We so enjoyed the train ride, especially through the mountainous area. After visiting with our relatives, we took a bus tour through the mountains. While seeing and enjoying the beauty of the Cascade Mountains, images of the nuns would come back. I did not like that; I thought I was leaving them behind. Because this was very bothersome to me, I went to a spiritual director when I got home, wanting his response. After an hour of sharing my experiences with images of nuns in my mind when least expecting it, his final suggestion was to give it a try. He said, “You have five years before making a commitment and then you will be better able to discern whether it is for you or not.” That sounded good to me.
Since I didn’t want these images of nuns at the least expected time, I wondered, “Where did they come from? Was that my inner wisdom or inner spirit telling me that it would be in the convent where I could best live out my talents and be happy?” Trusting this inner wisdom, I gave it my best and entered that fall.
On September 12, I joined as a postulant, the first hear of preparation. The second year, called the novitiate, was dedicated to more study on the life in a monastery, its daily schedule, daily prayer, its works and studies. The evening of the first day in the novitiate, there was a meeting for all new novices. Since I wasn’t planning to stay, I did not go. One of the new novices was sent up to get me. She said, “The director sent me to tell you to join us.” I answered, “I am not planning to stay, so why should I go?” But I went.
A Benedictine monk from St. John’s in Collegeville, Minn., came weekly to talk about the New Testament. Besides being a scripture scholar, he had the gift of making it interesting and easy to listen to. We had a Bible at home on the lamp stand, but never used it; it just collected dust. His sharing in class about the life of Jesus touched my heart deeply. IT WAS A REAL CONVERSION EXPERIENCE. Then I knew that I wanted to commit myself. After class, I went to the college library and checked out four books on the life of Jesus by different authors, because I wanted to know everything about Jesus. By staying in the convent, I would have more time for Bible study and spiritual readings. Of course, I wanted to stay.
I knew that near the end of the year, the novice director would give a report to the total chapter (the whole community) on each of the novices and suggest who was ready and who was not ready for the next year. I sent her a letter! In it, I apologized for my rebelliousness at the beginning of the year and that I have had a real conversion and so I am asking to continue my journey here and become a sister. The last sentence was, “I will make a novena to St. Jude so that I would be accepted.” St. Jude was known as the patron of hopeless cases.
Margaret Mandernach, OSB