Can a woman have a vocation to a celibate life lived among the poor, without becoming a religious?


#21

[quote="InspiritCarol, post:19, topic:319067"]
Afterthought...

There is a part of you that must do this because of the "us and them" mentality I see throughout these posts.

There is no "them" you see... "the poor" are just people the same as you and me.

When Jesus said "you will always have the poor" he wasn't making some proclaimation of doom. He was noting the inescapable aspect of our humanity that leads us down wrong paths, or that holds us hostage to our environment.

It seems like you think you are better than "the poor" (maybe you are IDK); somehow seperate from "them". And you seem to think that your presence among them will somehow help them. I have met many who think this way ... it's almost cliche.

Check out Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild" as one example.

I recently had to take out a stalking order against a woman who had "followed where the 'Spirit' led her" for over 40 years. She had completely lost it. Her expectations of hearing from God had grown to such degrees that either her mind invented voices or demons haunted her possibly both.

"Fruits" would be a nice way to determine our paths in life, but they surely do not help us when we are making decisions in the moment. Look at the life of Joseph, son of Jacob if you have any doubt of this.

Persecution seems a better indicator. Every single Saint that comes to mind suffered horrible persecution due to their efforts to advance God's Kingdom. Believe me, if something is telling you: do a thing and you'll feel good; you really need to pause and take inventory.

It's great you're not just doing that stimulous/response thing; you're trying to think this through; but you are heading blindly down a well worn path that has no possibility of measurable "success". You are throwing away the gifts God gave you because you think that's what He wants you to do. Somehow you think your mom and some priests are okay with this but you'd be wrong. They are just trying to not push you away (have you pull a Krakauer) and have you just go off on your own.

Try to see this objectively:
- of course you felt good at the soup kitchen; everyone feels good at the soup kitchen there's a waiting list at ours for people to help out;
- if you keep a low paying/flexible job and live in a low-rent district, what differentiates you from every other slacker that does this same exact thing?

Please read the sincerity in my words.
I'm *not *saying: don't do this.
I *am *saying don't do this blindly.

[/quote]

Thank you very much for your response. I'll give everything you've said thought and prayer. All I want to say is that I don't see myself as separate from them, firstly because I am quite poor myself so even if I wanted to delude myself that way it would be quite difficult. Secondly, the people I've met where I volunteer are my friends. Fellow volunteers and people we serve. When I'm walking downtown and see them I say hi, we walk and talk together. If anything I have an us vs them mentality with very rich people because I see them as selfish, and obviously having wealth doesn't make a person selfish. But I'm not sold that it's a wise thing to do to give everything I do have to help those in need, in whatever capacity I can help them. Thirdly, I don't see this as me generously condescending to help people below me. I don't really have much material things to offer people. I'll give what I can that way, but the reality is I don't have much. I look at it the same way as if God were calling me to become a doctor and to live a Christlike life in those circles. It's not that I'm better, it's just what I feel led to do. To give myself to Christ by giving myself to the poor. If God calls someone to give themselves to Him by giving themselves to the rich, or to whatever particular group of people, it's the same thing. Writing my plans that way was how I thought to explain in writing what is on my heart to people who don't know me.

As for your comment about persecution and fruit. Obviously doing what I want to do will be difficult and I'll lose some friends. I'm not sure why you think doing this would be all joy. It would be joyful, but it would also be very difficult for a number of reasons (losing friends, losing the comforts of life I have now, people not understanding my choice, people thinking I'm throwing my education and life away, the list goes on and on). Also, the fruits from my volunteering are not just joy and peace. Those were examples.


#22

[quote="DaddyGirl, post:20, topic:319067"]
Well, young one...there are ways of helping people and being among them, but making sure you yourself stay safe and healthy and with a roof over your head.
. . .
It's like in the airplane, when they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping your child or a person having trouble next to you. You must make sure you are breathing before you can help others to breathe.

[/quote]

:takeoff:
Now that you say that, I'm thinking "of course. why didn't I think of it that way??? Duh...".
Thanks.


#23

[quote="InspiritCarol, post:19, topic:319067"]
Every single Saint that comes to mind suffered horrible persecution due to their efforts to advance God's Kingdom.

[/quote]

Just wanted to add...I'm no saint. And I don't want to be one because I don't want to be in that sort of lime light. If I live a good life offered to God and die without notice except by those who actually know me, then that's perfect, imo. I don't know what kind of persecution lays ahead of me, but I'd assume it's the same that most Canadians have to deal with, which honestly isn't that much. I also argue that there are lots of people who are living out their vocation, particularly married people, and don't suffer much persecution. Kind of thinking of soccer mom's here, and there's nothing wrong with that life at all. Everything about it is right if that's where God calls you to be. Jesus said he was persecuted so we can expect to be persecuted, and everyone does suffer for the faith even if only in small ways like friends being annoyed at our religiosity, but not everyone is going to nor should expect a heavy, heavy cross. :shrug:


#24

My experience was that I was a little afraid of ‘them’ as they had such different values to those of mine - and they in their turn distrusted me probably for the same reason and because I was a known practising Catholic. Initially, I was indeed a person to be avoided. It took patience and time before we accepted each other fully. In my head, I realized and accepted that we were all brothers and sisters without any problems, but it took time for my feelings to follow suit - a natural process on the human level. To feel that we were brothers and sisters and quite comfortable and at home in their midst until finally I felt that I was just one of them and I was fully accepted amongst them while remaining different in lifestyle and values - a work of Grace to my mind. My contemplative prioress said that things occured in my area that I could not imagine in my wildest dreams. I came to realize that she was quite correct. My question became "How do I deal with it?"
Perhaps it was a little different for me in that I did not choose the life - it was something that just eventuated out of being given a residence (and not by my choice) in a very poor and socially problematic area. I needed to get over the shock of that to arrive at a point where I actually daily chose the life I came to live. I was led into the life by Divine Providence.
I found that these people (who were after all very different from me in both lifestyle and values) were very astute and insightful where human relationships were concerned. They knew immediately if a person was being condescending and patronizing - treating them as objects of ‘charity’. I found simplicity and honesty especially as their particular qualities. I found that if one of them struggled, the rest in the main came to that person’s support in some way. I rather often reflected on that Credence Clearwater Revival song, a line of which runs “people on the river are happy to give”. I grew as a person in their midst and through them. I think I received far more than I ever gave. For me, those years were times of rich rewards. Culturally, we use the word “charity” as any sort of giving to those less fortunate than us. In Catholic culture, ideally we use Charity to mean real love, agape - catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6565 I dont think personaly that many arrive at agape instantly short of the miraculous, which can occur - for most of us it is a journey and probably the journey of a lifetime. I think that it asks that one accepts oneself exactly as one is warts and all and not allow this to create self hatred, depression and misery - investing in Grace trustfully to be at work always and everywhere.

Rest assured that if persecution is for your spiritual growth, then Divine Providence will allow persecution to the precise measure and time it is needed for you spiritually. For me, being known to attend the local hotel at times and sit and speak with ‘questionable people of ill repute’ brought plenty of criticism, gossip and being pushed to the outside of my parish. At the hotel, they called me “the flying nun”. My first 10 years in my parish were a heaven, the final 20 years were misery.

How I came to be accepted in their midst was another funny story about graffitti all over my rubbish bin. The story around that and my and their reactions provided a breakthrough into mutual understanding and acceptance. The Lord provides and often in the strangest of ways.:thumbsup: At first the local police held me suspect, but they too came to acceptance, but no funny story.:smiley:

I think we all should strive for holiness and daily - and be neither overcome nor defensive if one is accused of trying to be some sort of saint. We are all called to holiness, to sanctity - why then the criticism about trying to be some sort of saint? I think the answer is obvious. There is that Doors song that runs “keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road ahead”. or as St Paul said (1 Corinthians Ch9) " Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain."


#25

Went through the thread and made comments here and there. Each comment is only my opinion with now 67 years of the journey behind me. Apologies I have not stated the author of the various comments (typed in bold).
St Francis of Assisi and St Clare both went against what was expected of them and by family and friends - which is to state that it is not always wise to strive to live up to others expectations. Spiritual direction.

[FONT=Arial]I’m just not really sure about this whole thing. I keep saying to myself “it’s easy, just follow God. Wherever he leads” but I just don’t know if this is practical[/FONT]

Sometimes, but not always, Divine Providence does not seem practical at all. I urge you to put your desires to your spiritual director – and following whatever is recommended. In that way, you are assured of being embraced by God’s Will and will be docile, humble and obedient under spiritual direction. The Church is more inclined to use “common sense” than “practical” -and St. Albert in the Ancient Rule of Carmel said “common sense is the guide of all the virtues”. But then, we have had saints who seemed to defy all common sense on any level at times. Exceptions that prove the rule I guess. Spiritual direction, which I just cannot recommend highly enough.

***SO my question, really, is this: do vocations HAVE to have a sort of ceremony? I don’t know the right term (wasn’t raised Catholic, don’t know much *)

The Church apparently is considering some sort of fourth category in “Consecrated Life” in Canon Law to cover those thousands in The Church who do want to dedicate their lives, but not in religious life. Apparently, once more, this fourth category will have similarities to a secular institute. However, when and if a further revision of Canon Law will take place and be promulgated – and whether it includes this fourth category is anybody’s guess and it may take 30 years or more. See my post for link to article by Fr John Hardon SJ : HERE

If one is making a vow to God privately, with the agreement of the celebrant, the vow can be made immediately after Mass in the presence of those attending Mass. Such a vow or vows, however, remains a private vow to God. One is not in consecrated life per se as laid out in current Canon Law and remains a person in lay celibacy and secular life.
Incidentally, have you looked into secular institutes. These are consecrated lives formally in The Church but members remain in secular life in their own homes etc. and with some, their own personal apostolate or mission. Some secular institutes do have a particular apostolate or mission.

I’m a traditional type of person so living in a non-traditional way makes me a little uncomfortable, but it’s where I feel I’m being lead, and I’d rather do God’s will than what makes me comfortable.

The lay celibate single state as one’s choice in life goes right back to the earliest Church. Religious Life was formed by such people. Eventually they got together and lived in groups or communities and further on,The Church recognized the leadings of the Holy Spirit and enshrined their way of life in Canon Law as religious life in the consecrated state. Everything has a beginning, starts somewhere or other, somehow or other.

What an adventure it would be!

Very true


The lay celibate state in secular life by its very nature remains open to a further call from God and perhaps into a different state of life – marriage, religious life etc.

This is no small issue. Your safety is profoundly at risk. The streets are more cruel than anyone who has not been there can imagine. … When I think back to the scrapes I barely made it out of … Grace should never be discounted, but please don’t make the mistake of testing God’s providence.

One would be very wise to consider and put it to one’s spiritual director that the streets can be very dangerous indeed – very dangerous. And especially if one is not ‘street-wise’ and somewhat naïve and inexperienced in life and the situations life can present. The only way to become street-wise is through being on the streets, whether one is homeless or extended mixing with same – and even if one has extensively mixed with the homeless living on the streets, it may or may not bring about a street-wise mentality. Even if street-wise, there is always someone moreso and this can present dangerous situations.
A priest prison chaplain once told me that he had worked in prisons as a chaplain and priest for over 20 years and he still could not confidently assess if an inmate was being honest and sincere, or deceptive and manipulative. He told me that those in prison had to live by their wits – and when they came out of jail into the general community, very often they were quite skilled deceivers and manipulators. Whether they continued on this course or not in the general community was their decision.

Concluded in next post


#26

IMO the true test of whether something is God's will or not is the fruit that comes from it. It's harder to tell what's God's will and what isn't when you're just starting, but everything is clear in hind sight. I feel so much joy and peace at the soup kitchens and I love the people we serve and feel a huge pull to eat with them and walk out the door and live among them. I don't know how I'll help. I just want to love them more and be a light to them. I want to give myself fully to Christ by giving myself to them. I won't do this without much input from others, especially my spiritual director, my mother and two holy priests I know.

The very best test of The will of God is to have a spiritual director and be docile in spiritual direction. Further on from that and docility and obedience in spiritual direction, if the Fruits of The Holy Spirit (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.") are evident to one’s spiritual director in following the course indicated, then this would be further indication to one’s director of God’s leading. That all sounds, I think, very simple – but it is not. It is a complex matter that only experienced, wise and holy spiritual directors per se can insight.

I was thinking of living among them. But I'm not sold on that. I want to give myself to them more and that's the only idea that has had a lasting draw for me. Or perhaps not homeless, live in a very very cheap apartment in the slums or something. I'm not sure. But where the needy and rejected live.

Having lived homeless for around 6 years, much of one’s energies and focus is straining on one’s own survival – and survival on the streets physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually can be difficult. It is a dreadful way to live and nothing romantic about it whatsoever - and it is very true that in order to be of any assistance to others, one needs ideally to have some sort of base financially and residence-wise.
Do you plan on having a job that will cover the bills but leave enough time for those you want to help?
I have been working as an aid nursing homes and for a private home health care company. I'm thinking, if I keep a job I'll keep the home health care position because the hours are so flexible. But I'm not sure if I even want a job at all. Whatever God's wants. If this job or another is how God provides for the bills if a choose a cheap apartment, then great

Be guided by your spiritual director.

"Fruits" would be a nice way to determine our paths in life, but they surely do not help us when we are making decisions in the moment

Fruits of The Holy Spirit can indicate that one is on a sound course spiritually. I don’t think perhaps that they directly assist in making on the spot decisions, but the Gifts of The Holy Spirit do – and tremendously so (Gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitute, Piety and Fear of The Lord)

It's great you're not just doing that stimulous/response thing; you're trying to think this through; but you are heading blindly down a well worn path that has no possibility of measurable "success". You are throwing away the gifts God gave you because you think that's what He wants you to do. Somehow you think your mom and some priests are okay with this but you'd be wrong. They are just trying to not push you away (have you pull a Krakauer) and have you just go off on your own.

Not necessarily. Follow spiritual direction. Success is always in The Lord’s hands and as those old lyrics of Bob Dylan went “success is not always success, and failure no failure at all” and in the Psalm “Lord give success to the work of our hands”. It all depends also, I think, on how one is defining “success”. What is one’s goal? Is it simply “to be” – to be a certain sort of person always? Or does one have some other definition of success in mind?

I also argue that there are lots of people who are living out their vocation, particularly married people, and don't suffer much persecution. Kind of thinking of soccer mom's here, and there's nothing wrong with that life at all. Everything about it is right if that's where God calls you to be. Jesus said he was persecuted so we can expect to be persecuted, and everyone does suffer for the faith even if only in small ways like friends being annoyed at our religiosity, but not everyone is going to nor should expect a heavy, heavy cross.]

We can never know what persecution another does or does not suffer no matter their vocation in life (“man judges appearances, but The Lord knows the heart”). The nature and degree of any cross in life is up to Divine Providence always working in the very best interest of one’s own salvation and sanctification – and very mysteriously to human logic, at the one and the same time for the salvation and sanctification of all.


#27

Hi, @clarkest,

Have you thought of joining the Verbum Dei order? From what I know they are a group of lay, celibate people who spread the Word of God to the very poor. In my parish there are two that I know of. They go regularly to Africa to help the poor, spread Gods love and they aren't nuns. I think some of this order might even stay with the poor. It's worth checking out and you would not have to worry about being alone as you are with a team.


#28

[quote="mcrts, post:27, topic:319067"]
Hi, @clarkest,

Have you thought of joining the Verbum Dei order? From what I know they are a group of lay, celibate people who spread the Word of God to the very poor. In my parish there are two that I know of. They go regularly to Africa to help the poor, spread Gods love and they aren't nuns. I think some of this order might even stay with the poor. It's worth checking out and you would not have to worry about being alone as you are with a team.

[/quote]

I've never heard of verbum dei, I'll look them up. I am somewhat.considering the Madonna House, which sounds quite similar.


#29

Does every nun or sister has a miraculous call ?? Is it nessessary to have miraculous kind of call to become a nun? What can be a call sign ?? Actually i want to be a nun…but a thought that i dont have call is discouraging me…:frowning:


#30

[quote="khushbu, post:29, topic:319067"]
Does every nun or sister has a miraculous call ?? Is it nessessary to have miraculous kind of call to become a nun? What can be a call sign ?? Actually i want to be a nun...but a thought that i dont have call is discouraging me...:(

[/quote]

No, one does not have to have miraculous type signs to have a vocation to religious life.

Broadly speaking on the natural level as it were, there are three signs

[LIST=1]
*]Attraction to the life - a desire to live the life
*]Ability to lead the life - necessary qualities for religious life including right motivation
*]Acceptance by a religious community into postulancy
[/LIST]Sometimes these basic signs can vary, but they are all saying the same thing more or less.
In discerning, it is the first two signs (attraction and ability) that the person needs to consider. The third sign is up to the religious community to which one applies for entrance.

Stricely speaking, one cannot know for sure if a person has a religious vocation until final vows and perpetual profession.

The following website might be helpful in the early discering process:

Vocations.com website
vocations.com/discern/signs_pable.html
In the history of the Church, you will consistently find spiritual writers and theologians saying that there are certain natural signs that God uses by which He inclines us, and draws us toward a vocation. The Church has always looked for those signs. If a person has those signs in some degree, then there is a good chance he/she is called. You never know for sure ... but all the way along the line you will be asking yourself if there are several discernable signs present by which you can judge whether you are called or not.

May God bless you richly in your discerning

Tigger


#31

I think the above posters have given good advice. Getting connected with a group that you could have for support is a good idea. You don't want to be out on the streets on your own. That is dangerous. Also, you don't want to be in a position where you are in a desperate state of health or finances, because then you won't be able to help anyone else.

I would also like to add that having some money is not a bad thing. It's what you do with it. One of the richest families in my town gives so much back to the community. They help out so many disadvantaged people, but if they didn't use their God given skills to earn that money, those poor people wouldn't have that help. Just something to think about. If God has given you an education and certain abilities, you should pray to find a way to use them to do his will. God bless you in your work. I think what you are thinking of doing is great.


#32

[quote="clarkest, post:1, topic:319067"]
I have volunteered with the homeless on and off for six years, and over time have felt drawn to live among the poor here in North America.

[/quote]

Awesome.

[quote="clarkest, post:1, topic:319067"]
So, I know there are lots of people in the past who have lived among the poor, but they ended up starting a religious order. St. Francis, Mother Theresa, etc. I don't want to live in a convent and minister to the poor as a sister. I want to live with them, among them. Celibate. I'm not sure about being a religious. I just want to love them where they're at and actually be one with them.

[/quote]

Venerable Dorothy Day lived among the poor as a celibate woman. She was was an oblate of the Order of St. Benedict, but a laywoman. She and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker movement, but it's not a religious order.

If you're not familiar with Dorothy, I heartily recommend her writings, such as The Long Loneliness. A great secondary source would be All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day by Eastern Orthodox writer and Catholic Worker community participant Jim Forest.

My favorite Catholic Worker newspaper is the Houston Catholic Worker. :)

[quote="clarkest, post:1, topic:319067"]
First I'm wondering about safety, seeing as I'm a young woman.

[/quote]

Other people have walked this path before you, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Learn from them. I don't just mean reading books, either. Heck, write to Mark & Louise Zwick at Casa Juan Diego and ask 'em if they have any pointers! :D

[quote="clarkest, post:1, topic:319067"]
do vocations HAVE to have a sort of ceremony?

[/quote]

If you've been baptized and confirmed, your vocation's already had some ceremony. :)

[quote="clarkest, post:1, topic:319067"]
So... is this even possible? Thanks!

[/quote]

Yes!


#33

Speaking of Blessed Charles, he’s another good one to read about! The book Charles de Foucauld: In the Footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth by Annie of Jesus would be a good book to start with.


#34

Though, like Blessed Charles, also a religious, I would still recommend reading about Eastern Orthodox Mother Maria Skobtsova of Paris. There’s no reason not to be inspired by the religious, even if you are not planning to become a sister yourself. :slight_smile:


#35

Colorful personality - and a courageous one with a quick read only.
Dont know how reliable it is - this is what wikipedia had to say about Mother Maria:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Skobtsova


#36

[quote="TiggerS, post:35, topic:319067"]
Colorful personality - and a courageous one

[/quote]

One of my favorite stories is about her harboring Jews from the Nazis. When the Nazis came calling and demanded that she reveal Jews in her house, she escorted them to her icon of the Theotokos.


#37

[quote="robwar, post:2, topic:319067"]
I believe there are consecrated virgins, I would google it. They are women mostly and are not in a religious group but have consecrated themselves to the Church and virginity in service like you are doing. They take a vow of consecration and then live out their calling in service. Sounds like you are doing wonderful work. God Bless what you are doing.

[/quote]

Yes, we our diocese has a woman who went through this not too long ago. She is the first one in our diocese, so it is somewhat of a novelty here, but I wonder if more women may be looking for a vocation like this.

scdiocese.org/vocations.cfm?subpage=1441246


#38

You might want to check out the Catholic Worker Movement. It was mentioned by a previous poster, but they didn't mention that there are houses of the movement throughout the country where you can live while serving the poor. They are not an order per say, but they do live in community, which would address some of the safety concerns. Try their website catholicworker.org/communities/commlistall.cfm. It has the houses by state and also a link to information on volunteering opportunities.


#39

[quote="clarkest, post:1, topic:319067"]
I have volunteered with the homeless on and off for six years, and over time have felt drawn to live among the poor here in North America. I will, of course, bring this up again very directly and specifically in spiritual direction, but I'm interested in hearing what you wonderful people have to say. So, I know there are lots of people in the past who have lived among the poor, but they ended up starting a religious order. St. Francis, Mother Theresa, etc. I don't want to live in a convent and minister to the poor as a sister. I want to live with them, among them. Celibate. I'm not sure about being a religious. I just want to love them where they're at and actually be one with them. First I'm wondering about safety, seeing as I'm a young woman. Also, I'm just not really sure about this whole thing. I keep saying to myself "it's easy, just follow God. Wherever he leads" but I just don't know if this is practical. I do live in Canada, winters are cold! I don't know what I'd end up doing as one of them, because I'm obviously in no position to preach or anything like that. All I can see is being one of them, being Christ-like among them, going to daily Mass and adoration. Other than that...dunno.

SO my question, really, is this: do vocations HAVE to have a sort of ceremony? I don't know the right term (wasn't raised Catholic, don't know much :) ) But marriage has the wedding ceremony, priests have ordinations, and religious and hermits take vows. So... is this even possible? Thanks!

[/quote]

Ever heard of the Focolare Movement?Check it out!:thumbsup:


#40

Yes this is possible.

The way of St Francis might be a good guide, chastity, poverty and obedience.

There is always the Secular Franciscan Order for people living in the world but who want to follow this way.

God bless you and your work!


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