First, thank you for these considered responses and the time you’ve all taken to caringly answer my questions. I am going to respond to each person’s reply, so sorry for length of this:
To Cricket2: Hello and thank you! - I suppose a good ‘spirit of community’ would bring a lightness to one’s being? Maybe during meals and prayer time is a good time to tell - when everyone is gathered together?
I think of a habit as being similar to a wedding ring and to wear it is more than a good habit. So you saying about habit-wearing has confirmed for me that it is definitely an essential. Maybe it will lead back to contemplative. Have to see.
What you said about religious life being a profound way to meet life head on is a beautiful way to put it. I do tend to escape sometimes, forgetting that spiritual life – ‘life’ being the operative word - is probably more about accepting willingly all-sized crosses, so I do need to get my act together! My weak reactions to some very negative and painful experiences have set me back somewhat.
It is lovely to hear of God’s providence in your life, keeping you near Him - near convents - and I thank you for sharing this gem with me! It touched my heart to read.
A long time ago I did get a job near one particular Abbey and did some work for them but this was the lost ‘golden egg’ scenario I was talking about. I am now emailing Orders further afield but a bit nervous because I can’t see the running thread now in my discernment.
To Tawny: Hello! Thank you for your thoughtful response and prayer! Much needed!
To Reclaim: Hello. Thank you for your response and the link! I have to say that I’m not worried overly whether the Order celebrates the trad. Mass a lot or not as I was born way after the trad. Mass stopped being the main celebration at churches. I love both masses, and God certainly blesses whatever we do, if done with love. I have to say that when I did experience the trad. Mass I was completely able to rest in the Lord, as if leaning on Him, and yet, the modern Mass brings joy too
To In The Pew: Thank you very much for your detailed reply. I do have a sense of duty but this was towards one Abbey. When there, every time, the cross was just too heavy, I felt heavy; however, I do also have a desire to follow God that has never left me and this desire leaves me thwarted in ‘the world’ –I just can’t express my desire for God in the way being a religious can. It needs to be more direct –I think you just helped me answer myself!
What you say about a kind of constant testing being necessary for our spiritual growth is certainly something I will look at. There seems to be a running theme here within the responses that suggest a need for much interior commitment on the part of the discerner. I notice imperfections in myself and so do tend to be over sensitive to chinks in other people’s spiritual armour too and let it affect me eventually. Maybe the Order I should join is the one I feel cheery amongst even when things look iffy?!
You mentioned that we don’t have a particular right to a vocation but I do think there is a charism which best suits our character. But I will try to be more open as you suggest. I think I have the idea that God wanted me to do a particular thing and I let Him down.
We can’t escape the world altogether, I agree, and yet, it is the world that is in constant denial of love by escaping from it, not religious; otherwise, the desert fathers wouldn’t have escaped the world to live in caves, that they might toughen up. I simply don’t understand the concept of one foot in, one foot out, which I think is the danger of any Order that doesn’t distance itself enough from standards set by society. I do understand that a religious is to serve the community by prayer or/and otherwise, and yet I also believe that where an Order is absolutely devoted to the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the world will be up-rooted on a daily basis - Our Lady will tread upon its head –so that it doesn’t slither its way into the Order itself and poison it. The Order then sets the best example. I am opposed totally to the spirit of the world but I don’t agree that escaping the world is such a bad thing either, at least for a time, as long as one isn’t escaping life. My problem is I keep escaping religious Orders!