Do you have to be happy to enter religious life?


#1

I am curious because I seem to hear two versions of the story.

Some people enter a religious order instead of pursuing a secular life as a kind of "lesser of two evils," just because it seems right to do and the alternative is worse. I'm not talking about someone with clinical depression; but they don't have the support of family or friends and they may not ever be quite happy in a community either. They might receive consolations, yet they also expect to embrace sadness and loneliness as their cross to bear.

Yet many of the young people I see going to an order or to the seminary seem to be very fulfilled and happy and they have a loving support-group, and this seems to be a "new norm" and religious communities want applicants to be "healed of the old wounds of their past" and stuff like that (maybe this is the post-Vatican 2 version?). I'm sure they also have to endure sadness and loneliness, but it doesn't seem to be as much a part of their vocation.

Thoughts?


#2

Saint Terese of Avila had this to say:

“God save us from sour-faced saints!” :D

Peace :thumbsup:


#3

[quote="JerryZ, post:2, topic:337427"]
Saint Terese of Avila had this to say:

“God save us from sour-faced saints!” :D

Peace :thumbsup:

[/quote]

This gave me a nice chuckle this morning! :) :thumbsup:


#4

[quote="SecretaryMonday, post:1, topic:337427"]
I am curious because I seem to hear two versions of the story.

Some people enter a religious order instead of pursuing a secular life as a kind of "lesser of two evils," just because it seems right to do and the alternative is worse. I'm not talking about someone with clinical depression; but they don't have the support of family or friends and they may not ever be quite happy in a community either. They might receive consolations, yet they also expect to embrace sadness and loneliness as their cross to bear.

Yet many of the young people I see going to an order or to the seminary seem to be very fulfilled and happy and they have a loving support-group, and this seems to be a "new norm" and religious communities want applicants to be "healed of the old wounds of their past" and stuff like that (maybe this is the post-Vatican 2 version?). I'm sure they also have to endure sadness and loneliness, but it doesn't seem to be as much a part of their vocation.

Thoughts?

[/quote]

Read that paragraph in bold but think "marriage" instead of "religious life" Would you enter marriage with that mind set? Religious life is a vocation, like marriage is a vocation. You should enter religious life fully convinced that it's what God is calling you to do. Admittedly, there are people who get married because it's the "lesser of two evils" but I certainly wouldn't advise it.


#5

Agreed - but being convinced that it is what must be done, does one need to experience the call as a joyful thing, or is it possible to discern a vocation (either marriage or religious life) in a period of emotional and spiritual dryness?


#6

[quote="SecretaryMonday, post:5, topic:337427"]
Agreed - but being convinced that it is what must be done, does one need to experience the call as a joyful thing, or is it possible to discern a vocation (either marriage or religious life) in a period of emotional and spiritual dryness?

[/quote]

good question an there is probably no easy answer, history can point back to plenty who have had a calling and tried to refuse it..... though I found interesting you pointed out to be healed from ones past wounds.... seems to me it is those wounds that make us strong, the pain that keeps one alive and aware of others who are suffering from something similar, and plenty enter into marriage not healed of anything and for completely the wrong reasons, some of those marriages fail quickly, others last a long time for better or worse.... so how does one interpret that ??

I suspect ideally a candidate for a religious vocation should have a well rounded education, employment history, free from any mental distress, be extremely happy in their own faith, have little to no doubts, and have had some well rounded pursuits in dating ( which either includes premarital sex or not yet I doubt one ever asks a candidate if they have engaged in premarital sex , yet I suspect one is interrogated on their use of pornography )

But this state of emotional and spiritual dryness..... who is to say Our God is not calling that person to a religious vocation even in that particular state in his or her life ?

Then more over what is a candidate to do if he or she is being called, and does not fit into what ever an order or diocese is looking for in a candidate and is thusly rejected ?

Either way it does not appear to be an easy road to enter into and probably only gets harder along the way,,,, how about those religious who have passed all the schooling, and are a religious and thusly in their life time have entered into this emotional or spiritual dryness ?

Perception I suppose..... though a religious Order and / or a Diocese has to have a set of standards they have to abide by or else they would just take anyone off the street for any inkling towards a religious life.

That is my worthless two cents I am sure someone will have something better.


#7

This reminds me of something one of my patrons said:

…the reference to vocations recalls an anecdote given by Dr Ullathorne: in a Lecture on the Conventual Life, which is sufficiently quaint to merit insertion here. Speaking of the spirit of bright cheerfulness which alone qualifies a candidate for admission into a community, as opposed to the fanciful Protestant notion that nuns are sad, morose women, who have suffered love disappointments in the world, he says:

“When in the year 1838, I introduced a community of Sisters of Charity into New South Wales, I was called upon the morning following their arrival by a young lady, a stranger to me, who told me she had come on the part of another young lady who wished to enter the convent. Suspecting something a little romantic, I asked if the young lady was a Protestant, my visitor being evidently one herself. She replied: ‘My friend is a Protestant, but I assure you she is quite prepared to enter a convent. She has had no less than three disappointments.’ I could only answer, although kindly, that I feared she would have a fourth.”

– Benedictine Pioneers in Australia, Volume 1 / By Henry Norbert Birt (1911) p. 381.

amsjj :slight_smile:

+++
Jesus, God and man,
imprisoned by love in Thy most holy Sacrament,
have mercy upon us.

  • Blessed John Henry Newman, December 22, 1851

Tú y yo sabemos por la fe que oculto en las especies sacramentales está Cristo,
ese Cristo con su Cuerpo, con su Sangre, con su Alma, y con su Divinidad,
prisonero de amor.

  • San Josemaría Escrivá, 1 junio 1974

… Our Lord Himself frequently said; and it is recorded as an Apostolic tradition from Him
by St. Justin the Martyr. He says ‘Jesus often said, “They who are near Me are near a
fire”’.

  • Abp. W. B. Ullathorne, August 1st 1886

#8

Religious life is a vocation, not therapy, or an escape for the "evils" or "travails" of the world.

Anyone who has lived in a religious comunity will tell you this:p


#9

The Christian life is the way THROUGH life, not the way OUT OF life.

These were spoken to me by a vocation director 30 years ago, when I was discerning a vocation. I think this is great advice for all of us.

The religious life or marriage should not be used as “escapes” from our lives


#10

[quote="amsjj, post:7, topic:337427"]
She has had no less than three disappointments.' I could only answer, although kindly, that I feared she would have a fourth."

[/quote]

:rotfl:

[quote="triumphguy, post:8, topic:337427"]
Religious life is a vocation, not therapy, or an escape for the "evils" or "travails" of the world.

[/quote]

I know. Maybe my "lesser of two evils" comment was a distraction; I was trying to ask about a person who sees that sadness will persist no matter what they do, but they can picture being less sad if they pursue becoming a priest or nun rather than a doctor or mechanic or something. I wasn't trying to ask about a sad person who is just trying to escape "real life," although I think that Theresa of Avila originally entered Carmel because it was either that or marrying someone, and marriage looked worse (according to the movie anyway, lol!)

[quote="coachdennis, post:9, topic:337427"]
The Christian life is the way THROUGH life, not the way OUT OF life.

[/quote]

I was trying to give a scenario with two people who both want to do the will of God and may have a vocation to the religious life and aren't trying to escape life (sorry, sometimes I have to explain myself a lot before anyone can figure out what I'm saying :p)

The first person finds that their love for God and other people is in the will alone more than the emotions. They expect to be dry no matter what they do in life. They don't have much hope that they will feel "fulfilled" as a religious and yet they would still rather enter religious life than pursue secular options. They act kindly yet they don't really have close friends and their family doesn't understand why anyone would be celibate and poor for life by choice.

The second person has courageous, excited feelings about the direction their life is taking and expects to be happy and fulfilled (in spite of the trials). They are popular and beloved in their parish and have a strong support group of family and friends, and they are whole and strong because they have done the whatever-it-is that grownup people do to "heal past wounds" (I'm entirely clear on what this means, but I seem to hear it a lot).

(The first person is a little like me and some of the anecdotes I've heard, and the second person is a little like other anecdotes, as well as a younger, prettier, smarter girl who says "Awesome!" a lot using only one syllable. :D)


#11

Sometimes you have to just put your toe in the water in order to find out.;)

That's why we date, and get engaged, or enter formation.

Only by following a path can you find if you're going in the right direction...


#12

[quote="triumphguy, post:11, topic:337427"]
Sometimes you have to just put your toe in the water in order to find out.;)

That's why we date, and get engaged, or enter formation.

Only by following a path can you find if you're going in the right direction...

[/quote]

What about for those of us, (such as myself) who are still young and never had any inclinations to date anyone? I just can't force myself to be interested in such activities that other 20-something's still enjoy even if I wanted to.

Are there monks who were "social butterflies" in their former lives? Because in my case I've always been a loner, and completely content to keep to myself. I've never been a huge talker either, unless the conversation's meaningful..

I have a decent job which I'm happy with, but I've never felt I had much in common with anyone in my age group (I am 27). I've felt disconnected like this ever since I became a teenager..

I also know that for whatever reasons God has called me to study various religions from A to Z. I was raised as a Baptist, and then became Greek Orthodox and fell into apostasy and I still don't know what I'm looking for spiritually speaking... I just feel so unfulfilled, but mostly everything about Catholic teaching I do agree with...


#13

[quote="AveChriste11, post:12, topic:337427"]
What about for those of us, (such as myself) who are still young and never had any inclinations to date anyone? I just can't force myself to be interested in such activities that other 20-something's still enjoy even if I wanted to.

*Are there monks who were "social butterflies" in their former lives? Because in my case I've always been a loner, and completely content to keep to myself. I've never been a huge talker either, unless the conversation's meaningful.. *
I have a decent job which I'm happy with, but I've never felt I had much in common with anyone in my age group (I am 27). I've felt disconnected like this ever since I became a teenager..

I also know that for whatever reasons God has called me to study various religions from A to Z. I was raised as a Baptist, and then became Greek Orthodox and fell into apostasy and I still don't know what I'm looking for spiritually speaking... I just feel so unfulfilled, but mostly everything about Catholic teaching I do agree with...

[/quote]

The answer is yes.

Just because you are a social butterfly does NOT mean to that a person can't be called to a contemplative life. Just because someone is a "loner" does not mean they are called to a contemplative religious life.

The religious life is a way THROUGH life, not a way to AVOID life.

Trust me, as someone who is in his fifties, I have witnessed numerous religious and priests whose vocations were "misplaced". The world and the Church does not need more of that kind.


#14

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