For soo long I wanted to be a cloistered nun. I even have a specific monastery I am completely in love with. But it seems God’s will is entirely different from my own, surprise surprise lol. It seems that God wants me to join this small religious congregation. My conviction that he is calling me there comes from despite the fact that I’m not crazy about their apostolate and they arent much like my first love of religious orders, when I visit them I feel so at home, like I’m already one of them. The consolations are nearly constant when I visit, yet when I visit my first love community I feel like I really have to labor to pray at all and I dont really feel comfortable in general. At the small congregation Im overflowwing with peace and joy and I cant stop thinking about them!
But what really confuses me is that the small community’s main apostolate is religious education and I never ever, EVER wanted to be a teacher of any sort. I 'm shy and have very bad stage fright and dont even really like kids all that much. I’ve had to teach people to do things before and apparently I’m pretty good at it but I still despise it. Mostly because of the public speaking.
Does the charism of the community have to match my gifts and/or desires? Does their apostolate have to be something I actually want to do?
Also, I’ve been serving in various soup kitchens for like ten years and live voluntary poverty somewhat but this community it seems God wants for me doesnt live out their poverty in the same way I have felt called to for years.
This happens a lot throughout our lives, when what we think we like conflicts with what we actually do. I can rather empathize, for I am a teacher myself. Before I kind of stumbled into my situation, I never really thought about being a teacher. Now, however, I love it.
Here you are seeming to fall in love with a community that is quite different from the community you wanted to join, not feeling called any longer to the latter, and a little conflicted. My next question should be evident: have you spoken to your spiritual director yet? I’m sure that his counsels are going to be far better for you than those of random strangers on the internet.
If this is really troubling you, then I would suggest giving him a call to set up a meeting tomorrow. Another suggestion would be a particular retreat of discernment–certainly at a neutral location, a house not belonging to either of the orders you are discerning.
I’d suggest discussing this with someone at community #2 (the religious education community). Maybe there’s another role in the community you could fill, besides teaching? You do say it’s their “main” apostolate; maybe there are others?
Tell them what you’ve told us here – how much you feel at home there, etc. I think the fact that you don’t even feel comfortable at the cloistered community is telling you something.
Sometimes God leads us by unexpected paths. I’ve always said that the theme song for my spiritual life is “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been.”
Yes the 2nd community has another apostolate. Aside from religious education they run a retirement home. They do this because in my country the elderly are severely undervalued amd are almost always basically abandoned in by their children… I’ve been working with the elderly for years and love it. it’s absolutely heartbreaking sometimes though. Hugging a woman while she’s having anheart attack and is distraught from pain and fear, but most of all she knows she could die that very day and her own childrem havemt bothered to even visit in like a month even though they live in the same city…stuff like that…it changes you. This apostolate, serving the elderly, I’m VERY passionate about but it is their secondary apostolate and I feel like I have to be ready to serve in their primary apoatolate if Im going to join them…it’s what they’re all about!
Did you ever think that God is calling you to do His Will and not your own. Best is to talk to a Spiritual Director - maybe a priest you know well, plus why don’t you ask both Convents could you do a “live in” for a week-end , then see where God is leading you.
Getting to the point: Yes. Many Saints felt shall we say, attracted to one type of work or religious community, only to find themselves asked to do something entirely different. That you feel “at home” in the community with a charisma different than the one you have always desired is a good sign that is where God is calling you.
Think of this: There is “poverty” in doing what God call you to do, not in what you prefer to do. Poverty is not just about the want of shelter, food and clothing. It is about the need for God. Doing things we are uncomfortable with means we must rely on God more, move beyond our comfort zones and give up deeper desires that may be holding us back from being who and what God truly wants us to be.
I visited community #2 for a week already. The cloistered community doesnt allow live in experiences. You can certainly visit and they’ll provide a room outside the cloister for sleeping in but they do not allow discerners to enter the cloister until they’ve gone through the entire application process and are ready to enter for their 3 month candidacy.
Yes I talked about this with my SD but he just kind of brushed it off and didnt say much on the subject so I’m just as confused as I was before!
I studied social work, and in grad. school, we had to give a 1-hour presentation. I would freeze up during presentations, get like stage fright.
So, I decided this was coming up, to take a speech class to help me with that. I had a wonderful teacher who said that they did a survey and of the top three fears, the second fear was death. Number one was public speaking!
He treated this as a phobia, had us very gradually overcome it. So, first project was, sitting down in a circle, to introduce our classmate and say a little about him, very briefly.
Next, was a little longer, to talk about ourselves, still sitting in a circle.
Then, we worked our way up to the podium. First, we each took turns standing at the podium for about 30 sec., each, saying nothing, just making eye contact, seeing what that actually feels like.
Then, we did things in front of the podium, informally, answering questions on a card, answers typically took a few seconds.
Then, we had a 1 min. speech behind the podium. Then, it was 8 min.
In the meantime, we studied how to do a speech, correctly.
We also practiced it again and again in front of a mirror or others, with a tape recorder running. After doing all this, we also had visual aids built into it and other supportive materials, the speeches actually got easier.
After I got done with this class, I sang a solo in a folk group, with a microphone in front of about 50 people. I did my presentation, think I got an A on it.
Then later, I did some teaching at 2 schools. I found I didn’t like groups, preferred tutoring one-on-one, but I know if I want to, I can do it.
I know there is an organization, “Toastmaster’s”, which helps people with public speaking. I’ve never tried it, though. The techniques and strategies I learned in speech class helped me enough where I’ve generally felt comfortable enough after that.
Can you read a book, on online, on how to speak in front of people? I had that problem but one can overcome it is what I wanted to say. In the end, I thought I did as well as the others, for the most part. So, you don’t really know, yet, if you can do this or not, because you haven’t tried it, yet.
If you are shy, it’d be a little more difficult.
Oh…in teaching, some say to try to let the group do the work.
I hate to hear that your SD brushed this off. I had that experience more than once, and frankly if the Church wants more to consider a vocation to religious life this is the wrong thing to do. I suggest you go visit the community, and frankly find a different SD who is more interested in this part of your life.
The Blessed Mother as I understand, wanted to dedicate her life by serving in the Temple when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her told her her vocation and she respond, Let it be done to me according the thy word. She also said " I know not man" It’s this attitude that we should have, God what do you want me to do? I thought I had a vocation to the priesthood,and God showed me that I had a vocation from Baptism to the lay priesthood, it’s where He wanted me. I met with much disappointment not being ordained a priest, I thought that God had rejected me, abandoned me. As I found out in real life He was right, and He led me into marriage, and as a Lay Apostle. I found where He led me. His providence guides us, and He has our salvation in mind and how to best achieve it. Prayer, and meditation are very important to discernment. It’s not what we love, it is who we love.
It’s great that you are discerning this well and asking all the right questions while listening to the emotions and interior voices that are guiding you so far.
It is equally possible that God could be calling you to this community OR God could be calling you elsewhere. The surest way to know is to discern this with the help of a spiritual director.
I didn’t think I wanted to be a religious sister who was a teacher but here I am and I LOVE IT! God knew something about me that I didn’t know about myself and I really feel now that I’ve been in a few years, that this is the way God has called me to grow closer to him. I feel in love with my community even though the apostolate wasn’t my first choice. Now I see God’s hand in it. Any walk of discipleship takes us out of our comfort zone and into the place where God’s redemption can really work.
This doesn’t mean that you are having the same experience - but that you could be. Keep listening, discerning, and loving.