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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Bad Habits Give Way to Good Habits

Happy New Year! the Wise Men are at the Manger with no unpleasant surprises. And then, any minute, we'll put it all away again. I think we ate all the cookies. Some of these tins might still have a flavor no one cared much for. We could freeze those for Lent.

That was a joke.

I can't believe how many questions have gone unanswered.  Perhaps we were in a cookie stupor. Having all your time taken up by deciding between Nieman Marcus cookies or Chocolate Chip bars can really destroy one's concentration.

So here's a chestnut from mid December. Please forgive our pokiness:

We're doing a Jesse tree devotion in my house of many children, and my oldest (17) has lately been questioning the God of the OT, who comes off as a little, um, ungodly, sometimes. Last night we were reading about Moses and Pharaoh, and he asked whether God actually did evil in sending plagues, hardening Pharaoh's heart, etc. I know good St. Augustine had trouble with God's wrath and vengeance, but where can I point my son to give better answers than the feeble ones I can offer?

Happily, for both of us, we answered this one not so long ago.  Not surprisingly, it seems it took me a long time to answer it that time, too.  

This one's a little tougher, but rather delightful:

Hi Sister! I'm 14, and I believe that God is calling me to be a sister. The only convent that is near me is Dominican. What is the difference between Dominican, Franciscan, Benedictine, or any other kind of sisters? How do I know which one to join? Thank you! 

Benedictines are more contemplative, meaning, they spend more time in prayer. Dominicans and Franciscans are more "active".  That means the order, or the particular congregation, has a job to do: running a school or a hospital, working as nurses or teachers, that type of thing. An easy distinction would be to say that orders like the Benedictines (Poor Clares, Carmelites, etc.) the Spiritual Works of Mercy are tantamount. They strive to purify their own souls in order to pray for the world. Their work tend to be work that sustains the community, gardening and bee keeping and bread making.
get one

Active orders are working at the Corporal Works of Mercy, in soup kitchens and schools, missions and hospitals.

One type is not better than the other. It depends on how you feel you are best suited.

That said, you're to young to know how you are suited at all.  Certainly a great many saints were called from early childhood and you may be one of those people. But these days orders don't take children and you are still a child. 

It's a beautiful thing to be and you have important work to do, learning about yourself and the world. Ultimately, when the times comes and you still feel called, you may choose an order, but bear in mind that they have to choose you, too. You can't just run off and be a nun. The order will want to make sure you have a calling and they will want to make sure you are a good fit for the congregation. That means you'l want to bring your "A Game".

And that's what you should be working on now. You're "A Game".  Be the best person you can be. Make good grades. Work hard, have compassion in all things.

And enjoy yourself. Have fun. Explore the world. If you are truly called, experiencing as much of the world as you can won't be hard to give up. You can close that door with joy only when you know what's behind it.


Anonymous said...

I want to tell you how much peace your blog gives me today - not for anything in particular, but just peace in the midst of a terrible storm I am in. Thank you. Thank you for the nun in the snow, the funny card, the frozen reject cookies for Lent. Thank you fro your lighthearted and rock solid love of God. You have blessed me today.

Anonymous said...

Sister, I have a question about sin. We can sin in our thoughts. I think I recall a teacher from elementary school saying planning to sin is a separate sin from actually doing the sin. My question is, Is planning to sin and then not going through with it still a sin? I don't mean you plan to kill someone and can't purchase a gun. I mean, you plan to sin and have a redemptive moment. Is the plan that had been there still a sin? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I've got a companion question to the one above. I was just talking with a friend who is of another Christian faith. We were discussing adultery. I explained that we commit adultery simply by lusting after someone and that one doesn't have to engage in a physical activity in order to commit adultery. We then segued onto the issue of homosexuality. If my statement is correct (is it?) then is it sinful to be a homosexual even if one doesn't engage in homosexual acts? It seems that if one were to identify himself or herself as a homosexual there would have been some lusting going on. I believe that one doesn't wake up in the morning and decide to be gay. Rather, there is something in that individuals DNA that makes them that way. Thus, God created them gay. Why would God create someone who is sinful without that person ever making a conscious choice to be sinful?