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Where Are You In Your Religious Discernment?


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In discernment literature, I've read that Teresa of Avila chose to enter Carmel because she thought it was the better way for her to serve God. She didn't initially have much attraction for it but forced herself to desire religious life. That was not given as an ideal way to discern a vocation (primarily we should be drawn by love), but it was one facet of discernment - how am I personally meant to serve God? I need to pursue how God wants to reveal Himself in me and through me, even if I might not initially be attracted to that vocation. I don't have my own story about wanting a life in the world and ending up seeking out a Monastery, but I've heard a lot of them. I think it is common. I was communicating for several months with a Carmelite who had a good career and every intention of settling down with the right guy, but then she saw a nun in habit, and for some reason she knew that it was time to change course.

 

Out of props again...  Thanks for this  :)    Since it stuck me so clearly I may have put more significance on the statement than what was originally intended.  Yes, we must be open to God's will in our lives but no, it's not always what we want to do. 

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I have been accepted into postulancy with the Sisters of Life. My entrance day is in 9 months on Saturday, September 6, 2014. :) Thank you for all your prayers!   Gloria in excelsis Deo!

I've been accepted by a Benedictine house in the UK and we're currently working out a date for me to arrive.

Put in my notice at work. Going to go spend a weekend with my sisters (whom I haven't seen since before Christmas!) the day after I get done! Then I'll have a month off, then I'll enter.  :)

Pretty sure I'm called to the Nashies, but having to wait... and about to step into college. XP (Any advice out there for what to do while waiting? I know there are a couple good articles out there by the Dominicans, but does anyone in the same boat/who used to be in the same boat have advice?)

Pax et Bonum!

I would say staying focused on the present is key. Also continue to remain open to God. If you think if this as "I'm only doing this until I am able to enter this specific community" then you will probably miss out on some awesome stuff.
I thought that I would enter straight out of college but that ended up not being the case. I looks like it will be closer to 2 years before I could potentially enter. So I am using this time to prepare in various ways. For example I never really had a chance to take philosophy or theology classes so I'm trying to do some self study in those areas. Also developing stronger prayer habits is major.
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I used to be in the same boat. :)  Well, not quite the same boat, as it was only a year instead of the presumably longer you're facing if you're about to go off to college. My advice would be:
 

1) Have a sense of purpose where you are. The period of waiting is not because "they won't let me" or "I can't" but because "right now I am supposed to be here and not there." You are going to be placed at the college where you will be, not stuck. This is great practice for the future experience of being missioned out somewhere, who knows where. One thing that really helped me with finding a sense of purpose was a comment a Sister made that sometimes she would be on mission somewhere almost a whole year feeling like it was a waste, and then she would have a conversation with someone who really needed to have that conversation with her, and it was as if the whole year was worthwhile just for that time. I experienced that a lot at my University this past year, except it wasn't just one moment or conversation, it was dozens.

 

2) Study what you love, and ideally what will be useful where you're bound. This helps a lot with having a feeling of purpose where you are. For example, I majored in education and Spanish and then did my thesis on St. Dominic. :P Really helped with the whole "I don't feel like writing a thesis" sentiment when by not wanting to write thesis I would be expressing disinterest in the founder of my future order. :D Didn't totally alleviate senioritis, but man oh man I would have been dying without that.

 

3) Find outlets of ministry. Not that your studies and your everyday life aren't this, in fact, the Nashville postulants don't do any particularly extraordinary ministries their first year. Dishes, study, community time. :P So it's important to be able to find value in that stuff. BUT doing volunteer work (especially stuff that is up the alley of preaching/teaching, such as sidewalk counseling or tutoring) will help a lot, as will getting involved in your local campus ministry. I ended up going on our campus retreat because I wanted to staff it my senior year, but honestly although I thought I was too wise and mature to need a retreat like that ( :P ), the experience of going on it was just as helpful for my vocational state as the experience of staffing it was this past year. Be willing to respond to the Lord and be a presence to others where and how He wants you to, not how YOU want you to.

 

4) Remember that everything in a vocation is about the fact that it is your response to Christ and is rooted first and foremost and fundamentally in a relationship with Him. Cultivate a deep and regular prayer life. Pray multiple times a day, on a schedule, whether you want to or not, and try your utmost to find a way to do this in a community setting, since if you are called to religious life, the type of prayer schedule you need is also the type of prayer schedule you need a community to support you in. :D If there aren't community prayer things, be a mover and shaker and start them! I organized group liturgy of the hours at my campus last semester, and there were typically all of 3 people there at 7:30am, but hey, that's all I needed, and occasionally we had more. Evening prayer was better attended. This helped me SO MUCH. I can't emphasize enough. Also daily mass and signing up for multiple adoration hours if you can (not sure if you'll be on a Catholic campus).

 

5) Find community/avoid isolation. Ideally other people discerning if you can. And again, if it's not there, doesn't mean it can't be there. Maybe you're placed there to fill that need! I started a discernment group at my University in my last "aimless" year, and it was an ENORMOUS sense of purpose for me, and it has really blossomed, which has just been magnanimous consolation on the part of God that I was following a prompting of the Holy Spirit in starting it. This group was also huge for my perseverance. Another essential thing in this category is to find a spiritual director (a Dominican would be good, since you have this leaning already). This will help to get you out of your own head and to keep you on a realistic path. Remember, you want to be in a community, but you aren't in a community yet. It is just as easy for pride to sneak in ("I should be perfect already/before entrance!") as it is for lukewarmness or laziness, and I'd say pride is more dangerous since it isolates us from reliance on God.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I'll answer as best I can in a public setting. :)

 

Wow, this is fantastic advice!  :)  Thank you so very, very much.  :D

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I would say staying focused on the present is key. Also continue to remain open to God. If you think if this as "I'm only doing this until I am able to enter this specific community" then you will probably miss out on some amesome stuff.
I thought that I would enter straight out of college but that ended up not being the case. I looks like it will be closer to 2 years before I could potentially enter. So I am using this time to prepare in various ways. For example I never really had a chance to take philosophy or theology classes so I'm trying to do some self study in those areas. Also developing stronger prayer habits is major.

 

Hmm good idea.  I have thought about graduate school as a good option - I have wanted to study St. Thomas' works (especially the Summa as well as his songs which are commonly sung in horrendously butchered english translation).  :)  Thank you, TheresaThoma!

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domenica_therese

Wow, this is fantastic advice!   :)  Thank you so very, very much.  :D

 

You're welcome! Reason #3512 why I was supposed to wait a year, to give this advice to you!  :smile3:

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A few months ago I had my last disappointment with somebody whom I had thought to be sort of a fatherly friend. Actually it was my SD who left me alone right now when I have to take the final steps into a convent (or not). At the moment I'm not sure whether I will ever be able again to trust somebody by heart. This sounds childish and immature but somehow it is not. I've learned from experience that you won't get wounded if you keep a certain friendly distance to people; if I get involved with my heart, it will get wrong. Terribly wrong. Is this some weird form of God's jealousy for my soul because he wants me for himself alone. Or am I just wrong. Those experiences make it actually more difficult for me to abandon myself to God and His providence.

I already know that I shouldn't have mixed up friendship and spiritual direction, but my intentions were honest and pure. And I don't want to accept that now both my trust in spiritual direction and in friendship should get down the drain. That priest should have been the last one to disappoint me, because there was a story of disappointment before I met him - he is so to speak the last straw, it should not have happened. He knows it and ignores it. God knows it and seems to ignore it too.

 

I have some feeling that these things will come up again when I'm in the convent and maybe I won't be able to persevere because entering is difficult enough. I've already tried to settle it with the priest, in order to get at the least a peaceful goodbye, but he blocks it. Some acquaintance of mine and him says this might not be the end of the story, but I'm not sure any more - there's no guaranty it might get well. What should I do. There are things you can't make or force. You can't force friendship or peace or reconciliation with anybody.

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I'm sorry to hear you've been disappointed again, Senensis. Without knowing any more of the situation it's hard to say something helpful - but I don't think deciding to not love people is the answer. Yes, as people who have decided to love God above all earthly loves, there will always be a certain distance, but it's not because we're avoiding getting hurt. I don't think that's your answer.

 

Edited to add: and I don't know that the distance thing is really true either, in the long term. The monastic saints, who have struggled against themselves often for a lifetime, love more freely and intimately than the rest of us.

Edited by marigold
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I don't know the full story either, Senensis, but it sounds as if it has something in common with what I've experienced with someone in the last couple of years - which has been devastating and which I'm only starting to emerge from now. And while I agree with Marigold that not loving is not the answer, I also think that the monastic saints could love so freely precisely because their love had been purified and had become dispassionate. I think that I have learnt the hard way the importance of boundaries that I would previously have been rather dismissive of.

 

FWIW. And prayers.

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Thank you both so much for telling me. Some things you need to hear from someone else, because you can't tell them yourself.

 

Today I try to keep my spirit's up and hold everything into His light and mercy. "It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

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So sorry to hear this Senensis........what I do know is that in my own life certain issues to tend to come up time and time again until I find a way to resolve them.

 

Learning to put in place and keep to the boundaries has been hard for me too, and a detached love - THAT is very hard. I tend to be an all or nothing person and once I trust someone I quickly give lots, which has not always ended well.

 

To stay trusting in the face of this is the challenge....one I am praying you are able to manage, since it will be important for your future.

 

As regards your SD, sometimes people withdraw when they realise they have overstepped the mark and don't know what to do about it.

 

Hugs and prayers.

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@ the SD: might be true, but there are some additional aspects. He hasn't given up me alone, but nearly everyone at the same time; justification: not enough time any more. Obviously he had much too many of them. And then, he is handsome and is quickly afraid of women "hunting" him.

I can tell you, I have other problems than hunting a good-looking priest. :crazy: But obviously there are lots of women who have not. And who do. And then he has changed his behaviours towars me in ways that have not been remotely comprehensible.

 

Anyway - nothing we can do about it.

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Senensis i'm very sad because of your current situation.Again in this example we can see that priest are only humans with all their good sides and flaws.

But this feel of disappointment is quite familiar to me.I have also have problems with my former VD.It seams we have been just do different.

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