I am currently a benedictine monk and have been one for 10 years. I have gone through quite the vocational rollercoaster. Back in 2000 I started with the Franciscans. I was only discerning with them, never a postulant. Three years into that I quickly turned from the Franciscans and joined the Cistercians. I came to this decision while in South Korea, something I did for myself in order to see if I could do it; that is can I just up and go to another country and “serve” in some fashion. I loved everything about it, however it wasn’t all a success and I fell on my face a few times by losing my temper and my patience. I often wonder if I joined the Cistercians because they were quiet, at peace, something I needed since South Korea was everything but quiet and peaceful. I grew to love being a Cistercian and would have stayed at this house until death.
But the house closed (suppressed) and I am now in a Benedict house trying to discern what and where I want to be. I came here seeking security because the closing of my house was a huge blow to me. I’m still not entirely over it. I didn’t return to the Cistercian because I didn’t feel drawn back to them. For a few months things seemed okay but after a while I began to notice that I was not happy. In fact I was very angry. I have been talking to a psychiatrist for some time and have addressed wounds, repressed emotions and anger and walls around my heart. One of these walls was my time in South Korea. I repressed these feelings because I felt I did more damage than good while I was there. I have learned otherwise.
But now I face a VERY hard decision. People say listen to your heart and pray. My heart seems to be leading me back to doing what I was doing when I was discerning the Franciscans. In fact my heart is leading me back to the Franciscans. I’m scared to do this. I’m scared because I am already a monk and have been for 10 years. Why does my heart want to move away from this? Granted I have never felt 100% comfortable as a monk but I was willing to stay at my old house regardless how I felt. I think I just fell in love with the atmosphere. Second, what if it doesn’t work out again? What if I regret leaving monasticism? Has a monk ever switched to being a Franciscan? What if my past makes it hard for any friary to accept me? I am pushing 40 by the way so I would be an older vocation if I did this.
This is something that has preoccupied my thoughts for months. It’s getting harder to pray and I the older I get the more I want to find my niche and just start making a life in that niche.
My desires are to serve the community. I love the idea of foreign ministry. I loved doing Habitat for Humanity. I loved teaching English when I was in South Korea. I would love to do that again if given the chance.
Please tell me your thoughts. I need to hear them.
Thank you and God Bless