Monday, February 6, 2006

Guidance of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit will work in the least expected ways, sometimes all you'll have to do is take those first steps...

First a little background, it's next to impossible for me to go up and introduce myself to someone new, even going up to people I know can be a challenge at times. Once I get to know really really well, I'm usually fine, but before then I get very nervous and almost always back down.

Last year I was going through some rough times and was very depressed. One week after Sunday Mass I felt a strong urge to talk with someone and was going to try pulling a priest aside; however, as mentioned above, I couldn't quite pull this off and ended up walking out of the Church. As I was walking home the little nagging voice only got worse; I felt that I must turn around and talk with someone. About a half mile out I basically threw up my hands and said "Fine, I'll head back, but I bet no one is there anymore!"

I turned around and headed back to the church and, as predicted, the priests had already left; however, this was the same week that the novitiate friars were visiting the parish. They were gathered in the foyer preparing to take a walking tour of the town and I stood off to the side debating going up and talking to them. I had no clue what I would say, but I still had this powerful voice inside me telling me to talk. Alas, although this voice got me back to the church, it couldn't get me to speak up, I'd gone completely tharn. After what seemed like an eternity one of the brothers walked over and asked if I was ok. I mentioned needing to talk to someone and he immediately changed his plans and pulled me aside. We talked for about three hours and it was during this talk that he mentioned the religious life. At that time I felt it would be running away and promptly dismissed it.

At the time I realized that it was a blessing, but I had no idea of how great. Over the last year we've kept in contact on and off and he's been the most wonderful help. Often he would send an email right when I needed it the most, sometimes with nothing more than his thoughts about life. For example, right before Christmas, when I'd been seriously discerning for a while, but not told him, he sent a letter with this thoughts on his discernment process. Something in it just clicked at the time and helped me to move forward and contact a priest.

So I suppose the moral is that the Holy Spirit will work wonders, you only have to take the first, sometimes painful, steps. I felt that going back to the church that day was like walking into a firing range and once I got there talking was out of the question. But all I had to do was get there, once there the Spirit worked in the heart of this brother and has been continuing to work through him ever since!

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Several months ago I asked my Mom what she would say if I was considering the religious life, to get the feel of what kind of support (or opposition) she would give. She practically started dancing on the coffee table. It was odd, I hadn't expected her to be overjoyed, but to be more quietly supportive of my decisions. I knew I couldn't let her make the decision for me, so I actually backed down a bit from my discernment. When she scheduled meetings with the priests up in that area, I went but held back somewhat. I felt a bit pushed, but I knew she was trying to be supportive.

So a few months pass with only their occasional questions and my quiet prayers for guidance in this decision. About two weeks ago they scheduled a meeting with a great priest in their parish. After meeting with him I realized I couldn't keep holding off anymore and decided to really begin the discerning process. A week ago I scheduled a meeting with the priest I know here and told him I was discerning. He was very supportive and guided me to a couple websites. He also suggested that I start praying the Divine Office, which I wasn't doing, but I was praying morning and evening so it wasn't that much of a change. I started that (or a simplified version of it until the book I ordered comes in) and have been considering what to do next.

Now, today has been an interesting day. During Mass I was sitting looking across at the Dominican brother on the other side of the church and I suddenly realized that I really wanted to be a sister. As I realized this I started crying and I'm not sure why. I wasn't sad, shocked or even they type of joyous happiness that would bring one to tears. I'd say the feeling would have to be described as giddy, but in the good sort of way; I felt like laughing!

When the brother came up to the pulpit to beg for money he described the Dominican life and listed several parts; unfortunately I do not think I remember them all. Those I do remember are prayer, community, study, and teaching against heresies. Everything he said seemed to click, I realized more and more that I want to become a Dominican sister. I think I practically danced out of Mass.

It's been odd, since I started that whole process I've had times when I could see myself as a sister and other times when I could see myself getting married and having 12 kids. These feelings would often follow right after one another, sometimes quicker than I could take a breath. I didn't feel certain at any point, it was all very vague. One thing that process did do though was show me that I did want (on some level) to get married and have a family. When I first started discerning I thought I was running away from relationships, probably because it was too soon after my last one. Now I know that I would be happy getting married and raising kids, but after today I realize that I would be MORE happy as a sister!

I've tried to insert doubts into this, but there don't appear to be any. After Mass I thought about getting married again (the "wouldn't it be nice to..." thoughts), but it didn't lessen my certainty. Yes it would be nice, but I'd rather give myself entirely to the Lord! "For the unmarried woman is concerned with the affairs of the Lord and how to please the Lord!" Oh Lord, I only wish to please you!

So I've been called...I never expected it to be like this. How odd I should be called first slowly, then so suddenly it takes my breath away! It's exciting! Now I only need to...hmmm...Find a community, get accepted, sell everything and get rid of my college debt. But if the Lord wills this like I feel he does, then I'm sure He'll find a way!