by Sister Charlotte Keckler
I was reared in a devout Roman Catholic home and, although our home contained many religious items, we never had a Bible there. Consequently, I never heard of God’s wonderful plan of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus. No one ever explained to me that I only had to invite Him into my heart and ask Him to save me from all my sins to be born again (Revelation 3:20). Instead, I only knew what I was taught in the catechisms and in the institution which we attended faithfully.
I had a deep love and devotion to the God I did not really know personally and I yearned to give my life to Him completely. According to the teaching I received, the way to do this was to become a nun and enter a convent. My parish priest pressed this idea on me as did the nuns who taught in my parochial school.
How well I remember the day two nuns from my school accompanied me home. The parish priest joined them there for a conference with my father and mother. In my family, children did not interrupt grown-ups but asked to speak. When given permission I told my father simply, „Dad, I want to go into the convent.“ Both parents wept for joy at this because they had been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that to give a child to the convent in this matter was a great service to God.
They were thrilled that one of their girls had decided to give her life to the convent in order to pray for lost humanity. It was all so exciting and religious, and none of us had any idea what was involved or implied in all this. Tragically, both my parents and I had been cleverly manipulated by carefully trained recruiters, representatives of the Roman Catholic system, whom we trusted. Not for one moment did we suspect the deception, lies and horror which lay behind the convent doors. We believed what we had been taught. Like sheep we were led to the slaughter, totally unaware of the fate planned for us.
Twelve months went by and the year 1910 came, when I was to leave home. My mother and I busied ourselves with preparations. The priest said that they had no place for me near home; therefore, my parents had to take me a thousand miles crosscountry to enter me in the convent boarding school. I was then three months from my thirteenth birthday, an immature child, being snatched from my parents at a critical time in my growing up.
Never had I been away from my parents, not even overnight. When they left after staying with me for three days, I was smitten with an aching loneliness and homesickness. In all of the planning for the move, I didn’t really realize that I was going to be separated from my parents, never to see them again. I was miserable and unhappy.
Catholic priests select children at the confessional box and begin to plant the seed to steer them into the convents and the priesthood. Even when I was seven, I would go immediately to the statue of the Virgin Mary when I entered the church to pray, believing she would help me to make a good confession. My childish heart was very honest and the priest always heavily emphasized the absolute necessity of making a good confession. We could keep back nothing if we expected absolution from our sins.
I entered what was classified as a sister of the open order, until I took my white veil at the age of sixteen and one half. Everything was beautiful, and I had no fears or doubts in my mind. The things I was taught were in line with what I had been told earlier before entering the convent. There was no reason to suspect that there were vast areas which were hidden and had been deliberately misrepresented.
Shortly after arrival at the convent, I resumed my schooling. I had just graduated from eighth grade and they had promised me a high school education plus college. Actually, I got little beyond the high school level, other than some nurse’s training. The schooling I received was under duress and terrible difficulties. Following this, I was pushed into the crucial training required of all noviates entering the convent.
Six months before I was fourteen, the Mother Superior began to urge me to take the white veil. She made it all sound so glamorous, romantic and fascinating. I would take the white veil, dressed in a beautiful white wedding dress. An actual marriage ceremony would follow and I would receive a ring and become the spouse or bride of Christ. It was not difficult for an impressionable teenager to be swayed into eager agreement.
Mother Superior then wrote my father to tell him how much money he must send to pay for my wedding dress. Because he was wealthy, it was a sizeable amount. I learned later that it was customary to demand three to five times the cost of the dress. The nuns bought the material and made the dress so that the actual cost was small and the rest of the money could be pocketed. No opportunity was overlooked to milk funds from the faithful.
I was always devout and often walked the fourteen stations of the cross, but after deciding to take the white veil, my fervency increased. In my anxiety to be holy enough to be worthy to become the bride of Christ, I began to crawl the stations of the cross each Friday. Surely this would draw me closer to God and prepare me to take the step I planned.
My heart was bursting with idealistic devotion and love toward the false goals I had been taught would please and honor God in my life. Hundreds of innocent girls go down this trail into the maw of the convents annually, starry eyed and desiring to give their hearts, minds and souls in unselfish service, praying for lost humanity.
With the wedding ceremony behind them, nuns are treated as married woman. We were taught that our family would be saved if we continued to live in the convent, serving the Roman Catholic system. A child’s concern for family members, especially erring ones, is often manipulated by the father confessor to convince him/her to go into religious vocations. As a child, I looked on my father confessor as God and others with whom I have talked did the same thing. This gives his insinuations and suggestions tremendous power and influence. I thought of him as being holy and infallible, totally incapable of lying.
After I took the white veil, everything continued, rosy, religious and beautiful. Everyone was good to me and I lived in the open order convent I saw nothing to lead me to believe it would not continue this way. No girl is subject to the priest until she is twenty-one, but I knew nothing of this for all was carefully hidden and covered. There was no clue to cause one to guess what lay behind the black veil and those double locked doors of the closed, cloistered convent.
Up until I took the black veil I was allowed to receive one letter per month from my family and was permitted to write one to them from the convent. When I wrote I knew that much of it would be censored and marked out by the Mother Superior who read all incoming and outgoing mail. My letters from home were always so marked out until virtually nothing was left to read. I used to weep over all those inked out sections, wondering and worrying over what my mother had been trying to tell me, but there was no way I could ever know.
No one imprisoned behind those walls ever comes out to tell the awful story. Priests will glibly pooh, pooh the idea that there is anything amiss. They will tell you that in this country and elsewhere sisters can walk out of the convents anytime they please. That is a lie! I was shut up for twenty-two years and tried everything to escape. I even carried tablespoons to the dungeons and desperately dug in their dirt floors attempting to find a way out. Why a tablespoon? All the other tools were locked up or carefully supervised. They were used to dig the tunnels and underground chambers. Convents are constructed like prisons to thwart the escape of the nuns.
As I approached eighteen, Mother Superior began to work on me again. Remember that these ruthless women are carefully selected and trained for their jobs. I was making my plans to come out of the convent after taking the white veil to become a nursing sister in the Roman Catholic system. However, she had noted my endurance and devotion so she called me into her office for a conference.
„Charlotte,“ she said, „I have been watching you. You have a strong body and the devotion to make a good nun, a cloister nun. I believe you are the type who would be willing to give up home and everything you love in the world to hide yourself away behind convent doors. I believe that you would be willing to sacrifice and live in crucial poverty in order to be able to pray for lost humanity. You would have to be willing to suffer in order to achieve this.“
We were constantly taught that living loved ones as well as those already in purgatory would be delivered sooner by the nun’s suffering here. Mother Superior had observed that I was willing to suffer without murmuring or complaining, therefore she broached the idea of my taking the black veil. Of course I had no idea what the cloistered nuns did or how they lived so she began to tell me about the cloisters.
Mother Superior told me that in the cloisters, I would have to shed my own blood as Jesus did on Calvary. I would have to be willing to endure heavy penances and live in crucial poverty the rest of my life. Already I was living in poverty, but if this would make me holier, draw me closer to God and a better nun, I thought it would be worth it to accept this crucial poverty, whatever it was.
Two months before my twenty-first birthday I was summoned into Mother Superior’s office and papers were shown to me in which I would sign away any and all inheritance I would ever have to the Roman Catholic system. Priests work hard to entice girls from wealthy families into the convents, for the system is enriched by their inheritances. I told her I needed some more time to think about it.
For two years I seriously considered it. If I took my perpetual vows it would mean going behind closed doors in a cloistered convent, and there all my life would belong to God. It would be one of study, devotion, meditation and prayer; however I would be able to win many more souls to God because I would have more time to pray. I believed and accepted all that she said and one day informed her that I had decided to go into cloister.
To begin, I would be required to lie for nine hours in a casket, dying to the world. Never again would I see my people or return home, for I would be bound by the cloister’s convent. This was a tremendous price for a twenty-one year old girl to pay, to give up all that she loved and held dear in the world, but this had to be done in order to win souls to God. I was dressed in a dark red velvet funeral shroud for this wedding ceremony which was performed by the bishop. Both the dress and coffin had been made by the nuns in the cloister.
I knew that when I came out of that coffin, I would never see or hear from my family again; never leave the convent; and would be buried there when I died. I walked to the casket, climbed in and stretched out. Two little nuns came and covered the entire casket with heavy black draperies which reeked of incense. I thought I would surely suffocate. On one side of the room were the usual statues and on the other, Mother Superior, the nuns and priests were seated. For the nine long hours I lay in the coffin they kept vigil and chanted constantly.
The one purpose of being in the coffin was to learn to hate my mother, father and all other earthly ties–all for the love of God. I must forget them, hate them, crowd them completely from my heart, mind and life. All this was to enable me to be a better wife to God.
Lying there, I reminisced about my childhood at home. I remembered the dresses my mother had made for me, but I would never again wear one. I thought of delicious meals, warm beds, and all of the rich and full family life I had had. Of course I wept bitterly and sobbed as my heart ached for those loved ones I would never see again. It was an agonizing experience and I think I loved them more than I ever had before.
I wrung out and spilled every tear in my body. It was so hard to give up everything. In my agony and anguish I shuddered and groaned until there simply were on more tears left. After several hours of this, I regained my composure somewhat. I resolved, „Charlotte, you are going to make the best Carmelite nun who ever was, because both inside and outside the convent you always do your very best.“
When the ordeal finally ended, a bell was tapped and two little nuns immediately lifted the black drapes from the casket. When I stepped from it I was ushered into a room where I was to take my perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Mother Superior opened a place in my ear lobe and drew out blood, for these must be signed in my own blood.
I vowed to be willing to live in crucial poverty for the balance of my life (although I did not know then what this meant). Next the vow of chastity bound me never to legally marry because I was now the wife of God (by virtue of the wedding ceremony performed earlier). Then the one of obedience, the hardest of all. I promised absolute, unquestioning obedience to the Pope, all the prelates of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, to the Mother Superior of the convent and to the rules of that convent. I was totally ignorant of how sweeping these commitments were and had no realistic concept of the things to which I was pledging myself.
After I had signed all the vows, Mother Superior whacked off all my long hair with the scissors. This was to be sold to the highest bidder, for human hair brings a good market price and they commercialize on everything. (This explains the unbelievable wealth of the church.) After cutting the hair, she took clippers and shaved me bald. For the rest of my life, every two months the clippers would go on my head to shave me bald. The heavy nun’s headgear would be very cumbersome if she kept her hair. Besides, there was neither time nor facilities to wash hair in the convents.
The next step in dehumanizing and disorientation was to take away my entire family name and replace it with the name of a patron saint. As she did this Mother Superior emphasized that, although I was not holy enough to stand in the presence of God, I could always pray to my patron saint and she would intercede to get my prayers through to God. I accepted all this as truth because I did not know any better. Following this if someone had inquired about me at the convent by my given name, they would have been informed that no such person was inside the convent.
Next, Mother read this statement: „As Jesus suffered here on earth, so must we suffer as nuns. We must live our lives as martyrs in the convent. In the Garden of Olives, Jesus shed 62,700 tears for you and me; He shed 98,600 drops of blood for you and me; He received 667 strokes on His body; on His cheek, 110 strokes; on His neck, 107 strokes; on His back, 180 strokes; on His breast, 77 strokes; on His head, 108 strokes; on His side, 32 strokes. They spit in His face 32 times; pulled His beard many times and threw Him to the ground 38 times. By the crown of thorns He received 100 wounds; pleaded for our salvation 900 times, and carried the cross to Calvary 320 steps.“ I believed all these religious lies, which years later I learned were the invention of a corrupt Pope.
The last statement she read said, „You will receive a plenary indulgence for your sins and entirely escape the pains of purgatory. Reward them as martyrs who spill their blood for the faith.“ She said that if we lived in the convent without breaking a rule, one day when we died we would not go to purgatory but go directly to be with Jesus. What she did not tell us was that it is humanly impossible to live in a convent without breaking rules.
After the vows were signed all of my personal identification was destroyed. Sixty days before, Mother Superior had laid a sheet of paper in front of me. She said I was not to read it, just to sign at the bottom. I didn’t realize then how completely I was signing away any and all inheritances which might ever come to me. They were all assigned to the convent. When my brother was ordained as Roman Catholic priest he also signed everything over to the hierarchy. There is not a lawyer in the land who can break this confiscation assignment, for I have checked it out.
When I took my perpetual vows and signed away my life and possessions I had sold my soul for a mythical mess of pottage. Not only are the nuns systematically destroyed in body but hundreds have their minds shattered and die premature deaths under the cruel and heartless convent bondage. To make it even worse the poor creatures sacrifice all of this and then go out to meet God, Christless and lost for all eternity. How we need to pray for those closed off from the world and the gospel all over the world in these terrible prisons called cloistered convents.
Mother Superior next locked her arm in mine and we walked down the center of another room. A Roman Catholic priest, dressed in holy habit, came to meet us from the other end of the room. When we met, Mother dropped my arm and the priest stepped around and attempted to lock his arm in mine.
I recoiled in horror at this intimacy, for never, in all my years in the convent had a priest ever approached me like this. Always they had been kind, considerate and very polite. Something about the familiarity of his touch and the lecherous look in his eyes repulsed and insulted me although I did not understand exactly why. I jerked loose, blushing with embarrassment and exploded, „Shame on you.“ I felt violated and threatened. He turned red in the face and became very angry at my rejection of his overtures to lead me to the „bridal chamber.“
Evidently Mother Superior overheard the exchange for she quickly returned, called by my church name, and informed me that after I had been in the convent a while I would not feel this way. She said all nuns felt the same in the beginning and sternly reminded me of the wedding ceremony I had gone through and of my obligation. She said a priest’s body was sanctified and what they did was not sin. I was terrified, and sobbed hysterically, my mind reeling and I refused to accept what she said.
She became very angry and stiffly said, „As the Holy Ghost placed the seed in the Virgin Mary’s womb and Jesus Christ was born, even so the priest represents the Holy Ghost, therefore it is not a sin for nuns to bear his children.“
I could scarcely believe my ears. I had been deceived and it was too late to turn back! This ghastly statement made me frantic. When she finally gave me permission to speak I burst out, „Mother Superior, why didn’t you tell me this before I took my perpetual vows?“ She pursed her lips tightly but said nothing.
Needless to say, I was in a state of numbed shock and horror at what she was saying. It was like an unbelievable nightmare. All my bridges were burned and there was no way back. I could not get out of the convent. Hysterically, I sobbed and told the priest that I wanted to go home. I begged him to call my father to come and get me. I did not want to go any further with this. All my illusions had been shattered and I could not bear the picture which was looming up before me.
I related how three months before I left home to come to the convent (at age 13) my mother told me she would rather dig my grave with her own hands and bury me than to hear that I had lost my virtue. Because I knew nothing of sex, she had then explained it to me. When I related this to Mother and the priest, they stood and laughed at me like fools. They found my naivety and innocent gullibility hilarious.
When this sort of betrayal happens I can tell you that you stand absolutely alone. Communication with your loved ones and friends has already been cut off. Sealed off, you have no one to understand or help and soon the numbing realization of the utter hopelessness of your situation sets in. It is like waking up and finding that an unbearable nightmare is not a dream but a dreadful reality.
I now belonged to Rome and the Pope and Mother Superior had turned me over to a lustful priest who leeringly invited me to join him in the „bridal chamber.“ I did not enter the convent to become a bad, but a holy woman, by giving my heart and life to God. I firmly rejected his sexual advances and was strong enough to put up quite a fight had he insisted. I was prepared to struggle to my last drop of blood to preserve my virtue.
When I signed those vows with my own blood I did not realize the enormity of what I had done. I had surrendered away every human right, in order to become a mechanical, robot-like person. From henceforth I would not be able to sit, stand, or speak without permission. I could not lie down, eat or do anything else unless authorized by my superiors. I was allowed to see, hear and feel only what they permitted and ordered. I had become a helpless puppet of the Roman Catholic hierachy.
please read all the story here: http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/nun.htm