Catholics on TV: “The Sisterhood”, Ep. 2

And we’re back for more! 

  • So last week, the girls arrived at the Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm Motherhouse in New York, where they’ll spend a few weeks living the way the sisters do. That means: no make-up, no cellphones, and they wear a uniform.
  • We start on Day 3 in the girls’ discernment process.
  • Mother Mark describes the prayer life of the sisters: daily Mass, daily private and public prayer, weekly Benediction. She says it keeps them grounded and feeds their souls. I love Mother Mark.
  • Christie says she’s more into “charismatic prayer” and not “written prayer.” Um……..ok……….there’s a place for that (like Franciscans), but “written prayer”, the Divine Office, is vital to any nun or sister. It’s a part of their lives, and a big part. If you don’t like that, you’re going to have problems. You can have free form prayer, but written prayer, “set” prayer, is just part of it. It’s something you have to adjust to. Did she not say the rosary at home? Mass is “set prayer”……She can pray in front of the tabernacle whenever she wants!
  • Eseni is talking to the vocations directress, Sister Marie Therese, who seems like a lovely sister. She seems very good at this, and it’s not easy to be a vocations directress!
  • “A tugging in my heart to religious life.” That’s a lovely way to put it, sister.
  • “I was very romantic when I came to religious life.” Aren’t we all? I think everyone has an idea of bon-bons and roses and JESUS LOVES ME!
  • This is an interesting conversation between Sister and Eseni, about the different ways we can love people. Eseni says she’s confused, but it’s good that she’s exploring this call.
  • (The crazy nails are STILL THERE!)
  • Poor Eseni. She’s had a really rough road to get here. “You are as beautiful as you are in the inside as you are outside.” Go, Sister! “All of us are broken!” That’s right! None of us are just perfect beings.
  • Nuns, sisters, monks, priests….none of us are perfect. It’s a process of working toward what God has called us to be.
  • The ladies are going to Massachusetts to one of the sisters’ homes, to see the sisters’ work and what they would be doing as Carmelites in this order.
  • “Working with the elderly is very real, and it can be…very uncomfortable,” Sister Cyril says.
  • Claire’s excited to experience this.
  • I LOVE the Carmelites’ motto for their homes: “The difference is love.”
  • The girls enter an art class and help out the sister in charge. Francesca isn’t there. Sr. Lois Ann is one of the sisters here, and she explains that art therapy is a beneficial part of working with people with dementia, as therapy for them.
  • Sister Peter tries to talk Francesca off the ledge…because she’s freaking out again. Understandably, in a way, because her grandmother has dementia.
  • (Gosh, I love these sisters!)
  • It IS hard to do this. I mean, I’m very medically experienced, and I don’t know how I’d react in a setting like this, because my grandmother also had dementia. It’s tough work, but what they do is SO important.
  • Francesca says she can’t talk about it on camera, so we go back to art class. Claire seems to really be alive and connecting with the residents.
  • “There are two levels of maturity going on here,” yup, I agree with Claire.
  • Sister Peter allows Francesca to call her mom and talk about what’s going on with her grandmother.
  • “My mom is a huge coping mechanism for me,” Francesca says……………..
  • “You can’t just…always rely on another person to help you through something. If… you do, then you’re never going to be happy or feel at peace,” Sister Peter says. Preach it.
  • Sr. Cyril: “My first reaction was, get a grip! It’s not all about you!” I LOVE her! She goes on to say that these girls are a product of their environment, but……..I don’t know. That’s true to an extent, but there’s a difference between working through something new, and totally trying to avoid it.
  • Eseni and Stacey are going with one of the sisters to visit a patient in hospice, and they’ll say a rosary with her. Stacy says it reminds her of when her grandmother died when she was 18, and they were praying the rosary around her when she passed away. (Personally, I would want to go that way. That’s a lovely way to go, saying the rosary with others around you.)
  • The captioning is wrong: It’s St. Thomas MORE, not St. Thomas MOORE. Sigh.
  • It is definitely very intense, working with this population. It’s a lot like being a nurse. You form relationships with them, and then they die…and you know….that’s hard. But it’s so great that they would be able to help someone prepare for heaven, and provide that spiritual sustenance. “No one dies alone,” the sister say to them. That’s so beautiful.
  • The girls are gonna have a party! Yes, they stopped at a wine store. Ok.
  • “Having some nightcap,” Stacey says.
  • “It seems like they may be missing the point about why we’re here,” Claire says.
  • Eseni demonstrates twerking to Claire. Holy crap. Claire isn’t feeling this at all. And I can’t say I blame her.
  • If I were Claire I would’ve been a lot more, um…Italian. Mother Angelica, let’s put it that way.
  • The motherhouse chapel is really beautiful. What a great place for prayer.
  • Claire talks about the behavior last night, and she says it disturbed her. I don’t blame her. She decides to talk to Sr. Cyril about it.  She asked her what she thought of Twerking. HAHAHAHAHA! Oh that’s great. She’s trying to explain Twerking to Sr. Cyril.
  • “What I try to do is not let the conscious become a bias,” Sr. Cyril says. That’s good advice. “It is an important question,” she says later.
  • The girls are back in the van for another trip, but this time to a shrine with Sr. Maria Therese. (They spell it differently–Marie or Maria….not sure which is right.)
  • Sister explains that the sisters have a van with air condition that might not work when one of the girls asks about cars.
  • Hahah! The shrine is ice cream! That’s awesome! I love you, Sister.
  • “I”m not sure if I’m read to be a nun,” Christie says. She says that Jesus feels further away than he did before.
  • “Work hard, we pray hard, but we play hard, too.” That’s true. All the sisters/nuns I know are like that. 🙂
  • Does Christie want a contemplative vocation? She’s sort of confusing me, because she talks about how she wants time to be alone….
  • But [free-form prayer, like Christie prays, Charismatic prayer] it’s not within the Carmelite’s style of prayer, Sr. Peter said. Christie has her own spirituality. But the Carmelite spirituality isn’t that different than Franciscans, Cistercians, Benedictines, Dominicans….they all have a sense of rooted prayer, in the office. So…..I don’t know what’s going on here. Because a contemplative order has even MORE of that…..there is a flavor to each order. But the Liturgy of the Hours/Breviary/Divine Office is vital.
  • The girls are now learning to do chores like sisters: “bringing the Lord with them in the tasks,” Sr. Cyril said.
  • Sr. Marie Therese’s accent is awesome. I think she’s Irish?
  • Christie doesn’t understand why she’s not having visions or closeness with God. Um….wow. But finally she saw him, during prayer in the chapel. (I”m not sure what that means.)
  • She called the crucifix a “Carving.” Um……wow.
  • She clearly hasn’t read about the Dark Night of the Soul. She breaks down and starts sobbing, alone in the chapel. She says it’s like her husband coming back form war.
  • Day 14, the girls are meeting on the path by the ducks. “We finally get to meet the ducks!” one of them says.
  • Claire says she’s working on really accepting them, and she feels like she needs to apologize to them. So she goes for it.
  • I don’t think she was feeling isolated, Francesca. I think she just wanted to apologize. She doesn’t do the world’s best job of it, but….she’s trying.
  • Eseni says she’s “Throwing shade.” Um….Gotta say, I don’t know what that means. Is it like an insult? (And I’m not that much older than these girls….slang is definitely one thing that doesn’t translate between age groups!)
  • Although calling Francesca a drama queen was probably not the best thing ever. But come on, spade a spade. But Eseni isn’t taking it the way it was meant. Is Claire apologizing well? No. But Eseni and Francesca are really freaking. Christie seems sort of…..condescending. Stacey seems totally OK with whatever. She seems the most peaceful of all the girls–she just sort of goes with it. We don’t know a whole lot about Stacey yet.
  • Sr. Cyril says that she thinks one of the hardest parts of religious life is just getting along. I agree with that, and I just have my Lay Dominican chapter. There are ALWAYS conflicts of personality and things like that. No matter how religious you are. 🙂 “You don’t know where everyone is.” That’s so true. “It’s more than just the laundry.” Yup.
  • Francesca’s going to take Claire to task. “What did I ever do to you, man?”
  • Well, no, we don’t take everybody to be SISTERS, Stacey….yes, we take everyone as CATHOLICS, but not every Catholic is called to be A NUN OR A SISTER. So bring that down a bit, Stacey. (Overzealous pope quoting does, occasionally have a place, however. 🙂 )
  • NEXT WEEK: Urban experience with sisters in Chicago. Eseni calls her boyfriend and cries some more. They’re in the South Side of Chicago with electronic gates around the convent. The phones get turned in again. “You don’t need a phone to call Jesus, and that’s why they’re here!”, a sister says. The girls go shopping in the neighborhood. And DARNELL shows up! The sister is not pleased that he’s shown up. Francesca predicts that Eseni will go home. I think she might be right.

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