Spiritual warfare and pursuing religious life


#1

Hello and a blessed Sunday to all!

For several years I’ve felt very much drawn to religious life, and last year I began visiting convents and monasteries. Then after quite a bit of discernment with the assistance of a spiritual director and the vocations director at a particular convent I knew without a doubt and I’m still certain that God’s will for me is to join a particular religious community.

Ever since I started visiting this community there has been some spiritual warfare. Im a skeptical type of person so if someone ever told me about a vision they had or fighting demons are house hauntings or anything else of the sort… I would have a hard time believing them. I’d think it is in their head, likely just their imagination. So when things happen to me i think the same thing… It’s just in my head, i’m going batty!!

The first time i visited this parlticular community i immediately felt at home. It was a wonderful but short visit. The second time i visited them, however, i felt like i was in the middle of some spiritual battle. My prayer was incredibly dry, when i tried to sleep at the convent i would lay awake in fear for hours. I remember trying to think objectively about my fear. What was I afraid of? I couldnt think of anything so I just shrugged it off, rolled over and went to sleep. I would also be sitting somewhere praying and would feel like some sort of evil spirit was right beside me basically huffing and puffing in anger. It really freaked me out but I just ignored it knowing that if it is not in my head, Christ is infinitely stronger than Satan himself so it doesnt really matter.

After some serious discernment I decided to apply. I have not submitted my application yet but I have it nearly ready to hand in. but ever since I conceded to God that I would apply to this community instead of the one I originally wanted I have become very sick and am now waiting for major surgery and cannot apply until this medical nightmare is dealt with. Another girl who applied ands accepted was in a big car accident before her entrance date and is now waotong to get better from that before entering.

So is this sort of spiritual warfare normal when pursuing religious life? What do you think about this sort of stuff?


#2

I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Jesus said prayer was a battle. Or maybe it was someone else. But I can’t imagine it’s that normal for there to be a battle in spiritual life, I don’t think the devil wants it to be common knowledge that he’s there. He wants people thinking he is make believe. Usually the attraction of the devil to a religious place is just a sign that someone is doing something right there and he wants to throw it off.


#3

Lily,

I notice you discerned with your spiritual director about feeling called to religious life.
Have you shared with your director what you are going through???

You mentioned that you decided between two communities yet you mention only visiting one. Was that because you and your spiritual director felt that one was better for you spiritually than the other? How is the spirit of the sisters in the convent you visited??? share these things with your director.

As for spiritual battle? It happens to many people either in religious life or not. Mostly it is more along the lines of various doubts ,than outright attacks.(though saints of course have been attacked. Again I urge you to share this with your spiritual director as they are trained in this.

blessings on your journey wherever it may lead

Sr. Debbie OSC


#4

I’m with the good sister on this. If ever there were a time to rely on the judgment of your spiritual director, that time is now. I’d seek an appointment with him as soon as possible, and make your life an open book to him. Practice religious obedience by taking his counsels as though they were divine commands. You might also want to float to him the idea of a retreat and a general confession.

In the meantime, I would suggest prayers the prayers of and to St Ignatius of Loyola: bc.edu/bc_org/prs/stign/prayers.html.

God bless you.


#5

My spiritual director knows about my medical troubles but I have not told him a thing about the demonic stuff. I find it so…hokey. If the Blessed Virgin herself came to me I might not even tell him about that. My SD is a priest but I still feel like he will give me the “your nuts” look and brush off my experiences just as quickly as I do to others and myself.
But I’m wondering how common spiritual warfare is, especially spiritual warfare of this type. What can I read for guidance? I will pray about bringing this to spiritual direction and hopefully God will give me the courage to do so if it is His will.

I’ve read about people bringing visions or whatever to confession. Why do people do this? It is not a sin to have a vision, and it is not a sin to be plagued by fear or to know an evil spirit is very close. But I’d feel more comfortable talking about it in confession simply because of the Seal. I’m assured the priest wont ever mention it to anyone. But I see this as an abuse of confession…it’s not a sin!


#6

Lily,

That you’re skeptical and even a little embarrassed about this is surely a sign that you’re not insane. Your spiritual director, certainly being a rational man, should know that you’re a very sane and reasonable person. And, no doubt, his discussions with you will remain confidential. I’m certain you’ve been told that when you’re embarrassed by a sin, you should just confess it anyway. The same rule holds here.

It could well be that God is permitting your vocation to be tried in order that your love for Him and Your resolve to serve Him as a religious grow stronger. This is why we have spiritual directors. To conceal this from him is not sin, to be sure, but it is imprudent and will certainly make your journey into the convent much more difficult. You might be surprised to find out that experiences like yours are rather more common than you might think. If your spiritual director is experienced, he might be able to vouch for that.

I mentioned St. Ignatius of Loyola earlier, but I am loath to say that you should merely read the Spiritual Exercises, for these are written to be practiced, preferably over a month-long retreat and under intensive spiritual direction. The goal of these Exercises is the discernment of spirits, an ability that it seems you desire to sharpen. Please do speak to your director, asking if it would be advisable for you to undertake the Exercises, whether in full or abbreviated form.

I’m praying for you.


#7

Yes, you go to confession to tell your sins. But you can tell anything else you want and it won’t be an abuse. The only way you can abuse confession is to withhold telling mortal sins. That’s the only way. Priests give spiritual direction ALL the time, inside the confessional, outside the confessional, and to get good direction you can’t just mention sins, you’ve got to mention circumstances outside of those things. Tell you what, ask your priest if talking about things that aren’t sins in the confessional is an abuse. I’m pretty sure what answer he’ll give you.


#8

I’m in discernment at the moment but have to wait some time before I can apply to the community I’m interested in. I feel like demons seem to try their best to cause havoc in my life, ever since my conversion I’ve had nightmares of them and it seems to happen when I feel closest to God. I think maybe the devil will try all he can to stop me entering religious life.

Be strong and pray is what I recommend! Maybe this is a test or a cross.


#9

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