OK, this is kind of interesting.
I have continued to feel as though I was called to religious life, despite the fact that I blew my vocation 25 years ago and was afraid to try again. Still, I cannot shake the conviction that God wanted me to belong to Him exclusively, so lately I have been praying about this, asking Him to please show me what He wants me to do with my life, and promising that I will do whatever He wants... THIS time! I could not resist asking that if there was any way I could live a consecrated life even now, would He please show me--and that I would do whatever He willed.
At Mass tonight, while I was kneeling for the Consecration, I noticed a piece of paper on the pew in front of me, facing toward me so that it was completely easy to read. It was introducing a woman, apparently a member of my own parish, who is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas.
I was recently talking to a friend in my prayer group about the importance of paying attention to the little signs that God gives us, which are easy to overlook--and having said that to her, it reminded me to be that sensitive as well. So, I could not help but wonder if by any chance this might be God's answer to my prayers about my life.
I looked up the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia on the web when I got home, and discovered that they have a very unusual (or at least I've never heard of it) category of consecrated member, called an “agrégée sister." They say this about it on their site:
In reaching back to our roots in 17th century France, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia discovered — and revitalized — a second form of religious life for women known as “agrégée.” .... Based on research into the original constitution and rules for the congregation, written by founder and Jesuit priest Jean-Pierre Medaille, the sisters now recognize that in addition to canonical members of the order, there were also “agrégée sisters,” from a French word meaning “attached to” or “aggregated with.” An agrégée — pronounced ah-gre-ZHEY — did not make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but she lived according to the rules of the Sisters of St. Joseph through a vow of stability, and was recognized by the local people and the local churches as a Sister of St. Joseph.
In the past decades, the modern Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia studied our origins and our original spirituality, and have revived that early practice based on what we learned. The Senate of the Concordia congregation approved agrégée membership in 2006.... Agrégée sisters profess a vow of fidelity to the congregation, but it is noncanonical, meaning that it is not governed by Church law and is instead a private vow between that sister and the Concordia congregation and is governed by policies. It also means that the agrégée does not relinquish her finances to the congregation, and the congregation assumes no financial responsibility for her. Agrégées do not leave behind their outside lives. Instead, they meet with mentors and study around their regular work and life schedules. Once they have professed their vow, they continue in their work and life schedule and participate in the ordinary gatherings and committee work of the community.
This is nothing like what I had in mind when I thought about resuming some kind of consecrated life, but on the other hand, I can see how it might be the perfect answer, since I am financially stable and independent, but not free to leave the care of my parents and the cats. Plus, if it is God's will for me, I have promised to obey Him this time.
All I know at this point is that I need, deeply need, to give my life to Him completely.
I emailed their Vocation Director, giving her a link to the story of my conversion: there was no point in concealing any of my past life, since I would eventually have to tell them the entire truth anyway. To my surprise, she read it and emailed me back very quickly, asking me to call her tomorrow, so I am going to do it. I have no idea what this might mean, if anything. But Your will be done, Oh Lord--that is all I want. +