EnlosureVocation Letters

Vocation Letters: Helping Parents Understand

This following installment in our fictional Vocation Letter series touches on some difficulties parents may face in understanding and accepting their daughter’s vocation to the cloistered life. Some imagine that girls who enter the cloister aren’t close to their families.  Not so!  We loved our families very much in the world, and love them even more now in Christ — and by fidelity to our cloistered vocation, we pray for an eternity with them in Heaven.

Drawing of a Dominican nun kneeling in prayer as she entrusts her family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The cloistered Dominican nun entrusts her family to the Heart of Jesus, her Spouse.

Ave + Maria

Dear Melanie,

Prayerful greetings from Marbury during this month of the Precious Blood. We hope you are enjoying summer—we certainly are here, with a good deal of rain and a flourishing garden.

The concerns expressed by your parents as you become more serious about a cloistered vocation seem pretty normal to us. Often even those who are very supportive of a religious vocation in general, find the cloistered life hard to understand and support. “My daughter is so talented! She won’t be fulfilled or happy in the cloister.” And also, of course, the reality of the sacrifice involved is often hard to accept. Many of our Sisters can tell you that their family’s first visit to the monastery helped enormously. When Mom and Dad experience first-hand the peace to be found here, and see for themselves the joy of the nuns, they understand much better why such a life could be attractive and fulfilling for their own child. Giving oneself totally to God—living here on earth a little foretaste of every person’s ultimate vocation to union with God in Heaven—is an ultimately fulfilling and joyful life.

That is not to say that it does not also involve sacrifice. The cloister does mean a real separation from family and friends—not because such relationships are bad, but because the radicality of this way of belonging to Christ includes giving up those true goods for the sake of the higher good. We still love our families dearly, of course, but it is a love in and through the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We entrust our families to His Heart, pray for them, keep in touch, and enjoy their parlor visits several times a year, but we know that we no longer live in their midst.  Our life is now “hidden with Christ in God.” Certainly, it takes time to adjust, but Our Lord showers many graces on both the nun and her family for this generous sacrifice. “We brought a whole suitcase full of graces home with us,” said one mother after visiting her daughter as a postulant for the first time. It can also be a great consolation to parents to know that this daughter, at least, is safe in the Heart of Christ, in a world in which so many children fall away from the Faith.

We will be praying for you and your family, and looking forward to seeing you again soon. We’re so glad you could squeeze in another visit before heading back to college. Keep us in your prayers too—especially the young women attending our Vocation Retreat.

In Our Lady,
“Sister Mary Magistra”

See also Vocation Letters, Vocation Retreat, Vocations Home.