Hitting a vocational wall (long - help appreciated)

In my freshman year in college I started getting really into my faith, and it was that spring that I first started thinking about being a nun (really a sister as I don't feel called to the cloister, but I'll be saying "nun" in this post because that's how I usually talk about it). Most of that summer when I would think about it I would just feel this intense irresistible draw towards it. However, dropping out of school was not an option - I didn't even bring it up as it's just not done in my family. Even though I was keeping this secret, that summer was the best spiritual summer of my life; I recieved a lot of consolations. I was also set to transfer from my school to a Catholic school, and so had a lot of hope for that.

The first semester of that year was the best socially that I'd had so far (out of a year and a half, so not that long), but I still went to the Catholic school in january. My spiritual life was still doing quite well even with the demands of school. Then at the Catholic school, I was for a while very very lonely, then it got better, but then my closest friends there were pushing away from me. I finished that year the lowest I had been since high school. That summer was an agonizing back-and-forth of whether to stay or go back, and I went back to my first college which is not Catholic. It was definitely the right decision as I can see now. Though I suffered a lot that summer, my faith had stayed strong due to the availability of the Eucharist at the Catholic college.

Fall of this past year, I started a little rocky but it got better. Quickly, though, I got stressed out and between the presence of roomates and schoolwork, I wasn't able to pray as much. At the beginning of my "journey" when I was receiving consolations I was able to pray on the way to class and stay well focused but I just couldn't do this anymore. This past spring semester was very hard. My best friend was going through a rough time and I didn't hear from her for a month, finally she sent an email, but we didn't get to talk tilshe got back. This is the longest we had gone in 13 years of friendship without talking, and I was distraught, as I hadn't done anything wrong. Everything's good again, she was getting depressed and so I don't blame her for doing strange things like that, but the point of relating this story is that I could not be calm for this whole time because of being worried about it. I still tried to pray and did ok once in a while. Also I had over fifty pages to write within four or five weeks.
Now finally it is this summer. Next year I will be a senior and I am trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my life. I promised myself, when I decided not to leave school to enter, that I would not lose my vocation. I do not feel anything though. Now I'mnot one of those people who leaves a church based on feelings; that's silly, and the Catholic Church is my life. The problem is that I can't find a religious community that I could see myself in. I've only researched on the internet- too scared to make contact. I love the Latin Mass and would like a community with it. I also just cannot enter somehwere with a contemporary designed chapel. This might sound petty, but modern "art" annoys me, and does not raise my mind to God. If I'm going to spend the rest of my life praying in this chapel, it's going to have to not be ugly. I also love the Passionist charism. Meditation on the Passion has been my strongest tie to God - even when I feel nothing it is the only thing that makes me feel a little. I also want to do orphanage work. I can't be cloistered - I can tell you from my days at the Catholic school that I would die of loneliness. I like hugs, and you can't hug your family through a grille.
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I am also very strong willed an opinionated, though polite. I basically have the confidence to get done what I need done,but I’m not a jerk to people. It’s developed after a lifetime of being shy and getting kicked around - I finally figured out that you can do really anything you want to if you put your mind to it, and people won’t stand in your way.
So anyway, I feel called to work in an orphanage in Romania or Bulgaria. I don’t know why these countries came into my mind, but ever since I started discerning they’ve been there. It might just be another of my nutter plans, like transferring to the Catholic school, and not actually God’s will, or it might be something that God is really communicating to me. I don’t know.
Basically whenever I look at communities’ web pages I just get a cold, sad feeling. I don’t know if this means I’m not called, since your vocation is supposed to give you peace. It would help if I could hear God more, as I’ve hear you’re not even supposed to discern while not receiving consolations, but I’ll never enter at this rate if I do that. Once in awhile I do get some consolation; it’s just not a constant state of recollection as it was before.

I’ve dated three guys - one jerk, the second a good boyfriend, with him for six months, broke up because long distance of college was too much. The last one was the first that I really really liked - we once talked for 4 hours straight after meeting for dinner.We’re both Catholic and have similar personalities. However he was undergoing depression issues, and I felt uncomfortable dating because I was discerning. We went on two dates and didn’t even hug, which was perfectly fine with me as I did not want any physicality due to discernment. the previous two guys, we kissed, but never more and I wouldn’t ever do more unless married.
I haven’t been really even considering marriage for years. Right now I just don’t know what in the world to do. The problem with marriage is, (honesty alert): I’m scared of sex. I don’t want to do it. I don’t understand how people can crave after it their whole life. Now, before you tell me that this is an impediment to a religious vocation, I have thought about it, and I believe that it is because I feel that my sexuality is such a private and precious gift that I can’t give it to anyone but God. I don’t think it’s wrong within marriage, so it’s not that my view is disordered, at least I don’t think - I just don’t feel called to it. Like most women, I love kids, but the orphanage would fulfill that, and I’d also be consecrated to Jesus as His Spouse.
I guess I’m just really unsure and confused right now. I want to get my life going after college, which means I need to be looking at convents now. But I can’t find anything. Founding something is in the back of my mind, but I don’t know how in the world to do that, and I’ve never even prayed the Divine Office. But I can’t enter somewhere that isn’tlike what I’ve described, so maybe it’s the only way?
Also, I do not have a spiritual director. My parish priest, who just retired, and I are quite close, and he knew of my possible vocation. He’s kinda liberal though, so I never told him about the whole Latin Mass thing since I didn’t want him thinking I’msome crazy trad. Now I won’t even see him more than once before school starts. So while I would like to get a spiritual director, it’s going to be a while before I find the right person for the job as I have to get to know some new priests.
Well if you read all that, thank you, and any advice/direction would be much appreciated. Thank you again. :frowning:

Also, I do not have a spiritual director.

This is the issue. Everything else goes on the backburner till you get one of these, it doesn't matter if you bother your new Priest on his first day - putting it off won't make it any easier.

[quote="jrs88, post:2, topic:204320"]
I am also very strong willed an opinionated, though polite. I basically have the confidence to get done what I need done,but I'm not a jerk to people. It's developed after a lifetime of being shy and getting kicked around - I finally figured out that you can do really anything you want to if you put your mind to it, and people won't stand in your way.

So anyway, I feel called to work in an orphanage in Romania or Bulgaria. I don't know why these countries came into my mind, but ever since I started discerning they've been there. It might just be another of my nutter plans, like transferring to the Catholic school, and not actually God's will, or it might be something that God is really communicating to me. I don't know.
Basically whenever I look at communities' web pages I just get a cold, sad feeling. I don't know if this means I'm not called, since your vocation is supposed to give you peace. It would help if I could hear God more, as I've hear you're not even supposed to discern while not receiving consolations, but I'll never enter at this rate if I do that. Once in awhile I do get some consolation; it's just not a constant state of recollection as it was before.

I've dated three guys - one jerk, the second a good boyfriend, with him for six months, broke up because long distance of college was too much. The last one was the first that I really really liked - we once talked for 4 hours straight after meeting for dinner.We're both Catholic and have similar personalities. However he was undergoing depression issues, and I felt uncomfortable dating because I was discerning. We went on two dates and didn't even hug, which was perfectly fine with me as I did not want any physicality due to discernment. the previous two guys, we kissed, but never more and I wouldn't ever do more unless married.
I haven't been really even considering marriage for years. Right now I just don't know what in the world to do. The problem with marriage is, (honesty alert): I'm scared of sex. I don't want to do it. I don't understand how people can crave after it their whole life. Now, before you tell me that this is an impediment to a religious vocation, I have thought about it, and I believe that it is because I feel that my sexuality is such a private and precious gift that I can't give it to anyone but God. I don't think it's wrong within marriage, so it's not that my view is disordered, at least I don't think - I just don't feel called to it. Like most women, I love kids, but the orphanage would fulfill that, and I'd also be consecrated to Jesus as His Spouse.
I guess I'm just really unsure and confused right now. I want to get my life going after college, which means I need to be looking at convents now. But I can't find anything. Founding something is in the back of my mind, but I don't know how in the world to do that, and I've never even prayed the Divine Office. But I can't enter somewhere that isn'tlike what I've described, so maybe it's the only way?
Also, I do not have a spiritual director. My parish priest, who just retired, and I are quite close, and he knew of my possible vocation. He's kinda liberal though, so I never told him about the whole Latin Mass thing since I didn't want him thinking I'msome crazy trad. Now I won't even see him more than once before school starts. So while I would like to get a spiritual director, it's going to be a while before I find the right person for the job as I have to get to know some new priests.
Well if you read all that, thank you, and any advice/direction would be much appreciated. Thank you again. :(

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I agree the spiritual director would help immensely. I am currently engaged to be married and even for married vocations (I never seriously felt called to religious life), discernment is not easy. It took a spiritual director to help me and my fiance sort out pure feelings from facts and God's truth. Yes, feelings are important but can be disordered or unreliable.

Another aspect... you have a lot of criteria here you are looking for. It's good to know what you want, but from my own humble observations, God (who knows what we need) often gives us a vocation that doesn't line perfectly up with what we want. For example, I always thought I needed to marry a very philosophical sort who liked to ponder and read thick books like me. Well, actually I am marrying a man who is more of a do-er than a sit-and-ponder, more practical than theoretical, etc. In hindsight I can see that I need someone grounded in the details and day-to-day to balance out my more "in the clouds" thinking. Again, a director will help you discern specific communities or married life if that is your call.

I'm working on finding a spiritual director; I do see how one would make a world of difference. I've also got to do some visiting of communities and see how that goes.

I don't really expect anyone here to come up with the perfect answer for all this, I'm just looking for advice (even on certain aspects and not even the whole thing).

[quote="jrs88, post:5, topic:204320"]
I'm working on finding a spiritual director; I do see how one would make a world of difference. I've also got to do some visiting of communities and see how that goes.

I don't really expect anyone here to come up with the perfect answer for all this, I'm just looking for advice (even on certain aspects and not even the whole thing).

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Ok; I am sorry for my breif post before.

You mentioned you could not stand a "modern" chapel.... A vocation is a calling, not a career; one of the first things one must accept is humility and to tolerate their surroundings. Jesus did not complain about being born in a stable.

You mentioned that you would prefer to do non-cloistered work. You should ask youself if this is because you feel you are called to serve others; or if you feel you would be unable to live in a cloistered environment.

You mentioned you are bossy and opinionated. Whilst your honest is appreciated; I am sure most orders would prefer you to invest some time working out these issues, because believe me you can't get your own way all the time. Someone I used to know had to leave a Mendicant Order because he could not hack Obedience after three years.

Go and meet orders or groups. Don't just look at their website. In the same way that a picture tells a thousand words, a meeting is worth a thousand pictures.

If you are not interested in marraige do not date people. This is particularily true if you are discerning a vocation.

You hinted at a foreign vocation. If you do not speak their language (and are not good at picking up languages) this will be you placing another block in your own path - it makes me think (although I only speculate) that you have some severe reservations and are making up excuses. You might be being too specific or critical.

In terms of finding orders, your spiritual director (when you get one) and/or your local priest will be able to give you information on ones that you can visit nearby.

:thumbsup:

I feel called to do orphanage work, and I feel I would not do well in a cloister.

I didn't say I am bossy; I said "strong-willed" - I just meant that I don't give up on stuff. I persevere until I reach my goals. Which is part of why I don't want to let the vocation thing go like some might do. I know obedience will be a part of orders, and I think it will be a very good part since it will teach humility.

Thanks for your advice :)

I found that a significant prayer life is the best possible thing you can do to help during your period of discernment. Your spiritual director will help you determine if your life is in balance and provide guidance on things you can do to obtain better balance, he/she will also help you in maintaining your prayer life.

I am discerning the priestly vocation and praying the Liturgy of the Hours (Morning and Evening at min) is very helpful in keeping focused throughout the day on matters of discernment. I recommend praying the rosary as much as you can (at least one decade a day). Your spiritual director will be able to guide you to spiritual literature to read in the evening before bed.

May the will of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit be with you during your time of discernment.

God Bless,

Jeff.

I think Johm Damien said a lot of good things for you to consider. It is almost as if you are placing things in the path as barriers to religious life. For instance, you love traditional stuff (me too) but you want to be a sister, not cloistered. In the US, I've found most active orders are rather liberal. Cloistered orders seem to be more traditional. A European Order may have a better balance where you can find an active order which is also more traditional. The chapels and buildings in Europe tend to be older and more beautiful. Some parts of Europe are very secular though. The Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa's order) may be a fit for you. I will pray for your vocation, that you will find a good sp. director and a good nun-fit for yourself. Nun for the Road!:thumbsup:

[quote="jrs88, post:7, topic:204320"]
...I said "strong-willed" - I just meant that I don't give up on stuff. I persevere until I reach my goals. Which is part of why I don't want to let the vocation thing go like some might do. I know obedience will be a part of orders, and I think it will be a very good part since it will teach humility.

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Perhaps one of the best things you could do would be to try and minimize your strong will and redirect that passion to the will of Our Lord. When you join a religious order you really do have to be willing (and able) to set aside you in exchange for what your superior demands (regardless of what the reason may be).

I have a friend who is a religious and he tends to be the type to run a lot and stay skinny (at least as long as I've known him) but one night at dinner his superior required that he eat a piece of cheesecake, despite the fact he insist he didn't want to. My friend felt strongly about not wanting anything else to eat, but his superior (I presume, I don't know the man) decided my friend's scrupulosity/vanity was a roadblock for him and needed to be dealt with.

I feel a call to the monastic life. As much as I've tried to ignore it and set myself up to make money and eventually be able to support a family, this feeling hasn't gone away. Instead I just find myself in a position and in a job where I don't know I can be any sort of happy - all because I was running away from my vocation due to a parent's reaction. Now I feel like a fool for doing that, but feel the call just as strong as before.

That saying about love and letting it go (if it comes back it's yours, if not it was never yours to begin with) seems to me to be true. Most orders accept people up to age 40 at least, so you don't need to be in a huge hurry - do what you need to do and make sure you're following God, but realize you don't have to have a detailed life plan as soon as you graduate from college. As a recent college graduate I'm still working on teaching myself that. ;)

"That saying about love and letting it go (if it comes back it's yours, if not it was never yours to begin with) seems to me to be true."

I liked this a lot. I am really just torn right now between possible vocations. I'm trying to put less pressure on myself to find a convent quickly, and refocus on prayer (since the convent search thing stresses me out). I'm also going to consider marriage which I wasn't before. And find a spiritual director to go over all this with.

That sounds like a good idea. :)

A good spiritual director should be able to help you a lot. Just try to keep things in perspective and make sure God's in control. That's always the hardest thing about life in any vocation (at least from where I'm standing): keeping God at the center of life and making life a gift of the self to Him, not a tug-of-war against Him.

[quote="jrs88, post:7, topic:204320"]
I just meant that I don't give up on stuff. I persevere until I reach my goals.

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Make sure you keep my favorite line of the Our Father in mind... "Thy will be done" I too have trouble with decisions and sometimes work projects (I work for a Church), but once I try to see things from God's perspective (if that is possible) the stress level goes way down and everything works out.

It is not a profession but it is a calling... How about serving as a catechist?

Hi jrs88! I just want to offer some general encouragement. When I first realized God was calling me to be a nun, I thought I’d have the whole thing sewn up in two months. That was three years ago. :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve definitely been through some times when it seemed like nothing was happening. You say, “Basically whenever I look at communities’ web pages I just get a cold, sad feeling.” Maybe that’s related to a general discouragement about the vocation search, especially since you’re in a time when you’re not feeling God’s presence so much. I used to feel a little depressed reading about great religious orders or meeting some girl who was off to join a convent, because I wanted it to be me. I wanted to fall madly in love with some order, but I was afraid I’d never find the right one and I’d be stuck in an unhappy in-between state for years while my friends all moved forward with life and took vows or had babies.

But looking back over these three years I realize that God has been moving me forward very definitely. There were periods of time when I felt like I wasn’t getting any direction from God and was making no progress. But the overall trajectory has been upward, and I realize I should have had more faith. Of course God wasn’t going to put it on my heart to be a nun, and then leave me alone with no guidance and let me sit there and be miserable with the unfulfilled desire. He was working, no doubt. Also teaching me patience. :smiley: If it turns out that you have to work for a few years after college, they won’t be wasted years-- God will have some purpose for them, maybe shaping your character in a way that prepares you for religious life (or marriage, if that turns out to be His will.)

For me my vocation search really got going when I actually started visiting a bunch of communities. I hadn’t wanted to do this, because I didn’t want to get their hopes up. So I was keeping a very slow correspondence with just one order at a time, until I got a tough spiritual director who made me contact *everyone *I was interested in and ask to visit. Now I’m so glad I did. It wasn’t just that I needed to learn about lots of different orders. It was that I needed to learn how God speaks to me when I’m visiting an order. Everyone’s different, but for me, it wouldn’t have been possible to just pick the right order the first time and join, because I wouldn’t have been able to discern that it was the right one if I hadn’t experienced the others. And the other orders didn’t have hurt feelings about it-- they don’t expect that every girl who visits is going to join. They just want God’s will, as I do.

Anyway, main point: God is in charge, and He will guide you, in spite of the fact that it might seem to you that he leaves you alone and directionless for long periods of time. And I remind myself of the same thing. :slight_smile:

I’ve been through long stretches when I had to do without a spiritual director, and looking back I see that God gave me directors when I most needed them. The rest of the time He guided through the books I read, especially the lives of the saints (I **love **St. Faustina’s Diary), and the books of Fr. Tim Gallagher, OMV. His Discernment of Spirits is fantastic, very practical help for understanding when God is speaking to you and when you’re being deceived.

Oh, one more thing-- I identify with you about not wanting an ugly modern chapel. It’s true that you have to go where you’re called and not insist that everything about an order be pleasing to you. But this is about more than that-- it’s about being in a community that understands that beauty honors God and is conducive to worship, and not being under the leadership of women who are so lacking in discernment that they think ugly modern decoration is just as good. As for the traditional Latin Mass-- if you said, “I want to be a Dominican because I love study,” people wouldn’t question you. Well, the TLM is just as big a deal and has just as much influence on a community’s spirituality, so there’s nothing wrong with preferring it. That said, I never restricted my search to TLM communities alone because there are so few of them (especially, there are hardly any active sisters who have the TLM, in America or anywhere else-- TLM communities tend to be contemplative.)

Okay, I’ve blabbed enough-- just remember that God is good! Trust in Him! :slight_smile:

[quote="oiboyz, post:14, topic:204320"]
Hi jrs88! You say, "Basically whenever I look at communities' web pages I just get a cold, sad feeling." Maybe that's related to a general discouragement about the vocation search, especially since you're in a time when you're not feeling God's presence so much.

Yes that's likely part of it.

But looking back over these three years I realize that God has been moving me forward very definitely. There were periods of time when I felt like I wasn't getting any direction from God and was making no progress. But the overall trajectory has been upward, and I realize I should have had more faith. Of course God wasn't going to put it on my heart to be a nun, and then leave me alone with no guidance and let me sit there and be miserable with the unfulfilled desire. He was working, no doubt. Also teaching me patience. :D If it turns out that you have to work for a few years after college, they won't be wasted years-- God will have some purpose for them, maybe shaping your character in a way that prepares you for religious life (or marriage, if that turns out to be His will.)

For me my vocation search really got going when I actually started visiting a bunch of communities. I hadn't wanted to do this, because I didn't want to get their hopes up. So I was keeping a very slow correspondence with just one order at a time, until I got a tough spiritual director who made me contact everyone *I was interested in and ask to visit. Now I'm so glad I did. It wasn't just that I needed to learn about lots of different orders. It was that I needed to learn *how God speaks to me when I'm visiting an order. Everyone's different, but for me, it wouldn't have been possible to just pick the right order the first time and join, because I wouldn't have been able to discern that it was the right one if I hadn't experienced the others. And the other orders didn't have hurt feelings about it-- they don't expect that every girl who visits is going to join. They just want God's will, as I do.
That's probably the kick that I need, lol. I think I'm a little afraid that they'll want me to commit right away if i contact them, and I'mjust not there yet, even though I wish I was. I visited a new church today where the priest is rumored to be very orthodox (held true from what I could tell). I want a traditional priest as a spiritual director to help me sort out the vocation stuff

Oh, one more thing-- I identify with you about not wanting an ugly modern chapel. It's true that you have to go where you're called and not insist that everything about an order be pleasing to you. But this is about more than that-- it's about being in a community that understands that beauty honors God and is conducive to worship, and not being under the leadership of women who are so lacking in discernment that they think ugly modern decoration is just as good.
Thank you so much for this. You've basically put into words what I've been feeling. I am a very visual person, and my surroundings affect the quality of my prayer. I just get very affected by it - like I love realistic statues and crucifixes. I love the Sacred Heart ones where He's wearing red and always has the most beautiful expression

As for the traditional Latin Mass-- if you said, "I want to be a Dominican because I love study," people wouldn't question you. Well, the TLM is just as big a deal and has just as much influence on a community's spirituality, so there's nothing wrong with preferring it. That said, I never restricted my search to TLM communities alone because there are so few of them (especially, there are hardly any active sisters who have the TLM, in America or anywhere else-- TLM communities tend to be contemplative.)
I like the comparison with the Dominican/order spirituality. There is an order fairly close to me that is TLM and has schools and stuff - it's where i'll start, I'm sure, once I get up the courage to do it :o

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Thank you for your very thoughtful post. It helped tremendously - I went through and responded to individual parts. They're in the quote box cause I can't figure out how to multiquote.
That made me feel a lot better, though, especially about the chapel and TLM thing, because I know I am being picky, and it helped reassure me that those aren't stupid things to want in an order. Hopefully within a month or so I'll have a feel for the personalities of the priests at the two churches and will be able to request spiritual direction. I've been trying to pressure myself less, like be less of the"ihavetobeanunbeforei'm22ori'vewastedmylifeandwillneverdoanythinguseful" and actually consider marriage, keeping the quote in mind that 3Sanctus said about love not being yours to begin with if you leave and it leaves, and it's always yours if you leave and it follows. (I say leave in the sense of just letting go)

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Oh good, I'm glad my post was helpful! I'll say a prayer right now for your discernment, and another that God will give you a spiritual director if it's His will right now. You made me smile with the "ihavetobeanunbeforei'm22ori'vewastedmylifeandwillneverdoanythinguseful" thing. I feel a similar pressure to join an order soon, but I'm 32 and hoping I won't have to wait till 33! Thank goodness that traditional orders have been willing to bend their upper age limits for me. :) Anyway, good luck! I bet God will show us both His will, something unexpected and more perfect than we could have realized.

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