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"9 years and 9 months ago I left the convent"


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I was able to find this by a Google search, and it was a really good article.  It is hard to accept that one may have the grace to enter but not the grace to persevere.  I shared my similar story here.

I'm not seeing a "see more" or anything.  It's just a big blank.  I think my computer may have blocked it as a pop-up or something.  Obviously, others are finding it on theirs.

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"Discernment isn't about getting things right, about figuring out the missing piece that turns your struggle into happily-ever-after. Discernment is about following the Lord, even--especially--if you have no idea where he's leading you."

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I spend serious time in silent prayer every day. Then I live my life.I trust that God is either going to form my heart to desire what he desires, or he’s going to stop me before I do something dumb, or he’s going to fix it afterward. I try not to lose peace over confusion or uncertainty, because I know that God delights in me. If I’m earnestly trying to live in his will, he’s not going to punish me for getting it wrong.

 

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 "I live my life. I trust that God is either going to form my heart to desire what he desires, or he’s going to stop me before I do something dumb, or he’s going to fix it afterward. I try not to lose peace over confusion or uncertainty, because I know that God delights in me"

https://www.facebook.com/mhunterkilmer/photos/a.483668974987483/2493240974030263/?type=3

 

Prayer of Thomas Merton

Merton+Prayer.jpg

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I'm finding it awkward to express this, and hope no-one finds it offensive. Obviously, few people would be suited to, or best serve God in, her 'hobo ministry' - but Benedict Joseph Labre did, so I'll not rule out the possibility. What makes me caution others against taking all of this at face value in their own discernment is that it doesn't place sufficient stress on that our decisions about how we best love God and neighbour are personal decisions. I wouldn't like anyone to assume that God (for example) gives the grace to enter but not to persevere (that sounds a bit magical, and more suited to Loki than Jesus of Nazareth - sort of a trickster God), or that some larger source is causing everything to happen. 

So - she entered a congregation, and decided to leave three months later - and, today, is glad she isn't a part of that community. Fine - and actually not unusual. (One of my friends told me,years after she was heartbroken about being told to leave Good Shepherd - she was born to be a nun, and was at the tale end of when they were cloistered - that she was glad she no longer was there, because they had taken on an identity with which she disagreed, and she knew she would have obeyed. Such obedience would have compromised her integrity.) But I wouldn't see this as God's portioning out grace, and giving someone the grace to enter but not that to persevere. Some find strength in the idea that everything is part of a divine plan, but it can be highly discouraging, even frightening, to picture a micro-managing God who causes things to happen.

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27 minutes ago, gloriana35 said:

I wouldn't like anyone to assume that God (for example) gives the grace to enter but not to persevere

I would kindly like to disagree with this statement.  I'm pretty confident that I've heard of this from a saint (if I find out who, I'll let you know) -- that those are two distinct and different graces.  Does that mean that it explains every case of someone not persevering?  Well, obviously not, probably not even in the majority of cases.  But I do think it exists.  Which camp the author falls into, I wouldn't even dare to guess.  Does that forego that it was a personal decision?  Absolutely not.  However, every good thing that we do is a result of the answer to grace that God has given us.  

God has things to teach which are best learned in an atmosphere of retreat that may last anywhere from a few days to a few years before sending young men and women out into the world.  Religious life not only is the seed bed for those who will live there until death, but it also cultivates the life of virtue of those who will become the mothers and fathers that God desires.

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The only thing that can separate us from The Love of God is sin. 

God does not present us with one potential and particular choice and nothing else and excluding any and all other choices.  God presents us with a variety of choices.  Free will is always in play and God always respects our free will, which is why we can choose sin in the first place.  And while the choice of a religious vocation is objectively theologically the highest choice, it does not mean that it is the highest choice on a personal and subjective level.  Nothing can be higher than The Will of God for a person.

God does not micro manage.  We always have the choice between good or evil, sin or rejection of sin.  In choosing good and the rejection of sin, one is choosing God.  Just as in choosing evil and mortal sin, one is choosing Hell.

God grants the Grace necessary to enter religious life and perseverance in the life is the result of Grace to do so.  If God 'withdraws the Grace of perseverance' then there can be no sin involved for the person.  There are many reasons why God might have withdrawn the Grace. Under the Doctrine of Divine Providence God has very good reasons for doing whatever He might directly bring about or permit in the universe or in a person's life. "Will we have arguing with the Almighty by the critic? Let him who would correct God give answer!" (Job Chapter 40 http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PFP.HTM)

Is it sinful for a person to leave religious life? We know that it is not.  One needs to discern what God's Will might be re a religious vocation and nothing is either objectively or subjectively higher than the particular and personal Will of God for a person and discerning His Will is what discernment is all about. This is a process in play until final profession and why the discernment years/process exists in the first place.  During these years there is a constant choice presented every moment of every day i.e. to stay or to leave.  Just as in every journey, including that of religious, there is a constant choice present i.e to reject sin and temptation or not to do so.

Some can become aware that religious life is not a good fit for them early in their discernment.  Others might experience the same many years after entering.  Either is completely valid.

Even after final profession one can leave the life without committing sin in doing so.  There is a more involved process however after final profession.

If there is a special Grace of Perseverance.  I think that there is and it is a Grace to Persevere in rejecting sin and this is intrinsic to religious life or any other state of life whatsoever.

There is a mistake of making a religious vocation an end in itself.  It is not, it is the means to an end. 

3 hours ago, JHFamily said:

every good thing that we do is a result of the answer to grace that God has given us.  

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Edited by BarbaraTherese
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I personally believe the only thing that is against God's will in our lives is sin. (And I am not suggesting that leaving religious life is a sin in any way. What choices one makes - that do not involve sin - involve the use of reason and will which is a gift of God.) 

I know there are a number of people on this forum who are seeking to discern if they are called to religious life. I would say, as a lady of mature years, that this is an especially difficult area today, since one may be completely unfamiliar with a congregation - perhaps seeking to visit after reading an Internet site. (Even in 'my day,' when there were many religious, there were communities I regarded highly but which I could not see myself entering. But, with many Sisters and communities then, it is more likely that we knew communities, or at least knew of them, before we considered entering there.) I would not want those in a period of discernment - where there may be practical considerations, such as seeing a wonderful Internet site, then discovering that there are elements which would make one not wish to enter that community - to think God gave them a grace to enquire,or to enter, but not to persevere. God did not deny them the grace of perseverance. There just were human reasons that one wasn't suited for a particular life.

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Just one more thing, then I'm going to let it go.  I am rather inclined to agree that many fall in love with the idea rather than truly ask themselves if they are suited for religious life or a particular community.  At that point we can completely agree.  The result is that many can enter but choose wrongly the community.  There's been more than one saint who entered one community only to die in another! 

Yet even with not being suited to religious life or a particular community, that time with the wrong community is not wasted.  I never think of it as time wasted, except time spent with a really oddball community that is living immorally.  Even that can be an eye opener and lead to a deeper spiritual life.

I had that experience of not having the grace to persevere, and I guarantee that I would not be the mother I am today if God had not granted me the grace to enter.  Was it heart wrenching at the time?  Absolutely.  But I also feel it was a necessary part of my spiritual growth.  Sometimes, the truth is hard to bear.

The Church tells us to "Go to Thomas", and there we can find him present Summa Book II, Question 189, Article 10:

"But for him who seeks to enter religion there can be no doubt but that the purpose of entering religion to which his heart has given birth is from the spirit of God, for it is His spirit that leads man into the land of uprightness. "  

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I think we have to be careful not to shift responsibility to God in not granting Grace of Perseverance.  We need to own our responsibility in leaving and leave the mystery of precise Grace to Our God of Mystery.  Did God withdraw the Grace of Perseverance, or was I unfaithful to Grace?.....that question can drive a person nutty.  Be that as it may, there is Confession if necessary.   Hence if the question is continually niggling at a person, if it were me I would go to Confession and then drop the whole matter of what Grace was doing what totally and entirely - and continue in my walk with The Lord.

It is not in essence sinful to leave religious life.  It is sinful however to abandon altogether the quest for holiness which is attainable both in religious life or in some other state of life.  The Grace to strive for holiness, no matter one's state of life, is always with us without fail, and all the Grace necessary to achieve holiness is also with us without fail - and no matter state of life.  When I leave religious life I return to the Lay state, which has its own rules.

We can forget that marriage and the single life in the Laity can be holy ways of life leading to God.  Holiness is dependant on the person leading the life be it marriage, the single state in the Laity or religious life.  Hence on leaving religious life, there remains the call to holiness.  The person is still trying to discern God's Will for their life and once they have left religious life, the call and the potential for holiness and sanctity very much remain along with any and all Graces necessary for achievement.

God would not leave a person floundering through removing the Grace of Perseverance.  The person may well flounder initially on leaving (or while thinking about leaving) for a variety of reasons and they need to own that floundering as theirs, not shift responsibility elsewhere.   It probably requires spiritual direction to move out of floundering in to a more positive state of being where they can recognise that God is calling them elsewhere and even where that elsewhere might be.

If it actually is that I am unfaithful to Grace and leave religious life, God will simply bestow another vocation and call as one's means to holiness.  No doubt whatsoever on any level.  God is not in the business of payback - nor "my way or the highway"..........thankfully.

 

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