Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things You Never Have To Deal With in a Monastery

Sometimes I think I may be a little too hard on myself.  I keep trying to compare my faithfulness and piety to women who lived in monasteries and convents.  I know they were tested, but I wonder sometimes.  How does having dirty laundry water thrown on you compare to sleeping with a spouse whose snoring can be heard in the house next door?  I love when St. Therese talked about having the courage to get out of bed and face the day.  The things that happen to me never happened at Lisieux, like the air conditioning unit fails one night during a storm and turns the operating room into a sauna, compromising the sterility of the instruments and supplies to the point where everything has to be pitched or resterilized.  You're up nearly half the night trying to rectify the situation so the next morning's cases can go on.   When the cases have to be delayed for an hour  (as opposed to canceled altogether) while new supplies are shipped in stat,  one of the surgeons badgers you nearly to death to "do something" because he has a date on the golf course at Noon.  At that point, the greatest saint in the world has to be tempted  to take a blunt object and chuck the pest over the head with it.  See, things like that just don't happen in a monastery.

Or how about when you come out to go to work in the morning, and some wiseacre has smashed your  side view mirror overnight, neglecting to take responsibility by way of a note or some other means of contacting you with their insurance information? Or some slob has allowed their dog to relieve itself on your sidewalk and left the mess for you to deal with?  Think those things ever happen in a monastery?

St. Therese never had to deal with a man who couldn't find the orange juice in the refrigerator if the carton itself reached out and tapped him on the shoulder.  St. Teresa of Avila didn't know what it was like to find the seat up, the lights out and the television turned to 96 decibels, day in, day out.  And need I bring up the subject of air conditioning again?  You-know-who still hasn't installed the window unit in the dining room. I don't even want to go there.

I am making light of every day situations that get to most of us at one point or another and taking a gentle push at the sanctity of women I revere.  Who's to say how the greatest of saints would have reacted to the mundane and ordinary trials we face in the world?  There is no question they lived the lives they chose with perseverance and resolve to do God's Will always and that their unselfish example helps me try to live mine the same way.

"He that is faithful in little things is faithful in that which is greater" - St. Therese of Lisieux


  1. Oh Joyce, I can relate so much to this! I used to drive home during a 90 minute commute from doing my parents' grocery shopping, dealing with a caregiver who was stealing their pain meds, towels, food, you name it. I would be wondering what to fix for dinner, wishing I didn't have to cook, tired and hot, stuck in traffic. Life in a monastery sounded like a vacation!

    And, have you ever checked the lifespan of nuns? Old, very old! I think it's the lack of stress.

    I've always been frustrated that so few married people are canonized. Hey, this isn't easy! We don't get 6-8 years before making final vows.

    And what about all the other stuff - like worrying to death over kids and money and maybe losing a spouse or ending up in a nursing home...

    Hey, maybe we're piling up more merit than we think! One thing for sure, Therese and Teresa are having a good laugh along with us, and cheering us on. : )

    Thanks for saying what many of us are thinking!

  2. Thanks Patricia, and for describing your own trials, to which so many of us can certainly relate. YES, I have noticed how long nuns live (God Bless them) and I always tell my mother it's because their Spouse is so self-sufficient and easy to get along with. You make a good point about the extra merit, and yes, how about that? We don't get a trial period of temporary vows vs. perpetual vows. And you're also right about our Carmelite friends. They may be having a good laugh, but they also have our backs.


  3. I'll make you a deal. I'll send my husband to your place and he'll fix everything in sight, only because it's not OUR place. Then you can send your hubby here and he'll probably finish all my "to do" items! At the old place mine wouldn't fix our porch but built a 25 x 25 ft, cathedral ceiling with fireplace and dual french doors room addition for the neighbor. (not a paid job either). Dealing with husbands and kids will surely win you points!

  4. 'St. Therese never had to deal with a man who couldn't find the orange juice in the refrigerator if the carton itself reached out and tapped him on the shoulder.'

    Hahahahaha! Oh boy, do I ever identify with that statement!

  5. Oh yes, my motto is that kids and families=built in penances! Maybe our time in purgatory will be shortened?


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