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After a beautiful little post in the Raising Small Humans board, I thought I would start a thread here.

VS often changes due to people entering religious life, new people coming and going, etc. I know I don't post here [i]too[/i] often, but I thought it would be nice to have a place to "get to know" one another a bit and post our stories: how we grew up, where we came from on a spiritual level (i.e. a convert, cradle Catholic, "re-vert", etc.), what got us started discerning, where we are and where we plan to go with our discernment, etc. It's nice to get to know a little bit about one another, especially for those new people who don't know the "older" VS posters. Plus it would help put some other posts into a better context, knowing where people are coming from.

It doesn't have to be a lengthy description, but it might be nice to have a "short and sweet" introduction or summary of your vocational journey for others to draw inspiration from, and witness the beautiful, mighty, and miraculous workings of the Lord in each of our lives!

*REMEMBER: This is a public forum. Please don't post anything here that you would feel uncomfortable sharing, or that you would regret as "too much" personal information. The idea here is just to get a general idea of the discernment that each of us has gone through thus far in our lives, if you feel like sharing. Please do not share anything if you do not want to! It is completely optional, and you are more than welcome to keep your story as anonymous or as general as you would like.

I will post my story at some point soon (past my bedtime right now!), but I just thought I'd get this started to see if anyone would be interested!

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Here is my story, shared briefly and without many details. I have been considering life as a consecrated woman in a secular institute. This means that I will live by vows of poverty, chastity, and

After a beautiful little post in the Raising Small Humans board, I thought I would start a thread here. VS often changes due to people entering religious life, new people coming and going, etc. I k

This is probably the most sanitised version I can muster. I was born into a mixed marriage', my father being the catholic parent, but the love and support came from my mother. My father was a c

Great idea but I reinforce the warning to be careful what you reveal about yourself personally, such as names, places, etc. :nono:

I have had a 'stalker' who actually interfered with my life by contacting the Prioress of a community where I was gonig to visit, even though this person and I had never met and I had never asked her to do such a thing. She knew me from phatmass and an exchange of emails.

This is a 'public' forum - remember that.

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[quote name='nunsense' timestamp='1324179813' post='2353076']
Great idea but I reinforce the warning to be careful what you reveal about yourself personally, such as names, places, etc. :nono:

I have had a 'stalker' who actually interfered with my life by contacting the Prioress of a community where I was gonig to visit, even though this person and I had never met and I had never asked her to do such a thing. She knew me from phatmass and an exchange of emails.

This is a 'public' forum - remember that.
[/quote]

That person is a jerk....

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[quote name='CherieMadame' timestamp='1324180374' post='2353088']
Maybe it's not such a good idea, then. I was simply thinking in a general way, but I understand that people can be over-eager and share too much by accident.

Mods, feel free to delete this.
[/quote]

Cherie - I don't think it's a bad idea at all. I just wanted people to be careful about revealing identifying information about themselves. For example, I have posted that I am discerning with a Benedictine community but not their name. People can guess, but they might be wrong. Once I know the community personally, then if someone contacts them about me the superior will already know me and will know that I haven't authorised anyone to speak on my behalf.

So, just no really identifying stuff. Many young people today don't seem to care about this anyway and reveal a lot on their blogs, but I just thought it would be good to point out that all of the Internet is public and needs a little caution when posting these days.

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[quote name='nunsense' timestamp='1324180756' post='2353095']
Cherie - I don't think it's a bad idea at all. I just wanted people to be careful about revealing identifying information about themselves. For example, I have posted that I am discerning with a Benedictine community but not their name. People can guess, but they might be wrong. Once I know the community personally, then if someone contacts them about me the superior will already know me and will know that I haven't authorised anyone to speak on my behalf.

So, just no really identifying stuff. Many young people today don't seem to care about this anyway and reveal a lot on their blogs, but I just thought it would be good to point out that all of the Internet is public and needs a little caution when posting these days.
[/quote]

You are smart..and yes kids these days dont really care!

But I do though.....

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Well, not being a Catholic helps here, since I am not discerning anywhere!

By now it ought to be obvious I'm Jewish. But there's a bit of backstory, which may help to explain why I joined VS.

My father's family left England before the American Revolution and moved to the Colonies, so his side of the family is officially Protestant, although I don't think anyone is devout. My father, in particular, was in India and China in WWII and became very interested in comparative religion, believing in none, he would say, it behoved him to know as much as possible about all of them. He categorized himself as an agnostic, saying that he "didn't have enough faith" to be an atheist.

My mother was the youngest born to a family of Russian Jews who fled, as many did, in 1905, to the Lower East Side of NYC. She was the only one born in the US, and between the struggle just to live, and the fact that back then religious education [beyond learning about keeping a kosher home and certain other laws which pertained to women] for girls was not usually undertaken. There was huge pressure to assimilate, and to close the door on the shtetl [ghetto] life of Eastern Europe and become "real Americans". My father thought my mother "exotic", and she thought him a very model of an "American".

Until I was 7, I was, religiously, nothing. We had no Christian or Jewish observance in our home; apart from the "American" customs of a Christmas tree and Easter eggs. Then my parents had a crisis in their marriage; Mother decided this was Divine punishment for "marrying out", and hastily informed me I was Jewish [the mother's religion is the determining factor in Jewishness] and packed me off to both the synagogue and "Hebrew school", which consisted of twice weekly lessons after school and on Sunday mornings.

I loathed it, and fought my teacher in every way I could. He was a very intelligent man, however, and soon realized I was deeply interested in history and "grabbed" me through books on Jewish history. But after 4 years, after a very basic grounding in Hebrew [of a sort sufficient to read the prayers, which really has a limited vocabulary], and requirements for observance, I decided it had no meaning for me, and stopped going.

About a year after that, Leon Uris' book, Exodus, came out, and I became a fervent Zionist almost overnight, to the extreme boredom of everyone around me. Ultimately, the reason I moved to Israel was because of the national and historical aspects of returning to our ancestral homeland rather than the religious aspects [although they are intertwined]. In the meantime, before I left the US, I became a nurse and a midwife, and attended a synagogue in NY which had a rabbi who asked extremely pertinent questions [he left finding the answers mainly to the congregation]. Slowly, slowly, under his tutelage, I became more observant. Everything was a struggle--for instance, I [i]really [/i]like non-kosher food. Does God really want me to suffer by insisting I deprive myself of what I like to eat? Is something really a mitzvah [commandment or good deed, depending on context] if I hate doing it? Shouldn't I want and like to do it if I believe that by doing it I am honoring God's plan for me? If I don't keep kosher, but eat a kosher meal when flying El Al [all the catering on the airline is kosher], do I get some kind of Brownie points in Heaven for the unintentional performance of a mitzvah? I like doing certain hobbies, etc. on the Sabbath precisely because I can't do them on weekdays, however, these are prohibited actions on the Sabbath. Which is the more important: the spirit of the differentiation of the Sabbath [holy space] from the weekday [profane space], or the letter of the Law which tells you exactly what to refrain from doing, even if it means twiddling your thumbs and being discontented?

OK, what does all this have to do with VS, I hear you ask. There are huge theological differences between Christianity and Judaism, and not just about who and/or what Jesus is or is not. The philosophical bases are different. Christianity [all of it] is a belief system, in which good works are definitely commended but ultimately it is belief that saves. Judaism is an action system, in which one's actions [all of them] are meant to conform to a Divine plan, and so one's entire life becomes an act of worship. In effect, every observant Jew lives a Holy Rule and all are Religious. Sound somewhat familiar? We don't retire from the world, there are no monasteries or convents, but for an observant Jew, literally everything he does from waking up until falling asleep is part of a Great Design, a prayer both verbal and non-verbal, as it were. We don't do it with one eye on Heaven, thinking about ultimate salvation, as Christians do. Living [i]this[/i] life correctly is the important thing. There is an afterlife, but it is not stressed in Judaism in the way Christians do. In this way, we are a "nation of priests" although most Jews do not belong to the priestly caste [btw, all Jews know whether they are Cohanim -- priests, Levites --traditionally the Temple assistants to the priests, or "Israel", from which Israel's monarchy derived. My husband is "Israel", I am a Levite].

This is why I am interested in the Christian, and specifically the Catholic approach to the desire for a closer relationship with God. For you, it requires a particular committment of a specific nature [of course, I know that there are religious requirements for the married life, too, but married folk don't keep a Holy Rule as such]. Marriage is regarded as another vocation entirely from the life devoted to religion. We regard marriage as the normal state -- indeed, because of the commandment to reproduce and multiply, until the last couple of generations there were virtually no Jewish single adults, and today, in religious communities, there still aren't. There is no withdrawal from the world--you must live the Jewish life here and now, in all its aspects. There is a huge body of literature which expands on basic principles which tells you exactly how you must do this. And lastly, each person is responsible for his or her acts. We do not have a tradition of suffering as a means of expiating the sins of others. Neither do we have any official means of absolution, which acts as a great deterrent to "wrong" actions, I can tell you. When you have to explain yourself directly to God as to why you behaved in a certain fashion, and HE decides the judgment, it is rather intimidating! [The priestly caste today has almost no official functions, since we don't have the Temple. Their main job, when it stood, was to offer the sacrifices] Rabbis can explain to you how you should conduct yourself in a particular situation, and exhort you to do it, but [with the exception of the Hassidim, which is another story] they have no special power nor are they intermediaries with God.

Sorry for being so longwinded. But, in short, I find your way of trying for a closer relationship with God very fascinating, because of the parallels with ours. I have learned a lot here, and hope to continue doing so.

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wow Antigonos - that was fascinating. I have had several Jewish friends, some more observant, some less so, and even lived with an honorary 'auntie' who had been in a concentration camp (she spoke mostly Polish but she also spoke German and I spoke pigeon German so we managed). I love the Jewish faith and even spent time with Rosalind Moss (now Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God), who was raised in a Jewish family, then converted to Evangelical Christianity and then to Catholicism, and I learned a deep respect for the Jewish faith from her (she still loves her heritage, although she is now a Catholic, and her brother is president of the American Hebrew Catholic Assoc).

Anyway, I thank you for sharing all that with us. It is fascinating the way you describe living Jewish life as similar to living religious life, I never thought about it like that before. It is also most generous of you to share so much with us here. I am sure we can also learn much from you about trying to keep God first in everything we do in our lives. :) Shalom.

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I'm afraid I won't be posting my bio to this thread. About 13 years ago, I had my identity (name, degrees, address, phone) "borrowed" without my permission or knowledge by a woman who was pursuing ordination in the Independent/Old Catholic Church. It has caused me a lot of grief over the years as people would question me about my intentions and I'd have to go into the long explanation of what happened. Needless to say I was dumbfounded that anyone would do that. Identity theft for financial reasons, well yes it happens. But identity theft to pursue an invalid ordination, mondo bizzarro!
So...I would caution you to be very careful what you make public. Not to say anyone on VS would ever do something like that, but it happened on a women's theology internet list I once belonged to.

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Here is my story, shared briefly and without many details.

I have been considering life as a consecrated woman in a secular institute. This means that I will live by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and in accordance with a distinct spirituality, but not in a convent or a monastery. I will continue to live in my own house and work at an ordinary job.

It took me a while to arrive at the realisation that this is right for me. For most of my life I have wanted desperately to be a religious sister - ever since I was a little girl seeing nuns for the first time. A university chaplain who knew me well suggested single life to me when I was twenty-one, but the idea repulsed me. It seemed so lonely. It also didn't seem romantic enough. And it certainly didn't sit well with my sense of pride. No beautiful habit to identify me as belonging to God? I wanted that.

Fortunately I had enough self-awareness to see that these wishes were tainted by personal insecurities and perhaps a little selfishness. As I grew and matured, I looked into consecrated single life seriously and felt at home with what I found. There is solitude for silent prayer and devotion. There is the ability to keep an open house for anyone who needs you, at any time. Most of all, there is a true 'Nazareth spirituality' - a hidden life. Jesus lived in Nazareth in quiet obscurity for thirty years. Nicodemus, on hearing where Jesus was from, said, "Nazareth? Can anything good come out of that place?" In the time of Christ it wasn't anything important or special, perhaps barely worth a dot on the map. But it was the place where Jesus grew up, played in the streets, attended synagogue, mastered a trade, prepared for his three years of ministry. As I grew a bit older, and my understanding of my faith deepened, I began to feel a gentle pull to that same hidden life.

I did some research into secular institutes and found two that I wanted to explore further. One was a Carmelite institute, very faithful to the spirit of Carmel. (Members even keep to the two hours of silent mental prayer each day, in addition to daily Mass and Divine Office.) The other was founded in the spirit of Blessed Charles de Foucauld.

At first I was convinced that the Carmelite institute would be the right place for me, as I have felt an affinity for Carmelite spirituality for a long time - the eremiticism, the silence, the simplicity. I also have great friends in many of the Carmelite saints. But then I made a visit to the Little Sisters of Jesus, a community of nuns who are contemplative but not cloistered. Their charism is inspired by the life of Brother Charles de Foucauld, and the Foucauldian secular institute is allied to them. The bishop who oversaw the foundation of their community described the Foucauldian spirituality as a wedding between the spirit of the Carmelites and the charity of the Daughters of St Vincent de Paul. I think he is right.

It feels like home. I am ready to apply to begin my process of formation. It is unusually long, as members are not permitted to make their final vows before they turn thirty-five. That's ten years away in my case. But I'm in no rush. :) It will be a beautiful journey.

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[quote name='Francis Clare' timestamp='1324206801' post='2353268']
I'm afraid I won't be posting my bio to this thread. About 13 years ago, I had my identity (name, degrees, address, phone) "borrowed" without my permission or knowledge by a woman who was pursuing ordination in the Independent/Old Catholic Church. It has caused me a lot of grief over the years as people would question me about my intentions and I'd have to go into the long explanation of what happened. Needless to say I was dumbfounded that anyone would do that. Identity theft for financial reasons, well yes it happens. But identity theft to pursue an invalid ordination, mondo bizzarro!
So...I would caution you to be very careful what you make public. Not to say anyone on VS would ever do something like that, but it happened on a women's theology internet list I once belonged to.
[/quote]

Certainly no one should reveal personal details such as name, places, etc that would identify someone. But if no identifying information is given, I think that many personal storied can be very inspirational to others. But they should be done only by those who feel they can do so without providing details that would enable another to identify them.

I too have experienced identity theft, but for a financial gain, and I was able to identify and stop this almost immediately - I was very fortunate.

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I stumbled onto Phatmass a number of years ago; originally I was in search of an online support group for parents of military servicemen/women. I looked at VS mostly out of curiosity and became interested in reading vocation stories. I looked into religious life seriously in my high school days (early 1970's), enough so that I lived in high school aspirancy program with an active community for a couple of years. While a religious vocation was ultimately not for me, I am still guided by the principles of living simply and trying to be of service when and wherever. This forum allows me to lend support to vocations, and I've had the pleasure of doing that in a direct way for some former phatmassers. I'm a regular contributor to the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations as well. Benedictine spirituality appeals to me, but I'm not an oblate or anything like that.

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Most of my story is told here [url="http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/113399-notting-hill/"]http://www.phatmass....9-notting-hill/[/url] in a fair bit of detail. Personally, I am completely open and believe in complete openess so there is little you will not find there, and if there is it is by chance rather than secrecy. I have not always been this way, but rather it is a grace I have been given by God and something I feel sure He has used for His own will. I recognised the 'risks' but believe this is a risk I not only am willing but obliged to take. I have been supremely humbled by some of the PMs I have been sent by people telling me how my journey, and my honesty about it, has helped them. Speaking about this is, I believe, also part of my journey as I am by nature very private and so revealing myself 'warts and all' is not 100% natural for me, however I would never consider being less than 100% open with a community I was seriously discerning with and as such if anyone did choose to 'stir it' with a community, they would not have anything to tell that I had not already told them!

In very brief summary, I was brought up in a strict protestant denomination and chose to be baptised at 18 by a baptist minister, although I never became a baptist myself (my former denomination does not baptise at all). At 21 I began a whilwind tour of other churches as I knew I was not where I should be, and was recieved into the Church at 22.

From about age 12 I had a sense of vocation, and this was recognised by others from age 14 when I began leading services and preaching in my then church. Yet in spite of significant encouragement, I was sure that fulltime ministry there was not my calling. I believed I had found my vocation when, at 25, I was in a serious relationship and about to get engaged to a good Christian man, but God (with His sense of humour) decided that was the time to tell me He wanted to make me exclusively His. A painful breakup followed (because I love this man dearly and knew I was hurting him badly) and I began discerning religious life.

In 2008, at 28, I entered Quidenham Carmel and was very, very happy. From the moment I entered I was sure of my calling, and have never doubted it since. Sadly a difficult childhood (severely mentally ill mother who I cared for for nearly 20yrs) caught up with me, and the NM there decided she could not support me while I had counselling to work things out, so was sent away at extremely short notice, leading me into the darkest, hardest time of my whole life, but also a time where I know I have grown and matured at a rate of knots - I had not been an immature 28/29yr old, but I have aged at least 10yrs in the past 2.

In spite of their repeated assurances that they wanted me back, just not yet, I gradually became aware that Q would never really be able to accept me as I now am and would always judge me on who and how I had been (I do not hold this against them, but also do not consider it would be fair to put myself back into a situation where I knew that would be the case) and so we ended all discernment ther around April this year. Shortly afterwards I got back in tough with Notting Hill, where I had visited in February, and have since had fairly smooth, easy discernment there. A recent months live-in went extremely well and I am entering on one of my favourite feasts - Baptism of the Lord, 9th Jan 2012.

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