How I entered
When I was in high school, I met the consecrated women through a married lady who led a catholic bible study I attended. She even organized a silent retreat for us girls, which was directed by the two recruiters (consecrated women) who were assigned to where we lived. During this retreat, I was called into spiritual direction (of course having no idea of what that was) and the consecrated lady talked about the vocation being like a fragile flower that needs to be protected, and suggested that i finish my high school year in Rhode Island at the pre-candidacy. I was so green I didn’t even know what a vocation was, (the only meaning vocation had for me was to become a plumber, mechanic or electrician); so I was completely confused about everything.
I really wanted to do some missionary work in another country after graduating, (jobs and university just seemed too boring and conventional for me) and the consecrated ladies were able to tap into this desire I had to do great things for those in need. Everything that I liked and was interested in, they claimed to have it. I imagined this house in Rhode Island like a paradise on earth, and finally agreed that going to the candidacy would be a good idea for me so that I could have a time of retreat to figure what I would do with my life after high school. Looking back now, I realize how open and naive I was to their suggestions that I go to the summer program. But I trusted them and was attracted to their love for Christ.
Candidacy & Discernment[?]
I told everyone that I was just going to a retreat for a few weeks over the summer. In my mind it would be like a vacation with holy women and other girls my age, swimming in the ocean and having prayer time together. But during the candidacy, everything was about vocation, and consecration. I mean 24/7. I was very unhappy, but felt glad that I could write off the possibility of vocation so that I could go home and move on with my life. Things didn’t work out that way. The mantra of the whole summer was that the worst thing we could say to God was [to act] ‘Later or Lesser’ regarding his call. And that God would never be outdone in generosity. I was afraid of â€˜not giving my best to Christâ€™ and of â€˜not fulfilling the plan that he had for meâ€™. I also was afraid that if I went back home I would fall into a life of â€˜spiritual mediocrityâ€™ and end up a drug addict or something.
I had spiritual direction with Elena Sada over the summer, and I indicated all the fears, doubts, and hesitations that I had regarding the possibility of a vocation. I gave her every excuse for why I was not suited to the consecrated life, and she refuted them all. Then I thought I should be a co-worker. But she insisted that if I thought I might have a vocation, there was no point in delaying the matter, because God would reward my generosity, and that i would find my happiness doing God’s will. And if I were not happy, then it would mean that I didn’t have a vocation, and would be free to go. So I figured there was no way I would lose out: if I got consecrated, I would find my happiness, and if that was not my path I would be free to go; and with the satisfaction of knowing that I was generous and gave God the first chance with my life.
My parents freaked out, and my best friend rejected me, saying that I was brainwashed. But I jumped in with both feet first anyway and got consecrated after just 5 weeks of discernment. I mean, i went from thinking that vocation meant being a plumber, to making promises of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Miserably Married to Christ in the Regnum Christi
I was terrified making my promises, and then I was miserable for five years. I kept waiting for this happiness that comes with doing God’s will to kick in, but it never did. From day one I expressed very openly to my directresses and confessor that I was most unhappy and wanted to go home, but was told by all of them that I lacked generosity and that i was holding back. I even got a hand-written letter from Fr. Bannon (in response to a letter I had written him) encouraging me to forge ahead and to not pay attention to all the doubts and reservations I had.
Throughout all this I developed a [guilt] complex that I was not a generous person and I felt that no matter what I did or how I did it, nothing was good enough, and that was why I couldn’t find peace and happiness in the consecrated life. I believed that it was â€˜all my faultâ€™ that things were not working out. This is the idea that was imposed on me, but to this day my conscience can testify that I was as sincere, faithful, and generous as I humanly could have been. This duality between what I was told, and what I thought to be true in the deepest recesses of my conscience drove me nearly out of my mind, and continues to haunt me after being home five years.
My family never knew that I was unhappy. If I wrote a letter that sounded melancholic, my directress who read all the mail would give it back to me and ask me to write a happier one so that they would not worry about me. I got special permission to go home to visit once because my parents were so upset, and one other time because my mother was very sick. But my father had to say that â€˜she might not make itâ€™ before I was given permission to visit.
Getting Permission to Leave
I became very isolated and depressed, although I think I gave a pretty good face. I hated myself and thought I was no good. I cried often and started to become physically ill with constant headaches and stomach problems. There were many negative experiences in my dealings with certain directresses, although there was always someone who I felt truly cared about me. But it wasn’t until my fifth year that anyone seriously took into account how much I was grieving inside. I knew that if I were to leave on my own I couldn’t bear the guilt of breaking my promise of obedience, but my new directress approved that I write MM and ask permission to leave. I wrote a letter in March explaining that I didn’t think I had a vocation and that I had done everything possible to be generous. I wish I still had a copy of the letter I sent.
It felt like progress to have finally asked permission to go, but I was full of anxiety that maybe he would also respond that I needed to be more generous, and should stay on. I was just as terrified to think of what it would be like to land back into my old life and to live with my parents again. It took three months to get a response. I was a total basket case. Every time I was called to spiritual direction my heart would jump, wondering if she had received word from Nuestro Padre. It wasn’t until July that she got an email giving me the go ahead to leave. I cried and cried, but was relieved.
When I called my parents to tell them I was coming home the very next day, and for good, my mother nearly passed out. The price of the ticket was going to be much more expensive to fly from Mexico to Canada, so they got me a ticket to Maine and I was going to just take a bus from there. But my parents said â€˜don’t be crazyâ€™- they would make the drive to pick me up (ten hours drive and a border crossing.)
Abruptly Leaving & becoming an â€˜outsiderâ€™ to ex-companions
I left within a week, and I couldn’t tell any of my companions that I was leaving or say goodbye to anyone. This is â€˜the customâ€™ in the consecrated life. The worst part was that everyone else in my class had received a ‘yellow letter’ for their next destination, and everyone was asking me why I hadn’t received one, and where did I think I would be going. It was hell. I had to leave early in the morning before everyone got up, and two companions were assigned to drive me to the airport. It was all very scary but I was relieved to not have to live a secret life and make up answers or pretend everything was normal anymore.
I never had a very close relationship with my parents, but was never so glad to see anybody in my life. They were like angels of mercy coming to meet me. My mom had even brought me some pants to wear, and I took off my wedding band that I had received at renewal. I was able to keep it because it was my grandmother’s ring that was left to me.
I was never contacted by the Legion or RC again except by some local 1st degree members to do apostolate. Even they wrote me off when I decided not to take on what they asked of me. I went to a Regnum Christi convention once and some former companions there were very friendly while others ignored me. Everything has been very confusing and emotionally painful, but the one certainty I have is that RC is not, and never was my spirituality. I’m being very generous in saying it like that. I have no desire to ‘slander’ the Movement (they love that word) out of respect for the many sincere and holy members who belong to it, but my conscience would not be at peace if I didn’t at least share my experience in a factual way so that others can make a more informed decision regarding what this organization is really about.