What do I do now?


#1

I am a 22yr old Catholic Male,

15 months ago I felt a strong calling to the Priesthood and/or Religious Life; I spoke to the local diocesan vocations director who was less than enthusiastic (possibly becasue the diocese is not a hotbed of Traditional Catholocism) so I decided to look into Religious congregations.

Last September-November I spent 6 weeks in a Benedictine style Monastary in Wisconsin and I fell in love with the liturgical life of the Church.

Whilst I was in the States I went on a vocations weekend with the Fathers of Mercy but despite the fact that they are wonderful chaps I didn’t think that I would fit in as I was drawn to the monastic rather than the active life.

Hering lies the problem I have a mild form of Aspergers Syndrome (AS), on revealing this this to the vocations director of a traditional monastary last January. I was told by the vocations director that he was terminating the proceedings (we had been in contact for nearly 6 months) and that any other monastary would likley say the same thing. This was confirmed by an acquiataince ( who was a Norbertine but never went through to solenm profession ) who said that when he entered in 1988 that unless there was a serious reason not to that most monastaries would take pretty much anyone, but that now anyone with minor conditions was shown the door at the earliest opportunity.

My spiritual director said that I could live the monastic life as a Secular Priest in the La Crosse Diocese and that he would talk to the vocations director on my behalf. I still havent heard anything from him two weeks after they met.

Add to that the fact that I have absolutely no money, I’m unemployed, living off welfare (living at my mothers house) with £20,000 worth of student loans and the cost of going to Seminary (if I managed to persuade a Bishop to give me a try) is prohibative not to mention the cost of decent vestments, cassocks etc etc

I just feel like I am in a hopeless situation; the prospect of a life other than that of a Priest/Religious just seems dull, grey and not worth living; I’ve prayed for 10 months to get a job so I can start paying of my student loans but so far nothing.

Please help


#2

I’m only 16 so I wouldn’t know, but just letting you know my prayers are with you.

Bump.


#3

Sorry to hear your situation. I am reminded of the following joke:

“Someone suggested that if Jesus had sent his twelve disciples for psychological testing this might well be the reply he would have received: Thank you for submitting the résumés of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have taken our battery of tests. We have run the results through our own computer. After having arranged personality interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant, it is the opinion of our staff that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the enterprise. They have no team concept. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has no qualities for leadership. The two brothers James and John place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas shows a skeptical attitude that would tend to undermine morale. Matthew has been blacklisted by the Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus, definitely have radical leanings, and registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale. One of the candidates however, shows real potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man.
(Anon)”

It is too bad for them, and the world, and God, and you, that they “terminated the proceedings” out of fear. I really sympathize. I have been in a similar situation. I’m tempted to tell you “brush the dust off your feet in their general direction” and figure “their loss”, but I realize it hurts a lot. You invested a significant portion of your recent spiritual journey with them and you are now missing that part of you.

I can only offer 2 things, besides the encouragement to keep looking for a job to pay off your student loans (and looking into foundations to assist with debt for candidates to religious life).

1.) DON’T lose your relationship with God. DON’T blame God. DON’T blame yourself. I’m not saying blame the vocation director, but he did lead you on and then turn on you. If you feel anger, you have every right; he violated your holy trust. If this were a workplace and your job was terminated after revealing your medical history in confidence, you could sue. If you have ANY ability to trust anything at all, try trusting that God can heal this pain because you are that much more full of grace.

2.) If it is a monastic life in general that you seek and not a specific congregation, keep looking. There are other “fish in the sea.” There are some that may even be able to assist you with your college education (because if you didn’t pay for it, they would have had to). Maybe if you consider 10 monasteries and 9 reject you but one does not and you feel a fit (based on your general criteria which may evolve) then you have found success. If vocation directors these days are so shallow as to reject you outright for a condition that (I assume) is being treated and does not inhibit your freedom to live a spiritual life with others and do work, then they are probably also shallow enough to desire you more if you play a little “hard to get.” You tried chasing them and put all your eggs in one basket, and that didn’t work. But if they know you are discerning with several houses, you are now in demand and they will have to prove themselves to you. It has got to be painfully obvious to most orders in these days of decreased vocations that anyone who loves the Lord and demonstrates a desire to live their lifestyle is not someone to dismiss lightly!


#4

I can empathize all too well with your plight. I, too, am discerning a religious vocation but I have a mental illness that is completely controlled by medication. At first mention of this illness to most communities, I get shown the door. No one wants to deal with depression or Aspergers these days because it presents risks and communities can be worried that it could present huge problems later on. I think it is because of a lack of understanding, mostly. Most religious orders do not have vocation directors with a medical background so they are unaware of problems that can be simply resolved by popping a pill. I was directed to a different order by a mendicant community because they could not afford medical costs to take care of me.

It can be trying. It can seem like God is lying to you when He presents the opportunity and then takes it away as soon as it came. However, the most important thing to remember that it is all about trust in God's will. God showed you that He did not want you in that Benedictine community and He has something better waiting for you. It may take some time to see what His will is, but you must be patient and trusting. I will pray for you. God bless.


#5

Wishing you success in finding suitable work so that you can complete payment of student loan debts, and hopefully also obtain experience in life and interaction with others so that you become more confident, and more able to communicate successfully with others.
Hoping that you can thereby learn skills to cope well with the difficulties that can arise from Aspergers'. May God help you with all these things.

As you grow in wholeness and balance in the ordinary aspects of work, interaction, and your own abilities, may God lead you.
Sometimes God may see that we need to spend time building our strengths before we are able to join religious life...or marriage...as unless we do, we can't cope well with relationships and witness in either kind of community, religious or family.

Jesus Himself showed that the great value God sees in living a seemingly ordinary life of work and human relations, as Jesus did just that until He was around 30 years old.

May God grant you patience with yourself and with God, and with those upon whom you must depend to reveal God's will to you. It is possible that your spiritual director hasn't received a definite response yet, or he may be reluctant to disappoint if he has unwelcome news. He may be considering possibilities, and also be caught up in preparations for Easter.

From my understanding of Aspergers, having given it some study, communication with others, and relating to their thoughts and feelings can be hard to attain, and by your post I see you couldn't afford counseling help, but I do ask our God to work with you and with others to give you whatever you may need to live a blessed life.


#6

I feel I must clarify a small detail; the benedictine community that I stayed with was NOT the congregation I was discerning with; I am very close to the superior (we have a father-son type relationship and he is my de facto spiritual director) and he invited me to spend 6 weeks living the Religious life with his community.

As regards the Asperger Syndrome the condition was pretty mild (compared to others) to begin with and as soon as I was diagnosed and given proper treatment the condition became managable (Personally I thought that given the desire of the average AS person for order, routine and predictability we would make Ideal candidates for Religious life).

The reason that I'm getting nervous is that if I don't find a congregation/bishop that will accept me before October then I will have to wait an additional year before applying to the Mater Ecclesiae fund = another year in the world with my apostate mother before I can enter the monastary/semminary. Even If was able to apply this year and was successful I would have to wait until September 2012 before entering Semminary.


#7

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