I'm at square one of the discernment process to be a monk


#1

Soooo... I'm really trying to make the month of December a time of inner reflection and contemplation... even though I always do a lot of that. I guess, I'm really trying to focus on discernment.

After having an amazing freshman semester at college, I thought my first semester as a sophomore was going to be even better. But, for various reasons it was probably the worst time in my life. It was the first time I ever had a problem like depression. And, I have now been going to counseling since the first week of October; and will probably keep going through December. I definitely want to add, that for some reason I feel like God was working through my depression. Like... I was doing amazing at school, I made the Dean's List, and it was going to take something like depression to derail me from that path. Is it possible for God to work through depression? Or is it necessarily a form of spitiual desolation from the enemy that God allows us to go through? I just feel His hand at work in it somewhere.

It was serious enough depression that I took a medical withdrawal for the last semester at college. I just assumed I would regiester for classes and go back in the spring. After talking to my parents some about this, I realized that college really isn't a big priority for my right now. It comes down to, after a year and a half, not feeling even the slightest idea of what I want to do, or what I even want to major in.

Last night, the Holy Spirit finally spoke to me, and offered some much prayed for and desired clarity/ guidance in all of this. From a relatively young age I was comitted to the idea that if I failed academically, I could always become a monk instead, and have just as successful or even more successful life in the monastic life than in a secular career.

Anyways, that's what the Holy Spirit said: "remember how you said you'd pursue the monastic life if you failed academically... well here you are, you took medical withdrawal for this semester, you don't even know if you want to go back next semster. Now is the time for discernment". Or something along those lines.

Well, I hadn't really realized that until last night. Even though it should have been obvious. I had subconsciously been thinking about the monastic life probably daily for a week before that. But, it took the Lord answering my prayers to get me to see that I was called to the religious life.

Well, that's kind of the background to where I am today. I'm really on square 1 of discernment. Luckily, there are some events going on in the parish for seminarians, and I plan on visiting a monastery sometime this month. I've been reading a lot of posts about pursuing a vocation like this, and I still have tons of questions, so I'll post those below this.


#2
  1. I had been going to RCIA classes at my college to get confirmed. They will conclude at Easter in 2012. So, I definitely have to get confirmed, but it will be a lot harder if I don't go back to college.

  2. At the same time, if I really want to undertake a vocation to the religious life, is there any reason for me to be at college? Like... is there a reason I would want to get a college degree and then go to a seminary? [And it wouldn't be a degree in theology or something like that, it would be something like economics or public adminstration... it wouldn't be a religious degree at all]. Would that be worth something, or would it be wasted time/ money/ education?

  3. Is going to seminary how you become a monk? I really don't know very much about the process at all. I told 2 priests that I was starting discernment, but now I know that I at least want to go down this road, but I'm on square 1. Do people go to seminary after college? Do some monks not go to seminary? And, how is seminary different from college? I saw some people said that it was financially different, like the Church covers it so long as you have no debt? :confused:

  4. How do I know which religious order to go into? Like, I'm pretty sure I would not want to be a hermit- type monk like the Carthusians. I've had a few arrows pointing me to the Dominicans or the Franciscans but I don't really know.

  5. Aren't there some monks that celibrate Mass? Which monastic orders don't celibrate Mass? Most of them, or only a few of them?

  6. I just know that God has gifted me with a great intellect and really knowledge about a lot of things. And I want to be able to share that knowledge because I think it would help advance the Church. So... that's why I was considering the Dominicans because they're the Order of Preachers (I think). And, I'd want to be able to write a book as well. But, I know I've seen a lot of books written by monks on EWTN. But, maybe like some orders don't have the time to that, because the whole scholarly studying thing just isn't what they're about.

  7. Do all monks pray the Liturgy of the Hours? I know I want to do that for sure.

Sorry for all the questions, I'd be REALLY appreciative for any answers or insights into ANY of this... I'm just really enthusiastic to go down this road. thank you in advance. :tiphat:

P.S.
Oh yeah... well... is it a problem that I have been going through depression? Again, this is the first time in my life I've ever struggled with it. And, I think a lot of it was environmental factors at college. I just really don't see myself being happy with a secular career. I just feel called to this, and I feel like a lot of my shortcomings would just fall away in a religious community, because I'd be filled with joy.


#3

Your posts are quite long and there are parts I can’t offer any help with but I’ll do my best.

Firstly, you should not enter religious life as a “backup plan”. That’s not the way it works. You enter religious life because you want to and you are called by God to that life. It’s not a “oh look I failed studies but I can still become a monk”, it’s a “God is calling me to live this life so I will do so”. If He is not calling you, you will most likely not persevere.

[quote=Semper Zelare]2. At the same time, if I really want to undertake a vocation to the religious life, is there any reason for me to be at college? Like… is there a reason I would want to get a college degree and then go to a seminary? [And it wouldn’t be a degree in theology or something like that, it would be something like economics or public adminstration… it wouldn’t be a religious degree at all]. Would that be worth something, or would it be wasted time/ money/ education?
[/quote]

Simply, finish your education. You’re already there, it would be a waste to just drop out. And you want a degree in case you discern and find you are not called to priesthood or religious life. Communities also often like prospective applicants to have spent time in the world to ensure their call is genuine.

[quote=Semper Zelare]3. Is going to seminary how you become a monk? I really don’t know very much about the process at all. I told 2 priests that I was starting discernment, but now I know that I at least want to go down this road, but I’m on square 1. Do people go to seminary after college? Do some monks not go to seminary? And, how is seminary different from college? I saw some people said that it was financially different, like the Church covers it so long as you have no debt?
[/quote]

No. Seminary is how you become a priest. Monks and nuns go through a different formation process - you go through stages as a postulant, then a novice, then in temporary vows and if they decide after that point to commit to the community they take final vows. It takes about 5-6 years generally from entering as a postulant to final vows.

[quote=Semper Zelare]4. How do I know which religious order to go into? Like, I’m pretty sure I would not want to be a hermit- type monk like the Carthusians. I’ve had a few arrows pointing me to the Dominicans or the Franciscans but I don’t really know.
[/quote]

You discern! Research the founders of various orders, research their spirituality and see which you feel drawn too. It’s as simple as that. I want to be Benedictine, because I read the Rule of Saint Benedict and was inexplicably drawn to it.

[quote=Semper Zelare]6. I just know that God has gifted me with a great intellect and really knowledge about a lot of things. And I want to be able to share that knowledge because I think it would help advance the Church. So… that’s why I was considering the Dominicans because they’re the Order of Preachers (I think). And, I’d want to be able to write a book as well. But, I know I’ve seen a lot of books written by monks on EWTN. But, maybe like some orders don’t have the time to that, because the whole scholarly studying thing just isn’t what they’re about.
[/quote]

Yes, Dominicans were founded to preach and combat heresy. So you’ve pretty much already answered your question 4. Sometimes you’ve got to visit communities and learn about them to find which is the right place.

[quote=Semper Zelare]7. Do all monks pray the Liturgy of the Hours? I know I want to do that for sure.
[/quote]

I believe most monastic orders do pray the LOTH, it is often central to the structure of monastic life. I can’t comment on most specific orders, though I know Benedictines do.

Most importantly you need to stop thinking so much about “I” and what “I” want and what “I” decide. You need to open yourself to God and to His call and go where He wants you to be.


#4

I see you are in Alabama. You should call Br. Michael at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Ga. He is the real deal and will shoot you straight.

trappist.net/Discernment

Br. Michael is the vocations director. Give him a call and find out when the next vocations retreat is. I went there for a weekend, prayed the liturgy with the monks, got up at 3:45 and sat in the chior stalls with them, ate in the refectory, met the abbot and the novice director. Had some private meetings to help me discern my life. It was profound.

Whatever you decide, you will not regret going. If you are sincere then pick up the phone and make the call. I’m not saying that you should join this monastery, but it is relatively close and if you are sincere, then you have to make the first step at some point.

-Tim-


#5

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