“Ask a Priest: Am I Being Punished for Leaving the Convent?”

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Q: When I was a young lady I entered the convent and I made a big mistake – I left. Since then, my life has not been what I had planned. It seems life has taken away everyone that I loved. I had a little girl, and the hate she has for me is unbearable. She has decided not to have anything to do with me anymore. So my question is, is God punishing me for having left him? Why have I suffered so much hurt in my life? And why has God taken away from me everyone that I have loved? – R.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: God usually doesn’t “punish” someone for leaving the convent.

If you were called to religious life and didn’t accept it, then God respected that decision.

If religious life was what he wanted for you, it would have been the easiest path to holiness. And it would have been the easiest cross to carry.

Sometimes people choose another cross — only to find (too late, perhaps) that it is much heavier than the one they gave up.

Nevertheless, if you chose the path of marriage, that too can bring you to heaven. It might be more difficult, but God will sustain you if you stay close to him. (To help you carry your crosses with Christ, you might want to take some time to watch, read, or listen to our Retreat Guide entitled The Colors of the Cross.)

It seems as though there are a lot of things under the surface going on. I’m not sure what motivated your daughter to reject you.

But perhaps part of your mission now is to patiently pray for your daughter and for those loved ones who have passed away. With God’s grace you could be reunited with them someday.

Rest assured, though, that God isn’t up in heaven trying to figure out ways to make your life miserable. He doesn’t work like that. You are his beloved daughter.

God’s words in Scripture still apply to you, and to each one of us, because he is always faithful: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

It might help to intensify your prayer life and sacramental life. And stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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One Comment
  1. I am sure that you don’t mean to offend, but your sentence” Sometimes people choose another cross — only to find (too late, perhaps) that it is much heavier than the one they gave up.” seems to imply that this woman might have been wrong to leave the convent.
    I am sure that she only left after much soul searching and spiritual direction and rather than abandon a possible religious vocation she and her advisers recognized that she was not called to religious life.
    Over the years I have meant many people for whom religious life has not worked out and rather than searching for their true vocation they spend their days in a sort of limbo.

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