Painful Past and discernment


#1

It seems in reading many vocation stories that often people who enter religious life had a lot going for them, attractive, popular, successful, very active with lots of friends and experiences etc. almost as if God were choosing those who had it all going for them to demonstrate the radical nature of their love in giving it all up. Yet we read in scripture that God chooses the lowly to shame the strong etc.

In looking at my own life I can say my experience has been rather the opposite in that I have had little worldly success, was not pretty or popular and suffered rejection and emotional abuse on many fronts. I hid this from myself and others while beginning to discern thinking I had to present myself as one who 'has it all going for them' otherwise people would think I was running from past pain into a convent. Yet nothing could be further from the truth and after having been in religious life I cannot imagine anyone running towards religious life as an escape because you are confronted with yourself and your wounds in the most profound sense. I cannot help but think my past pain was a blessing as without it I would not have searched for and clung to Christ as much as I have. Sadly I think I am of the prideful bent that had I had it all Christ would have taken second place until I needed him.

I would love input on some things I have been wresting with:

•So which is it, does God call the best of the best or does he call the lowest of the low....perhaps both?
•Are there any examples of Saints who, on the surface, looked like they were running from horrible situations quite the opposite of say St. Therese?

•Should one be able to say quite openly that they have come from painful pasts and not be ashamed of that? Surely God uses painful upbringings as much as idealic upbringings.

•Do you think having unresolved pains, particular family issues, is an indication that one should not be perusing religious life?


#2

I will pray for you, Piobaire, but here are my responses to your questions.

Remember these are only my opinions and I am only trying to help.

•So which is it, does God call the best of the best or does he call the lowest of the low....perhaps both?

I believe to God that none of us are the “lowest of the low” regardless of our circumstance. God gives us only what we can handle in life. My life has not been easy, but it has not been hard either. If someone else lived my life they might think it has been hard or easy. We are all different and God gives each of us different gifts. I believe that God has given me the graces necessary to deal with situations in my life in a fairly reasonable manner… the good as well as the not so good.

•Are there any examples of Saints who, on the surface, looked like they were running from horrible situations quite the opposite of say St. Therese?

I am not certain of an adequate response to this one, but I am sure there are. I know that there are Saints who were far from perfect before their conversion such as St. Mary of Egypt and St. Angela of Foligno, but I do not specifically know of any who ran from horrible situations to enter a convent or monastery.

•Should one be able to say quite openly that they have come from painful pasts and not be ashamed of that? Surely God uses painful upbringings as much as idealic upbringings.

It is true that God uses all aspects of your life to help you grow in holiness. Remember that we are placed here on earth to know, love, and serve Our Lord in whatever manner He sees fit. It is how we deal with the situations handed to us that matter so much.

Regarding your past, I think you must come to some sort of terms with your past by speaking with a priest, a nun, or some person close to you who you can trust, who can help you come to terms with this area of your life. Perhaps you can go on a retreat weekend like Christ Renews His Parish (if your parish has that ministry) to help you observe how others deal with their situations.

•Do you think having unresolved pains, particular family issues, is an indication that one should not be perusing religious life?

I think you should try to resolve any psychological issues you might think you have while praying to do God’s will in your life. Once you begin to do God’s will instead of your own, it seems like everything begins to fall into place. At least that is what I have found lately.

May God bless you and help you find His will for your life,
~Rae


#3

,

[quote="piobaire, post:1, topic:265966"]
It seems in reading many vocation stories that often people who enter religious life had a lot going for them, attractive, popular, successful, very active with lots of friends and experiences etc. almost as if God were choosing those who had it all going for them to demonstrate the radical nature of their love in giving it all up. Yet we read in scripture that God chooses the lowly to shame the strong etc.

In looking at my own life I can say my experience has been rather the opposite in that I have had little worldly success, was not pretty or popular and suffered rejection and emotional abuse on many fronts. I hid this from myself and others while beginning to discern thinking I had to present myself as one who 'has it all going for them' otherwise people would think I was running from past pain into a convent. Yet nothing could be further from the truth and after having been in religious life I cannot imagine anyone running towards religious life as an escape because you are confronted with yourself and your wounds in the most profound sense. I cannot help but think my past pain was a blessing as without it I would not have searched for and clung to Christ as much as I have. Sadly I think I am of the prideful bent that had I had it all Christ would have taken second place until I needed him.

I would love input on some things I have been wresting with:

•So which is it, does God call the best of the best or does he call the lowest of the low....perhaps both?
•Are there any examples of Saints who, on the surface, looked like they were running from horrible situations quite the opposite of say St. Therese?

•Should one be able to say quite openly that they have come from painful pasts and not be ashamed of that? Surely God uses painful upbringings as much as idealic upbringings.

•Do you think having unresolved pains, particular family issues, is an indication that one should not be perusing religious life?

[/quote]

Quick and dirty answer.

Think of religious life as you would marriage. Do you feel emotinally healthy enough to get married?

Being healed enough to get married is a BIG question. Sure you can work on things after but its before you start the serious kissing that you need to decide if you are healthy enough to go the distance.

Basically, yes, you need to be healed quite a bit...healing is lifelong so i cannot say healed perfectly, but you must really be aware of what you are doing.,,,,,,,,


#4

I am confident that their have been saints in religious life who have come from a traumatic background and had various mental issues - however, I can't think of any in particular. These days the Church is more interested in the mental stability of aspirants to the religious life, so unresolved issues from the past could be a counter-indication. BUT, firstly, I am not an expert, and secondly, it you feel called then please pursue it, and discuss it with a vocations director! Even discuss it with two or three vocations directors. You might get different answers from different directors.

Of course, the character requirements for a priest or woman leader are quite different from those for a religious nun. Do not think that because you wouldn't make a priest or leader (in terms of sociability, achievement etc.) that you are unqualified to be a nun!

Saint Germaine Cousin was not in the religious life, but she is a canonised saint who came from an abusive background, and also had physical deformities.

Saint Germaine Cousin (pronounced coo-zan) was the child of a poor farmer, born in 1579 at Pibrac, France, north of Toulouse. Her mother died when she was an infant. Her father remarried and her step family was very cruel to her. She had to sleep in a stable, was scalded with hot water, was beaten and was fed scraps of food. She was born with a deformed hand and had the disease of scrofula. Despite her misfortunes she shared her daily allowance of bread with the poor and practiced many austerities as reparation for the sacrileges perpetrated by heretics in the neighboring churches.

At age nine she became a shepherdess. She prayed the Rosary on "beads" she made of knotted string. Her piety increased on the approach of every feast of Our Lady. She gathered children of the village to teach them the cathechism (using the Rosary) and to instill in them the love of Jesus and Mary. Her devotion to the Angelus was so great that she would fall on her knees at the sound of the bells, even if she were crossing a stream. She attended daily Mass, leaving the sheep in the care of her guardian angel. The wolves never harmed the sheep while she was away. She always went to Mass, rain or snow. On occasions the swollen waters were seen to open so that she could cross to get to church with getting wet.

She died in 1601 at the age of 22.

I will pray for you and your vocation in life!

Edmundus


closed #5

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