A rare glimpse into the training and life of a mid-twentieth-century nun; a story told on two levels actual letters written as it was experienced, interspersed with narrative and retrospective comments.
Overall, the book is a love story of a girl seeking God and dedicating her life to His service. The story begins on a hot July day when the seventeen-year-old candidate arrives at the novitiate in Missouri. Candid letters reveal the gradual transformation from a frivolous teen to a dedicated religious.
The letters chronicle her efforts to cope with the rigorous training and lifestyle and ultimately, her failure to conform. Psychological effects and consequences of the lifestyle are discussed.
Retrospective comments enhance the story, explaining customs and practices of the Old World spirituality of the times. Details of the Church reforms enacted in the 1960s that brought dramatic needed change are included.
The system of belief, customs, and practices of the times sheds light on the scandalous abuse and secrecy issues in the news today.
The author sums up her experiences in these words:
Some would argue, but I believe there is such a thing as a temporary vocation. I see my seven and a half years in the convent as sucha precious time of protection for me at a most vulnerable time in my life. Unaware of my motivation at the time, Ive come to realize I entered the convent seeking peace and escape from the pain of losing my sister. The Lord called me aside just for a time, and during that time I learned to love and trust Him unreservedly. I felt a deep happiness, but as is the course of things, I eventually suffered the emotional consequences of denying those feelings of loss, guilt, and anger and not allowing myself to grieve.
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