Here is an update to what I shared below ~ I answered the question out of my personal experience – my family and friends live close enough that my visits take place in the time span of a Sunday afternoon. For those whose families and friends are at a distance the visits might be longer and therefore worked out on an individual basis with our Mother Superior.
Friends are certainly welcome to come during family visits and there are no limitations on our part regarding this arrangement. It would depend on the family and how much they are willing to share their precious time with you.
As far as friends coming apart from a family visit this is not encouraged but exceptions are made, especially if it would never be possible for them to come with the family and they are traveling through the vicinity and would like to drop by for an hour or so. There is no hard and fast rule and various circumstances would have to be taken into account.
Having limited contact with one’s friends is certainly one of the sacrificial aspects of monastic life but God only asks us to give up a “good” for a “greater good” ~ that more souls come to know Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with Him.
The Holy Trinity gives each woman who is called the strength and the desire to “leave all things” to follow Him…all the way to the Foot of the Cross with Mary. This is first and foremost to be Laudem Gloriae – ” to be a praise of His glory” as Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity would say. Overflowing from this self-gift are the graces of redemption that flow through the nun’s oblation upon the whole world.
Before I entered the monastery I told the novice directress that I was afraid I would not be able to live this cloistered contemplative life…it’s so Radical!
She gave me some wise words…”If God is calling you to this life He will give you the grace to live it.”
I am a living testimony to the truth of that statement.
All is grace.