Discernment Problems! Help Needed!

Today put a damper on my discernment search. I received a reply from the Carmel in Loretto, PA. They said they would not consider disabled applicants. Now I’m just bummed out because I have no effective way of communicating to the communities I’m interested in that when I say “disabled,” I don’t mean severely.

Loretto was really very kind in their reply, and I thanked them. They promised to pray for me and even recommended some orders that might consider disabled applicants. They seem very sweet, but when they mentioned that their Carmel was small and inaccessible, and the work schedule was too much, I realized the communities I’m writing to don’t really understand what I mean when I say I’m not incapacitated.

My disease does not progress; it will not get worse, and I won’t need to visit doctors constantly or take medicine. At most, I may need the occasional advil on a bad day. I can take care of myself without assistance, and I can certainly get up early. I live in a non-accessible dorm room by myself and walk to my college classes every day. I wash dishes, mop, and sweep. I can do laundry and cook. I can climb stairs. I can even walk without my crutches indoors. There’s nothing wrong with me. So I need my crutches to keep my balance. It’s not any different than someone needing glasses to read.

I’m sorry all, I know that was a rant. I’m just upset. I want to contact them again and explain further, but I know it won’t help. I know God is just closing this door to open another, but it hurts when I feel as though the first door was never opened. I just don’t know what to do about these letters. I can’t visit the monasteries in person yet because they are too far away, and I feel like I can’t adequately explain myself.

No one I interact with sees me as handicapped, and even my friends thought it wouldn’t have any bearing on my application because I’m so active. I know life in Carmel would be harder for me than most people, but I know I could do it. Perhaps I would be sore some days, but we all have our crosses to bear. I know with God’s help I could live this life, and I want to live it, for Him. What could I do to show I’m at least worth considering as an applicant? Should I get a letter of recommendation from my priest? I was thinking perhaps one from my doctor; he’s known me since I was four and can attest to my health.

I’m just placing it in God’s hands now. I’m hopefully going to talk with my priest next week, and move forward from there. I definitely need input from others. I’ve prayed about this, and I know I shouldn’t expect things to be easy. Even Jesus wept over Jerusalem. But he knows my pain, and so I put it in His hands. I feel called to religious life, and to Carmel. Perhaps it is just not there. Maybe it is another Carmel. Maybe it is another order. Who knows? But God leads if we follow. :slight_smile:

Pray, pray, continue to pray. You say “I am placing it in God’s hands now,” when, of course it had been there all along! Many saints were denied admittance to their community of choice the first and subsequent tries, yet they persevered in pursuing the vocation God placed in their hearts.
You do not state your age or locality, but, yes, there are other Carmelite communities. If you have not done so, study the differences between the two branches of Carmel, the O Carm group and the Discalced Carmelites (founded by St. Teresa of Avila). Ask your priest for direction, and if he is not well versed ib Carmelite spirituality, then he may be able to refer you to one who is.
In the meantime, continue your reading and study of the Carmel way of life, the rule, the practice of contempletive prayer. There are also groups of secular Carmel (I am OCDS) who can assist you in prayer and study as you continue the discernment process. Trust in God, that in his wisdom and in his time he will lead you perfectly. You have my prayers that your vocation will bear much fruit.

Have a look into: Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God - Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope.
They are dedicated to teaching and to evangelize.

According to Mother, "heir order will look ake you if you are “able to marry Jesus, can stand for 2 hours a day, and are between the ages of 18 to 118”.
Here is her video from EWTN with Fr. Mitch:


Website: motherofisraelshope.org/

I say what I did because like we all do, I allowed myself to become set on something before it was even a possibility, before I received a reply. I have been worrying too much, and though it has been in God’s hands this whole time, instead of allowing Him to work, I wanted to be in control, which is not the right thing to do. Perhaps God is still calling me to Carmel, but I have to allow myself to be open to other possibilities.

For information, I am 20 and currently living in South Carolina.

I am no expert on religious orders, but just because this one told you “no” does not mean that another will. I am unsure of, and it is unnecessary to share if you do not want to, what your disease is, but if it is God’s will there is an order out there for you. You may just not be looking into the one(s) he has in mind!

Good luck on your discernment!

Disabled and older vocations both make the same mistake of “going wherever someone will take them.” This causes great anguish to the soul when they have to leave due to it being the wrong spirituality.

Have a spiritual director, and discern your spirituality.

Start locally first. The only monastery I know of in South Carolina are the Franciscan Poor Clares. They just built a new monastery which should be handicapped accessible.

Many of the new charisms are for disabled and older vocations.


Thank you Cloisters and Katie for your kind replies. It has been a while since anyone replied to this thread, and I was a bit surprised to find a reply e-mail in my inbox! Thank you also, Cloisters, for your recommendation; I have looked into that community before, but I did not feel attracted to it. I am finding myself more drawn to communities with the traditional habit.

I have been looking into the Visitation Nuns (Visitandines) as well; the Loretto Carmel actually recommended them to me. Not only do they usually accept older or disabled applicants, they also wear the traditional habit! :smiley: The community in Tyringham seems lovely: Visitation of Holy Mary, Tyringham

Regardless of wether I do join the Visitation Order, I know God has blessed me just with its existence. Salesian spirituality is truly something I think everyone could benefit from, and devotion to Our Lord’s Sacred Heart has been especially comforting to me in these last few weeks. (Both my sister and I have been very sick.)

Again, thank you all for your replies. You have each been very helpful and encouraging in my discernment journey, and you are all in my prayers.

St. Francis de Sales and St. Margaret Mary, Pray for us! St. Therese, pray for us! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

The Community of the Epiphany in Florida also accepts persons with disabilities.

Feel free to PM me. I will have to think on this one a little longer.

Have you tried the Benedictines of the Glorious Cross?

Tyringham is an awesome place, but there is the Visitation of Snellville (Maryfield), Georgia, and the one at Mobile, Alabama. Both need vocations.

Agreed on Salesian spirituality. VatII actually encouraged religious to adapt Salesian spirituality into their daily lives. If you want to get a jump on it, google the Spiritual Directory of St Francis de Sales.


I have a head injury and have experienced some of what you have. I no longer tell people I have a head injury. I think it gives people a preconceived idea, “label” or “short cut thinking” as to who I am. As humans, I think we are subconsciously “categorizing” and labeling people all the time, even if we have the best of intentions NOT to. Are you your illness? Is that all you are? Or are you a wonderfully complex being lovingly created by God, full of quirks and amazingness? While I, too wanted to just be “up front” about my disability, and I felt hiding it was “lying”, I find that telling people >>about it<< is a lie about who I REALLY AM. When you meet people face to face and take a tour of your new potential place, if you are not able to meet the demands of the job (whatever it entails) that will become apparent…or if your physical health doesn’t limit you, that will shine as well. I will start announcing my disability to others when people start introducing themselves as, “Hi, I’m Joe, and I drink too much and take too much time off” or “Hi, I’m Sue and I lie and exaggerate”. Everyone carries some burden or quirk that can make life’s journey a bit of a steeper climb. Your physical body & health is what it is…but it’s not the sum total of who you are. I think bringing attention to that one aspect of yourself (physical fitness) does a disservice to the attention our wonderful hearts & souls deserve. ((hugs)) and peace to you…happy journeying!!

The reason utter honesty is required in such situations is that it tells the administration of the group whether or not someone is capable of honesty. I have a emerging charism, and if there is one thing that puts me off, it’s someone not telling me of their disability at the beginning, if there is one. I have to formulate mentally what that person’s daily life is like and assist them with making the proper adjustments to their lives to accommodate our spirituality. Persons also learn differently.

There are practical reasons as to why vocational personnel need to know of the disability up front. What if something were to happen while on their premises? Not knowing the person’s situation could literally be the difference between life and death!

Find your spirituality first. Then look for houses of that spirituality who might take you. What helps is to find the spirituality, then find the house you’re attracted to. The Carthusians are turned off by “I’ve written all of your Charterhouses.” That means the person is still discerning. When they receive a letter saying that the person is attracted to that particular monastery, then they begin discernment with them.

Don’t be put off by refusals. It takes up to three times to get the time of day from them. They are doing this to test the spirits. We have to challenge the attraction.

I also offer this link, since you had a head injury: cloisters.tripod.com/cfc/


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