Beginning last Thursday, young women began to arrive for our Saturday “Come-and-See” Day. It takes a lot of courage to step into something unknown, and coming from a fast-paced world filled with noise and technology to a monastery can seem like stepping into another world. Many young women have been to a Come-And-See Day with at least one active community – a community that has an active apostolate seems a bit more, well, normal. After all, the sisters do have some degree of freedom by the fact they must go out and do their apostolate work.
But what is it like to visit a monastery? What should I expect? What will the nuns be like? Will it be completely weird and uncomfortable? Will I be pressured to stay or make a decision about something before I can leave? We may tell ourselves that some of these doubts and fears seem silly, but they are no less real. To push all those questions, doubts, and fears aside and come to the unknown takes faith and courage and we are grateful to God for these young women who took that step last weekend.
Perhaps you’ve seen the “Come-and-See” Days advertised and were curious but not quite ready to make that leap. Or perhaps you’re thinking about coming to the “Come-and-See” Day in October, but are wondering, “what’s the day like anyway?”
The day flows around our regular monastic horarium (or schedule), beginning with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 8 a.m. This Come-And-See Day, we were blessed to have Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P. from St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco celebrate Mass, give a couple of the talks, and offer Benediction after our evening prayer. Br. Andrew Dominic, O.P. also came in the afternoon and joined in the discussions which gave everyone another perspective of what’s it like to be a brother to the nuns!
The young women were happy throughout the day as they joined us in prayers and Adoration, met with one another who are also discerning their vocation in life, learned how to discern God’s will for their lives and how to grow in relationship with Christ. Many of them told us they were encouraged by the talks and grateful for the opportunity to meet with the nuns and ask any questions they may have, from “what’s religious life really like?” “What’s the biggest challenge about the life?” “How do you know you have a vocation to religious life?”…to “What time do you get up in the morning?” and “Do you have an alarm clock?” They also learned about the meaning of monastic life which, as our prioress Sr. Maria Christine told them, is simply a love story between Jesus and His Beloved, as He calls us to the desert to be His alone, and to join Him in praying for the mission of the Church.
With the conclusion of Vespers, our formal “Come-and-See” Day ended, though it seemed more than a few of the women were reluctant to go, much to their surprise as well! We are ordinary women called by God to live an extraordinary love story in the cloister with Jesus, spending our lives with Him for the salvation of souls. We know God is calling more young women to Himself in this life and we are eager to share our joy with those He is calling.
Not for a moment do we forget that God has a beautiful plan for every person. What we desire most is to encourage women to spend the day, or even several visits, in prayer and learning more about God and His will for them. Wherever He ultimately takes them, whether it is inside the cloister or somewhere else is up to Him and we rejoice when a young woman is able to say, “Now I know the path of my love story and I am setting out on it.”
If you are a single, Catholic woman between the ages of 18 and 40, feel like God might be calling you to religious life, and want to learn more about our life, or to register for our next “Come-And-See” Day (Saturday, Oct. 10th), we encourage you to contact our vocation directress, Sr. Joseph Marie, O.P. at email@example.com.