Saturday, September 8, 2007

The former nun

Oh this might be worth a few comments:

First of all, as we slip into this testimony, having been born in Roman Catholicism, not knowing anything else, not knowing the word of God because we didn’t have a Bible in our home, we had never heard anything about this wonderful plan of salvation.

Well that's too bad. Hands up the number of Catholics here who didn't have a bible growing up!! We had several including a big one on our end table that had beautiful bible pictures in it that I loved to look at. Come to think of it, I had a children's bible with beautiful pictures in it too. Sounds like sister's family was nominally Catholic. It happens. There are Protestant families that only nominally practice their faith as well.

And so, naturally, I grew up in that Roman Catholic home as a child, knowing only the catechism, knowing only the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

Well, if she had a Baltimore Catechism then I know she at least new about creation, Adam and Eve, the battle of the angels from Revelation, and about Jesus's crucifixion. I know these things because I have a Baltimore Catechism that I used with my older kids!

And, because I loved the Lord, and because I wanted to do something for Him, I wanted to give Him my life.

Well then her parents must have done something right! They raised her to love the Lord. This seems to be a contradiction. How is it tht sister didn't have a bible and yet she came to love the Lord anyway?! Could it be because her parents taught her the early Christians were taught - verbally! After all the bible didn't even exist in its current form for centuries. And maybe because our young future nun was going to mass regularly, she was hearing the gospel read every week!

I didn’t know of any other way for a Roman Catholic girl to give her life to God other than entering a convent, and to going to the confessional box where, naturally, I’m under the influence of my father-confessor, the Roman Catholic priest, his influence over my life.

One day I made up my mind through his influence and one of my teachers in the parochial school that I wanted to be a little sister. At that time I thought of being a sister of the open order, but as I went on into this, up until the time I took my white veil, sixteen and a half years of age, everything was beautiful. I really didn’t have any fear in my heart whatsoever. Everything that was taught to me was seemingly along the line that I had been taught in the church before I entered the convent. And so one day, after having been, uh, after making up my mind to enter a convent, I remember that particular day, two of the sisters came home with me from school. They were my teachers. And when we arrived at my father’s home that afternoon our Father-confessor was in the home likewise. I often say when I was a little girl children were seen and not heard. You didn’t talk when you was a child, at least in my family, in my home unless you were spoken to. And I remember I listened to them carry on a conversation, and then I moved over close enough to my father and I asked him if I could say something. And that was a bit out of the ordinary. And he permitted me to talk and I said, "Dad, I want to go into a convent." And I will tell you that priest took it up quickly. He had already been influencing me. My father broke down and began to cry, not because he’s sad, but he’s very happy. My mother came over and took me in her arms and she, too, wept tears. She’s very happy. Those were not tears of sadness because to think her little girl was giving her life to the convent to pray for lost humanity. And naturally my family were very thrilled about it, and I was too. But, anyway I didn’t go for a year after that and then the time come when I got myself ready and my mother prepared things for me. And so I entered the convent.

I know by modern standards that seems very young. I would point out though that in the early 20th century kids were married at 16. My husband's grandparents were married at 16 and 17. They had six children and were married for over 50 years. So if her point is that she made a committment too young, I'd have to say that it wasn't uncommon at that time, and that her peers made equally big choices in their vocation at that time and lived them out successfully. They didn't quit.


They took me and we didn’t have a place close enough to my father and mother’s home so I think they took me around a thousand miles away from home where I entered a convent boarding school. I lacked about 3 months being 13 years of age. Just a little girl. I look back on it now and I think, "My!" Homesick? I was so homesick, why my mother and daddy, they stayed three days with me and when they left I became so homesick! Naturally. And why shouldn’t I? Just a baby away from home. When I was a little girl, you know I never spent a night away from my mother, and I surely had never gone any place without my family. And naturally there was a close tie in our family and I was very lonely and very homesick. But I’ll never forget that after Mother told me good-bye and I knew they were travelling a long distance away from me, and I had never realized in my heart, "I’ll never see them again!" Naturally I hadn’t planned it like that because I had planned to be a sister of the open order. But, if you’ll listen carefully to this portion of the testimony, then you’ll understand just why I’m saying some of the things I say.

She got a good, free Catholic education. I'm having a hard time feeling a lot of pity here. My aunts left their home in New Mexico to travel to Indiana where they joined their order and remained nuns for the next 60 or so years. I don't think her story is that unusual. My aunts enjoyed their vocation.

Now oftentimes we say that the priest selects his material through the confessional box, because at seven years of age I went to confessional. Seven years of age I would always, when I came into the church, first I’d slip over to the feet of the crucifix, or rather to the Virgin Mary, and then over at the feet of the crucifix and I’d ask the Virgin Mary to help me make a good confession, because I was a child and my heart was honest. And I knew the priest had taught us to always make a good confession. Keep nothing back. Tell everything if I expected absolution from any sin that I might have committed. And so I would ask the Virgin Mary to help me make a good confession. I would ask then Jesus to help me make a good confession. And you know, I’ll assure you, after I’d lived in the convent for ,,,I had to go on with my schooling. I had just finished the eighth grade and they promised to give me a high school education and some college education.

Catholic kids make their first confessions in second grade. All of mine have so far. They enjoy going.

But, I didn’t get much college, I got mostly just high school training. And they gave that to me alright.

That might reflect on sister's ability to handle the course work more than anything else.

I took it under some terrible difficulties and strains and all of that. It was terribly difficult. But they gave it to me for which I appreciate very very much. But I’ll assure you that after they put me through the crucial training that we must go through just to become a little initiate entering a convent. The training is really, it’s outstanding as far as a nun is concerned and you know what it’s all about after you’ve been in there a little while.

So now I’ve entered the convent and for just a few minutes I want to tell you just how we lived, what we eat, how we sleep. If I take you into the convent and tell you those things you’ll understand a little bit more about my testimony. At first as I entered the convent as a small child I went on to school, but I was being trained. But the day came when I was fourteen and a half. The mother came to me and she began to tell me about the White Veil. And I didn’t know too much about it, but in taking the white veil they told me that I would be becoming the spouse or bride of Jesus Christ. There would be a ceremony and I would be dressed in a wedding garment. And on this particular morning they told me at nine o’clock they would dress me up in a wedding garment. Now you’re wondering where that come from and how they get the wedding clothes for the little nuns? The mother superior sits down and writes a letter to my father and tells him how much money she wants. And then whatever she asks, my father sends it. The little buying sister goes out and buys the material and the wedding gown is made by the nuns of the cloister. I’m still Open Order now. And of course whatever she asked, now you say, "Did they spend all the money for the wedding gown?" Well, of course we don’t know these things in the very beginning of our testimony, but after we live in a convent for a little while we learned to know they could ask my father for a hundred dollars and he’d send it. They wouldn’t but maybe a third of that for the wedding garment. They would keep the rest of it and my father would never know the difference. Neither did I until I lived in the convent for a period of time and I had to make some of the wedding clothes and then I knew the value of them and what they cost.

Who paid her tuition?

And I knew the of money that came in because I was one of the older nuns. Well, alright, the time came, of course, when I walked down that aisle and I was dressed in a wedding garment. Now you know in the convent I used to walk the fourteen stations of the cross- the fourteen steps that Jesus carried the cross to Calvary. But after I had made up my mind to take the white veil, never again did I walk. I wanted to be worthy. I wanted to be holy enough to become the spouse or the bride of Jesus Christ. And so I would get down on my knees and crawl the fourteen stations. Quite a distance, but I crawled them every Friday morning. I felt it would make me holy. I felt it would drawl me closer to God. It would make me worthy of the step that I was going to take.

I can't tell if this was a good memory or a bad one? Many religious and lay people do these types of disciplines all of the time, especially during Lent.

And that’s what I wanted more than anything else in the world. I would like to impress upon your heart, every little girl that enters the convent that I know anything about. That child has a desire to live for God. That child has a desire to give her heart, mind, and soul to God. Now many, many people make this remark and we hear it from various types of folk who say only bad women go into convents. That isn’t true. There are movie stars who go into convents. They’ve lived out in the world, and no doubt they are sinners and all of that. But they go in when they are women. They know what they are doing. And they go in only because the Roman Catholic Church is going to receive, not only thousands, but yea it will run up into the millions of dollars. They don’t mind who they take in if they can get a lot of money out of that individual.

Uh... they don't mind who they take in if they get no money out of the individual either. My two aunts come to mind and a cousin. None of my relatives had a lot of money. They all were in the religious life for 50 + years and loved their vocation as nuns.

A thinking reader would certainly recognize that this is a person with an ax to grind and she is not presenting any documentation to back up her claims. It would be better to have an accountant give this testimony if she wants to claim that the convents are just houses of thieves!

But the ordinary little girl that goes in as a child, she’s just a child and she goes in there with a heart and mind and soul just as clean as any child could be. I say that because sometimes you hear a lot of things that are really not true.

I think we're hearing a lot of things that aren't true now.

Now after we become the spouse of Jesus Christ, I want you to listen carefully to this and then you can follow me into the rest of the testimony. We are now looked upon as married women. We are looked upon as married women. We are the spouse or the bride of Jesus Christ. Now the priest teaches every little girl that will take the white veil, they’ll become the bride of Christ. He teaches her to believe that her family will be saved. It doesn’t make any difference how many banks they’ve robbed, how many stores they’ve robbed. It doesn’t make any difference how they drink and smoke and carouse and live out in this sinful world and do all the things that sinners do. It doesn’t make a bit of difference.

Well now I'm confused. Does she mean that the families becomed Protestant? Isn't that Protestant theology that as long as you are saved you can't lose your salvation? Sure sounds like it. Catholics believe we have to work out our salvation with fear, like St. Paul said. That's one of the reason Candy dislikes Catholics! So I'm very confused now by what sister is saying.

Still our family will be saved if we continue to live in the convent and give our lives to the convent or to the church we can rest assured that every member of our immediate family will be saved. And you know there are many little children that are influenced and enticed to go into convents because we realize it is the salvation for our families. And sometimes, even (in) Roman Catholic families, the children grow up and leave the Roman Catholic Church and go out into the deepest of sin. And so, every little girl that enters the convent is hoping by her sacrificing so much, home and loved ones, mother and daddy, everything that a child loves, her family will be saved regardless of what sins they commit.

I think what Sister is trying to say, is that she was taught as a nun she could pray for the salvation of her family. (You know, the prayers of the righteous availeth much!) She's got it a little twisted but I think that's what she is trying to get at.

And of course we are children and our minds are immature and we don’t know any better. And it’s so easy to instill things like this into the hearts and minds of little children and the priest is- he’s really good at it. And, of course, we look upon our priest, our father-confessor, I looked upon him as God. He’s the only God I knew anything about, and to me he was infallible. I didn’t think he could sin. I didn’t think that he would lie. I didn’t think that he ever made a mistake. I looked upon him as the holiest of holy because I didn’t know a God, but I did know the Roman Catholic Priest, and to me, I looked to him for everything that I asked of God, so to speak. I believed the priest could give it to me. And so the day comes when all of us now, as we’re going in (I want you to listen carefully) after taking the white veil things are beautiful. I’m sixteen and a half years of age. Everyone’s good to me and I’m living in the convent and I haven’t seen anything yet because no little girl, we’re not subject to a Roman Catholic Priest until we are 21 years of age, and as we give you this next vow then you’ll understand we don’t know about this. This is kept from the little sisters until we’ve taken our black veils and then it’s too late. I don’t carry the key to those double doors and there’s no way for me to come out. The priest will tell all over the whole United States and other countries that sisters, or nuns rather, can walk out of convents when they want to. I spent 22 years there. I did everything there was to do to get out. I’ve carried tablespoons with me into the dungeons and tried to dig down into that dirt, because there’s no floors in those places, but I’ve never yet found myself digging far enough to get out of a convent with a tablespoon and that’s about the only instrument. Because when we’re using the spade, and we do have to do hard heavy work, when we use a spade we’re being guarded.

As a Catholic who lived through the 60s and 70s, I think she's lying. Nuns left in droves. Habit one day, mini skirt the next. It didn't seem like it was too hard to leave to me.


Bethany said...

Here is a refutation of Charlotte Well's testimony:

The Knitting Lady said...

I'm spliiting this comment into two parts, because I think you might want to edit or delete part of it. Go ahead if you do, I utterly understand.

The firstr part is that my sisters and I went to convent bording school in the late 80's through 2005. Excellent college prep education, reasonable accomodations similar to a college dorm, ample healthy food, lots of opportunitites for recreation and even trips to the big city (San Francisco) to shop or see a play or the ballet.

Yea, real restrictive.

In addition, while I don't remember a bible in the house when I was growing up after my Grandmother died (Yes, nominally catholic family), in our first week at convent school we were each given a bible and *required* to take a class in which we read it, cover to cover, every year. I still have that bible too.

The Knitting Lady said...

Part 2. The part you may want to delete.

I just have to point out that a goodly part of this so-called testimony would be considered pornographic fiction these days. Which does make me wonder.