Monday, September 26, 2011

Too long since my last post, Mea Culpa

The last time I posted I was getting ready to go visit the Dominican Nuns in Summit, NJ and I was excited and nervous and scared and happy and all kinds of things.  I had found the place where I wanted to live out my life and the people I wanted to spend it with.  So I went.  Sr. Mary Cecilia picked me up at the airport and I was introduced to Gypsy (their GPS) and off we drove to Summit from Newark (where I saw pigeons in the airport).  When I got their I met Sr. Mary Catharine and Sr. Mary Denise (prioress).  I loved being there.  I even loved rising at 5.30a to go to Lauds.  I loved going to mass and saying the Divine Office.  I got to help the sisters with some renovations (read I got to clean).  I ate with Fr. Martin for lunches, a lovely Dominican priest from the Canadian province.  On Saturday I met with the Council.  We talked about my past and my prayer life and my academic interests.  I spent Sunday waiting to hear.  On Monday I finally asked.  Sr. Mary Catharine told me that while they believe I have a vocation and I am, without a doubt, a Dominican they were not sure that I had a vocation to the contemplative life.  She said the sisters loved me and loved having me there, but they were not sure the contemplative life could provide me with an outlet for my personality.  I loved my time with the sisters and I loved being there and I would highly recommend them to anyone considering the Dominican contemplative life.  I had a wonderful weekend and they were the first community I fell in love with.  Hearing that they were not sure if I could come back or not broke my heart.  So I came back and I cried, a lot.  Not long after coming back I went to see my dad and he told me that he has frontotemporal dementia.  The doctors say that he's had it for two to three years.  So, he should have his memory for another year and then he will slowly die and his body will fail.  I will watch him become an infant.  The plan is that when he needs to be taken care of that when he can no longer take care of himself that I will take care of him until I can't.

I would love to say that I have prayed and kept up my prayer life through all of this, but I haven't.  I can't seem to find the calm and the peace.  I'd like to say that I haven't been tempted by my old demons or given into them, but I have. I would like to say that I am handling all of this well, but I am not.  I know God is with me through all of this, but I am so turned around, upside down that I have trouble seeing that.  I am a living testament to how God works in each individual's life.  He has brought me so far and taken me to such great heights.  I have not turned my back on Him, but I am having trouble talking to Him.  I have had to give up my active discernment, which has further spun my world out of whack.  I am starting to turn toward my old comforts (a romantic relationship).  I find myself having feelings that I have not had in awhile.  I wonder if they are me trying to find some human comfort in all this or my being scared or if I was never really called to the religious state or because I am no longer praying as I once did.  I have so many thoughts and feelings right now and I have no idea which way is up or even down or left or right.  I know I need to very seriously turn to God, spend many hours in prayer, but I cannot seem to sit still long enough to do it.  I need some guidance, preferably in the form of a voice I can hear with my physical ears.

I have given into my impure thoughts, into alcohol, and I have come and am still so close to giving into cutting.  My cutting is my hardest demon to battle.  Cutting is the one place the devil gets me almost every time.  I can hide the cutting, I get immediate relief and I instantly feel better and I feel the most guilt about doing it and get so easily sucked in and trapped in that cycle.  There is little that gets me to confession slower than cutting.  I am quicker to go to confession for being unchaste than for cutting because I encounter a different kind of shame with cutting.  I wallow in my shame and I do not want to leave it.  I feel the urge so strongly to cut lately.  I'm also fighting the depression and the thoughts that accompany my desires to cut.  I feel trapped and I know the only way out is through God and His son. I have given into my depression, but not totally.  I am still fighting all of it, but I am overwhelmed and feel as though I am about to be overtaken and I can barely see the reason why I should fight any of it.  How much longer before I lose the light and then lose the fight?  I feel so alone in all this.  I am being stripped and I hate it, but I must persevere and push forward and trust that God is here and know in my heart that He is all I need and He will take care of me as He always has.  God help me to be faithful and to trust in you.  Help me to turn to you first, for you will never leave me.  When all others are gone there will be you.  Help me to know that.

I have questions, so many questions.  The one currently weighing on my mind is this: if we lose our memory, our ability to remember those we love, to recall them are we still who we are?  Aristotle tells us that memory is what makes us teachable and able to learn, what, in a sense, makes us human.  He also tells us that memory comes from the soul.  Aquinas tells us that body and soul are intimately connected and that without our soul we would not be who we are.  If you put another person's soul into another person's body that body would not be inhabited by the same person the soul came from, but would be someone different.  So if we have no memory do we have no soul or is the soul muted or...?  (I know, it's rough, but I'm not at my intellectual best right now).  Am I called to the married life or am I meant to walk this earthly plain alone?  I am not sure I can take another heart break.  I long for comfort and some companionship, but I cannot seem to find nor find a connection to another human being.  We humans are meant to be with each other to care about each other, but so often we forget that and deny it by isolating ourselves in our technology, but we physically need each other.  God designed us to love each other and care for each other.  We are all intimately connected, but I cannot seem to find a connection with anyone.  I wonder if this is another point where God is stripping me down and breaking me down to my most basic self so that He may rebuild me into more of the fullness of who He created me to be, but I do not know.  I go to mass every day and I pray and some times find the quiet of mind that I need so that my heart can speak to God so that He may heal it.  I love God and I find myself so lost without Him.  I need to go to Him and to be with Him in that place in my soul that only He inhabits.  I need to spend days there so that I may know His will and fulfill His will.  I need a retreat.  To be with Him, in His home, comforted by His presence... There is nothing more sublime than that.  He is my love and my life, yet I continually deny Him.  I leave Him for days on end and expect Him to wait for me because I know He will.  I take His love, patience, mercy and forgiveness for granted.  I must be a more attentive friend and lover.  I must go to Him and prostrate myself so that I may be in His favor once again.  God give me strength and clarity and help me to know you and to be with you and to seek comfort in you.  help me to know your love and grace, to know your mercy and forgiveness.  Help me to no longer take you for granted.  Help me to comfort rather than to be comforted.  Lord God, Lamb of God you give to those who ask, help me to seek your help first and to ask for it before seeking help from others, help me to accept your help, your mercy and your grace.  I ask this in your name.  Amen.

In Christ our life,

Thomas Catherine

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