Friday, August 12, 2011

So...the cloister? That is so not you!

When I started discerning I had very set ideas.  I was going to be a Dominican, I was going to be a psychologist, I was going to join an active community.  I was not going to be a teacher and I definitely was not going to be a nun.  I was going to join a community who wore the full habit, said the Divine Office, had mass everyday, and was traditional.  I was NOT going to be a nun!  Being a nun would drive me crazy.  I mean being silent 24 hours a day, never talking, never going out into the world and besides nuns don't do anything, don't help anyone.  I could never be a nun.  I looked and looked at different communities.  I spoke with my spiritual director weekly.  I went to daily mass.  I prayed and prayed.  Some communities I decided to not discern with because they were too liberal.  They had completely gotten rid of the habit, didn't live in community, held beliefs contrary to the Church.  Some stopped discerning with me because of my past.  Some vocation directresses just forgot about me, would not return my calls, or what have you.  This left me with the Ann Arbor Dominicans and the Adrian Dominicans.  A wise priest once asked me what was more important to me, being a religious or being a psychologist.  He then said that should I become a religious that my religious identity is my first identity and that whatever I do I do as a religious.  That I must accept the possibility that I will not be a psychologist.  This advice has stuck with me through my discernment.  I am called to be a religious and being a religious is my first identity.  Once I take those vows I am first and foremost a bride of Christ, I am a religious and everything else is secondary to that.  As a religious I am called to be a spouse of Christ.  Since my primary identity is that of a spouse of Christ then I am called to follow Him and His will, whatever that may be.  I am called to follow my spouse wherever He may lead me, I am called to be obedient to His will and echo Mary's fiat.  Nothing else matters but following His will and doing His will.  Whatever He calls me to do He will give me the grace to do it.  Once I realized this I threw out my expectations; what I thought I wanted and didn't want.  I had moved forward in my prayer life.  I was reading St. Teresa of Avila's The Way of Prayer and found myself identifying with her experiences.  I would be praying at work or at home or anywhere really and slip into contemplation.  I would no longer experience or be aware of the surrounding world.  My exterior senses were of no use.  I was alone with God.  I would do this without conscious thought or without trying, it would just happen.  I was praying the rosary once a day and going to adoration as often as possible and mass as often as possible.  I have a connection to the rosary and to the sorrowful mysteries that I do not understand.  I feel drawn to them.  I pray and weep for the sins of the world, for those who do not know God's loving mercy and His forgiveness.  When I pray the rosary I weep and I am overcome by sorrow for those who do not know God, for those who have turned away from God, for those who sin, for those who cannot forgive themselves or others.  While praying the rosary I have been favored.  I have experienced Christ and the Virgin.  I have felt her wipe away my tears and felt Him hold me.  I have been inspired by by His love while in prayer.  I have felt Him, physically felt Him with me while I pray.  I slide into my interior cell and I never want to leave because when I am there I feel this warmth that radiates from inside me that comforts me.  I feel as though I am with my lover and we are lost to the world, as though there is no world outside of when I am with Him.  When I have to eventually rejoin the world I long for my love.  I long for the time I can be with Him again and for when I can be with Him always.  I have a radical love for Christ crucified.  For me being without Him, having to leave to go to work or interact with other people is painful.  I feel as though I am being forcefully ripped from the arms of my beloved.  To love Christ fully as a spouse is an amazing thing.  My love for Him cannot be described with mere words nor can it be expressed in anything that humanity has conceived.  To love Christ is the greatest of all loves.  By loving Him we learn to love ourselves and to love others.  We learn what love truly is.  Christ is love incarnate.  We think of love as this warm, fuzzy feeling and love is not that.  Love is much more than that, love is a person; love is Christ crucified. (See Love is a Person and A Wedding Homily).  I have a radical love for Christ and by giving my will completely over to Him and trusting Him to guide me I have discerned that I am called to the cloistered life, a life where I am free for Him alone.  No other life with satisfy me and no other man can give me what I need.  I am Christ's alone.


Thomas Catherine

1 comment:

  1. So I'm going through your blog and I am loving the opportunity to read about your journey! When you speak of your connection to our Lord in his passion you remind me of something nun (I know you're a Dominican but I just thought I'd mention it :) )

    Praying for you!