Introduction: St Frances Cabrini

Sunday, June 18, 2006

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Greetings to all! As a new member of the blog I was asked to introduce myself. I'll do that as best I can. Let me start by first saying that you can call me Frances or Frances Cabrini. I am a proud cradle Catholic from a family of five. I have been actively discerning a call to the religious life for almost two months.

As it concerns the co-authors of this blog, I believe I am the newest discerner. As such, I hope that my journey, made public here, will be helpful and will help shed some light on the discernment process as a whole.

How did I come to realize that the Lord might be calling me to the religious life? It's hard to explain. I guess I should start by saying that my first thought of the possibility was at a fairly young age. I was probably 12 or 13 when the thought first came to mind. I, surprisingly enough, was not quick to dismiss it but actually considered it for quite some time. I eventually mustered up the courage to tell my mother that it was something I had thought about. Shortly there after a whole handful of people knew about it. I got scared and quickly forgot the whole affair. I didn't like the attention. I felt pressured. So I ran.

Years later I find myself on the road to the convent. I am still in disbelief. Every day, though, it becomes more and more real. This could very well happen. To me. The fire was rekindled at a retreat a couple of months ago. On the second day of the retreat, during Mass - specifically during the consecration, it hit me. I wasn't thinking about vocations. I wasn't thinking about anything. I was focused completely.. praising Him and feeling so very unworthy to receive Him. I felt blessed. And then out of nowhere comes this sudden realization that I was being called to be a sister. It was as if the Lord was whispering to my heart. In that moment, I just knew.

I was so joyful I wanted to dance right there. I wanted to sing praises to His Holy Name. I felt like I was going to burst.

At the same time, a general understanding of all that that meant consumed me as well. All the thoughts of life in the convent filled my mind. I had thoughts of the habit and the sisters. I thought about the fact that I might never have children (if the Lord was truly calling me to this). I would never spend my life with a man. But how joyful I was, and rightfully so, that I was blessed to be called to spend my life with and in service of our God! (And this is the girl who at times in her life could not focus on anything other than having a man in her life and finding the father of her children!)

I called and spoke with a sister as soon as I could. I wanted to know what I needed to do to begin the process of discerning this call. That was (a week shy of) two months ago. Since then I have been in contact with the sisters and have filled out a short packet about myself and hope to visit sometime soon (either the fall or spring). I think I've found my spiritual director now and I'm very eager to start speaking with him. Keeping all of this to myself, at times, can be very hard!

If accepted, I will be allowed to enter the convent as early as December 2007/January 2008 (according to age guidelines). Assuming that I enter where I feel drawn in this moment (and have for many years), it will take approximately 7 1/2 years to reach final vows. You start with (I believe) 6 months there with the sisters in your own clothes - discerning of course. After six months, you petition for postulancy. You are a postulant for a year before petitioning for the novitiate. The novitiate is two years. After that you take temporary vows every year for four years. At the end of the four years, you take final vows. (How happy my heart is when I speak of these things!)

This journey is great, though I do sometimes get anxious. I am very grateful to have this place to share my joys and concerns with young people experiencing the same things as I. I pray that I may be guided in all that I write, that I may not bring shame to my Holy Mother Church, but that what I say here may, if it is His will, be cause for the greater glory of His Name.

February 2008 Update: St. Frances Cabrini is no longer a member of this blog.

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