Testing a monastic vocation (debt)


#1

I have posted here before about this, but I had a different sort of question. I have a huge amount of student debt, and am still in school. I have felt called to monastic life, but have only briefly visited communities and never really asked but just assumed that you cannot try or test a vocation with debt that would automatically disqualify one from entering. I am at a crossroads and do not know if I will continue in the world on my current path in school, academia after that etc, or if I really do have a calling to monastic life. I would be willing to take a long leave of absence from school even a year. Does anyone here know if many communities will allow someone to come and discern and even stay for an extended time as a postulant if there is an obstace to entering if the call is genuine. I ask because student debt is an obstacle but not a lifelong insurmountable one, like being married with ten children or terminally ill etc. on the other hand what if I could enter the novitiate and am told flat out after a while that I have no vocation and to return to the world, but then I have nowhere to go, and I cannot return to school because my place has been given away as it will be after a year unenrolled.
on a related note has anyone had dealings with the labore society or mater ecclesia? I was wondering how this works with communities. It seems to be a catch 22 of sorts when one needs to be already accepted by a community to recieve aid from them, but one cannot be accepted by a community with the debt still in place. I am just confused because this implies that some places will allow one to test their vocation all the way up to the point of entering the novitiate even with the knowledge of a temporarily disqualifying obstacle. can anyone shed light on this?


#2

The first thing you ought to do is build a rapport with at least one monastery. Do you already have that?

A monastery generally wishes that you spend at least one visit with them before applying for postulancy, and the visit is probably for a duration of under two weeks. Preferably a few visits.

That’s step one. Just try to slow things down. Start to examine your own life and see what you could be doing better. Maybe part of the reason you’re itching so bad to leave is because you’re not satisfied with your own difficulties at home.

That’s not an accusation; it’s meant to be helpful. For my part, I am in the latter stretch of discernment. I could potentially enter postulancy after Lent. Previously, I was absolutely nuts to leave. I wanted to throw everything away and run for the monastery.

This was largely a reaction to my own spiritual immaturity and incapability of living a proper life at home (although with such immaturity I could not either have functioned well in a monastery, I am sure). See what God wants you to do, today, and do that. Right now, God probably wants you to fulfill your filial obligations to your family, and to do well in school. Make that your vocation for today.

I had lots of “issues” that needed resolving. Broken friendships, unconfessed feelings, amelioration of my relationship with my family… nothing serious, not even notable by most peoples’ standards, but certainly obstacles to holiness.

Today, while I wait, I try to be a better son (I live at home because my work is seasonal and I move around a lot-- when I’m not out of state, I stay at home). That means I do lots of work around the home, especially the stuff my parents don’t want to do (especially feeding the goats, horses and chickens in the morning when it’s bitter cold!). Now that I have a little more free time, I’m also helping at my parish, soon. Try to focus on improving every single thing that’s broken in your life, that you could fix. I swear that if you leave anything undone and seclude yourself, it will haunt you. But by the grace of God, you can fix it, and then see how you feel.


#3

It depends.

Some will accept you conditionally if your debt is small and can be paid off quickly. If you have mountain of debt, they want it paid off first. I am in the same boat.


#4

It depends but I suggest that you do your best to complete your schooling before you enter any religious order. These days most young people entering the religious orders have sometype of education and you never know how God will use your education to help others and glorify God. Furthermore, there are no guarantees, this vocation will work out and by having your education, it will give you something to fall back on just in case God has other plans for your life. I know a few people who entered the religious orders and stayed there for a few years before leaving and going on to other things. The time they stayed at the orders forever changed them in good ways so one never knows what plans God has in store.

I know some religious orders prefer if students reduce their debt significantly if not 100% before they enter the convent. Each order is different so you will have to do your research. Sometimes students will work crazy hours to reduce their debts, they will fundraise, or sell their stuff to make money to reduce it. The possibilities are endless and it is important to see schooling as part of God’s plan for your life because you never know how he will use it.

God has big plans for your life and it is important to take your life and not rush it. Let Him work step by step eventually His plans will be revealed.

Good luck SG


#5

Slow it down for a bit. First, do you have a monastery in mind? Start retreating with them during your school breaks, and speak to their abbots and vocations masters. From experience, generally most religious orders expect you to be free of debt, though often some provision is made for educational debt. The only way to know for sure is to start talking to the appropriate people.

Moreover, there are also numerous societies out there that help potential religious postulants help pay their debt down. I don’t quite know how it works, but every diocese has a vocations director as well who might have the information on these programs.

God bless.


#6

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