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Antigonos,

May, I correct a few misconceptions in your post. Catholicism is a Both/And, not and either/or. Works are simply faith in action. We do good with the help of God. The sacraments give us the grace necessary to live good lives, but we have to be open to receiving them. Marriage for instance is a sacrament, and if lived well can save us too.

We don't separate faith from works like the Protestants do. This was one of the major questions of the reformation. How are we saved? The reformers argued that it was through faith alone, and that they did not need anything else such as sacraments, church etc, because these were not necessary.

Assurance of eternal salvation, makes people lazy and stop striving. IMO.

Religious life is not a retreat from the world. It's being stripped of everything, so we can only depend on God. It takes a lot of trust an faith to do this, and there has to be a God to make this possible.

Religious life also points to the world to come, or to heaven. It tells us there is a reality beyond this world. In heaven we will all be married to God. Marriage is a sign that points to the marriage of the Lamb to come.

You could say that religious skip the earthy sign for the heavenly one, or choose to start heaven on earth.

Religious life takes the same amount of commitment and work as a marriage.

Nuns are called brides of Christ. The church as a whole is a bride of Christ, but some people make this invisible reality visible.

In the same way, we are all priests, but there is also a ministerial priesthood, that makes this spiritual reality visible.

Edited by savvy
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I was baptized Catholic but my family did not practice. My sister began being more religious in high school, at which point she floated the idea that she might become a nun. I vividly remember telling her "why on earth would you do something like that. that is nuts."
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Thus began the great depression, in which I cried every day for a year. I worked as a full-time nanny, and eventually went back to school. I got sicker and sicker, and nothing more could be done, and so I had various amputations. Instead of a colon I have a poo bag; it used to be on the outside but is now on the insides. I love this because it has given me my life back, now I can live as a more or less normal person. I was also able to graduate college last year. Now I work as a teacher. Currently adrift in the world, waiting for the Lord.

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[quote name='savvy' timestamp='1324232520' post='2353328']
Antigonos,

[i]May, I correct a few misconceptions in your post. Catholicism is a Both/And, not and either/or. Works are simply faith in action. We do good with the help of God. The sacraments give us the grace necessary to live good lives, but we have to be open to receiving them. Marriage for instance is a sacrament, and if lived well can save us too.[/i]

I never wrote that Catholicism is exclusively a belief system, because it obviously is not. But when you compare it to Halachic Judaism, it is very different. An Orthodox Jew not only has special very complex dietary requirements, he is commanded to pray three times a day plus on a number of other daily occasions [in fact, there are blessings to be recited on all occasions**], does not wear clothing made from certain combinations of fibers, separates himself from bodily contact with his wife at certain times, wears certain ritual garments, and puts on phylacteries and puts mezuzot* on his doors--heck, the list is almost endless. There are particular religious requirements for women, such as the monthly immersion in a ritual bath at the conclusion of their menses. Very much like the horarium of a convent or monastery. We don't have sacraments in the Christian sense at all, because we don't have a priesthood with special powers. In fact, the main influence that Judaism has had on Christianity, all forms of it, has been the ethical and moral side, what Judaism calls the "commandments between man and man" [Honoring parents, for example, or giving to charity]. These are regarded as the equal of the commandments between man and God.

[i]We don't separate faith from works like the Protestants do. This was one of the major questions of the reformation. How are we saved? The reformers argued that it was through faith alone, and that they did not need anything else such as sacraments, church etc, because these were not necessary.

Assurance of eternal salvation, makes people lazy and stop striving. IMO.[/i]

I'm not keen to debate theology, if you will excuse me. However, a priori, as I understand it, a Christian must believe in the divinity of Jesus.

[i]Religious life is not a retreat from the world. It's being stripped of everything, so we can only depend on God. It takes a lot of trust an faith to do this, and there has to be a God to make this possible.[/i]


To the extent that it is physically lived within a special community, and the members take particular vows, I think it is separated from ordinary life. Of course there are devout individuals who do not accept what a Jew would call "the yoke of the commandments" [which is incumbent on all adult Jews] but who frequently partake of the Sacrament, pray, etc. Yet the vowed religious do consist of a special group, with special rules, not required for the laity.

[i]Religious life also points to the world to come, or to heaven. It tells us there is a reality beyond this world. In heaven we will all be married to God. Marriage is a sign that points to the marriage of the Lamb to come.[/i]

This is one of the theological differences between us. While the religious Jew does believe in Heaven, it is a very different Heaven than the Christian one. An old Jewish joke is that a very eminent rabbi had a dream in which he was given a guided tour of Heaven by one of the angels, and to his surprise it looked just like a yeshiva [an institution of Jewish learning]. The angel, seeing this, chided the rabbi: "You think these rabbis sitting and learning Torah are in Heaven, but really it is that Heaven is in the Sages". We cannot conceive of being "married to God", btw.


[i]You could say that religious skip the earthy sign for the heavenly one, or choose to start heaven on earth.[/i]




[i]And we would say not to confuse the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly one. <g> See DEuteronomy 30, 11-17, and verse 19.
[for some reason I can't de-italicize this sentence][/i]


[i]Religious life takes the same amount of commitment and work as a marriage.[/i]


[/quote]

Oh definitely. No argument there. We just don't make a distinction between religious and secular life, or rather, the Orthodox and the ultra-Orthodox don't.

My point is that, historically, the earliest Christian religious communities modeled a considerable amount of their method on a pre-existing one: that of the way Jews lived their daily lives. Just as early Christians who felt that they were being called to a specially intense form of religious devotion would separate themselves from the laity, many Jewish observances were designed to create a definite distance between Jews and gentiles, in order that the Jews would keep their national identity by preserving a unique religious identity.

*The simple act of putting a scroll containing certain Biblical verses into a small cylindrical case and attaching it to a doorpost has a plethora of regulations and sub-regulations concerning every aspect of both the mezuzah,what it contains and its construction, its placement, and how often the integrity of the scroll must be checked, which doors it must be on, prayers to be said on its installation, etc. Literally everything in Jewish life is defined in extremely minute detail like this. Paul's message to the earliest Christians was that this level of observance was irrelevant if one had the right beliefs and it was definitely a contributing factor to the rupture between those Jews who had formed the earliest community and "newer" Christians [not the only factor, btw]. But let's leave that for another time and place; I don't think it is relevant to VS.

**A Jewish joke: in the ghettos of Eastern Europe, it was common for a yeshiva student to be hosted by a family for meals that he was too poor to afford otherwise. One such student found himself served potatoes day after day by a rather miserly man who could have served more nutritious meal. Before one such meal, thinking to show off his "prodigy" to other guests, he asked the student to make the proper blessing before beginning to eat. The student demurred, saying he didn't know the right blessing. "How can that be?" the householder said, surprised. "Even I, who am not an educated man know that the blessing is for that which comes out of the ground". "Yes," retorted the student, "but what do I say when these potatoes are coming out of my ears?" There are blessings for using the bathroom, even. It is, after all, something to be grateful for when one isn't constipated.

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[size=5][b]First: Off-topic: [/b][/size]

[quote name='savvy' timestamp='1324232520' post='2353328']
We don't separate faith from works like the Protestants do. This was one of the major questions of the reformation. How are we saved? The reformers argued that it was through faith alone, and that they did not need anything else such as sacraments, church etc, because these were not necessary.

Assurance of eternal salvation, makes people lazy and stop striving. IMO.

[/quote]

Sorry, I do not mean to turn this into a comparative study of Judaism and Catholicism and Protestantism, but there are some misconceptions in this post to which I as a lutheran theologian feel obliged to react.

First it is very difficult to talk about "the protestants", but since you mentioned the Reformation I think it is easiest to start out with the "historical" protestant denominations such as the Lutherans or Reformed. Of course there are a lot of "free churches" nowadays, so it is very difficult to have "the protestant" version of something...

[b][u]1) Saved by faith alone, not through good deeds. [/u][/b]
Yes, this is true. Actually the correct formula is[i] sola fide sola gratia proper Christum[/i] (through faith alone, grace alone, through Christ). The human being is being "captured" by sin in such a deep way that one cannot perform good deeds through ones fallen nature. It is only through the grace of God that one can perform good deeds. They[u][b] follow after[/b][/u] being saved sola fide.
But that does not mean that Luther does not value good deeds. He says they must come [i]sponte et hilariter [/i](spontaneous and happily) as a result of the justification that happened to the human being sola fide sola gratia propter Christum.

[u][b]2) The role of the church and the sacraments[/b][/u]
This is another popular misconception, that a protestant does not need the church or the sacraments, but "just faith".
It is true that for us that faith saves, not "the Church".
[b][u]But:[/u][/b]The question is: How does one come to believe? One has to hear the Word of God, both in reading, predication and the same word of God in the sacraments.
Follwing I put an excerpt of the CA Number 5 [size=2](the Confessio Augustana is somewhat the "Basic" of many Churches of the Reformation, here is a link to the English/Latin Version: [url="http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds3.iii.ii.html"]http://www.ccel.org/...ds3.iii.ii.html[/url])[/size] talking about why ministry and sacraments ARE instituted! And they are institued by the Holy Spirit. They have no "value" in themselves though. Their value is to faciliate the encounter with Christ. But therefore the Church and in the Church the ministry, the sacraments and predication is needed. They are neccessary for the encounter with Christ!

[font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
[i]Ut hanc fidem consequamur, institutum st ministerium docendi Evangelii et porrigendi Sacramenta[/i][size=1].[/size]
[i]Nam per verbum et Sacramenta, tanquam per instrumenta, donatur Spiritus Sanctus, qui fidem efficit, ubi et quando visum est Deo, in iis, qui audiunt Evangelium, scilicet, quod Deus non propter nostra merita, sed propter Christum justificet hos, qui credunt, se propter Christum in gratiam recipi[/i]. [/font]
[font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
For the obtaining of this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted.
For by the Word and Sacraments, as by instruments, the Holy Spirit is given: who worketh faith, where and when it pleaseth God, in those that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our merit's sake, but for Christ's sake, doth justify those who believe that they for Christ's sake are received into favor. [/font]

This is really just a very short attempt to explain.... And sometimes I do not know the proper English terms... But if you look at the link I put, there is the English-Latin version of it (the Latin is far more clear) if one wants to read up a summary of what many Protestants believe.

-------------------------------------------------

[size=5][b]And back to the topic: [/b][/size]

Just a little bit about "my story". I love being on phatmass, reading more than posting. I have definetly learned a lot from you all and from your journeys and keep you in my prayers. I have decerned religious life myself and will enter a community soon and then will no longer have access to phatmass. I have not and will not reveil which community it is out of privacy.

It may be a less known fact that there are protestant communities. It may be surprising, because Luther himself was a monk and he got married and had children and so on.... But there are protestant communities. Some more contemplative, some more active. Some wear a habit, some not. Some are made of woman and men, others just off woman / or just men.

We are all on our way of deeper union with Christ. Being Jewish, Catholic or Protestant. I am happy about the diversity here on phatmass.
In my humble opinion consecrated life is something that unites us on a very deep level. I may not be able to go to the Eucharist with you. And you not with my. But when - God willing - one day I make my profession, I offer myself completly to Christ just as a Catholic sister does as well. This is a ecumenical communion that no one can take away.

I have lived with Catholic sisters. I have very deer catholic friends. I respect them and I learned a lot from them. But still, my church is "my home" and I am very happy to be able to walk this way of consecration in my tradition.

Edited by juchu
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[quote]Oh definitely. No argument there. We just don't make a distinction between religious and secular life, or rather, the Orthodox and the ultra-Orthodox don't.

My point is that, historically, the earliest Christian religious communities modeled a considerable amount of their method on a pre-existing one: that of the way Jews lived their daily lives. Just as early Christians who felt that they were being called to a specially intense form of religious devotion would separate themselves from the laity, many Jewish observances were designed to create a definite distance between Jews and gentiles, in order that the Jews would keep their national identity by preserving a unique religious identity.[/quote]

Thanks for clarifying your views. My point was that religious life and marriage, single life, is supposed to compliment each other and not oppose it. It's harder to understand this today, since things are so secular, and nothing has a deeper meaning that "just what feels good"

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[quote]In my humble opinion consecrated life is something that unites us on a very deep level. I may not be able to go to the Eucharist with you. And you not with my. But when - God willing - one day I make my profession, I offer myself completly to Christ just as a Catholic sister does as well. This is a ecumenical communion that no one can take away.[/quote]

Thanks for sharing this with us and for clarifying my misconceptions. It's good to have you as well as Antigonos here. I frankly had no idea Protestants had these things too.

I do agree that consecrated life or the desire for it unites us here, because this is an affair of the heart, that a lot of people do not understand. We have an Orthodox friend here too.

Edited by savvy
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[quote name='faithcecelia' timestamp='1324224498' post='2353308']
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.
[/quote]

faith, it was great for you to post your story again. I guess I should bring mine over from the other thread as well to make things easier for others to see.

One point I meant to bring up from your post is this...
"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!"

I would never expect anyone to be less than completely open and honest with a community they were discerning with. My point about being private is that there are people who are not emotionally or mentally balanced on the Internet. One such person contacted the superior of a community I had mentioned (I had previously had no contact with this community) and she told them she was my spiritual director and wanted them to consider me as a vocation with them. She made up things about me to convince them I belonged there and she had the superior convinced (I don't know how) that it was God's will that I enter there, so the the superior told her to have me phone them and arrange a visit. All this was done without my knowledge and consent, just from me briefly mentioning that I might be interested in this community online. She then phoned me and said that the superior wanted me to call her. It was all a very weird experience for me and when I tried to explain to this person how wrong it all was, she becamse angry and hostile and threatening. I later got to know the superior and community and I am sure that one of the reasons this was a not a good fit was because our beginning was all based on one crazy woman's lies and manipulations.

This time, I am waiting to disclose the community until I come to know them and the superior well enough that if someone did contact them about me, they would already know who I am and what my story is - the real story. When I get back from my visit will be time enough. So I again just caution others, especially young people, to be careful online. Even honest people can get burned.

Now I will go and see if I can find my story again on the other thread and post it here.



so, yes, be open and honest (especially with the communities you intend to visit) but it is simply not necessary for a person to explain everything about themselves in detail online. Things worked out well for you, that's wonderful, but it is not always the case.

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Okay found it. I forgot that the other forum is for adults only, so it's good I post here as well for those who dont' go over there.

---------------------------------
Did I discern religious life before marriage? Well, yes, and no. I discerned religious life before and after marriage! :P

I wanted to be a nun before I became a Catholic and that's basically why I became Catholic in the first place, because I was working with Mother Teresa's nuns and wanted to join them but they told me I had to be Catholic first! I started religious instruction and a year or so later I was baptised but I was in California by that time and there were no MCs there so I started looking at other convents, but they all seemed to be going through some post Vat 2 crisis with changing habits and more freedom, etc, and I was not attracted to any of the communities I visited. I had never heard of contemplatives or cloistered nun so gave up my discernment. I also basically stopped being a practising Catholic for many years and married a non-Catholic who was anti-children and who had a past that he forgot to tell me about until after the marriage. The marriage lasted less than a year and I got a divorce.

I then went on to foster children and finally became an adoptive parent as well. My daughter returned me to the faith when she told me she wanted to become a Catholic, and I felt I should set her a good example, so I enrolled her in Catholic school and we became very active in our parish.

It wasn't until she grew up and left home that the desire to be a nun returned so I found a spiritual director and he told me he thought I was a contemplative and should check out cloistered nuns this time. I spoke with an Archbishop who told me that my marriage had been invalid since it had been with a non-Catholic and outside the Church so he gave me a Decree of Nullity (with very little paperwork on my part).

My spiritual director suggested I check out Benedictines (being one himself) but I had a desire for Carmel so tried to be a Carmelite nun four times. I wanted to give up and thought that I had no real vocation but another spiritual director (also a Benedictine) disagreed and told me I had been trying in the wrong place and recommended I try again - with the Benedictines. I am going to the US in January to spend 2-3 weeks with a cloistered Benedictine community there.

So, yes, I discerned RL before and after my marriage :P

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[quote]I am cradle Catholic and a revert![/quote]

Me too. When I came back to the practise of the faith, I felt called to do more for God and for others. I joined a youth ministry, volunteered at church, but the more I did these things, the more I felt called to do more. A lot happened in between and it finally dawned on me that God was calling me to the religious life.

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[quote]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.[/quote]

Beatitude, I really admire people who can do this. It's a lot harder to take the same vows and live on your own. In a community, you have people to keep you accountable.

I am happier being with like-minded people, but I do admire those who choose to be consecrated seculars.

Edited by savvy
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Well...I will start at the beginning....My parents met each other but they had kids from first marriages (My Dad had 2 boys and my Mom had 2 girls and 2 boys)....well as you would figure it out..both of my parents fell in love with each other, etc. Then I was conceived in my mother's womb then after 9 months there was no more room left so I had to leave and that is how I was born! My Dad was Catholic and my Mom wasn't..but she entered the church after I was baptised....


I am going to skip some years until I made my first Holy Communion at the age of 7 or 8....I forgot how old I was but that doesn't really matter. I fell in love with Jesus and I devoured the Eucharist. I just couldn't get enough of Him! Actually from that point on to about the age of 12.....I played "Mass" at home. :blush: Yeah I used bed sheets for vestments. Also we used pop for the "Blood of Christ" and we used toast for the "Body of Christ"...my dad played "the priest" and I played the "altar girl." Well I had such a affection for Christ.....And I still do but not like a 8 year old child! :hehe:

Well many people could say that I had a wonderful life but I would say decent because there were things that I went through which weren't very fun at all!

So skipping a few more years when I was 13 years old, I believed in God but I really didn't know him or really love him like I used to. I didn't really have a prayer life until one big thing happened! Well some of you know that my Dad used to be a gunsmith and that he was in a shooting accident.

So anyway..here is what happened: He was a gunsmith and was working on somebody's gun who got it from ebay. The gun needed repairs on it and so my dad was fixing it. So he was sitting his chair with a book about guns in one hand and in the other hand he had the handgun....so he pulled the trigger (but it was suppose to let the bullet to go in the chamber) but it fired instead! and i dont know if he knew there was a bullet in there anyway. So it went through the book and through his left hand then it went in his leg...which shattered 5 inches of his femur bone. Also the doctor was afraid to get the whole bullet out of his leg cuz it was near the main vein or something like that. but the doctor got the casing of the bullet out but not all of it so its still in his leg. He has a steel rod from his hip to his knee! Also the bullet was probably the half of the size of an average person's pinky finger! This was several years ago and my Dad is doing fine! But he still does have problems with his leg though so remember to keep him in your prayers! Actually this accident made me think about how I could have loss my dad and it still brings tears to my eyes to talk about it. This kind of thing brought me closer to God and it made me stronger too!

If you would like to hear more about my Dad's shooting accident..just ask me!


Ok moving on.....I will tell you more of my story on another day!

God bless!

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I tried keeping this short and sweet ... sorry!

a) I was baptized Catholic at about 10 months old
b) Before the age of 23 I had entered a Catholic church twice for Mass (one was my sister's Baptism, the other was a friend's graduation Mass)
c) At around 10 or so, I went to an Episcopalian Church for about 3 years. Made my 1st communion and my confirmation in that church. The only other church activities were going to Vacation Bible School and attending services with the Assembly of God church when my family went to visit my aunt. I also remember going to services in Puerto Rico during Christmas when I was about 8.
d) The way I got "pulled" :) into the Catholic Church? Through a parranda. Someone who played guitar for the spanish Mass choir heard me sing during a parranda, and he invited me to sing with the choir. Off to a practice, and voila -- I attended my first Mass. Haven't left since. This was back in 1994. The one song that got my attention that day at Mass ... Pescador de Hombres. Oh little did I know, little did I know.
e) I decided to go through RCIA. I came into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil in 1995
f) I attended my first retreat (ever!!!) soon after coming into the Church. April 1995

g) I attended my first youth congress in May 1995. I decided to go to two talks (you can choose your talks). One was about a mission trip (which I would go the following year in 1996). The second talk was vocational. What I was interested in? No -- not nuns. But what in the world does a priest do throughout his day. That's what I wanted to know. HA HA. Nope. I get there -- and there was a young girl about 16 years old in a wheelchair there, and there I was Ms. Clueless. There where 5 Daughters of St. Paul there. Man, I got into a bind.

The one sister asks the young girl -- why are you here?
Young girl responds "Oh sister, I've always wanted to be a nun" yada yada yada. And I instantly think "oh man I'm in trouble!"
The same sister asks me --- why are you here?
I respond "I don't know"
The sister says "Well, maybe God has you here for a reason"

And that was the start of this 16 year search.

h) In the summer of 1997, I was participating in an evangelization school. I had just had the class (it was a two week, plus two intensive weekends course). I was driving home (1.5 hr drive). I found myself on the highway. Thinking. All of a sudden I said "Lord, I want to be a sister." And I was overwhelmed with an intense feeling of joy. Decisiveness. For before that point, I had wavered a lot. It was a constant "yes-no-maybe" for the two years prior to that moment. I doubted it for a little bit ... but I woke up the next day (and for years after that) with that conviction. The next day, at the retreat, while we were all praying during a moment of prayer for repentance for our sins the Lord was quite present, and I was "no longer present" to that moment. I was just completely taken up in that YES. I cried, I had a smile that went from ear to ear. It was a moment that I will never forget, even in those moments now that I go "what are You doing Lord?"

i) In 1999, I was in contact with one community. I started the application process, and almost finished it. I had even had a one month live-in period. But in the middle of the process I made the decision to stop it. I believe that the decision that I made was correct.

j) in 2003, I entered a second community. I left in the middle of postulancy (after 9 months with them). It was a good decision that was well made. It was difficult to leave, but I am convinced that the community was not the right place for me. I still have a good relationship with the sisters, and I care for them a lot (the woman who entered with me and was my classmate is now a perpetually professed sister -- and that gives me lots of joy).

k) I JOINED PHATMASS IN JULY 2006

l) in 2008, I entered a third community outside of my country. I left after the one year mark. A lot went wrong, some was my fault. I am convinced though that a large part of the problem was not me but the community itself. Maybe I wasn't the "right fit" but the way things happened really affected me, and it has taken a long time to recover from it. I am still dealing with the issues remaining from the experience.

m) Today, honestly I don't know where the discernment will lead. I am taking steps to strengthen my commitment to the Lord. Before the last experience, I was convinced without any doubts that I was called to be a religious. After the experience, in all honesty I cannot say that I have the same conviction. Because at my age it becomes more difficult to find a community to accept you. But in addition, I don't know if I am willing to risk everything again. The last experience really hurt.

I am His. I want to reach Heaven. I want to be a saint. That needs to suffice. But there's a longing for something more.

Edited by cmariadiaz
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