I’m sorry for the terrible title. I have been discerning a vocation to the religious life for most of my life, and I continue to pray about it daily. In the last month I have increased my prayers and contemplation of the religious life. However, I’ve noticed something horrible. Whenever I think about the religious life, weird thoughts that the religious life is revolting pop into my head. I don’t just mean it sounded unattractive - it sounded horrid, disgusting, and unholy . I KNOW this isn’t true, and I reject these thoughts whenever I notice them. My only guess at their origin is that Satan is trying to attack me as I contemplate my vocation. Has anyone ever had a similar experience?
Undoubtedly Satan will do all possible to destroy a religious vocation (if possible) and this particular call to holiness. If I were you, I would be talking to your spiritual director or at very least a priest.
No I haven’t. I just wanted to say that I was contemplating giving up on Catholicism not too long ago due to moral issues, and the two times I didn’t were right after meeting a monk about a year ago and a nun about a month ago. I haven’t really looked into religious life, but honestly it seems the most beautiful and noble life imaginable: to give your entire life like that to God and to make Him known to others by that total consecration. After meeting these religious, I see why Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (just as an example) left medicine to become a dominican. I can’t imagine that Satan is not playing a role in these thoughts. I will pray for you OP. God bless you.
Frankly, no I do not understand what you mean. It is too vague to tell me anything. Perhaps you wish to speak in the most general and nebulous terms so as not to divulge specifics that would be self identifying.
You say that you “have been discerning a vocation to the religious life for most of my life and I continue to pray about it daily.” What does that mean? You have been discerning. For years? For decades? You pray about it but are you actively doing anything about it?
Who has been the counterpart, discerning this with you on behalf of the Church and a specific Religious Order or Congregation? A spiritual director for you personally? A vocation director for the Order or Congregation or House?
Where are you in the process of trying your vocation? The discernment is not exclusively yours or some sort of one way street…as if when you decide, the decision is made. The Order or Congregation will have to discern if you are an apt candidate and if you have a vocation to their community and their life.
Moreover, one does not discern Religious Life in toto but a particular and specific expression…be it a Benedictine Abbey or the province of Dominican friars you wish to enter or a missionary congregation you are drawn to. Do you know where you wish to become a Religious?
I have lived a vocation to the priesthood for decades…most of my life. Regularly, I go to a monastery for days of recollection and for retreat so that I may re-immerse myself in community life and be re-fortified to live out the assignments that have been my life’s work as a priest. Life with the community is not something I contemplate…it is something I live in a concrete and on-going basis; it is an existential reality and not one in my mind.
You say you “contemplate” your vocation but the object of the contemplative life is God, The response to a perceived vocation is to answer it…not to simply contemplate the prospect of a call. Mother Teresa did not think about how to help the poorest of the poor but she went out, encountered them, and ministered to them based upon their need and her capacity to address and respond to those needs, individually and collectively as the Missionaries of Charity.
I remember young and not so young men who entered our formation programme across the years. They were filled with concerns about so many things – that actually had nothing to do with the life upon which they were entering, except in their own minds and preconceptions. Some had an idealistic image that was far removed from reality. Some had a negative and dour image that was, similarly, far removed from our lived reality.
They were thinking about a conjectured life they neither knew nor rightly conceptualised until they entered and began to experience it and live it.
It was only after beginning the process that they actually began the real discernment with their formators. The formators knew them and they, on the other hand, began to experience the life in a way by which they could begin to make realistic decisions about it. It was only when they experienced our life as a lived reality and not a mental construct of their own imaginings that they could discern “Do I feel called to this for my life’s work?”
I developed a real dislike for one of the legion of mary prayers (the last paragraph of the Catena). I would say I almost found it repulsive. I was glad when I stopped being a legion of mary member so I didn’t have to pray it any more. I always felt confused about it, I find it so unpleasant. I wonder if I should go back to saying it just to spite myself? Or if I should enjoy my freedom from it? It may be a similar experience to you, when I was a legion member, and was required to say it every day, I sometimes worried I shouldn’t be praying it, like it was wrong, and offensive to God. I have wondered if it was an attack from the devil, or just a bit of an obsessive thought stemming from dislike of the wording.
I should add that the first part of the Catena almost never fails to lift my heart.
I can tell you my son, who is also discerning, feels this as well! He often tells his confessor or me/my husband. Our pastor told us to say…Satan, get behind me! But what you describe sounds oddly similar to what he tells us. God bless you and be assured of my prayers. The St. Michael prayer is powerful.
When I was 19 – back when dinosaurs roamed the earth – I entered a Benedictine monastery here in Colorado. As I made my farewells (and shed many, many tears) in my final semester of college, some of my sorority sisters asked me what I thought the life would be like. I could only answer, “I have no idea!”
I had spent time with the nuns living the life, as a guest and aspirant, but by God’s grace I knew that experience was not the same as the full commitment of actually leaving everything behind and entering the cloister as a postulant.
The life there was never revolting. It was just one variation of real life.
It was not my vocation. I stayed just over two years and discerned that it was time to leave.
I’m now a mom of a 13 year old boy, a music teacher in the public schools, and very active in my parish. This life is never revolting. It is just one variation of real life.
I have no regrets about leaving everything behind and living the monastic life for those two years. When I left the monastery, I had just one suitcase of possessions, nothing more. But those years have shaped who I am throughout my life.
If you feel drawn to a community, jump into the process of entering, and see where God leads you. Talk with your pastor or spiritual director. Talk with the head of the religious community you are attracted to. And move forward until God says no.
The vocation to which God calls you is a beautiful life – whatever it may be. There will be times of difficulty, frustration, messiness, misunderstandings, pain, sorrow, and so on. Every life has those – that’s how our vocation allows us to grow in holiness.
But there will also be times of much beauty, joy, community, peace, service, satisfaction, play, and so on.
Hi SA. I can’t tell you if it is or isn’t, but I’m glad to see that you left open the possibility that it may not be. Frankly, I would find it very troubling if you had concluded that it must be demonic – which is apparently happening on this thread!
Side note: Has anyone here ever read The Crucible?
It is vitally important that you do try. Few things sadder than an older lady fingering the sleeve of a habit with yearning in her eyes and saying that she wished she had entered, Such regrets are unreal dreams . Far better the lady smiling and saying she tried but it was not for her …
I’ve read some of your other threads and It seems like you are just thinking about this without having taken any action. Have you gotten a spiritual director, talked to your pastor, or visited a religious group? If not, you need to move on to one of those things. Satan does not need to hold you back if you are doing a fine job of it on your own.
You should also reply to some of the posts that people make, such as some of these questions that posters are asking. I hesitated posting here because I notice that you didn’t make any replies to other threads you started that are similar to this one.
Thank you all for your responses, and prayers! I just wanted to say I’m sorry if it takes me a bit to get back to you. I am taking several aggressive summer classes.
Let me clarify:
You are all correct. Many of you pointed out something I did not realize: I am not really discerning. I am not actively pursuing the religious life in that I am not visiting orders or receiving spiritual counseling, but I do pray about my vocation frequently. I am 19-years-old, and I have been attracted to the religious life since I was 6 or so. I am strongly attracted to becoming a missionary and/or teacher, specifically the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara. About four years ago, I was in constant communication with several orders, and I even visited one. Sadly, it turned out to be SPPX (I didn’t know what SPPX was at the time). I do not have a spiritual director, but I recently started attending Latin Mass and I plan to ask my new priest.
I have always had a lot of questions and confusions about vocations and discernment.
I have reasoned with myself that I will finish college, regardless of what vocation I decide to pursue. With that in mind, I have put discernment on the back burner and been trying to analyze what profession I want to focus on. Then, I realize that the best profession to go into will depend on my vocation. It’s a confusing cycle.
I should have also added that when my son serves at Mass, he feels like someone is holding the cross with him (he is the cross bearer). He said the same thing about the lectionary he holds for the priest.