"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Religious Vocation Discernment: Trust your gut.
"In the spiritual life we must always be a little suspicious of feelings." - a minor friar
But... I, along with many others, have at one time or another found myself in dysfunctional religious communities during the period of time I was discerning my vocation. From experience I can tell you this - if the community seems disordered, it most likely is. That doesn't necessarily mean one shouldn't enter if one feels called to that particular house or community - St. Therese entered a somewhat dysfunctional community and became a saint... you simply enter at your own risk, trusting the interior conviction while depending upon divine providence. (Nine out of ten you don't stay.)
Anyway, with that introduction, I want to highlight a few insights from Fr. Charles of A Minor Friar blog; a friend of mine directed me to Father's post exclaiming - "This is exactly what I've been thinking since I left that awful abb...."
Many of us who have come to religious life, myself included, have struggled with the impression that the life we have found doesn't seem very religious. We are bothered that our communities do not seem to be prayerful places, that we ourselves to do not feel as devout as we used to, and that our conversations about the pressures and problems upon us do not often turn to God.
First, we must trust ourselves and our instincts. I failed to do this in my own early experiences of religious life and did myself a lot of harm. I arrived young and much more innocent than I thought I was, and much of what I found in my first try at religious life was confusing and scandalizing. When I expressed my concerns to my directors and superiors I was told to 'get over myself' or was given unfortunate labels: 'neo-con,' 'traddy,' someone who wants to 'go back' to the bad old days.
So, do not listen to those who tell you 'get over yourself' or dismiss you with labels. Trust your instincts. Religious life in our time--and here I can only speak to my own geographic and cultural context--is afflicted with various forms of decadence, moral confusion, and theological error. I thank God that he has led me, by the circuitous paths of grace, to a pretty solid community, but that doesn't mean we are exempt from the problems and errors of our time. We who are younger religious must trust our instincts and always be a little suspicious. When someone tells you the Church or your community or Vatican II teaches something and it doesn't sound right, look it up yourself. Be empowered. - finish reading at Irreligious Life
Remember the proverb, 'if it quacks like a duck...'