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[quote name='stlmom' timestamp='1283993800' post='2170488']
To be sure, you need some level of general enthusiasm going in, but the charism of the community needs to capture your heart for the long run.

[/quote]


This is another question I've been pondering.

Charism is such a difficult concept to explain. What is a charism? Its not something you can "hold" in your hand, thats for sure.
There is one community I know whose spirituality I identify very much with. It resembles what I would consider my own "personal spirituality." But this charism is expressed in a particular apostolate in which I have zero experience, zero confidence, which intimidates the sparks out of me. I have been told that the charism is the 'kernel,' that I should focus on that, and that God would grant me the grace to participate in the apostolate of whatever charism He is calling me to. I have been told by people who supervise my work in this apostolate that I do a good job, that they have confidence I could fully embrace this part of their vocation. But it is not something that is natural to me at all. If grace works on nature, and this is not in my nature then ...... is "apostolate" part of charism? I think in many cases it is ...

I have so many unresolved questions! Probably because this is my first real experience with discernment. My first go around, I did not really discern. My discernment consisted of the exaltation, thrill, joy and peace which confirmed to me that what I wanted was God's will. (ugh, poor girl, exactly backwards!)

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[quote name='Sister Marie' timestamp='1284226365' post='2171891'] Now, however, I wish I had silence because it would be easier than some conversations that happen in community. We are human and so

[quote name='MithLuin' timestamp='1284332351' post='2172396'] My sister went through a long period of discernment (sometimes on again, off again) that meant she visited various communities that...did

I am going through a confusing time right now. I am ashamed to admit it: I am afraid of making sacrifices. Lately when I have been thinking (not praying) about my vocation, I find myself thinking "

One of the exercises my SD assigned me for each of our meetings is to list a negative and a positive about religious life. For example, one of the first negatives was my concern about obedience. Others have been the fact that you are not the most important person in the world to anyone else as you would be if you were married, another was the fact that I would never have children and, of course, no sex. We talk through each of these negatives and try to see the alternate positives (e.g. - I won't have a spouse but I will have a whole community of sisters who know me well and love me). This has really helped me to remove my rose colored glasses and be less romantic. As my SD has often says, every single life decision you make from job changes to personal relationships has pros and cons - you need to evaluate all these and decide which is best for you. This really resonated with me because I made a huge change when I took the job I now have - I moved far away from my family, the position entails a lot of responsibility and stress and I had to make new friends (not easy for me) in a whole new place. I feel like I have explored religious life in the same way - I've looked at both the positives and negatives and feel like I am making an informed and well thought out decision. I have not mentioned anything spiritual in this post and certainly not because I didn't consider that - it's the most important thing - but we are all human beings with all our flaws and failings and, at least for me, it has been very helpful to discuss with my SD both the spiritual and the practical aspects of the day to day living of religious life. In the end, I will trust in God and make the leap...but at least it will be a well thought out leap.



Kat

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Some random thoughts so apologies if they dont make much sense. One of the wonderful things about Jesus is that He wants, not just wants desires, us to give Him our faults our fears, our trepidation, all of our imperfections, our failings our sins, our weaknesses. I, too am scared to step out of the boat, Im scared to sacrifice too. JPII said "be not afraid" and B16 said "be not afraid Christ takes nothing from you but gives you everything" Id add to that though that Christ wants to take all your fear and confusion etc you dont have to be perfect before you go to Him. Go to Him crying, whining, complaining, angry and so on He will help you. Jesus doesnt just want to be friends with you He is madly in love with you. YOU just YOU as if no one else existed and He wants you to get very close to Him and He wants your emotional baggage. Ok Im done with my rambling. :sweat:

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In The Arms of The Lord

[quote name='vee8' timestamp='1284047048' post='2170812']
Some random thoughts so apologies if they dont make much sense. One of the wonderful things about Jesus is that He wants, not just wants desires, us to give Him our faults our fears, our trepidation, all of our imperfections, our failings our sins, our weaknesses. I, too am scared to step out of the boat, Im scared to sacrifice too. JPII said "be not afraid" and B16 said "be not afraid Christ takes nothing from you but gives you everything" Id add to that though that Christ wants to take all your fear and confusion etc you dont have to be perfect before you go to Him. Go to Him crying, whining, complaining, angry and so on He will help you. Jesus doesnt just want to be friends with you He is madly in love with you. YOU just YOU as if no one else existed and He wants you to get very close to Him and He wants your emotional baggage. Ok Im done with my rambling. :sweat:
[/quote]


Good post and very true. It brings to mind how someone had used the example of all the sand on the shore, using the image as if we were all that sand, but He looks upon each grain as if it were the only one; as He does so with all of us. I have heard also that the place we have in Heaven would never be taken by another; if we did not get there. To contemplate His great wisdom and love in making this so, it lets you to know that each of us is so cherished and can't be replaced.

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I am familiar a community where less than half of the sisters wore a habit (it is optional). I learned that Richard Rohr, Joan Chittister, and Joyce Rupp were favorites to read from. Many are into the enneagram, labyrinths, reiki, and centering prayer. Inclusive language for God and people is the norm. Would you consider this "middle of the road?" If one was going to discern a community like this, would these things be easily brushed aside? Your thoughts please :blush:

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[quote name='franciscanlady' timestamp='1284075234' post='2171119']
I am familiar a community where less than half of the sisters wore a habit (it is optional). I learned that Richard Rohr, Joan Chittister, and Joyce Rupp were favorites to read from. Many are into the enneagram, labyrinths, reiki, and centering prayer. Inclusive language for God and people is the norm. Would you consider this "middle of the road?" If one was going to discern a community like this, would these things be easily brushed aside? Your thoughts please :blush:
[/quote]

I would definitely not consider that a "middle of the road" community. I also do not think I could easily brush aside the things you mentioned. Of course God calls people to all sorts of different places, but I think it is very important that potential communities have an authentic Christian spirituality - one that does not need to draw on other spiritual traditions to be complete. Of course there can always be exceptions to the rule - maybe the community has that sort of past but is moving in a different direction now, or something else that changes things. In general though, communities like that raise a warning flag in my head.

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[quote name='morostheos' timestamp='1284076339' post='2171127']
I would definitely not consider that a "middle of the road" community. I also do not think I could easily brush aside the things you mentioned. Of course God calls people to all sorts of different places, but I think it is very important that potential communities have an authentic Christian spirituality - one that does not need to draw on other spiritual traditions to be complete. Of course there can always be exceptions to the rule - maybe the community has that sort of past but is moving in a different direction now, or something else that changes things. In general though, communities like that raise a warning flag in my head.
[/quote]

Multiquote doesn't seem to be working for me, so I can't post the original poster's question here as well - sorry. I agree with morostheos that one must be careful, but also with the statement that a community might be changing for good reasons, and one has to be careful in rushing to judgment.


So before judging this community, I would want to know a lot more. I hadn't intended to write much about my community, but this issue came up for me as well, and perhaps if I write about it, there might be some benefit for others.

I went to my live-in visit as a very traditional thinking person. I had been in a 1990s Carmel (almost pre-Vat 2 in many ways) and was attending Latin Mass. I supported the Apostolic Visitation and condemned women like Joan C and Sanda S and others who cause scandal by opposing the Holy Father's requests. Of course, I would also never condone such things as enneagrams etc. I knew where I stood on everything.

When I first met with the 'formator' (they don't use the titles of Novice Mistress or Reverend Mother there), we started to discuss our views of various things and I was appalled at first and wondered how God could have sent me to such a place. Some of the things the formator said to me scared me, and I ran to the Prioress with my concerns, thinking that the formator was, if not a heretic, at least seriously compromised in her ideas! On her part, the formator told me that she felt I was rigid and inflexible in my thinking, one of those conservatives who think that anyone who doesn't go to Latin Mass is wrong. I didn't feel this way in my heart, I know, but that is how I came across to her, just as she came across as too liberal and dangerous!:cry2:

The Prioress was very kind but she laughed at my concerns and said that the formator was really a very traditional nun but she was also someone who likes to be open to new ideas as part of her response to Vatican 2. Over more than 45 years in the convent, the formator had lived through years of unreasonable oppressive hierarchy and control, and wanted those in formation now to be treated in a more humane and individual way than she had been. I trusted what the Prioress was saying and went back to the formator with the intention of trying to understand the formator's points of view (without necessarily agreeing with them). Over three months, the formator and I argued over countless issues and ideas.

Think about that for a moment.

A visitor (me) was arguing with the Novice Mistress (which is what she is despite her changed title). In most convents (and certainly in any of those I had been in before), this would have meant being shown the door, however politely, and being told that one did not appear to have a vocation. But this formator persisted with me through three months of stubbornness and almost hostility (to her ideas) with great patience and charity.

At one point I asked her if I could speak with each othe sisters individually to find out more about their ideas and opinions, since these are the women who would be shaping my future with their votes in Chapter on everything from what new statues to get, or whether or not the habit would be changed (it is a modified habit now). I told her I was afraid of ending up a 'pant-suit wearing, lapel pin wearing nun who followed Joan C. She laughed and said they had no intentions of changing to pant suits with lapel pins but that some sisters might actually like some of the things that Joan has said (although perhaps not the way she says them in public causing scandal). She agreed to my request and I met with each sister for about an hour. Each one was completely different and had her own ideas about things but all of them were in love with Jesus and fiercely loyal to the church. They were called from various walks of life, some converts, some cradle Catholics, but each one was there because she felt that God was asking her to give her life in prayer for the Church. They told me that before any changes were made, such as modifying the habit (which they needed to do because of the heat there), they would pray and discuss the topic over a long period of time to let the Holy Spirit guide them. They don't rush into anything. They are also very close to their Archbishop, who seems to me to be a very holy man.

What impressed me most was that they have such respect for each other as individuals, even if they don't agree on particular issues or topics. They accept that each one of them is different and entitled to her own opinion, as long as all are keeping the Rule and Constititutions and being obedient to the superior. One of the main things they focus on is unity among the sisters and charity for each other. The Prioress is viewed as another sister, a senior sister certainly, and as the superior, one who has the final say, but she is as much a member of the community as anyone else, and does the dishes and cooks in the kitchen on her days, just like anyone else. I didn't see this same equality at the other communities I have been in. What I did see here was that the sisters all love each other very much. For me, I fell in love with them as individuals and was made to feel a part of the family from the very beginning, even though I knew I was just a visitor.

What I am trying to say is that when I first got there, I was judging them from my own mental prejudices as to how I thought a Carmelite community should be. But just like people, each religious community is an organic whole, individual and different, like each family. Sure, there might be some warning signs that one needs to be aware of, but now I would be very careful before rushing into any judgment until I had met with the members of the community and discussed my concerns with them. If there is nothing to hide, then they will be happy to answer those questions, even if they seem a little confronting at first.

That being said, I would also make sure that the community as a group is going to be obedient to the Holy Father in all matters, no matter what their personal views, and that if they admire certain people, like Joan C, how does this affect their general attitude about obedence to Rome? With the 'new age' stuff, depending on what it is, I would want to know if this is something practiced right across the community, or just by individuals. In my community, some of the sisters like to go to alternative medicine practitioners while others prefer a regular doctor - both are accommodated and each sister is free to choose.

If you like this community, meet with them and talk to them and express all your concerns. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this matter. I was a spiritual snob before, I admit it. That doesn't mean that I still don't prefer more traditional things, like the old habit for example, but I have enough common sense to know that if I do enter and am clothed, when given the choice (at clothing, a sister can choose the old one or the modified one), I will most likely choose the modified one. It isn't as 'romantic' or 'pretty' in my eyes, but I know full well that in that heat I would be changing the toque several times a day because of sweat! That sort of defeats the vow of poverty too with all that washing. In the Rule of St Albert (the Carmelite Rule), it says that 'common sense is the guide to the virtues'. If you can find a community that has common sense as well as love of God and neighbor (sister), then you are doing well. After all, it is going to become your 'home' and these sisters (wherever you end up) will become your 'family'.

Prayers for your discernment. :nunpray:

Edited - one thing I did think of was perhaps God moves some of us more traditional thinkers into convents to help them find their balance again, especially if they have become 'too liberal' (whatever that means). After all, one day, we too will have the vote in Chapter! :clapping:

Edited by nunsense
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Thank you for your input Nunsense. I feel like sometimes I am too rigid and am sometimes I am afraid of God actually calling me to a community like this. When visiting, the sisters are wonderful but I can't get past some of these things. They actually seem to be moving away from traditionalism. For example, they recently went from the Christian Prayer LOTH to an inclusive language LOTH book that changes most scripture and prayers to avoid male pronouns for God and others (ex mankind). It makes me feel very uncomfortable to see these things. Even the sight of glass chalices being used at Mass is enough to turn me off. I sometimes wish that I could look beyond these things but most times I feel its gotta be a traditional community or none at all.

Edited by franciscanlady
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[quote name='franciscanlady' timestamp='1284086781' post='2171208']
Thank you for your input Nunsense. I feel like sometimes I am too rigid and am sometimes I am afraid of God actually calling me to a community like this. When visiting, the sisters are wonderful but I can't get past some of these things. They actually seem to be moving away from traditionalism. For example, they recently went from the Christian Prayer LOTH to an inclusive language LOTH book that changes most scripture and prayers to avoid male pronouns for God and others (ex mankind). It makes me feel very uncomfortable to see these things. Even the sight of glass chalices being used at Mass is enough to turn me off. I sometimes wish that I could look behind these things but most times I feel its a traditional community or none at all.
[/quote]

Ah, now we are talking about specifics here, so I would agree with your reservations. I don't think a glass chalice is canonically approved, although I am not a Church Scholar so someone else can correct me on this.

As for the inclusive language, that is being done a lot in different places, and even in my community, they use inclusive langauge for the Intercessory Prayers at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. I don't like it, but at least they don't mess with the Gospel, and I have heard this done at some Masses as well!

I think that if this community does a lot of things that make you feel very incomfortable, perhaps this is the Holy Spirit trying to guide you elsewhere. St Ignatius does tell us to be aware of our affinities since this how God speaks to us.

Perhaps take this to God in prayer for awhile and the ask Him to guide you to the place He has prepared for you? It may not be exactly as you imagined it, but it shouldn't cause you a lot of heartache either.

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[quote name='franciscanlady' timestamp='1284086781' post='2171208']
Thank you for your input Nunsense. I feel like sometimes I am too rigid and am sometimes I am afraid of God actually calling me to a community like this. When visiting, the sisters are wonderful but I can't get past some of these things. They actually seem to be moving away from traditionalism. For example, they recently went from the Christian Prayer LOTH to an inclusive language LOTH book that changes most scripture and prayers to avoid male pronouns for God and others (ex mankind). It makes me feel very uncomfortable to see these things. Even the sight of glass chalices being used at Mass is enough to turn me off. I sometimes wish that I could look beyond these things but most times I feel its gotta be a traditional community or none at all.
[/quote]

Both of these reasons, IMHO, would be a cause for concern. Nunsense is right about the glass chalices. The GIRM states that all chalices must be made of precious metal. It cannot be made with any material that is considered "common place." If you want a reference point, this is a link:

[url="http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=60650"]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=60650[/url]

As for the LOTH, that would bother me too. It seems more and more women religious congregations are avoiding male pronouns because they believe that women should have more authority in the Church. I've heard it gone to the extreme by referring to God as a "she" instead of "he." It would bother me even more if the liturgy in the Mass was being changed to as it indicates a hostile attitude towards the Holy Mother Church's teaching which says that the words in the Mass formulas cannot be changed. I don't believe there is any regulation on the LOTH recitation, but I believe it is frowned upon.

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[quote name='MaterMisericordiae' timestamp='1284094249' post='2171249']
Both of these reasons, IMHO, would be a cause for concern. Nunsense is right about the glass chalices. The GIRM states that all chalices must be made of precious metal. It cannot be made with any material that is considered "common place." If you want a reference point, this is a link:

[url="http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=60650"]http://forums.cathol...ead.php?t=60650[/url]

As for the LOTH, that would bother me too. It seems more and more women religious congregations are avoiding male pronouns because they believe that women should have more authority in the Church. I've heard it gone to the extreme by referring to God as a "she" instead of "he." It would bother me even more if the liturgy in the Mass was being changed to as it indicates a hostile attitude towards the Holy Mother Church's teaching which says that the words in the Mass formulas cannot be changed. I don't believe there is any regulation on the LOTH recitation, but I believe it is frowned upon.
[/quote]

The inclusive wording is so awkward IMO and seems so pointless as well but I can tolerate it for the intercessional prayers if need be. I agree with you though, once anyone starts changing psalms or gospels etc, then it just gets ridiculous. And trying to call God by anything other than He almost seems like a slap in the face to Jesus. I would definitely wonder about communities that do this!




[quote name='franciscanlady' timestamp='1284094249' ] Thank you for your input Nunsense. I feel like sometimes I am too rigid and am sometimes I am afraid of God actually calling me to a community like this. When visiting, the sisters are wonderful but I can't get past some of these things. They actually seem to be moving away from traditionalism. For example, they recently went from the Christian Prayer LOTH to an inclusive language LOTH book that changes most scripture and prayers to avoid male pronouns for God and others (ex mankind). It makes me feel very uncomfortable to see these things. Even the sight of glass chalices being used at Mass is enough to turn me off. I sometimes wish that I could look beyond these things but most times I feel its gotta be a traditional community or none at all.
[/quote]

While there are dangers everywhere, I think that anyone discerning religious life in an active community in the US needs to be particularly careful. That is why there is an Apostolic Visitation going on after all. I belong to another online group that is mainly made up of sisters from active communities across the States who support the Visitation. Some of them are sad at the way their communities have gone, and are looking forward to being able to talk to the Visitators about this. It must be heartbreaking to belong to a community and that you don't quite fit in anymore because the leadership has moved in a direction that doesn't seem right. Religious are trained to obey their superiors, but if their superiors or leadership team has moved away from Rome, then what can the individual sister do? A lot of these sisters write on the forum that they feel unable to discuss this matter with their superiors as well.

What I am trying to say in my lengthy way, is that it is just wise to be prudent and careful, while also not judging prematurely. I think that things are definitely going to change a little over the next few years as the Visitation proceeds and the Vatican gets its report. Until then, it is certainly a good idea to try to find a place where you feel most 'at home' in terms of charism, spirituality and lifestyle (how the charism is expressed). Even though I have very few options myself (because of my age), I still felt it important that I discern very carefully before making a decision about something this important to how I live the rest of my life.

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Dear phriends, this is a very valuable thread that I was feeling missing in our VS. Thank you Lillabeth for starting it and for your candid disclosure. Thanks to all who have participated. I felt this kind of openness and maturity was missing in the "official culture" of our VS, which has a quick loud voice to state what is right and what is wrong around religious communities.

Things are not as white and black with God and with life as we would like them and as we found often in more traditional milieus.

I've learn A LOT from the posts here in Phatmas, and I have to recognize that your opinions, desires, and difficulties -as well as your humor and youthfulness- have disclosed a whole world of more traditional approach to religious life than I was giving myself permission to accept and live out after many years in several religious communities. I'm deeply grateful to you all for that. I don't read all the posts, not even half of them -I don't have the time or the inclination- but I follow closely when there is significance and depth -which is often- ... or pictures [img]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif[/img] .

I just want to express that I too have had to go through the process of purification that Nunsense is expressing so well, and I've had to do it in both directions (liberal and conservative) because both hold important values that complement each other. And like many of you I'm only beginning -again- and trying to learn more and more each day how to open myself to be led by the Spirit.

Thanks again [img]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/public/style_emoticons/default/blowkiss.gif[/img]

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[quote name='nunsense' timestamp='1284084659' post='2171197']
If you like this community, meet with them and talk to them and express all your concerns. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this matter. I was a spiritual snob before, I admit it. That doesn't mean that I still don't prefer more traditional things, like the old habit for example, but I have enough common sense to know that if I do enter and am clothed, when given the choice (at clothing, a sister can choose the old one or the modified one), I will most likely choose the modified one. It isn't as 'romantic' or 'pretty' in my eyes, but I know full well that in that heat I would be changing the toque several times a day because of sweat! That sort of defeats the vow of poverty too with all that washing. In the Rule of St Albert (the Carmelite Rule), it says that 'common sense is the guide to the virtues'. If you can find a community that has common sense as well as love of God and neighbor (sister), then you are doing well. After all, it is going to become your 'home' and these sisters (wherever you end up) will become your 'family'.

Prayers for your discernment. :nunpray:

Edited - one thing I did think of was perhaps God moves some of us more traditional thinkers into convents to help them find their balance again, especially if they have become 'too liberal' (whatever that means). After all, one day, we too will have the vote in Chapter! :clapping:
[/quote]

This whole post really struck me. Thank you.

The Church I was raised in and grew to love is probably more along the lines of the "pant-suit lapel-pin wearing, Joan Chittister-reading" end of things.

I think that being "the loyal opposition" is an incredibly important (though very, very, very difficult) role and isn't necessarily scandal.

That doesn't mean "anything goes." I had an initial meeting with a potential Spiritual Director once who remarked that if she hadn't been born Catholic she'd probably be Unitarian. I didn't go back. But I tend to feel more at home in the moderate-to-progressive wing.

I'm currently discerning the possibility of some sort of oblate/tertiary/associate sort of role. And I visited a potential community this past week. Really, I didn't think this was going to be anything close to a fit. They wear habits -- modified, practical habits. I remember a section in Dead Man Walking where Sister Helen Prejean talks about one of her sisters who was in a sewing store and felt a series of little tugs at her veil and turned around to find a very embarrassed woman who had mistaken her for a bolt of fabric!!! That wouldn't happen to this community. But they're definitely still habits. I don't mind the idea of (modified, practical) habits, but that does tend to correlate with a lot else. And they show up on lists of "traditional, orthodox orders to consider." This just is not going to be a fit.

And I have a couple specific issues that are a big deal and I am certain would lead me to being politely but promptly shown to the door. :banned:

BUT their apostolate is really interesting to me. And, well, the motherhouse is within walking distance. I really and truly should at least look at all options WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE. And they showed up on the "best convent food" thread so when they invited me over to lunch .... :eat:

I loved them. I met a bunch of sisters and then had a long talk with the Sister who is the main point person for the lay affiliates. I liked her a lot. I brought up my issue -- the one that I felt certain was going to show me to the door -- and it's not a problem. She kept talking about being open to the movement of the Spirit ...

It's a newer community so I didn't have a sense of their distinctive spirituality. (Not new new, but significantly newer than say, the Franciscans.) The more I see of it the more I like it.

So I'm nowhere nearly ready to start affiliate formation or anything, but I was so pleasantly surprised and I definitely want to continue the exploration. When I felt so confident that they'd be way too traditional for me.

So all this boundary-busting can happen in both directions.

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