My "Negative/Positive" Vocation Experience


#1

Dear All,

Last year I went to try my Vocation with the Trinitarian Order in the South of Spain, I love Spain & speak Spanish so I really jumped at the chance, I was able to try my Vocation through this Religious Order for men because I know very well one of the “female” branches of the Order and have worked closely alongside the Sisters in Pastoral Work.

I went for a trial period and had a beautiful experience & visited a number of communities belonging to the Order in the region and felt so called to join them, I was accepted very quickly and entered a few months afterwards. I was led to believe by the superiors that I would naturally have to go through a period of adaptation and adjustment to the religious life, and most likely a year of it. I was so excited because I had admired this Order through the Sisters as I grew up and I wanted to and still want to serve God.

However, within one week of arriving I was sent to the local University to begin a course in Philosophy and Theology, at degree level in Spanish (I couldn’t even imagine doing that in English). I had absolutely no time to adjust to the Religious Life, the year before I joined there were two Korean Postulants who had spent 1 whole year doing a year of adaptation and getting used to the Religious Life, I found it hard to understand why I was given no time to adjust and sent so quickly to the University. There was also a Spanish boy who joined with me and he was also sent with me to classes but to my shock horror I had more classes and subjects to study than he did.

For a number of weeks I struggled very much with getting used to living in a Religious Community, the divine offices in Spanish, totally new way of life and no time to get used to it with also having to rush to Classes after prayers in the mornings. I had to be in chapel say the morning offices, have 1 slice of bread for breakfast and then walk 30 minutes to my classes. I tried to give this all to God and although I was “struggling” I believed it was God’s will for me and tried very hard.

The classes were very complex and confusing for me. I come from England and believed myself to have a good and traditional (simple) understanding of the Catholic faith, I became very confused, very quickly by the extremely “liberal” stance which was taken in many of my classes and the ignorance of many of my class mates. The class was made up of Postulants, Religious & lay people. On one occasion the Professor asked what the Immaculate Conception was and not even some of the professed Nuns knew its true meaning, this was shocking to me.

To cut a long story short I gradually became aware of the fact that I was in a very liberal Catholic Faculty and that much of what was being taught and spoke about by teachers & students alike I was very uncomfortable with. It was kept from me that the Faculty had even been denounced by the local Bishop for its teachings, I felt it was wrong to keep that from me. I was struggling immensely with this.

Although they were good people in the community I could see very clearly that all the Priests and Friars had been formed in this faculty and were all advocates of women Priests, Gay Marriage, Contraception etc. and I had been told all my life that these things were not possible and believed I had them explained well to me, I just could not fathom the fact that I had “ended up” in a Community which was this way inclined, yet at first I stayed quite and didn’t voice my objections too loudly. There was an Indian brother who when he discovered what I did voiced very loudly his objections and the whole community seemed to turn against him and talk badly about him- it put me in a very difficult situation.

The Masses that we had in Community were totally alien to me, Mass was often said in plain clothes, the Missal was disregarded and the Priest would make up the words as he went along. The beautiful habit of the order was never worn, except on extremely “Important” occasions. I was also made to read at almost every Mass in the community and in Church, this is something I hated because it was not my first language, I had to practice and I was always criticized for mispronouncing something, yet none of the Spanish brothers or even the other Postulants were ever made to read and this really frustrated me…on top of that the Master of Postulants put me in charge of all the hymns in Church on Sunday, I am not a musical person, the hymns were totally unknown and alien to me and I had to set up a horrible projector and spend hours preparing slides with the words on every Sunday, plus being made to read all the time. I became very low and the Mass almost (God forgive me) became meaningless to me. I hated Sundays, after several months of this, combined with my classes and I felt very uncomfortable. I knew that what the other members of the community and my class mates were saying and doing was wrong. I began to become very vocal and made known that I did not accept or agree with Women Priests, that the Mass should be said wearing Vestments and with the words of the Missal, the Mass is not a “play thing” that can be changed and altered to suit people’s desires. I was very vocal towards Mass said sitting around a Coffee table, it just not acceptable.


#2

PART 2- CONTINUED.

I became really very low, I did manage to find some Priests to speak to but I found no consolation. I was told to either accept these things or leave. I kept it all inside for nearly half a year when I decided to speak to the Master of Postulants and tell him I was leaving…I spoke to him and had that very intention but he managed to persuade me and said we would change things. To my surprise I did not have to read for a few Masses after that and neither did I have to prepare the Music, it was a bit of a relief for me and I felt so much better. I was then able to leave for my visit home (which was booked and I had the intention of not returning but the Master of Postulants changed my mind). I had a lovely visit home and then returned to the Friary- where everything that was discussed before was totally forgotten…again I was doing all the readings, preparing all the music, going to all my classes, as well as doing other tasks around the Friary. On the Sunday morning after returning one hour before Mass after being told that somebody else would prepare the music it was flung on me and I had to do it all again.

I don’t want to give the impression that I was moaning or complaining about everything but surely my good fellow Catholics will understand where I am coming from. I very quickly became very unhappy and decided to leave but knew I had to pray about it. I could no longer take it. I was fed up of the sacrilegious Masses, all the classes where I was made out to be a “lefebvrist” because I just couldn’t accept their twisted Catholicism. I was fed up of being told off for praying the rosary (Once a week I had to prepare prayers in the community and I would always choose a different devotion etc. and the Master of Postulants told me I needed to stop praying the rosary and actually talk to God) I found this shocking. I knew I had to leave, it was just picking my moment.

I mustered up the courage and asked to speak to the Master of Postulants who on the whole I had got on with and I had tried to “love as my Father” but I couldn’t take it any longer. He had totally ignored all that we discussed and made me feel that he didn’t care. I told him point blank that I was leaving and I told him why…he completely exploded and told me I was a terrible person, a terrible Catholic and that people like me were ruining the Church. I was speechless, he really went for me and called me names, he called me crazy, good for nothing and really insulted me with some nasty and very cruel comments- in my whole life I had never been spoken to like that. He just expected it to blow over and sent me to my room…I took my suitcase and immediately began to pack. Within a few minutes he returned and asked me what I was doing, when I said I was leaving he completely denied every word he had just said to me and acted as though nothing had happened- this infuriated me. I told him I was leaving and again he started to insult me. I packed my bag and within an hour I walked out the door. I went to stay with a very kind Spanish Family I knew from an exchange I had done a few years before.

I believe that I made the right decision, I have forgiven the Priest and don’t hold any hard feelings for him but for so long I have had all this inside me and want to share it with Catholics who please God will understand and be able to pray for me. I know there are some people here who will probably misunderstand me and my motives but I personally believe I took the only option I could have done, although I was made out to be the bad guy by them all and purely because I held to the “Catholic Faith”. I am totally shocked that there are people like this in the Church and was so ignorant of this. These people are doing more damage to the faith than outsiders.

We need to listen to people like Mother Angelica, it is not “rubbish” but truth!

Before this experience I considered myself very naive and thought that all Catholics were the same and united in the one faith, I now understand that the Catholic faith although universal and one has many people like this. It has taken me months to come to terms with this and what happened. I am now working as a Pastoral Assistant at a Parish in London and I am praying and thinking about my Vocation. The official Vocations Director of my archdiocese researched my case and asked me to go and visit him where he told me that I did the right thing and that their teachings and actions were and are totally unacceptable, maybe that is just me out of human nature trying to justify myself but I believe rightly so.

I am not telling you this out of pride or wrong intentions but to share with good and fellow Catholics. I would ask your prayers for me and also for them.


#3

Maybe you were put there to share this story :slight_smile: pray for them.Dont be overcome by evil…
I myself am working in an institutions whose owners are very religious…However, the ways things are dealt there turn around money and business (and not really service and transparency)…really corrupt.so unchristian. There were some things there that I did against my conscience. I was afraid I was sinning God, and I always ask Him if I was in the wrong place and if I should quit, but I get the response “Dont leave them”. I get the assurance that I was put there for a purpose…and He flashes Psalm 23 in my mind.I dont fully know His plan, but He reveals them to me slowly…and this gives me a sense of purpose.


#4

That’s a very interesting account, fab94, and I’m so sorry you had this awful experience. Yes, we are the Universal Church, but even just living in Italy and attending Mass here regularly makes me realise that the cultural differences do have an impact - I can’t imagine how it would feel entering a religious community in a different country, even without the other problems you encountered.

I sincerely hope that now you are back in the UK, you will have peace of mind and that if God wills it, you will be able to enter a religious community where you feel at home.


#5

Sorry to hear of your plight.

I think the first order of business is always to confer with the Church to determine who has canonical approbation. So many useful and well meaning associations are started today. Check in with the diocese to gain some information first.

I had a similar experience, but the minister was honest enough to tell me they were working on approbation by the diocese. I left after the second meeting and am now with a cononically approved order. But as an aside I still help them out and see myself as an associate member, although they want me as a full pledged member. The good news is they are close to obtaining their wish. Lately the old bones are weakening and age is showing, besides I live far from them and I can’t keep it up for long. But my work with them is coming to an end.

“I just could not fathom the fact that I had “ended up” in a Community which was this way inclined, yet at first I stayed quite and didn’t voice my objections too loudly. There was an Indian brother who when he discovered what I did voiced very loudly his objections and the whole community seemed to turn against him and talk badly about him- it put me in a very difficult situation”.

This is common. Some will have harder times and need to accept greater sacrifice for the sake of peace. It’s what you are capable to personally accept, but it is also parasitic to Catholics as it clouds their beliefs.

You could stay and be a beacon to the others as they tread the waters of error. It may be difficult for you. (Frankly, if you are of Irish descent you will do just fine, :D). If you find you are generally not wanted, some social fenangling may be required. Your composure is what they will watch carefully, it should be calm and saintly. Always measure your words and collect your thoughts before speaking. Refuse to be affected. Gather evidence and defer to give answers later if you are not sure. Keep your sources to yourself and bring them out only when the situation is in your favor.(as Napolean once said to a junior officer who wanted to react to an error the enemy was doing, “never interrupt the enemy when he is making a mistake”.) For instance if you are eventually called to a Bishop to answer to your claims, he should be the only one to see your “ammo”. For the ones who are militant against you, avoid receiving reprimands or negatives that are not written, walk away or do something else. At least have a witness. If confronted always bring the conversation to them. “How are you doing?”, answer “Hi, Bob, gee what’s happening, you look great!?”. It gets better with practice. Make an excuse such has you are hard of hearing, “I always answer an e-mail sent to my private mail box”. It makes them more guarded and they know their material may be sent to the diocese exposing their knowledge. Insist on this St. Jerome style (written) method of communication. Eventually they will see you as more just than the others.


#6

What order does your Bishop recommend? Your Director of Vocations?
I would start there.
Peace.


#7

Wow. What an experience.

Glad you got out of it.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing, eh?

You knew truth and stuck to it.

The Church is a better place with you in it.

Take care,


#8

Sorry it happened to you. But, you were in Spain, which is notorious for this kind of infidelity. Same thing could easily have happened to you in Italy…or Belgium…or Buffalo, New York.

Try again, do more in-depth research this time. Best of luck!


#9

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