12 steps to sisterhood (if you’re thinking too hard!)

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Tell all your friends that you are dying your hair purple, marrying a sea lion, and sailing around the world in a teacup. Then tell them you are kidding and that you are actually entering the convent. (Image credit: 123rf.com)

As some of you may know, discerning one’s vocation is not always easy. I joined the Daughters of St. Paul in 2010 and made my first vows in 2014. My discernment before I entered the convent (and after) was like a roller coaster ride—difficult, scary, and thrilling—all at the same time! There are a lot of resources out there to help you discern. But there are not a lot of articles out there to just make you laugh.

So, if you need a break from the usual oh-so-serious advice, here are some steps to follow if you are discerning.

STEP 1: Start talking about Jesus as if he were hanging out with you, and brag about how you spend a lot of time with him. Then, in between episodes of Stranger Things and browsing religious order websites, try actually hanging out with him. Exchange friendship bracelets and become besties. Make everyone around you uncomfortable when you talk about your faith and the One you love.

STEP 2: Spend time in prayer, preferably in a hermitage or fasting in a cave. Be sure to wring your hands and cry often for dramatic effect. Compare yourself to Catherine of Siena, Rose of Lima, or any other saint whose life is completely outlandish or involves wacky penances, multiple visions, and miraculous occurrences.

STEP 3: Tell all your friends that you are discerning. Broadcast the news as widely as possible, especially to single, attractive male friends who look like Liam Hemsworth. (Hey, a girl should hedge her bets!)

STEP 4: Try the “towel veil” trick. Wrap a towel or shirt of the appropriate color around your head. Reassure yourself that you look just like Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of St. Mary’s. If God is calling you to religious life, then you will look like Ingrid Bergman in a veil. Trust in him.

STEP 5: Decide whether you want to be an oddball in the world (apostolic) or an oddball in a monastery (cloistered). If you are not already an oddball, and definitely do not want to become one, then you probably should not become a nun.

STEP 6: Dress in a gorilla suit and hold a sign that says, “Jesus loves you.” Go to the store. These are the looks you will most likely get if you become a nun who wears a habit. Can you handle it?

STEP 7: Visit convents and get to know the sisters. Bring a checklist that includes vital questions like: “Am I able to pick an awesome My Little Pony-sounding name when I make vows? Has Sister Twilight Sparkle of the Guardian Angel been taken?”

STEP 8: If Sister Twilight Sparkle of the Guardian Angel has not been taken, take that as a sign from God that he is calling you to be espoused to him. Or pick straws with your friends. Or pray some more in that cave. Your call.

STEP 9: Tell all your friends that you are dying your hair purple, marrying a sea lion, and sailing around the world in a teacup. Then tell them you are kidding and that you are actually entering the convent. Their reactions will most likely be similar.

STEP 10: After joining the convent, fall apart several times, question your sanity, and basically wonder if everyone else knew this was a crazy idea but you. Then ask God if he really thinks this is a good idea. Over and over. Question whether you are actually talking to God or if this whole thing is the product of your imagination—a brilliant, complex psychological world that rivals Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Stir. Repeat.

STEP 11: As your vow day draws near, ask God for signs that you should move forward. Don’t shoot low. A lifetime of celibacy warrants a little moving of mountains (e.g., snow falling in the middle of the summer, a call from Pope Francis, or an exemption to your vow of poverty that allows you to have a green Rolls-Royce and personal driver).

STEP 12: On vow day, when you make your vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience FOR. THE. REST. OF. YOUR. LIFE. look in the mirror and tell yourself, “This will all be worth it for the unlimited holy water and no more bad hair days.

Related article: VocationNetwork.org, “Celibacy leads me to limitless love.

Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, F.S.P.
Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, F.S.P. is the author of The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church and a writer for Aleteia.org, where this article first appeared. Adapted with permission.




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