Leave It All Behind

"We [Sisters] profess by public vow...poverty, chastity, and obedience…Certainly material possessions, marital love and personal freedom are wonderful goods, given by God; but He calls some persons, for the sake of the whole Church, to surrender these goods to Him in an act of worship so that we may love and serve Him alone."

-excerpt taken from www.nashvilledominican.org


Time Crunch


First came the application in the mail.

Then came my anxiety.

In order to apply for the Sisters of Saint Cecilia, I needed a letter of recommendation from a priest, a health exam, and a 5-hour psychological exam in Perrysburg, Ohio. Not to mention the mound of paperwork I'd have to complete.

I received my application package in June. The Sisters of Saint Cecilia accepted postulants on August 15, the Feast of Mary’s Assumption.

“How am I going to get all this done in time?” I fretted, looking through all the papers with my mom at home. I’d moved out of my Kentucky apartment to stay with my parents for the summer.

“Don’t worry, we’ll help you,” my mom reassured me.

And somehow, everything did get accomplished on time. The pastor at my parents’ new parish graciously wrote my letter of recommendation. I scheduled and completed my physical and mental health exams. My Army retirement savings went to pay off my student loans, and the $2,000 I’d saved living frugally on High Street now covered my pre-convent expenses, including clothes and health insurance.

By the end of June, the application package was in the hands of the Sisters. I waited impatiently for their reply.


An Unexpected Call


A few weeks later, I noticed a new voicemail on my phone. I glanced at the screen to see who it was from.

Aidan. My heart pounded in my chest. Why is he calling me? Doesn’t he know I’m going to the convent?

I retreated to my parent’s basement to call him back.

"Hello?"

“Mary!” Aidan answered. “I’m so sorry about what happened this winter. I had no idea you cared so much about our relationship.”

I paused for a moment, then started speed-pacing around the basement stairs. “I always cared, Aidan.”

“I’ve changed my mind, Mary,” I could hear the nervous tension in his voice. “I love you, and I want to discern marriage with you. I will put aside my dream of the priesthood for you. I will look for a job close by for you.”

I paced another lap around the basement.

He’s offering me all the things we needed five months ago, if we were going to make our relationship work. All the things I thought I wanted most.

“I’m sorry, Aidan,” I took a deep, steadying breath. “The Lord wants me to go the convent now. I have to follow His plan for me.”

Aidan got real quiet. I waited, bracing myself for his answer.

“Are you serious?” His voice was sharp with disbelief, even anger.

He doesn’t want me to make this choice. He doesn’t want to let me go.

“I applied to the Sisters of Saint Cecilia a few weeks ago.” Anticipating his next question, I continued, “But even if I don’t get accepted, I’m not thinking about marriage right now. I want to be a sister.”

“You’re going to be accepted, Mary,” he interrupted, brushing me off.

How does he know? I was rejected more than 60 times before landing my Army internship. Acceptance into the convent was not guaranteed. Besides, there was that dubious response I'd given on the psych exam, the one the doctor had followed up with me about.

What if I'm not fit for the convent? What then?

"I'm sorry, Aidan." I hesitated, not wanting to hurt him. "I care about you, but this is good-bye.”

I hung up the phone. The air conditioning hummed above me, pumping the basement with too-cold air.

“Why, Lord?” I prayed, rubbing my eyes on my sleeve. Aidan’s call felt like a test of my resolve.

Do you really mean it, Mary? The Lord seemed to be asking. Will you really give up everything, even marriage, for Me?


The Long-Awaited Call


The next week, I got another voicemail, this time while I was coming out of the movie theater with a friend.

“Sister Peter just called me,” I told my younger sister when I got home. Sr. Peter was the convent’s new vocational director. “She says she has something important to tell me.”

My sister was delighted. “Woohoo! She must be calling to say you were accepted to Saint Cecilia’s!”

While she did her happy dance, I started panicking. “I don’t think so. She doesn’t sound very happy on the phone. What if I don’t get accepted?”

The next morning, I said a quick prayer, then called Sister back.

“Hello, this is Mary Moses?”

“Oh hello! God bless you!” Sister sounded happy to hear from me.

Maybe there’s still some hope, after all?

“I have some exciting news: you’ve been accepted to this year’s postulant class at Saint Cecilia’s!”

My nervous pacing transformed into my own happy dance around the bedroom.

“Oh wow.” I said. “Wow. That’s great news!”

“Yes, congratulations. I’m sending you a pre-postulant package in the mail. That will tell you everything you need to do to prepare. But call me if you have any questions.”

Afterwards, I pulled out my 2012 wall calendar. The date was July 24, the eve of the feast of Saint James. I counted down the days to August 15, when I’d need to be in Nashville for Entrance Day.

“Three weeks,” I said. “Three weeks until Saint Cecilia’s!”

#


Thank you so much for reading! Join me next week for the moment we've all been waiting for: Entrance Day!!! :)



*Bonus Photo: This picture was taken at my Bride of Christ party, shortly before I entered the convent. We wore pillowcase veils and ate strawberry shortcake, and then I gave away my favorite treasures to my party guests. What a sweet memory!


About the Author: Mary Rose Kreger lives in the metro Detroit area with her family, where she writes fantasy for teens, and blogs about her spiritual journey: before, during, and after the convent. Mary also shares faith and fantasy quotes on her Instagram account, @faithandfantasy1.

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