Here’s a question from a reader who is looking for ways to dedicate herself wholly to God …
I am a 39 year old woman, single mother to 3 beautiful children. I am also in the process of confirming my Catholic faith. I was not raised Catholic, nor have I lived the early part of my adult life in a Christian way. However, God has been drawing me deeper and deeper over the past 3+ years. I know I can’t be a nun, even though I am so very drawn to a religious life. I cannot and would not leave my children, now or when they grow up, but do you think there is a way I can truly dedicate my whole self to God? That is what fascinates me about being a nun. I want to live for Him alone–I do wish I could “marry” Him. Does that sound silly? Anyway-do you have any advice for me for ways to be closer to God? What do nuns study other than the Bible and the Catechism? Thank you.
Dear Nancy, Thank you for writing to me and sharing a bit of your story with me. God bless you and your beautiful children.
All Christians are to live their life for God — married, single, clergy and religious. It’s just that we each do it in a different kind of way. As a mom, you have an important vocation of helping your children to grow into God’s amazing dream for them, to love God, others, and all of God’s creation, and to learn how to reach out to the poorest and most abandoned of society. How you do this and how you make your own way through life is a gift to others as well for they can see another person like themselves who is prayerful, faithful, and compassionate. This is an extraordinary way to live for God.
I also hear in your words a desire to draw close to God personally, in a kind of solitude and intimacy. “Marrying” God doesn’t sound silly — it’s a great metaphor for communicating that deep desire to unite wholly with God. Each of us has to find the way that God is calling us to do that. Having regular times for prayer, celebrating the Eucharist, reaching out in service to others — these are very good ways of living into this union with God. You might also consider getting to know a religious community more deeply. Many communities like mine have associates who share in our prayer, ministry and community.
Nuns read quite a variety of things. I’d first recommend reading about the saints. Their lives are filled with insight into what it means to live wholly for God. Saint Teresa of Avila is one of my favorites. She wrote a lot about contemplative prayer and being united with God. “Interior Castle” and “Way of Perfection” are two good places to start. (I’ve written about Teresa a number of times on this blog — see posts tagged Teresa of Avila.) Find saints that resonate with you. You might, for example, look into the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints like Saint Anne and Saint Monica who were moms.
I’ve got tons of suggestions as I’m sure others do. Let me know how you are doing. I’ll keep you in my prayers.
And for others reading this, do you have similar questions? What have you found helpful?
Dear Sister Julie what a gift you are to everyone through your Blog. Keep up the good work…God Bless You!
Thank you so much. What a thoughtful and helpful reply. I will definitely check out Teresa of Avila. And, I have thought of becoming affiliated with a religious community. So, I think I will look into that. Right now I am looking forward to the summer because I will get to stay home with my kids this summer! I am looking forward to immersing myself in that for a while! Thank you again for giving of yourself and caring about others’ questions. It truly is a gift. God bless.
For those of us that believe in “a personal God,” God calls each and every person in a different way. There are many ways to serve God- and God’s call can change over time. Of course, as noted in Thomas Merton’s prayer (and many others like it), finding God’s true voice among all those “internal voices” in our head can be a challenge.
Let me suggest a book: The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz. I found it both enlightening and entertaining as the author uses many parables and stories. Best wishes and prayers to all.
Questions like Nancy’s make me think how important it is that traditional communities really need to start exploring more substantive alternative membership options to the traditional vowed life.
Thank you so much. As a working mom, I feel like my life is being pulled in a million different directions. Nancy’s post and your reply were very helpful. I feel a yearning for a more contemplative life; I guess my job is to try to fit it into my “real” life and go from there. Thank you again for everything you do!
I am also a 39 yr old mom (of 1). I sometimes wish that I could drop everything and go live in the woods with my bible, my catechism and God. I just keep telling myself that my greatest ministry right now is to raise my child for God. She was a gift that was given to me to develop and return to Him. This is quite a difficult challenge but God always helps out.
There are days, though, that the woods call out to me! But I just keep telling myself that the woods will always be there, but this time with my daughter won’t. I say a quick prayer and plunge back in.
I have so much admiration for moms. I look at my own mother and my sister (who is the mom of two active boys under 10) and wonder how they do it.
When people start telling me that religious life is a “higher calling,” I tell them about my sister and how she lives her life — a working mom, with working husband and two beautiful kids — she is there for her family/relatives, friends, and colleagues and has the most wonderful sense of hospitality and creativity. Her life gives witness to Vocation.
So when you — Shannon and Mama — talk about what it’s like to be a parent, I’m reminded of my sister and want to tell you how awesome you are and how inspiring you are to me.
Wow, I must say that I have always had a yearning to be a nun since I was 15 years old. I, like some do, got lead astray and lost my way many a times. I know am at a point in my life as well where I want to dedicate my entire all to the one who makes me genuinely happy. There is no greater feeling than the presence of God. I feel much shame for being divorced but it was not by my choice. The father of my children left me but still has a part of his children’s lives. I am only 25 years old and am back in college. I want to write books and donate the proceeds to charity. I know God gave me a gift in writing and I just want to use it for Him and Him alone. Being happy isn’t pleasing ourselves, it is by pleasing God and others