Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sail On

It hurts to see pictures of Sisters. I wish I still was one.

It hurts to see smiles framed by habits.

Sometimes I feel some envy for Sisters, even Priests. I feel sadness that I did not succeed in the Convent. I lost my opportunity at living in community as a Religious.

I try to cover up my sadness, my regret, with a smile. I constantly tell people that I'm over it, but I know full well that I'm not. A drive through Vermont reminded me of the rolling hills of Still River that I used to wake up to outside of my cell window. I found tears streaming down my face as I begged God to release me from the torment, the despair. I don't want to regret leaving. I don't want to doubt where God is leading me.

I miss riding the golf cart in my habit, my veil flying behind me. I miss grand silence. I miss the bell that summons the Sisters to rise in the morning, the only thing that breaks the stillness. I even miss morning meditation - I never was a morning person - when I would begin to nod off while reading. I miss the laughs during breakfast after silence is ended. I miss isolating myself in the recreation room, playing hymns on the piano out of tattered books. I miss the surprise of what task I would get each day. I miss it. I regret leaving, but I know that if I were still there I would regret my stubbornness. 

I'll admit it. Sometimes I think I should discern another Convent. Maybe I should have been cloistered. Maybe I should have been in an order that is less strict. Maybe I didn't give it my best shot. Lately I've been entertaining the idea of a Third Order vocation. Sometimes I forget about how badly my soul hurt while I was there. Often, I beat myself up for not staying. 

I think about the future a lot. I think about getting married, having children. I worry about the future a lot. I worry about how to tell my children that their mother was in the convent. I'm worried that, as children do, they'll tell their friends at school and be made fun of because "that's weird." I'm worried that I'll have a hard time finding a husband to begin with. I'm not antisocial. In fact, I'm more social now than I ever thought I would be. But I'm still worried. It's hard around here.

Once someone knows you were in the Convent, you automatically become a spectacle. You're a rarity. 

I've refrained from telling my new coworkers that I was in the Convent. It's just easier that way. It's easier than constantly fielding questions about what it was like, why I entered, and worse yet, why I left. It may be a big part of who I am, but I'm still not ready to face myself. It's hard. I want to share happy stories about the Convent, but the feelings that go with those stories and the other memories outweigh the happiness, and so I stay quiet.

I have shied away from talking to even my spiritual director about it. It just hurts too much. I hate that I can't help but break down into tears when I talk about my feelings. I think that he must think I'm overly emotional, I cry so much. The last time I talked to him about it was the week of my entrance anniversary. He came to visit and anoint my father in the hospital, and he asked me how I was doing. I broke down in tears as I tried to put these feelings into words. Sentences ran together like tears down my cheeks.

I remember one time, not long before I left the Convent, when I just had so much frustration built up in me. During afternoon recreation I did something I hadn't done in years. I laced up my sneakers and took off running. I ran a large loop around the Convent, taking the wooded trail that the Sisters use for hiking and skiing. I'm not in shape. I ran until I couldn't run any more, and then I kept running. I was so angry/frustrated/sad/scared/upset/uncomfortable. I got back to my cell and flopped on the bed, gasping for breath. At one point I thought I was going to pass out or die, and it flashed across my mind to get Sr. Mary Elizabeth (a Sister who is an RN), but I didn't. I just laid in bed until recreation was over. My body was exhausted. My mind never seems to be. I kept brewing.

I heard this song shortly before I entered the Convent. I entered and, as mentioned above, took solace in alone time making music. I played this song in the Convent, when I thought I had found peace. I continued to play it when I realized that the peace had escaped me. I recently picked up my earbuds and took an angry walk outside listening to it. It's been the song stuck in my head, my restless head, for a while. I just want peace.

I'm sorry that my blog has been filled with such depression. I really am an optimistic, funny, bubbly person. But when I can't stop thinking about the Convent and the life I could have had in it, it's all I can write. It's part of who I am. I know that on this blog I don't have to hide myself
. It's a good outlet for me to express some of what I'm feeling.

I will say that I have found some hope from Leonie's Longing and a FaceBook group of women who have left the Convent. The support and prayers have surely helped.

If you or someone you know is struggling after leaving the Convent (or seemingly not struggling), please let them know of those 2 resources. The FaceBook group is private (for obvious reasons), and if they'd like to get in, let me know and I will add them.

Thank you for reading yet another post. God bless you.

Monday, November 2, 2015

All Saints

November 1st is the Feast of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation. This year, it fell on a Sunday, and the Church of St. Joseph's in Troy, NY celebrated in a special way.

A set of vestments were borrowed from St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (Windham, NY) Church, three Priests gathered on the altar, and an estimated 200+ people filled the pews. The Extraordinary Form of Albany is currently using St. Joseph's Church as the site for their Masses (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon). For this community, a Solemn High is a rarity, as gathering and organizing such a Sacrifice is difficult with no designated leader and few Priests that celebrate the Latin Mass in Albany's Diocese. However, with months of organizing among members, the Extraordinary Form was celebrated as a Solemn High.

A young man named Connor served as MC today. Six servers and a thurifer joined him on the altar.

Fr. Richard Carlino, diocesan pastor of St. John the Evangelist (Schenectady, NY) acted as homilist and sat in choir.

James Agnew, Professed member of the Third Order of Carmelites acted as straw Subdeacon. James did much of the organizing for this event.

The Deacon for this Mass was Fr. Michael Flannery, diocesan pastor of St. John the Baptist (Greenville, NY), where other EF Masses have been celebrated.

Acting as Celebrant was Fr. Jeff L'Arche, MS, who also celebrated his 40th anniversary of Priesthood this past June.

Please see the video below for photos of the event and Fr. L'Arche's celebration of 40 years of Priesthood.