by guest contributor, Sr. Allison Gliot
My First Time in a Convent
On my first convent visit, I was so nervous that I made my friend go with me, even though she wasn’t discerning. I had met a Daughter of St. Paul in college, and since I was looking into religious life, I was glad when she invited me over for a day of discernment that included Mass, a talk, a meeting with the vocation director, and an Hour of Adoration. Glad, but also kind of freaked out, because it was one thing to talk to nuns and another thing to actually go over to their house. To make things worse, I was very shy and hated being in social situations where I didn’t know anyone (hence, my friend coming along).
Why Am I Here Again?
To say I was stressed out the morning of my visit is an understatement. I remained in a state of nervous dread right until Mass started. Then I remembered the whole point of my coming there in the first place: Jesus. He was the reason I was meeting all these strangers and spending my Saturday with nuns. Focusing on Jesus and centering myself in him helped me relax enough to pay attention and actually enjoy myself.
Oh, Yeah. It’s About Jesus.
Once I calmed down, I realized that it wasn’t just the Mass that was about Jesus—everything else was, too, from the discernment talk, to my meeting with the vocation director, to the Hour of Adoration. The sister leading the discernment day drilled it into my head that discernment was all about encountering Jesus in a deeper way, and she gave me the best discernment advice I have ever received: she said that if I just focused on Jesus and growing in my relationship with him, he would clarify everything about my vocation in time. And she was right. When I stopped worrying about the future so much, I started to see what—or who—was really in front of me: Jesus, on the altar, longing to communicate with me and touch my heart.
That day, I met Jesus like I never had before. It was partly because the way the Daughters prayed struck a deep chord with me, but even more, it was because I let go of my fear and tried to be open to whatever Jesus said to me—no conditions attached. When I stopped being afraid, I had some epiphany moments!
First, I learned that sisters are not scary, nor are they trying to trick me into entering their community. They’re real people, they’re fun to be around, and they just want me to end up where Jesus wants me. Second, I don’t have to be afraid of other girls in discernment. I actually enjoyed meeting young women on the same journey who understood what I was going through, and having the whole Jesus thing in common meant we always had something to talk about. Third, discernment days are not occasions for panic; they are special opportunities to grow closer to Jesus and get to know his beautiful sisters.
“Do Not Be Afraid”
After that, I started anticipating discernment days with excitement instead of dread. (And I didn’t feel the need to drag my friend along again.) My convent visits became high points in my relationship with Jesus and helped me so much in my discernment.
Whenever someone is on the fence about whether to go to a discernment event or visit a convent, I highly recommend giving it a try. For me, it was a chance to get to know Jesus in a way I never had before. When we trust him with our worries and come to him with an open heart, Jesus can take care of the rest.
Allison Gliot has been in formation with the Daughters of St. Paul since January, 2017. She is now a novice at our novitiate house in Boston, and spends her days spreading God’s love through the media in our editorial department, hanging out with Jesus, and making trouble--ahem! we mean fun--with her co-novices.