things if I told him that. He's the sort of person who just lights up your day, or my day anyway. He can make me laugh when I'm upset and crying. I fell in love with him. I don't mean that in a the sort of throwaway sense that love is used a lot nowadays. I truly loved him in a way I've never loved anyone else. I would have done anything for him, it was that kind of love where you'll do anything to make that person happy.

Our relationship was always very strange. We have never been anything more than friends but that doesn't quite cover the dynamic of our relationship. We were the sort of people who got lost in each other, when we were together we almost existed in a bubble and we forgot that there was anyone else around. Our relationship was never anything other than platonic but at the same time was anything but platonic. To put it in a rather tragic cliché, we had chemistry. But (to the best of my knowledge) he never felt about me the same way that I felt about him and it broke my heart. To love someone as much as I loved him and know that they don't feel the same way is agonising.

We are still friends but we have never talked about that aspect of our relationship. I am sure he knows I had feelings for him though I have never known how he felt about me. It was a topic that always always broached but in this subtle, veiled way so that we almost acknowledged there was something more to our relationship but without ever actually discussing it outright. He has been a good friend to me over the years and I immensely value his friendship.

I did move on and though I cannot deny that I love him, I am not in love with him. I still care deeply about him, but the dynamic has shifted. But I always held on to a strange fantasy that one day it might work out for us. I don't know if that is because I have never loved anyone else in the same way or just because I'm an idiot. And that is the fantasy that I know I have to give up, not even just to enter religious life but to move forward in my life. I know it must sound ridiculous. But I am getting there. It takes no small amount of realism but it is a journey. I am trying to see it as not just giving up the potential of this relationship but of any relationship because in accepting the call to religious life I know that I am denying myself that future.

And although the word 'denial' has negative connotations, in this sense it's a good thing. I am denying myself a smaller pleasure so that I can have an even greater one.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


So I've hit 5000 views. According to the little ticker I've got at the bottom of the blog this has taken me 6 months, 2 weeks and 3 days. It really doesn't seem like that long. It makes me realise how much changes over time. When I started discerning I thought I'd have graduated university this summer. Now that's not the case and I graduate next summer.

I don't like to talk about it but I lived in England before I came to university. It was from when I was 13 until I finished my GCSE's at 16. It was the first time I had lived in England and I was sent to an all-girl's high school several miles away from where I lived, it was the only school that had space for me. I spent three years at that school and I was severely bullied. My teachers all knew what was going on but did nothing to stop it. A few even just stood and watched without saying a word. I begged my mother to send me to a different school but she refused. I was totally alone. That school broke me in a way I can't possibly explain. I'd lost all hope in life and in anything.

I truly believe that my faith saved me. We moved overseas again and my mother met a Catholic woman at work who lived down the road from us. She offered to take me to Mass with her and she helped me enrol in RCIA since I had never been confirmed. She took me to the classes and was my sponsor. She was truly an angel.

People always say that at university you find yourself. For me it was the opposite. University made me lose myself. I got lost in a huge campus and in huge classes. Not only that but I was lost in a sea of people who I had absolutely nothing in common with. I had moved halfway across the world to come to university and I was homesick. In addition, I was placed in the dorms that are on the complete other side of the city from the rest of the university. I didn't get on with the people in my dorm, who were more interested in getting drunk and high than anything else. I was left feeling confused, lonely and abandoned. Everything that I had experienced in my first stint in England came back, just as I had feared it would. Once again I lost all hope.

And again it look finding my faith again to find myself again. I realised how much my faith is truly who I am. My entire identity is ingrained in what I believe.  Without my faith I am lost because without it I have nothing.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Becoming a Catholic

I don't really know why I became a Catholic. My decision to join the Church was about 13 years ago now, though I wasn't actually baptised until 4 years after that. I was never baptised as an infant and my parents were always very open as to why: my father was a Catholic but my mother was an Anglican. They couldn't decide which church to have me baptised in so left it up to my own decision.

I was about 8 years old when I decided to become a Catholic. I attended an Anglican church every Sunday and to all intents and purposes I was considered an Anglican. I went to Sunday School and every week I'd go up to the altar with my arms crossed across my chest to receive a blessing. I did, however, attend a private Catholic school. Most of the students were Catholic, this being in an area where almost 80% of the population is Catholic. At school I went to chapel several days a week, every day when I was older.

I remember the rest of my class preparing for their First Holy Communion. As an Anglican I, along with a few other Anglicans and a Muslim classmate, was not involved. I also remember being intensely jealous of my Catholic classmates. I can't remember exactly why and there was probably something very silly about it but also something intensely providential as well. I didn't even understand really what it was, I knew nothing of the Real Presence. All I knew was that they had something I intensely wanted and looking back I think even then something drew me to the Eucharist. I could easily have been baptised Anglican and taken First Communion with my friends from Sunday School. But the desire in my heart was the the Catholic Eucharist, something I didn't really understand but have come to love so intensely.

I may only have been a child but I saw something in Catholicism that Anglicanism lacked. I don't know what that was, realistically my understanding of the differences was basically non-existent but all I knew was that I belonged in the Catholic Church.

I suppose in the end what it comes down to is that I became a Catholic because I felt God calling me there.

"Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18

Friday, 18 May 2012

Coming Home

A zealous persecutor of Christians became a martyr for his love of Jesus Christ. A man who was present at and assisted in the martyrdom of Saint Stephen went on to join Stephen in the ranks of those who gave their very lives for Christ. Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle.

How boundless is God's love and mercy that He reached out to one so far from His grace! And He continues to reach out to us all, those who are close and those who are far just the same. His love is so truly unconditional that He will always welcome us home.

Saint Paul is the ultimate conversion story and a beautiful reminder that no matter what we do in our lives we can always find redemption and forgiveness in the Lord. No matter who we are or what sins we have committed, God is always calling out to us. When I have strayed and felt that God could never take me back into His arms, Saint Paul has been there to guide me home. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Blog Stats & the Internet

I find my blog stats fascinating. It always just astounds me the bizarre ways people find my blog and the amazing countries I'm getting views from. Just today I've had readers from the Bahamas, the Czech Republic and Malaysia. I've never even been to these places but people all over the world are finding my little blog. How cool is that? I guess that's the amazing thing about the internet, you can be miles and miles away from someone and not even know them but still somehow connect them with.

It still amazes me that people seem to actually read what I have to say. Most of the time I'm pretty sure I'm talking complete nonsense! I'm actually nearing 5000 total views, which is just amazing. I've been blogging for almost exactly 6 months now (6 months and 3 days according to the little ticker I have at the bottom of the blog) so that's really amazing too.

Seriously, to everyone who reads this and comments so kindly, thank you. I have no idea who you are but you've really touched my life. You are all in my prayers. God Bless.

Saint Dymphna

Lord, our God, you graciously chose Saint Dymphna as patroness of those afflicted with mental and nervous disorders. She is thus an inspiration and a symbol of charity to the thousands who ask her intercession. Please grant, Lord, through the prayers of this pure youthful martyr, relief and consolation to all suffering such trials, and especially those for whom we pray. We beg you, Lord, to hear the prayers of Saint Dymphna on our behalf. Grant all those for whom we pray patience in their sufferings and resignation to your divine will. Please fill them with hope, and grant them the relief and cure they so much desire. We ask this through Christ our Lord who suffered agony in the garden. Amen.

Daughter of a pagan Irish chieftain named Damon, and a beautiful devoted Christian woman whose name has not come down to us. Her mother died when Dymphna was a teenager. Her father searched the Western world for a woman to replace his wife, but none could. Returning home, he saw that his daughter was as beautiful as her mother, and maddened by grief, he made advances on her. She fought him off, then fled to Belgium with Saint Gerebernus, an elderly priest and family friend.

Dymphna’s father searched for them, and his search led to Belgium. There an innkeeper refused to accept his money, knowing it was difficult to exchange. This told Damon that his daughter was close – it would be unusual for a village innkeeper to know a lot about foreign currency, and his knowledge indicated that had recently seen it. The king concentrated his search in the area. When he found them in Gheel, he beheaded Gerebernus, and demanded that Dymphna surrender to him. She refused, and he killed her in a rage.

The site where she died is known for its miraculous healings of the insane and possessed. There is now a well-known institution on the site, and her relics are reported to cure insanity and epilepsy.

Hear us, O God, Our Savior, as we honor St. Dymphna, patroness of those afflicted with mental and emotional illness. Help us to be inspired by her example and comforted by her merciful help. Amen.

O God, we humbly beseech You through Your servant, St. Dymphna, who sealed with her blood the love she bore You, to grant relief to those who suffer from mental afflictions and nervous disorders, especially (Name). St. Dymphna, helper of the mentally afflicted, pray for us.

Most pure virgin, St. Dymphna, we live at a time when many are intent on satisfying every carnal appetite. Your single-minded dedication to Christ alone is providential and inspiring. Please help us by your power with God to see life in proportion as you did. With your aid we propose to perform all our actions for a pure motive, and promptly to resist all our evil inclinations. Amen.

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Sometimes I wonder if all this is just indulging a fantasy. There are times when I feel like a child playing house, only I'm a grown woman playing nun. I think part of my problem is that I can't integrate this into my daily life. I can't tell anyone that I'm discerning so I keep it separate from my daily life. My discernment is this hidden indulgence, sneakily posting here and on my forums when there's no-one in the house.

But if it were just an indulgence would it seep into the rest of my life the way this does? When I'm in the world I feel fake, like I'm hiding from everyone. And I am, I'm hiding the discerner. It's like a fire inside me and no matter how hard I've tried to quench it, it's still there. When I was at my retreat it finally fit, for a fleeting moment I could let it be seen and be heard knowing that here I would treated as valid.

If it were just a fantasy would I want it this badly? Surely a fantasy is something you let yourself dream about but know that it can never happen. I don't know that this can never happen. All I can imagine for my future is being behind a grille. I belong on the other side.

It is not the hidden side of me that is indulging a fantasy. It is the side of me that everyone can see. I indulge in a fantasy that I could ever be anything else when I know I can't.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


A few days ago I went to the Chinese take-out place around the corner from my place. While I was waiting for my food I passed the time looking through some trashy celebrity magazine. There was a section on some event or awards or whatever with what various women had been wearing. I'm a girl after all so I like pretty dresses. I'm not going to name any names but one woman was wearing a long dress, it was strapless but all round modest and respectable, it wasn't super tight or see through or anything just kind of loose and flowing. It was really pretty and she looked lovely. But all the magazine had to say was that she wasn't showing enough flesh, that her dress should be short and she should show off her body. Yet another woman was wearing a dress that in my opinion shouldn't be considered a dress at all. It was completely see-through except for a few "strategically placed" lace sections. It was disgraceful, yet the magazine praised and commended it. Seriously?

How have we gotten to this state in our culture where women are encouraged to disregard any sense of self-respect and dignity and to treat themselves as objects and expected to dress to show off their bodies so that they can be leered at and so that their value can be judged from how 'hot' or 'sexy' they look? It really does astound me but women really do seem to fall for this. Just look in any fashion magazine or even just look out of your window.

You don't even have to add the Christian dimension of not leading others into sin to realise that there is something deeply wrong with the way women are encouraged to dress and present themselves. This is fundamentally an issue of self-respect and dignity, and the lack thereof that our culture is producing. Do you really want to be judged solely for your body? Is that really all you are worth? Of course not! It is up to women to reclaim our dignity by refusing to conform to this touted image and by treating ourselves and our bodies with the respect we deserve.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Defending Traditional Marriage

I've posted about this on Twitter many times but I think it's undeniably important so I wanted to share it here as well.

Coalition For Marriage - if you live in the UK and are over 16 years of age then I urge you to sign this petition. We need to make sure our voices are heard and that we do not simply bow down to 'political correctness'.

Starbucks, Same-Sex Marriage, and You - this article is overall about Starbucks' support of same-sex marriage but as part of the article gives a very good background on why the Catholic  Church opposes same-sex marriage.

Catechism of the Catholic Church - this links to the section of the Catechism on marriage.

We must stand up in defence of traditional marriage and fight against the threats facing this most sacred union.

Friday, 4 May 2012


My entire life I felt like there was something missing. You're forced to think about your future very young. I was choosing what I wanted to do at university from about 16. How on earth was I supposed to make a decision about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? I didn't have the faintest idea of what I was going to do. I kept just going with whatever career suggestions were given to me but none of them ever felt right. No matter what I thought about I just couldn't truly see them in my future. I pretended and tried to feel that these things could be my future but it wasn't really there. The future remained this blank space in my life that no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't fill. It made me so unhappy because I felt like everyone else had things so sorted out but I just couldn't seem to do the same thing. I desperately wanted to fill that blank space but couldn't.

Religious life has finally filled that blank space. It is the missing piece in my heart. It's what I realise now that I was always searching for. I am not unrealistic, I know it will not be easy. There will be hard times and there will be struggles. There will be tears and moments where I will want to give up. That is true of any state of life because that is simply the way this world is. But if that state of life is your calling them it is worth it. It is worth it because there is nothing else in the world that will give the same joy and it is that joy that makes the difficulties seem less difficult.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pros of Being a Nun

A question was asked on CAF about what the pros of becoming and being a nun were. The poster seemed to know little about religious life and could only see negatives (as is the case with so many people nowadays). I wrote a response giving what I see in the religious life and thought I'd post it here.

I am only discerning so I have no experience but I can only tell you how I see the religious life. Simply put, I believe it is where God wants me to be. There is nothing I want more than to be consecrated to God and dedicate my life to Him. As a nun I will be able to give every second of my life to God in a way that life in the world just wouldn't let me. To be free from all the noise and distractions and clutter of the world and just be in a place where everything is for Him and His glory, I can't imagine anything else more wonderful. There will be sacrifices, but none of those things really matter. The important things will remain and only the superfluous will be lost. My family and friends will be able to visit and write to me and one day I will be united with them again in heaven. Money and possessions and other worldly distractions are nothing compared to the will of God. After all He has given me, how can I deny Him? I think of being a nun and there is nothing but joy. I will be a bride of Christ, and with every moment I will live to serve and glorify Him.
One day I will stand before my sisters, my family and God and make the solemn profession that will forever consecrate me to Him and His service. "Behold, what I longed for, I now see; what I hoped for, I now possess; I am united in heaven to him whom on earth I have loved with all my heart."