October 10, 1958
My Dear Catherine,
I remember your letter announcing your decision of becoming a nun. As time passed I gave it much thought. I always wanted each of my children to amount to something and if they use all their talents in useful work, devote part of the time to the good of their neighbor and remember always that the three score years and ten is strictly a period of probation for the life to come. I’ll not be disappointed if none of them set the world on fire by the world’s standards. Let them be what their talents and opportunities can make them and let them live decently, and I’ll be happy to have cooperated in giving them a chance.
As you have already guessed, entering a religious order is definitely “amounting to something” in my judgement. And that is why my first comment was that I was so proud you were doing it. (Excuse please.) I haven’t the slightest worry about the genuineness of your vocation and ability and happiness you’ll find in the convent. It may be that one day the Holy Spirit gave you the bright idea, but you have had the qualifications all along.
You’ll be giving up some things of course, and you’ll miss some of them. But for everything you give up, there will be a corresponding gain, and the balance will be in favor of what you have decided to do. By acting now, you take your turn at the crossroads sooner than later, and the past is no less fun to remember. It’s fun to be a part of a large family contributing towards unity in the many ways that you did. You’ll miss the younger ones, but I am sure you realize that their years of being young are also numbered. Before you know it they will be grown and may be less interesting than they are now. I think you’ll find, too, that the pleasure in the family will actually increase because you’re apart from it. There’ll be no lack of news or reporting it. You’ll get all the tidbits without any sour apples you had to take with them at home. You’ll be visited whenever you can be, which is perhaps more often than if you had separated in a different way.
For all you’ll miss, you’ll gain a new world. The other nuns will be a family to you, each of them having more interests in common with you than your own blood brothers and sisters.
In any family team spirit doesn’t always predominate, except in times of crisis. In your convent family this spirit will always prevail because it is willed and because all of you are following by choice a definite road to a definite end.
Another thing you’ll gain - and this I envy you - is the joy of little pleasures because you are renouncing what most people call big ones (paramount importance).
Simple talk during your chatter period will be more pleasant because it must end by the bell.
I’m glad you are entering this order because the prime mission of the church is conversion and conservation. For the lack of instruction in religion, many Catholics are not as well prepared as they might be.
I’m happy about your decision because it was one of many you could have made. If you had wanted to marry, it would have been a cinch with your good looks, and your sense of humor, and your obvious love of children, and your firm grasp on the dollar. If you had wanted to be a teacher, you’d have make it hands down. If you had turned to business, business would have turned to you, because business is people. Instead you chose to move apart form the world in order to serve it better. You’ll hide your hair under a pink and white bonnet and your legs under something that’s still better looking than a sack but no mere habit can hide the fact that the Boss has snared for a bride a really pretty and pretty smart girl who could have gone places under any standards. The kind of people I like to see in religion. That’s why I’m proud and happy to see you enter.
I am planning to go to visit the Chapel of Divine Love over the weekend. Forty hours begin in Chester on Sunday. I’d sure like to be home next weekend.