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MaryBethany

Feeling unworthy

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MaryBethany

Hi everyone :)

I've been reading this forum for a good while, but I've only just registered. So hello. 

I'm in the process of discerning my vocation and I feel a growing desire for religious life. The problem is that I can't seem to get over the feeling of being too sinful and not being worthy of entering a religious order. I know that my vocation is not about me and that this way of thinking may be pretty self-absorbed. I just can't stop thinking about it. I want to be open to God's will, but this is making it so difficult. Has anyone else felt like this too? Do you have any advice for me?

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BarbaraTherese
12 hours ago, MaryBethany said:

Hi everyone :)

I've been reading this forum for a good while, but I've only just registered. So hello. 

I'm in the process of discerning my vocation and I feel a growing desire for religious life. The problem is that I can't seem to get over the feeling of being too sinful and not being worthy of entering a religious order. I know that my vocation is not about me and that this way of thinking may be pretty self-absorbed. I just can't stop thinking about it. I want to be open to God's will, but this is making it so difficult. Has anyone else felt like this too? Do you have any advice for me?

I don't think you would be alone in what you feel.  Many nuns, religious sisters and priests too have a past.  Last night at Mass a young man in the noviciate of a religious order spoke about his not-good-at all-past and how humbled he felt to be called to religious life.

No one is worthy of any gift of God whatsoever including a religious vocation.  God's Gifts are freely given and given to one are given to all - and this is because His Gifts are given for the good of the whole Church and this might be most mysterious to us from our God Who Is Mystery.   There is a saying that goes "God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called".

I am wondering if you have spiritual direction where you can open up and speak freely about your feelings - all of them.

Prayers for you and your vocation.

______________

Don't hang on to your past nor tend to live in it or from it.  Once you have made a good Confession, God not only forgives, He forgets and wipes your slate completely clean as surely as if nothing happened at all.  That is the type of forgiveness we owe to each other and to ourselves.

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Sister Leticia

Hello and welcome!

Feeling unworthy, or aware of our shortcomings, is quite normal for someone considering religious life. It's certainly how I felt, almost 30 years ago - very aware of my lack of fervour and holiness. And it doesn't always help when you meet holy and inspiring religious, because you set an ideal before yourself, and just can't imagine ever being even half as holy! 

It isn't necessarily about what we might call "having a past". In fact, the past is easier to deal with, precisely because it is the past, and we have/can move on from it and grow. No, it's our present-day weaknesses which can drag us down, and make us doubt God's amazing, unbelievable choice and call.

Believe in grace - and believe in God's copious generosity with grace. That's what sustains us, and enables us to grow, and transcend our selfishness and sin. Pray with yesterday's second reading, in which God tells St Paul "my grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". 

Or, as St Madeleine Sophie, who founded my order once said: "so you say you are weak - but have you measured the strength of God?"

Blessings on your journey!

 

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fides' Jack

I believe that this feeling which we've all had is one of the primary ways the devil uses to keep us from doing God's will.  It always seems to come from ourselves, but very often it's actually the devil, "accusing" us to keep us further away from God.  

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beatitude

I will pray for you. I'm away from home for the summer, and attending a parish named after St Francis de Sales, which inspired me to pick up his writings again. They are very practical and down to earth. I think they might really help you. One thing Francis says is, "He asks for your own heart. Give it such as it is...Are we not aware that everything that is placed in his divine hands is converted to good?" So there is no sense in even using words like 'worthy' or 'not worthy', because God wants our mess and our failures just as much as he wants what's best in us. All we have to do is hand them to him. Literally. I've stomped up to Communion before now and said to God as I waited in the line, "Here I am, Lord, in a towering temper. I give you my anger." Be honest, with God and with yourself. That's all he wants - for our honest gift of ourselves. He can do the rest.

Sometimes the idea of unworthiness is a cloak for fear of religious life. I've met a lot of people who said they were unworthy, and underneath it, they were afraid. Afraid of failing somehow, afraid of being unhappy, afraid it wouldn't work out. I'm not saying this is you, but if it is, offer him that fear along with the sense of being unworthy. Give him everything in prayer. He'll look after you.

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MaryBethany

Thank you all so much for your prayers and responses!

17 hours ago, BarbaraTherese said:

I don't think you would be alone in what you feel.  Many nuns, religious sisters and priests too have a past.  Last night at Mass a young man in the noviciate of a religious order spoke about his not-good-at all-past and how humbled he felt to be called to religious life.

No one is worthy of any gift of God whatsoever including a religious vocation.  God's Gifts are freely given and given to one are given to all - and this is because His Gifts are given for the good of the whole Church and this might be most mysterious to us from our God Who Is Mystery.   There is a saying that goes "God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called".

I am wondering if you have spiritual direction where you can open up and speak freely about your feelings - all of them.

Prayers for you and your vocation.

______________

Don't hang on to your past nor tend to live in it or from it.  Once you have made a good Confession, God not only forgives, He forgets and wipes your slate completely clean as surely as if nothing happened at all.  That is the type of forgiveness we owe to each other and to ourselves.

Thank you, this is very helpful! I don't have a spiritual director, I'm still looking (and praying) for one. 

11 hours ago, Sister Leticia said:

Hello and welcome!

Feeling unworthy, or aware of our shortcomings, is quite normal for someone considering religious life. It's certainly how I felt, almost 30 years ago - very aware of my lack of fervour and holiness. And it doesn't always help when you meet holy and inspiring religious, because you set an ideal before yourself, and just can't imagine ever being even half as holy! 

It isn't necessarily about what we might call "having a past". In fact, the past is easier to deal with, precisely because it is the past, and we have/can move on from it and grow. No, it's our present-day weaknesses which can drag us down, and make us doubt God's amazing, unbelievable choice and call.

Believe in grace - and believe in God's copious generosity with grace. That's what sustains us, and enables us to grow, and transcend our selfishness and sin. Pray with yesterday's second reading, in which God tells St Paul "my grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". 

Or, as St Madeleine Sophie, who founded my order once said: "so you say you are weak - but have you measured the strength of God?"

Blessings on your journey!

 

Thank you, I definitely feel the way you describe when meeting a religious. I feel like I'll never be anywhere near as holy! But it's true that it is all in God's hands and that He can work in all for the good. Yesterday's reading certainly applies here. I'll make sure to pray with it. 

3 hours ago, fides' Jack said:

I believe that this feeling which we've all had is one of the primary ways the devil uses to keep us from doing God's will.  It always seems to come from ourselves, but very often it's actually the devil, "accusing" us to keep us further away from God.  

Thanks for your response. This would definitely be the most efficient way to keep me away from God, since I'm vulnerable to this way of thinking and have always struggled with it.

1 hour ago, beatitude said:

I will pray for you. I'm away from home for the summer, and attending a parish named after St Francis de Sales, which inspired me to pick up his writings again. They are very practical and down to earth. I think they might really help you. One thing Francis says is, "He asks for your own heart. Give it such as it is...Are we not aware that everything that is placed in his divine hands is converted to good?" So there is no sense in even using words like 'worthy' or 'not worthy', because God wants our mess and our failures just as much as he wants what's best in us. All we have to do is hand them to him. Literally. I've stomped up to Communion before now and said to God as I waited in the line, "Here I am, Lord, in a towering temper. I give you my anger." Be honest, with God and with yourself. That's all he wants - for our honest gift of ourselves. He can do the rest.

Sometimes the idea of unworthiness is a cloak for fear of religious life. I've met a lot of people who said they were unworthy, and underneath it, they were afraid. Afraid of failing somehow, afraid of being unhappy, afraid it wouldn't work out. I'm not saying this is you, but if it is, offer him that fear along with the sense of being unworthy. Give him everything in prayer. He'll look after you.

Thank you, I'll look at his writings! I guess I'm underestimating God (as usual :)) I don't think this is a cloak for fear, necessarily, because other fears I have about religious life seem smaller than this one. Thank you for your prayers!

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Kayte Postle

Hello MaryBethany, you are certainly not alone! I'm also a discerner who often feels "unworthy" of a vocation to religious life. Sometimes I look at my spiritual life and think, "I'm certainly not holy enough to be a sister!". Take heart though, I've been told by some wise nuns that discernment and formation are there for a reason. While you should have a thriving prayer and sacramental life before entrance, the formation process is there to help you along the way to grow closer to Christ. The first few years (especially the canonical novice year) and there to help you transition from living "in" the world, to living out your religious vocation through the vows. I'm sure the religious on this site will have more to say on this than I, but this is some of the advice given to me from sisters/nuns. Hope this helps, I'll be praying for you!

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Indwelling Trinity

Not only No one is worthy of the call to intimate union with God.you may have every God gift under the sun and still you would not be worthy. 

If God has a special predilection  for your soul so much so that he calls you to be his very own to live on intimate terms with him within the parameters of religious life; it is a gift from  God himself to  be used for  your own  sanctification and the building up of the kingdom of God. 

But this is true of every vocation blessed by God. We came into this world with nothing and that it he's how we shall leave it. 

The love and joy with which we make  our journey to God using the gifts God has given  for the welfare of others and as a gift of love acknowledging him as Supreme Lover and giver,  will one day be our joy when we come to life's end.

For like Saint Ignatius  said in his prayer " Lord you have given all to me, now I return it.  What a happy lace to be.!

The gift we return to God need not be great He knows we are but children. But the more we practice the proficient we become. 

See Your weaknesses, acknowledge them ask for help from Jesus, his holy Mother and your guardian angels, if  it be sinful confess it. 

Then move on do not dwell on your shortcomings. This leads to discouragement, lack of trust in God and a door wide open to the attacks of the evil one. Satan is a pro at morphing and trying to ruin every good deed. 

As for me please pray for me I too must stand strong and it is tough. 

My Prayers for you. 

Indwelling trinity

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Antigonos

You always have my prayers, IT.  May I assume that when you write to us you are feeling a bit better?  I certainly hope so.

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MaryBethany

Thank you, Kayte, IT, and Antigonos for replying. Your responses are very helpful. You're in my prayers, IT!

Edited by MaryBethany

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TheresaThoma

One of the things that has helped me is to know/learn that even Sisters who have been professed for many years still have struggles, even the ones that seem to be super holy. 

A good community and the right community for you is not expecting you to be perfect but they will want you to grow and help you to grow. I have struggles with perfectionism which can occasionally make me feel awkward in groups. The community I am discerning with has helped me with this and Mother definitely understands that this will be something that I will have to work on my whole life and all she is looking for progress.

Another thing that has helped me was a suggestion a priest gave to me. Is to invite the Holy Spirit to touch those wounded areas (or areas of weakness). The more specific you can be the better. Ask for help and for healing.

I will be praying for you.

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