An important vocation question

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. :slight_smile:

Thank you and God Bless

I read and re-read your post. Please consider a trusted and faithful spiritual director to see you through this.

If you are truly called by God to any vocation- it is because He has offered this for you,your spiritual growth and salvation. The sense or feeling of security is from our human condition and not Divine calling. When you are resting or seeking God’s will - no matter what…there is peace, joy and calm. My question is - are these in your soul?

Honestly, in light of your time as a religious, I feel like I should be the one asking you for advice. :o

Obviously, I cannot tell you what your vocation is or where you are called to go. And I agree with jmjconder that a spiritual director is going to be much more beneficial than any of us are likely to be.

But I would just encourage you to not be afraid to put yourself out there for the Lord. If you’re an older vocation, so what? If no other monk has made such a switch, so what? Until you put yourself out there, there’s not much for you to discern. Until you really look into the possibilities and gain the knowledge of what steps you would need to take – until you actually talk to the orders you are considering – most of what you do will just be pure speculation.

I will say a prayer for you. That is awesome that you have chosen to serve the Church and give your life to the Lord in this way. Please pray for me, too.

Thank you both for your replies. I do have a spiritual director and I have been communicating all of this to him as well.

I have decided to leave my current abbey and “put myself out there” so to speak because the calling of my heart is leading me in that direction and if I do not do this I may regret it and it could be a weight that never lets up. So I have taken the plunge to do this.

I will pray for your vocation as well “Joe”. I have certainly visited many religious houses so I seem to have that wealth of information and it will only grow bigger when I visit these other orders. What I find interesting is you appear to be discerning yourself (perhaps not) but the advice you gave was rather interesting. I have noticed that sometimes I already know the answer to a question I have posed myself. I often say this answer without even knowing I have done so. I have the strangest feeling you have just done the same for yourself. :wink:

You know, the funny thing about God is that He does not always do what we expect. He takes us to places we wouldn’t go on our own. I’ve heard it phrased “God writes straight in crooked lines.”

My vocation has already been settled. At least, that’s what my wife and kids tell me. :stuck_out_tongue: You’re right, though, about answering my own questions. For me, it applies to other things in my life besides my primary vocation.

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