which third order?

I love God, but I have been married for 33 years, so I guess it’s too late to consider becoming a nun. :wink: I am interested in becoming a tertiary/ associate/ oblate of a contemplative order. I have been trying to become a Benedictine oblate for some time (about three years) and have been an oblate novice for more than two years; however, I am wondering whether God is trying to steer me in another direction, say the Carmelites, or ???

In 2010 I joined the oblate program at which I did initially realize was a too-modern (for my taste) Benedictine women’s monastery. After a few months I transferred to the oblate program at a more traditional Benedictine women’s monastery (they wear habits). I liked that monastery, but for more than a year they were without an oblate director, and direction was very spotty and unfocussed; I felt that the oblates were nearly off their radar. I found it hard to associate my heart with a monastery where the oblate program was in such chaos, and I still have not made my final oblation. I recently moved to another state and am attempting to associate with a third Benedictine monastery, but I feel like I am having to jump through hoops. My life for the past year has been chaotic; I was laid off from my job (RIF), moved to another state to look for work (my sister lives here) and still have not found work.

I am trying to listen for God’s voice. Is he trying to tell me that the Benedictines are not for me? Do I just have to keep knocking at their door? I am trying also to understand the difference between the various orders that allow third orders. Maybe I should consider the Carmelites? I am introverted and prefer to associate with a contemplative order.

I would so much appreciate some input. I don’t have a spiritual director at the moment. Our financial situation is bad so I can’t afford to pay anyone. Can someone out there tell me how to interpret God’s voice in this situation?

First off, in the last line you mention not being able to pay anyone for spiritual direction. You should not have to pay for spiritual direction, it should be free. It can be difficult to find that perfect spiritual director but try. If there is friary, monastery, convent, nearby, try there. They usually are good at providing good spiritual directors.

I personally have most of my experience with the Secular Franciscan Order since I am a member and it sounds like you don’t think it is for you. I do have experience with the Carmelites. I personally think you should search for a group of them in your area.

Be open to wherever God calls you. It can be difficult to tell if something you are experiencing is a roadblock put in your path to try to move you in a different path or just one that was put there that you are meant to overcome if you are truly called.

Explore all the third/secular orders you can find. You may find that one that you never thought about before may be the perfect fit. Most people don’t think about Franciscans and contemplative prayer, but through St. Clare there is a contemplative side to the Franciscans. There is a member of our fraternity that sounds exactly like you are, she told me the same concerns when she first started attending our meetings, she is now a professed member and a member of the council. Sometimes God wants you to expand your box.

Try OCDS (Order of Carmel Discalced Secular), the Third Order group following the Discalced Carmelite rule. The Discalced Carmelite Seculars require six years of formation. The formation is solid and very informative. The Saints associated with the Discalced Carmelites are St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, St Therese of Liseux, Brother Lawrence, St Edith Stein, and many many more! Do a google search to find a group in your area.

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