6:15 AM - Mass
The priest raised up the communion bread.
"Take this, all of you, and eat of it: this is my Body..."
Next, he lifted the chalice: “This is my Blood, given up for you."
Jesus, I believe it's really You, I prayed. Help my unbelief!
The Sisters rose from their chapel stalls, processed to the priest and sisters ministering Holy Communion.
“The Body of Christ.”
“Amen,” I said, and received Him on the tongue.
In the vast Motherhouse, surrounded by the Sisters but also by silence, I felt alone. I’d only been in the convent a month, and had no close friends yet. I’d just said good-bye to everyone I knew before. There was only one Person I could really depend on.
Stay, dear Jesus.
Don't ever leave my broken-down, train-wrecked heart-home, never.
Make it your tabernacle.
Oh, make it your second heaven.
Cast a Light in me so bright, it leaves me in darkness
Show me just how far You go beyond me
Wow, silence me with Your Sweet Brilliance.
Draw me, heal me, Lord my God!
I wanted to linger in the chapel much longer, feel the morning sun on my cheeks, and rest with the Lord. But my watch showed 7 am: time for breakfast and class.
Jesus, stay with me, wherever I go.
7 AM - Breakfast
I doubled my pace down the hallway, falling into line behind a row of postulants as we entered the refectory. The Sister’s dining area smelled of fresh brewed coffee, incense, and toast.
The refectory was a large room about the size of a basketball court, with sleek hardwood floors, white-framed windows, and rows of wooden tables and chairs. The Mother Superior and her council members sat at the head, while the rest of the Sisters sat in long rows to either side, creating a “U” formation. Following an old Dominican tradition, the Sisters were served from youngest to oldest.
After mealtime prayer, we settled into our chairs for breakfast. My angel Sister Joanna passed by, offering coffee. I took a steaming mug of the strong, black stuff.
Serving coffee to the Sisters is like the eighth work of mercy, the novices liked to joke.
After a few invigorating sips, I had to agree. My day was getting better already.
Next, a pair of novices passed by, serving eggs on plastic platters. I took a soft-boiled egg, cut it in half, and scooped out the gooey inside with my spoon. Today’s egg was perfect: just enough goo to spread all over my wheat toast.
There wasn’t much time to enjoy it, though. Before I had finished my coffee, the refectory clock read 7:30 am. Time for breakfast clean-up and then off to class.
8:30 AM – Drive to Aquinas College
8:28! How did it get so late?
I bumped the fire doors open, took the stairs down two at a time.
Can't be late, can't be late...
My feet hit the main floor with a dull thud. I pushed the last door open and stepped outside. The other postulants were gathered around the Sisters’ fleet of minivans, which were lined outside in the parking lot. The sky was a clear blue, scattered with feathery cirrus clouds. Although the Nashville sun was still hiding behind the Motherhouse, I guessed today would be hot.
I raced to my postulant group, gathered around our 8-person Honda Odyssey. Sister Melissa took the keys, and we all climbed inside for school.
The sister beside me started our morning Rosary. "O Lord, open my lips..."
I always considered the twenty-minute drive back and forth to Aquinas College as something of an adventure. I liked watching the sun rise over downtown, and enjoyed the splendid array of neighborhoods - urban, suburban, and elite - on our ride to school.
“Hail Mary, full of grace…”
My fingers slid along the rosary beads. The morning light made my black rosary glow a strange cobalt blue. It painted my fingertips the same magical color.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God…” I prayed, twirling my beads.
Since entering the alabaster halls of the Motherhouse, I was always on the hunt for color. I drank in the chapel’s stained glass windows, noticed every colored pattern on my sisters’ gym shoes, and marveled at every fleck of color in Sr. Lucia's auburn braid during Divine Office.
Two months ago, I wouldn't have paid any attention to the color change in my simple black rosary. But today, I wrapped my fingers around the beads with special care.
Because in the convent, even light and color can become a gift.
9:15 AM - Morning Class
Today's first class was Fundamental Theology. The other twenty postulants and I made up most of the class, plus a few lay college students. Our professor opened each class with a reading from the Psalms.
"Does anyone have a Psalm for today?"
Several students raised their hands.
"I do," I mumbled timidly. I'd had a Psalm in mind for a couple of weeks now, but whenever I raised my hand, another more assertive sister would catch the professor's attention.
Sister Allison, who was sitting nearby, noticed my predicament.
"Sister Mary Joan has a Psalm, Professor."
"Excellent. Which one?" he asked.
"Psalm 11," I answered eagerly, nodding my thanks at Sr. Allison.
Everyone opened their Bibles to Psalm 11:
In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to me,
"Flee like a bird to the mountains!"
See how the wicked string their bows,
fit their arrows to the string
to shoot from the shadows at the upright of heart...
The Lord is just and loves just deeds;
the upright will see his face.
The professor paused when he had finished reading, then began the day's lesson.
"If you could all turn to Genesis, chapter two..."
My fingers flipped to the front of the Scriptures, but my thoughts lingered on Sr. Allison.
"Thank you," I whispered.
Sr. Allison laughed softly. She was tall, like me, with curly, dark blonde hair and beautiful eyes. "Of course. You've been waiting a long time to be chosen, right?"
I nodded. She had noticed me. Even more, she'd taken action to help me.
"What do you like so much about Psalm 11?"
"It's the little promise at the end," I explained. "'The upright will see his face.'"
Her expression grew thoughtful. Soft rays of light from the classroom windows reflected in her gaze. She didn't say anything, but I felt like she understood.
I just want to see you, Lord. I want to see your face.
I sat up straighter in my seat, feeling just a little less alone.
I wanted to see the Lord's face, and today I had. Jesus was right beside me, smiling through the kindness of Sister Allison.
Thank you so much for reading! Join me next week as I battle through the afternoon rosary walk, outdoor recreation, and other forms of convent spiritual warfare!
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.