Some of you may remember that I used to have a project called The Vocation Operation, aimed at providing resources for those discerning a religious vocation that I ran with a friend. We both ended up busy and the blog fell by the wayside but I’ve decided that I want to start it up again. I’ve moved the blog and am working on developing the resources we had and want to change and add a few things. So if you’re discerning a religous vocation or just interested, please stop by and see what we’ve got – more will be added soon!
I felt I was called to religious life. I was discerning with a wonderful community that I loved and that were happy for me to apply. Yet I had this little voice in my head that went “What if you’re wrong? What if you’re called to marriage?” and I was so scared that it might be right and I prayed so hard for it to not be right.
I feel I am called to marriage. I have a wonderful relationship with a man I love with all my heart, who wants to marry me. Yet I have that same little voice in my head saying “What if you’re wrong? What if you’re called to religious life?” and I’m so scared that it might be right and I pray so hard for it to not be right.
Are these feelings a temptation? Is one of them right? Which one?
I don’t know how to tell.
When I was discerning religious life the call I felt was an immediate call. It was very much a right now. I visited a community two or three months after beginning to seriously discern and went to St. Cecilia’s two weeks after that. My live-in was six months after that, and that was the first opportunity I had for a visit that long since I was at university. When I ‘officially’ announced I was no longer discerning religious life, I was already in a relationship.
I have realised that I am no longer in a position to be urgent in the short-term. I have financial responsibilities I must attend to, amongst other things. I couldn’t enter a convent anytime soon anymore than I could get married anytime soon. But my mind is still in that place of immediacy, of wanting everything to be right now. I think that is a significant part of the distress I have felt recently – I have wanted things to be more immediate than is possible.
I have been so rushed, so hurried that I think I need to take space from any kind of vocational discernment and think about now for a while rather than focus on the future. I need to find myself again in my spiritual life without discernment.
A few days ago Mother Mistress sent me a very sweet email. I told her about my concerns with my confusion about my desire to return as opposed to whether it is God’s will for me to return. I also mentioned my thought of staying in their retreat house at some point in the new year and she agreed that was a good idea.
I’m still not sure that I’m called to religious life at this point in time, but I do also want to be sure. I did love St. Cecilia’s and I feel right now that religious life is my will, not the will of God. The thought of not being called to the religious life saddens me, but if I am not called then I can accept that.
In the end, I know that whatever God has planned for me is greater than I can possibly imagine.
I haven’t posted much recently, and the reason for that is that I’ve been struggling. I have this same problem in that I need to go to Reconciliation, but I just can’t. I don’t feel contrite. I realise how awful that as, and it’s tearing at me but I’m just not. I want to be, I really want to be. And I suppose that’s something but it’s not enough. It’s getting better though, I can feel that pain in my soul from being separated from God and recently I haven’t felt that so I can only hope.
I feel like I’m in mourning. Most women who discern the religious life mourn marriage and children. I never had, I never mourned those things. For me, those were not sacrifices. Very little felt like a sacrifice, if I am honest. It might have done further down the line but to me I was always so ready to give things up. I grew up moving a lot, you couldn’t be attached to people or things too much or at least be able to cope with giving things up. For me the greatest cross was my family’s pain, but I knew that was only temporary and would be replaced with a hundred times more joy. Marriage and children were not something I ever mourned. They were what I had always wanted for my life, but when I felt called to religious life I was able to instantly let it go.
I’m not letting go. I don’t know why but this time I’m mourning. I’m mourning the loss of St. Cecilia’s, of the abbey and the choir and the cells and the garden and my beautiful sisters. I’m crying as I type this, that’s how much I’m mourning. I loved it so much there that I wonder if I’m wrong about not being called, but I can’t tell if it’s because of my will or God’s will. I have been thinking of going back to St. Cecilia’s in the new year, not for a live-in but make a retreat on the outside. I feel this need to go back, even just to stay on the outside.
I’m just so confused right now. I’m still thinking of finding a spiritual director because I could do with something, anything right now.
Writing yesterday evening about one of my close friends leaving for America made me think more about my own possible entrance. This friend has always been very dear to me. We lived together until he graduated university and I remember even that separation was sad. But I could always text or send him a Facebook message or something, and he comes to visit us. And even once he’s moved you can email, Skype, Facebook, etc. So if even a separation that still leaves so much contact available, how are my friends and family going to feel about the limited contact they will have with me?
I have come to terms with the fact that there are people who will no longer be a part of my life. But I reconcile that by thinking that these are people I’d probably fall out of contact with anyway. I cannot remember the contact limitations for friends at St. Cecilia’s. Family can visit twice a year, for a few days at a time, or can come for one week once a year if the family is travelling far. You can write to your family once a month. I don’t know what the rules are for friends, I can’t remember if I asked or not. I wonder how many of my friends, even those I am close to, will want to keep in contact with me. I fear it will be very few, because I do not think they will understand the choice I am making.
I have reached the stage, finally, where I am ready to tell people. I am ready to start answering those questions. I didn’t want to tell anyone until I had the final approval but I have realised that I am at a stage in my life where people are going to be asking me what I plan to do when I leave university, and I can’t keep saying I don’t know.
I meant to go to Reconciliation yesterday. Didn’t go. Sigh.
I’m struggling. The Spiritual Director suggestion keeps coming up so I’m going to have to actually start trying to work on that one and not just say I will. I have so much university work to do as well and I’m behind on that as well. I need to start actually getting things done and not just mess around. It’s hard to care about university at the moment, I’m so distracted, so I think having a Spiritual Director will help that as well because I can be more focused.
Although my recent posts may sound for those part very lost, I can see hope. Every day is still a roller-coaster of confusion and conflicting desires. But I can feel that I am beginning to find again that love and deep desire for the religious life. More and more each day I feel that little bit more sure that religious life where God is calling me to, and just as I feel more sure of that I feel more sure that I am willing and able to follow His will. Whereas up until now when my family has asked me whether I will join the community I have answered “I don’t know” I am finding more and more that I want the answer “yes” the next time. I don’t know when it will be, but I know I am going back for the second visit to St. Cecilia’s. And should it be His will, I will enter there.
I may not be out of the darkness yet but I can see the light.