I have actually started reading A Right to Be Merry
by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. of the Poor Clares. (See my post about recommended reading here.
) There is a very beautiful passage in which she talks about the kind of girl who would desire to enter a cloistered convent (these Poor Clares are cloistered). Much of this particular chapter is dedicated to answering the questions about what kind of girl would choose this. "The neurotic? The lovelorn and disappointed? The selfish and shiftless? The social misfit?" (p. 52) After debunking the myths that cloisters harbor such women, Mother's next tack is to answer the question, "What is the point?" If a cloister requires a girl with a sense of humor, a girl wishing to give her love only to the Most Deserving Person she could, a girl who is willing to be selfless in everything, a girl who must be sane and normal and "fit for the world", even so, why should she spend all her time in prayer? Why, when there are so many activities in which nuns are needed? So many hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, and orphanages that need such capable young women. And here is her beautiful answer, that struck such a chord in my soul:
But where is there a more essentially practical Christian than the girl who rises in the night to pray for those who do not pray, who performs with joy a whole lifetime of penances for those who sin and wish to do no penance, who chooses the obscurity of the first thirty years of the God-Man's life rather than the activity of the final three, who elects to dwell with our Lady in a cloud of silence and at the immediate beck and call of her Lord?
Now, I am actually discerning an active-contemplative order, and not a cloistered one. Still, this applies the same way. Every sister is an example of this. And even those who are not called to religious life can practice these habits in small ways. Turning off the radio in the car during a commute somewhere to unite in silence with Our Lord. Offering up sacrifices and penance for those who are unbelieving. Refraining from complaint when we do not achieve "success" or we aren't "noticed" by others…and remembering the obscurity of Christ's life before active ministry.
I don't have to wait to be a religious to practice some of these things. I think it is because such habits begin as attitudes of the heart, more than actions of the body. Fiat.