So, it seems in my experience, that many devout Catholic women that I have met have considered a religious vocation at some earlier point in their life. I am no exception.
Back when I first embraced my faith as an adult in my early 20's, I did think about the religious life. I can't say I thought too deeply about a contemplative order, more of an active order, perhaps teaching. There were some aspects of a contemplative vocation that appealed to me, but I didn't feel that God was calling me to that. Nor to any sort of religious community, ultimately.
Well, relatedly, on this week's episode of the Catholic Weekend podcast (# 174, I believe), the guest was Channing Dale, a young woman who is joining a Discalced Carmelite monastery in Pennsylvania in July. I was completely captivated.
Even though I do not have a religious vocation, I remain fascinated with those who do. I loved hearing her story of how she came to discern her vocation and the order to which she felt called. I have to admit, as a parent, I do find the thought of an enclosed, contemplative order like the Discaled Carmelites to be more intimidating than I used to. :) If my daughter were to join an order like this, I wouldn't get to see or talk to her very much anymore, and I would mourn that relationship I used to share with her. I know that's selfish, but I'm just being honest, and it's how I feel. I would certainly still support her decision, and of course, it would be an incredibly special thing to have a nun in the family. I'm sure I would be thrilled, it would just take some serious getting used-to.
In the world that we live in, a contemplative vocation is very hard to imagine. I get so much out of "my" Catholic community online, that the thought of being cut off from that makes me feel bereft. Social networking, online news sites, message boards, all of that stuff. I log on every day just to see what is going on in the Catholic world and in the Catholic community that I hold dear. It would be very difficult to not have that emotional support anymore. Even though I'm not the most extroverted person, I also cannot imagine living mostly in silence and not being able to talk to someone whenever I wanted to. Of course, this is all because I do not have a vocation to the Carmelite life; those that do are able to thrive in these circumstances.
If you find these sorts of stories interesting as well, definitely listen to this podcast. I was very taken with it. Channing talks about the order, the specific monastery she will be entering, her discernment and preparation, and how she is in fact cutting herself off from social media in mid-June. Good stuff.