I was really encouraged by The Ear of the Heart about Dolores Hart’s journey from Hollywood to a cloistered monastery in Connecticut, because at the beginning of this month especially, I was missing Michele. It’s been particularly difficult not having her here to talk and spend time with this week, so it was the perfect time for me to read this book. It reminded me of her and the many things she’s been through in life, but the second part renewed my hope that our close friendship can continue in the future and for Michele’s life (as well as mine and Kevin’s) can and will be brought together and used to glorify God in amazing ways.
I received an e-mail the first week of August from Michele’s mom. I knew August 6 was the one year anniversary of her entry into Carmel. This year it’s the day they had the Clothing ceremony for Michele Morris and shared with the public her new name: Sister Mary Magdalene. I’ve been silently saying her new name over and over again while praying for her this week, getting used to it. At the beginning of this month, I was feeling really down because my dear sister in Christ isn’t hear to talk, laugh, pray, or cry with, but reading The Ear of the Heart has given me hope. Though it was very difficult for Dolores Hart to adjust to life in a cloistered monastery, the strengths, experiences, personality, and passion she brought with her to the community have been put to good use in ways she probably didn’t expect would happen.
When Dolores Hart entered Regina Laudis, the mindset was very much that postulants and professed members of the community should pretty much keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves and not interact much beyond what is called for by the Benedictine order. Loneliness, sadness, and a dark night of the soul during which she felt God was far from her all made her transition to religious life in the community more challenging. I find it tremendously encouraging how she’s incorporated how she felt during that time and has used it to change how postulants are treated and how others relate to them, from soon after they enter.
I’m always inspired when I read, hear, or see how God has used the seemingly disparate elements of someone’s life in a beautiful, unifying way. Dolores didn’t have to throw out or leave behind the part of her that loved and embraced acting. Over time, the Lord used those gifts to work in and through her to benefit other members of the community and eventually to educate and involve family, friends, and other people in the public with their mission. Each is now recognized for and encouraged to develop her special gifts and talents, so that they can be used to further the good of the community as a whole, and ultimately be one way God brings others closer to Christ.
I still have the voicemail message saved on my cell phone of when Michele called to tell me she’d been offered the grant from Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations. From her letters, photos I’ve seen taken of her since she entered, and from what her mom has shared with me, she is indeed joyful and where God wants her to be. Interestingly enough, the Abbey of Regina Laudis, where Mother Dolores Hart resides, was one of the ones Michele visited early on in her discernment as a possible option. She was confused when she returned, unsure of what step to take next. When she visited the Carmelite Sisters by the Sea, she immediately felt at home. Now it is her home and her new family. I hope they love and enjoy her company and her child-like spirit as much as we have.
For more information about The Ear of the Heart or to purchase your own copy, click here.