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[quote name='nunsense' timestamp='1285288824' post='2175618']
Well, the thing is that I accept where He wants me to be, but I also think He may want me there for a reason. And He put me other places first to show me some things that I wouldn't have known otherwise.

Every Carmel I have entered has had His hand written all over it, so I don't think that I was following my will as much as trying to respond to what was placed in front of me. This is pretty much the same thing now. I am trying to respond as always to His invitation. I don't know what that means or what will happen, but I want to be like soft clay in His hands that He can shape according to His good will and pleasure.
[/quote]

A good answer, Annie. I meant no harm w/ my comment, btw.

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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 "

[quote name='Lilllabettt' timestamp='1286141551' post='2177678']
No ... a religious vocation is something I want very badly. I am simply afraid that I would not be strong enough to make the sacrifices involved. You do not want to go into a thing like that and then do it wrong.

Of course, if a person has a vocation, then God provides the grace. When they reach for it in the moment of need, it is there.
[/quote]

+JMJ+
Dear Lillabettt,
I apologize if this has already been covered in the thread, but it may be helpful to test your vocation by making an effort to do similar sacrifices now, while you are still in the world. This is what Saint Teresa of the Andes did before she entered. Even if it's just small things, like waking up at 5am, having a set prayer schedule, denying yourself something at every meal, giving up certain vanities and delights out of love for Our crucified Lord, and attending Adoration daily. These are what Saint Francis De Sales recommended to his spiritual children who were discerning religious life. These will help prepare you, and be a test of your vocation.

If I may also point out, the Church considers fasting to be the best external penance that anyone can perform, and thus it is best suited for the vocation of penance (religious liife). I would recommend you try fasting on bread and water for one day, and offer it in union with the cross.

Also, please bear in mind that even some saints feared suffering at first;

[indent][u][b]Diary of Saint Faustina[/b][/u]
[b]"At the beginning of my religious life, suffering and adversities frightened and disheartened me. [/b]So I prayed continuously, asking Jesus to strengthen me and to grant me the power of His Holy Spirit that I might carry out His holy will in all things, because from the beginning I have been aware of my weakness." [p. 56] She later writes; "From the moment I came to love suffering, it ceased to be a suffering for me. Suffering is the daily food of my soul."

[u][b]Our Lady to Ven. Mary of Agreda: [/b][/u]"Hence thou wilt understand the ignorance and error of mortals, and how far they drift from the way of light, when, as a rule, nearly all of them strive to avoid labor and suffering and are frightened by the royal and secure road of mortification and the Cross. Full of this deceitful ignorance, they do not only abhor resemblance to Christ's suffering and my own, and deprive themselves of the true and highest blessing of this life but they make their recovery impossible, since all of them are weak and afflicted by many sins, for which the only remedy is suffering."[/indent]


Please say a prayer for me, that I too may come to court suffering, as is required by all those who seek perfection (to the evangelical counsels), but do not find it precisely because they fear suffering.

Davide

Edited by Rising_Suns
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[quote name='southern california guy' timestamp='1286140510' post='2177674']
I know I probably don't belong on this board since I have never considered a religious vocation but since getting to know -- both in person and over the internet -- a number of people in religious vocations I've become curious about people who choose religious vocations.

You know Lilllabettt it sounds to me like you don't really want to do it and you're feeling guilty about it. If you joined anyway I wouldn't think that things would get any easier over time. Maybe you'd just regret it more and more that you made the decision to enter a religious vocation in the first place. Like a bad marriage where you hoped you'd learn to love the other person. Some things just aren't meant to be.

Do you have a tight time schedule? Can you enter a religious vocation at an older age? My opinion, for what it's worth, is to wait on making a decision about a religious vocation -- and just enjoy life instead. You can keep it open as an option. And perhaps in a couple of years, or ten years, or twenty years -- go for it! Of course there's always the risk that you might meet some guy and fall in love and get married instead, but perhaps that's a risk worth taking!
[/quote]
Not easy to admit at first read....and yet you are right, for many of us.

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Hmmmm. I can't think of too many spiritual directors who would encourage this approach to discernment. Not that you should rush into anything (that isn't good either), but that there is a real danger of complacency creeping in.

You can relax, sit back....and then realize that 10 years have gone by, and you are no closer to knowing your vocation in life or following the Lord. Not exactly something to aim for!

I'd say to keep praying, to strive to be holy, and, when the time is right, you'll know what to do. So, a more 'active' approach to waiting. CONSTANT VIGILANCE! :like:

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[quote name='southern california guy' timestamp='1286140510' post='2177674']
? Can you enter a religious vocation at an older age? My opinion, for what it's worth, is to wait on making a decision about a religious vocation -- and just enjoy life instead. You can keep it open as an option. And perhaps in a couple of years, or ten years, or twenty years -- go for it! Of course there's always the risk that you might meet some guy and fall in love and get married instead, but perhaps that's a risk worth taking!
[/quote]

Honestly, I wouldn't advice this to anyone, except maybe for particular cases.
I think just the opposite: if you feel that you can be called to religious life, the earliest you do discernment, the best you understand: if you realize that it is not meant to be, you have all the life in front of you, and the serenity in your heart.
Otherwise, you'll probably have regrets, or perhaps you'll break the heart of another person (and maybe also yours) for a choice that is not so easy and clear to be done as when you were younger...
Just my own personal perspective, of course.

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[quote name='organwerke' timestamp='1286744800' post='2178969']
Honestly, I wouldn't advice this to anyone, except maybe for particular cases.
I think just the opposite: if you feel that you can be called to religious life, the earliest you do discernment, the best you understand: if you realize that it is not meant to be, you have all the life in front of you, and the serenity in your heart.
Otherwise, you'll probably have regrets, or perhaps you'll break the heart of another person (and maybe also yours) for a choice that is not so easy and clear to be done as when you were younger...
Just my own personal perspective, of course.
[/quote]


Speaking as one who did wait too long - I agree with what you write. I should have followed up my vocation more persistently at a younger age. I think quite a few people here have tried religious life and then decided it wasn't their vocation. In most cases they say the experience has made them better spouses and parents. On the other hand, a person trying to enter later in life has far less choice available because of the age limits and may even end up 'missing the boat' entirely..

I say try it, and if it isn't the right choice, then praise God for the experience and move on.

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[quote name='Lilllabettt' timestamp='1284003600' post='2170687']
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!)
[/quote]
This question of discernment of charism speaks very much to me also.
I resonate deeply to the charism of (Venerable) Pere Lataste whose Dominican Sisters of Bethany (see Rumer Godden, "Five for Sorrow Ten for Joy") included women who had been released from prison. Sadly it seems that God is answering my call to this congregation....by shutting the congregation down, for the original group from France is dying out. True, there are other newer congregations who also identify with Pere Lataste, but they are less contemplative.
So now my discernment is doing a couple of things, not like you were asking:
More attracted to the contemplative than to the active apostolate;
need to consider not just the cloister but things like monastery oblates who make promises rather than profess vows. Which means, not strictly Dominican.
I especially love Lilllabettt's post above because it is so thoughtful and profound, and the charism question seems so very important.

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[quote name='Lilllabettt' timestamp='1286141551' post='2177678']
No ... a religious vocation is something I want very badly. I am simply afraid that I would not be strong enough to make the sacrifices involved. You do not want to go into a thing like that and then do it wrong.

Of course, if a person has a vocation, then God provides the grace. When they reach for it in the moment of need, it is there.
[/quote]
Don't let this thread die. It's one of the great ones.

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Well, I was able to re-visit one of the more "middle of the road" communities recently.

Over the course of the weekend, I realized that there was a lot of self-sacrifice and mortification going on, although very much under the radar.

I was talking to one of the postulants, and I asked her how she finds the schedule, if it is rigorous. I told her I remembered being sleepy a lot as a new Sister!

She confided in me that she falls asleep constantly. "But I've been making the concerted, deliberate effort to stay awake, and that's been helping." She told me that she thinks feeling tired is something the Lord is asking of her at this moment, and so she is happy to do it.

I was really touched by that. It is hard to be tired, but this teenaged girl was doing it for Jesus her Love.

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OOps... forgot to add. A vocation directress gave me a good definition of what a charism is.

She said a charism is the motivation, the spirit, the driving force that you have before you decide what you are going to do.

For example: The Little Sisters of the Poor have the charism of love for the elderly poor ... which they then turn into nursing or the other activities involved in caring for the elderly poor. The Sisters of Christian Charity have the charism of bringing love wherever it is not ... which they turn into teaching, nursing.

It's what you "have" before you "do."

I am not being very articulate right now, but her explanation really made sense to me.

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[quote name='Lilllabettt' timestamp='1292186716' post='2192368']
OOps... forgot to add. A vocation directress gave me a good definition of what a charism is.

She said a charism is the motivation, the spirit, the driving force that you have before you decide what you are going to do.

For example: The Little Sisters of the Poor have the charism of love for the elderly poor ... which they then turn into nursing or the other activities involved in caring for the elderly poor. The Sisters of Christian Charity have the charism of bringing love wherever it is not ... which they turn into teaching, nursing.

It's what you "have" before you "do."

I am not being very articulate right now, but her explanation really made sense to me.
[/quote]

Wow-- that's the best definition of a charism that I've heard!!! Thank you for sharing... it makes so much sense!

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[quote name='sistersintigo' timestamp='1287436507' post='2180493']
This question of discernment of charism speaks very much to me also.
I resonate deeply to the charism of (Venerable) Pere Lataste whose Dominican Sisters of Bethany (see Rumer Godden, "Five for Sorrow Ten for Joy") included women who had been released from prison. Sadly it seems that God is answering my call to this congregation....by shutting the congregation down, for the original group from France is dying out. True, there are other newer congregations who also identify with Pere Lataste, but they are less contemplative.
So now my discernment is doing a couple of things, not like you were asking:
More attracted to the contemplative than to the active apostolate;
need to consider not just the cloister but things like monastery oblates who make promises rather than profess vows. Which means, not strictly Dominican.
I especially love Lilllabettt's post above because it is so thoughtful and profound, and the charism question seems so very important.
[/quote]

Sis, Have you considered the Community of the Resurrection (mentioned on the thread about Transfiguration Monastery)? They were re-founded by Sisters of Bethany who returned from France. They have one member who worked in a nearby prison, although now she is too old. I am sure that they would resume their charism if they had sufficient sisterpower. These sisters are strongly contemplative, although not cloistered.

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[quote name='strgzr99' timestamp='1292196836' post='2192419']
Sis, Have you considered the Community of the Resurrection (mentioned on the thread about Transfiguration Monastery)? They were re-founded by Sisters of Bethany who returned from France. They have one member who worked in a nearby prison, although now she is too old. I am sure that they would resume their charism if they had sufficient sisterpower. These sisters are strongly contemplative, although not cloistered.
[/quote]
Not to hijack this thread, so this is a short reply. I discerned with them very briefly some six or seven years ago; all the old-timers in the household know me on a first-name basis.
I thought long and hard before regretfully declining to enter as an aspirant. They still mean a lot to me.
Lately my discernment is nudging me to stop being exclusively Dominican, and look at monastic life in general. So other orders of monasteries interest me as well. Thanks for asking.

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[quote name='Lilllabettt' timestamp='1284003600' post='2170687']
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!)
[/quote]

To bump this post up, Lillabettt, I don't think that you were 'wrong'. My impression is that you left your previous community because of illness, and that you would have stayed, given the option. One can do the right thing for the wrong reasons. You (speaking in general) can enter a community that attracts you, without examining the charism or the apostolate, just because you 'feel' that it is right, ...and stay. I think that it's a lot like falling in love. Although some things in love predict success in marriage, including background in common, for example, in fact a woman may meet a number of suitable men, common background, educational levels, values, religious background, and yet be attracted to only one, for reasons she can't quite explain. I think that this factor should be considered in a visiting community. If you are considering that community, it should 'feel' right. Similarly, I believe that the apostolates should also feel right. If the community has several apostolates and you do not feel able to do one of them, or don't want to do one of them, you should straighten out with the vocational director what obedience consists of in that community.

Sacrifice is inevitable in all human life. Sacrifice is the heart of marriage, and women may do more of it than men, although I am sure that some would debate this point ;). Women go through the discomfort of pregnancy, the rigors and pain of childbearing, and the prolonged sleepless nights of childrearing. They usually do most of the cleaning and cooking on top of their often full-time jobs. They often have to compromise on where they live and work, in order to accommodate the husband's job, or to find acceptable jobs for both of them. They commit their money to their families, denying themselves. They must keep their mounts shut and practice extreme patience at all times with children, husbands and inlaws. They will even sacrifice their food, giving the best morsels to their husbands and children. To avoid sacrifice, the easiest route is to remain single. Then you can develop your career, choose where to live, and save your money for exotic travel. I have personally known quite a few women, who, after an early failed marriage, never marry again, especially if they can support themselves, and are very happy with their decision.

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