Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably heard of the film "For Greater Glory". If you haven't, this is the trailer:

The film is about the Cristero War in Mexico, where Catholics fought against vicious oppression from the government. It got me thinking about those who have fought and died for their freedom and their faith.

Someone once said to me that martyrdom leaves no witness. They were wrong. There are men and women about whom we know nothing but their names and the fact of their martyrdom. Their words, their deeds and their lives have been lost to history but a single fact has remained throughout history. That in itself is the most powerful witness: we know nothing else but that their faith was so strong they chose death rather than renounce it. I remember when I was struggling in my faith it was the witness of martyrs, especially the martyrdom of the Apostles, that spoke so strongly to me. I saw people who believed so strongly that would choose death rather than renounce it. Their martyrdom speaks to the strength and veracity of their faith, more so than words or other deeds ever could.

Viva Cristo Rey!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


This is one of my favourite jokes of all time: 
A Franciscan and Jesuit were debating which order was the greatest. So, they decided to ask for a sign from God. This is what they received falling down from heaven:
My sons, Please stop bickering about such trivial matters, Sincerely,God, O.P.

For those of you not in the know, O.P. is Ordo Praedicatorum  or in English "Order of Preachers" - i.e.. the Dominicans! There's a similar version using the Blessed Mother. 

Another favourite of mine is this one. I've seen several variations on it but they're all pretty much the same. 
A sister at a Catholic school asked her students what they want to be when they grow up.One little girl declares, "I want to be a prostitute." "What did you say?!" asks Sister, totally shocked. "I said I want to be a prostitute," the little girl repeats. "Oh, thank heavens," says Sister. "I thought you said 'a Protestant!'"

Just a little something I thought I'd share with you.

Love: Part 2

This is something of a sequel to a previous post: Love.

I was just speaking to this friend of mine on Skype. The more I try and grapple with the way I feel the more confused I am. As I said in my previous post, the dynamic of the way I feel has changed. I'm not in love with him the way I once was but I care about him in a way I don't feel for anyone else. I've never loved anyone the way I love him. Is that sad, the only love of my life and it's unrequited? Just talking to him makes me so happy. That may sound normal for talking to a friend who lives so far away (opposite sides of the earth for us) but it's always been that way. My friends at school could always tell when we'd been together because I'd return to them with a big smile. I'm myself around him in a way I'm not around anyone else, he knows parts of me that I've never shared with even my closest friends. I care about him so much. As much as I wish it wasn't true, I love him. It's so stupid and so pathetic, that I still love him after so long. I wish I didn't, I really do, but somehow I can't. Maybe it's because I've never let go of that fantasy, or maybe I've never let go of that fantasy because I love him. I've tried so hard to not love him but it just doesn't seem to happen. It's so frustrating because it was a nothing - we never had a relationship, we are just two people who went to high school together and became friends. 

I feel so guilty for loving him so much. Is that stupid? I feel like on some level it's holding me back - I feel this calling to religious life and I want to follow it. I'm discerning, I'm trying to follow it. But I feel guilty because I feel like I'm not giving as much to Christ as I can because I love someone else. I want to give everything to Christ and I'm trying so hard, I'm doing everything I can to try and follow His calling. But it's like He is calling me to be His bride and I'm saying yes, all the while having that tiny longing for someone else. Even if I'm choosing Him, that tiny longing feels like I'm rejecting Christ, like I'm not truly giving myself to Him. Someone reminded me that God's love is so great and that just makes me feel worse, that He loves me so much but there's something blocking me. Am I stupid for feeling like this is such a big deal? Does my giving everything to God count if I love this friend that much? 

Saturday, 23 June 2012


I've been back in my university town for the last few days and it's been very bittersweet. I move at the end of the month so there's a lot of work to do in my house, cleaning and stuff, before that. Cleaning has, however, kind of been put on the back-burner because I haven't seen my friends in a long time so they've kind of taken priority. We've been having a seriously awesome time. My friends rock. I've really missed them so it's been so great seeing everyone again. When they saw me they were all like "Emily! Where have you been?" We're the most unoriginal people ever, we just go hang out in the same pub we always do but we always have a fantastic time. They're very uncomplicated people, they just like to sit in the pub, drink some beer, play some pool and have a laugh. So that's the sweet part.

The bitter part is that they're all leaving. It's the end of the academic year, our rental agreements for this year are coming to an end. One of my friends left a few days ago but he'll be back in the fall so it doesn't seem like a big deal. We were just like "See you in September!" But then last night we had to say goodbye to another friend who is graduating so he won't be back. There's another that's graduating and another that has a work placement. It's weird to think that the rest of us will be coming back in a few months but they won't be there. They'll visit, I don't doubt that, but it's not really the same. We all variously live with other members of the group so it's weird that half of us will still be there but there will be people missing.

I'm glad I'm not leaving just yet. I'm not ready to say goodbye.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


This is one of the most openly honest posts I have ever written. It was not easy for me to write and I ask that you do not judge me for my sins. What is done is done and I cannot change the past. I have made my peace and my penance. I have put it to rest.

I was never really taught about sex. I never had sex education at school. My parents never talked about it, I never got "The Talk', even from a secular perspective. 'Sex' was a dirty word in my house. My religious education was lacking, probably mostly because when I took First Communion I was much older than the other children in my preparation class so it wasn't included. I stopped attending Mass a while after that, after we moved and my parents separated no-one really mentioned the idea of going to church again. So any knowledge I had, painfully limited as it was, came from friends and as I am sure you are all aware 13 years olds are not exactly the best source of such information.

But somehow on some level I still was aware that sex was something important. I remember having a conversation with my best friend when we were about 15 and I baulked at the idea of casual sex. Faith was not a part of my judgement at this point but I somehow understood that sex had meaning. Even with that instinctive knowledge though, when I did eventually start attending Mass again and began RCIA I struggled to understand the virtue of chastity and the Church's teachings on sex. I knew what they were and I believed them but I didn't really understand why. I think a part of that was that I was too young. I was 16, in a class designed for adults. It was the best place for me, there is no denying that, and I am ever grateful to Father who decided I should be enrolled in RCIA. But chastity was an area where I was simply too young to comprehend what Father was teaching us. There was failure also on my part, since I didn't try that hard to learn to understand. I thought that believing it was enough.

I never wanted to be in a romantic relationship. I was in all other senses perfectly average - I had crushes and would gossip with my friends about the boys we liked or thought were cute. In other words, I was a teenage girl. But I never actually wanted to be in a relationship. In hindsight, I think this was a sign that I was not called to marriage. But to me (still very much in denial about the possibility of a religious vocation) it was just strange. Why didn't I want that? It was normal, right? I wanted children, I had that natural instinct (as I think almost every woman does). So why did I not want to be in a relationship? I understood marriage came before children and to get married you have to be in a relationship with someone first. I was very confused. As I went to university, the feeling of confusion just got worse. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I was struggling anyway and it just added to my anxieties - it was just another reason why I didn't feel like I fitted in.

I was unhappy. It's as simple as that. But the people around me seemed happy, they were fitting in and were enjoying university. Why couldn't I be like that? In my desolation, my (erroneous) conclusion was that I was clearly missing out by not being like them. So I started being like them. I went to the parties and the nightclubs and played the drinking games. I fell into thinking that this was simply the way of the world. I fell even into their way of relationships based on sex and little else. I think I knew in my heart it didn't make sense but I was so lonely and so desolate I was desperate to feel included and thought living like everyone else was the way.

It sounds counter-intuitive but it took another immoral relationship to make me realise how vastly I had fallen. I met a new group of friends and I immediately became close with one of the guys there. It sounds so cliché but we just clicked. He actually liked me for me, not as an object. Though we never had sex, we fell far from having a chaste relationship. Our relationship (I'm hesitant to call it since it wasn't really that but it's the best word I have) was short-lived since he found a job in another city but it made me realise again that sex was something worth treasuring. I was also now finally really old enough to understand what Father has taught in RCIA and motivated to try and understand the virtue of chastity. And I did just that and I have never looked back since.

Sometimes people ask me if I regret that part of my life. I am sorry for my sins, yes. I have repented of my sins, yes. Should I have made different choices? Yes. But my philosophy has always been that one cannot change the past so dwelling on the way things could have been does not achieve anything. I learnt something from that part of my life and in the end I think that is what is important - the mistakes have been made and are set in stone, but if I learn something from them then I have at least taken something good from them. It is not our past that makes us who we are, it is what we take from that past that does.


I'm still just waiting for the final confirmation of my live-in dates from St. Cecilia's. It can be very hard to be patient in these situations, I have to keep reminding myself that the sisters are probably busy and I can wait a few days for a reply, it's not like it's an immediately urgent matter. I'm just not the most patient person and I like to always know my plans in advance so having uncertainties is not something that comes naturally to me. I'm so excited to go there that I just want to be able to say "this is it, this is when I'm going!".

I'm trying at the moment to figure out what I'm going to do about veiling while I'm there. I of course first have to check that it's okay with them but assuming it is I'd naturally want to wear my veil in the church, both for Mass and the various hours of the Divine Office. My normal veils are however slightly impractical for general wear and I don't want to be running back and forth to get my veil several times a day. Ideally I need something fairly small and unobtrusive that I can wear just all day without worrying about it getting in the way or getting caught up in whatever work they ask me to do.

I want to be there already!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Exciting news!

I have some very exciting news. Last week I finally emailed the Novice Mistress again and ask how I should continue my discernment with them. Sister said that the best thing for me at this stage would be to go there for a live-in. She suggested some dates and I've confirmed the dates are okay for me, I'm just waiting for final confirmation from her. The live-in would be for two and a half weeks, ideally it would be three weeks but I have other commitments and they have someone entering soon so it has to be shortened by a few days.

I haven't really told anyone about it yet. I'm trying to keep it as low-key as I can from my family and friends. I don't want to make it seem like a big deal. I know people who have been on live-ins and realised the religious life was not their vocation. I'd rather be surer before I start sharing it with everyone. I'll have to tell my mother, I haven't yet and I'm not sure how she'll react. But Sister made the point that seeing their child happy in their vocation usually converts them to the idea more than arguments and discussions so I can only try and see if this is my vocation and trust that if it is then my loved ones will come around.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Mary Comforts Eve

By Sr. Grace Remington, O.C.S.O Source

Through a woman sin came into the world and through a woman came into the world our Saviour.

"For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith." St. Irenaeus - Against Heresies 3.22.4

Monday, 11 June 2012

100th Post

This is my 100th post on this blog. It has taken me 6 months, 4 weeks and 1 day to get this far and as of right now I have had 5897 views.

The first thing I want to do is thank everyone who reads and comments. Honestly I never expected this blog to get anywhere or be seen by anyone so I've been amazed at how many people actually visit me here. I'm been so amazed by just how lovely and supportive people have been. Basically, y'all rock.

I've been wondering for a while what I was going to write about for my 100th post. I couldn't think of anything until last night. I remembered an experience I had a few months ago but decided not to post about because I wanted to think about it on my own for a while.

I decided to visit my old parish. I moved away from the main city centre so my home is now closer to another parish but my university and my old parish are in the city centre. I wasn't there at the right time to go to Mass, I just wanted to go there and spend some time in prayer. There are two chapels to either side of the main altar, one is dedicated to Our Lady and the other holds the Tabernacle. I tend to pray in each of the chapels, and this is what I did. I spent less time there than I usually would. I somehow couldn't connect with my prayers, it felt very forced and I just didn't feel that connection with the Lord that I usually do in my prayers. I was feeling desolate and very confused about my vocation and my discernment. I went to leave the church but as a turned towards the doors I caught sight of the crucifix that hangs above the altar.

I was transfixed. I don't think I could have moved from that spot if I'd tried. I was just captivated by it. I had been going through a period of spiritual dryness at this point and I felt all of sudden rushed with love. I found myself just standing there, rooted to the spot, and I was completely taken aback by Christ's sacrifice, by His love. I just stood and contemplated His love for us and the wonders of His sacrifice. I've rarely felt such joy, it was the kind of joy that I get from receiving the Eucharist, just sheer wonder and amazement at how good and how glorious our God is! 

I've mentioned before that I veil and so I was wearing my veil. All of a sudden I was reminded of some words I'd read a long time before this: "He has placed a sign upon my face that I may receive no lover but Him." I'd read these words in a reflection from a sister at St. Cecilia's Abbey on her solemn profession, which I had posted before. I touched the veil I was wearing and these words kept repeating and repeating in my mind and I was filled with this incredible sense of sureness that I am set aside for God alone. I was finally able to move from the spot where I was standing but I couldn't tear myself away from the crucifix so I went to the pews and knelt there, meditating on the crucifix. 

I am His. 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Fervour & Realities

A while ago I posted in my other blog a vocation story that came from St. Cecilia's. To quote the story:
"Why are you doing this?” asked a teaching colleague, as we sat at an outdoor cafe. “Because I love God.” “You love God that much?”
I love God that much.  So much that I want nothing more than to dedicate myself to Him entirely. I love Him more than I could ever have imagined was possible. I love Him above every other single thing on this earth. With every breath I take and every beat of my heart I love Him more and more. He is everything to me. I love Him so much I want everything to do to be for His glory and His service.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the realities of religious life. Not in the sense that I have no done so before, but in the sense that I have been wondering about whether I will ever actually enter religious life. I truly believe I have a vocation to be a nun. I truly want to fulfil that vocation. The question in my mind has been whether I actually can fulfil that vocation. Not in the sense that I have an impediment as such, but in the sense that can I actually do all those little things that are required for one to fulfil a religious vocation. Sometimes I wonder if I can give up those little things, my books and my stuffed animals and being able to spend the day experimenting with baking different cakes. There are times when I doubt if I can do it.

This is where that love I just wrote about comes back in. I love God that much. When it comes to the crunch, I love God too much to ever say no to Him.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

About Me

Sometimes I think on this blog I must come across like I never think of anything other than religious life. So I've decided to tell y'all some more about me. My plan is that every now and then (basically when I remember) I'll post two facts about myself that have absolutely zip to do with religious life.

1. I can't reach half the cupboards in my kitchen. I'm only 5'5" and the top shelves are just out of my reach. And wouldn't you know it half the useful stuff is up there. All the oven dishes, the kitchen paper, the wine! I spend half my time when I'm cooking asking my family to get stuff for me, since they all have at least 3 inches on me.

2. I've had a Christmas tree up in my bedroom since about 2007/2008. It's a little miniature tree I put up in my room and for the past few years I've just never taken it away. I even moved house and just put it straight back up.

So there you have it - two completely useless pieces of information about me. Hope you enjoy them!

Why Contemplative?

Someone asked me recently why I was discerning contemplative religious life rather than apostolic religious life. The short answer was that it is where I feel God is calling me to be. But as always behind every short answer is a long answer.

When I first felt called to religious life, I wanted to be an active sister. This wasn't a matter of feeling called to that apostolic ministry, it was a matter of that was what I wanted to do. Like many other people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, I didn't really understand the contemplative vocation. It is a very hidden life so on some level it is easy to see how such misunderstandings happen. I found it difficult to see prayer as "work" and I confess my prayer life at the time was not nearly what it should have been. Contemplative life seemed empty and boring to me. In hindsight, I find my ignorance quite amusing and fairly ironic considering I am now discerning that life.

I have discovered since than that a vocation isn't about what you think you'd enjoy best or where you think you'd fit best. I know someone who has a dozen piece list of exactly what she does and doesn't want in an order. If you think like that then God has a tendency to throw a curveball at you. And He sure sent one right at me and I realised that the contemplative life was where He wanted me to be. In the end we can have all the expectations and ideas in the world but God calls us where He knows is best, even if at first we might not agree with Him!

My understanding of religious life and various roles apostolic and contemplative religious play has grown immensely since then. I went to a private secular high school and they had a big emphasis on teaching us to go out and help and serve others. I suppose that was where my decision to choose apostolic religious life came from, that sense of duty that they instilled in me. Apostolic religious life is a beautiful ministry, don't take any of this as me dissing that because I have so much respect for apostolic religious life and those who dedicate their lives to it. This is purely my personal inclinations and my take on my vocation.

I felt that as an apostolic religious I could never help as many people as I wanted to. I would do wonderful things but for me it would never be enough. I felt that my scope would always be too limited. For me the contemplative vocation widens that scope and I can serve the whole world, a silent voice holding everyone in my heart through my prayers. My life is given to Christ so that I am set aside for Him only but through that I also am in the service of all of His people. In this way I become a mother of souls and all His people are my children. I am given the duty to watch over them with my prayers. It's a great gift and a great responsibility and one I feel entirely unworthy of.

We are called contemplatives because that is truly our vocation: to contemplate the mysteries of Christ! Every religious has a ministry and mine will be prayer. Before I could truly accept my contemplative vocation I first had to mature in my prayer. I don't think it was mere coincidence that it was when I had found that deep love for intimate prayer with the Lord that I felt my religious calling resurfacing. I had to learn that prayer doesn't come from the words you say, it comes from your very soul. I began feeling this longing to spend more and more time in prayer and wishing I could be in prayer just all the time.

One of the two parishes I attend is very close to my university campus (the other being close to my home) and I found myself drawn there more and more. I began going to Daily Mass when I could and often there were long gaps of an hour or so between my lectures starting of finishing and the Mass times. There was a time where I wouldn't have bothered or I'd have gone shopping. But I found myself wanting to spend more and more time there in the church. I would spend hours there. I loved the silence, I loved the peace, I loved that this was a place set aside for God and for His glory. I wished I could be there all the time. I had faith before that and I loved Jesus but this was when I first truly felt that deep love for Christ that filled me so completely. I realised then and there in that church that I was willing to do anything for Christ. I didn't care what it was, if it was His will then I was prepared to do that. I told Him so, and lo and behold He revealed to me the gift He had given me at my baptism: my vocation.

Donate Some More!

Hey! I posted yesterday on donating to help two women I know pay their debts and enter religious life. Now I have a third to add to my list!

Mary Therese is aspiring to enter a Carmel in the UK but needs your help. Click here for her blog and please please please help her out!

Monday, 4 June 2012


I'm posting this to help some fellow Phatmassers and fellow discerners so they can live out their vocations.

Dyna wants to enter the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church but she needs donations to help make this a reality. Please please please click here to help her!

Victoria is hoping to join the Franciscan Sisters TOR and needs donations to help her pay her student debts. Please please please click here to help her!

And of course please keep them in your prayers.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Communication and Separation

Recently I've seen a lot of talk about how often sisters get visits from their families. Now this varies hugely from community to community, in both how they are allowed to communicate and how often they are allowed to communicate. 

Communication is taken for granted nowadays. You can find anyone at almost a moment's notice. You can ring them, text them, email them, Facebook them, tweet them, the possibilities are endless. While sometimes it's nice to be able to talk to someone right when you need them I think on the other hand it makes us stop valuing the contact we have with our loved ones because so much of it is so frivolous. There's no need to filter what we communicate about because we can talk about anything at any time. 

The limited contact in religious life makes what we do have all the more precious. There's a need there to make what we talk about important because we don't have endless empty space to waste. We have to filter what we talk about because we only have the space for what is actually meaningful. I do believe that the limited contact with my family will make us closer. 

That's not to say there are things that won't be sad. I won't be at my friends or my sisters weddings or at their birthdays or baby showers. And I am on some level sad that I will not have those experiences. But at the same time in the grand scheme of things I know that the joy I will get from my vocation will far outweigh any of those occasions. 

A very wise nun once said to me that even though our vocations separate from their families we know it is not a final separation. For us as Catholics we know we are united with our families every day in prayer and at the celebration of the Mass and will one day be united in Heaven.