Visitors - Come on in and say hello!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adoro's Monastic Adventure: The Sequel

Many of you will recall my "Great Monastic Adventure" of last summer: my visits to three different religious communities. One Active, the other two Cloistered.

It's exactly one year later, and I'm going off again, this time for an adventure of a different kind. This time, I will be living, again, in a convent, joining a small community, attending Mass, prayer, meals...everything. And this time, I will also be learning iconography.

Have no fear; discernment is a big part of this visit, too, for, as I had "asked" once before, would it be possible for me to live this life for a week without taking it seriously and posing my deepest questions to God?  There will be a great deal of time in prayer, a great deal of time to inquire of Him what He is truly asking of me.

It's time to move on....

I am done with school, I know that I am in a job to which I am not called (but for a time), and I am ready to make a decision. A very big one. The decision from which every other decision in my life will flow from that point on.

Whether this next week will answer those questions or not, I don't know. One of the communities I visited last summer is actively trying to help me come out again, perhaps as soon as the end of July/Beginning of August, although I am not sure that God is calling me to go there again.  Whether I would like to or not is pretty much a moot point. Last year, I had an interior sense of KNOWING I was supposed to go there. This year, I have an interior sense of "I'd like to go visit again", but I am wrestling with it a great deal. One of the things I have learned without a doubt over the last year is that I do not like teaching children. It's not my gift, I don't enjoy it (those few times I've done it), I cannot relate to them in any meaningful way, and without a doubt, I do not want to be a teacher!  Unfortunately, the community in question is primarily teaching or nursing. I know also that I don't have the temperament for nursing, and as you just read...nor do I have the aptitude to teach children.

Please do not misunderstand;  I love children! And, it seems, they love me back.  But loving them does not necessarily translate into having the aptitude to teach.

To a degree, the SKILL of teaching can be learned. One can learn how to put together a lesson plan and activities and plan out a year's worth of curriculum. One can be lectured and shown how best to bring great concepts down to the varying age levels.

However, that knowledge dies in the implementation when the person responsible for carrying out has a brain that doesn't bend that way.

I have tried and I have tried and even coworkers have commented that it's obvious I can't connect with them. It simply isn't my gift and the very thought of having to do such a job day in and day out.... *shudder*

Discernment of Gifts and Talents

A big part of discernment is knowing both your strengths and weaknesses in all areas of your life.

What makes you happy? What gets you fired up? What do you enjoy doing? To whom do you best relate? What skills do you actually possess, and of those skills, which are truly talents and which are mechanical motions you have to go through just to get the job done? Are you an organizer, a leader, a background worker, a ham or a wallflower?

What do you know, innately, that you are called to?

I'm still in that process of sorting those things out, but thanks to my parish work, have actually been given the grace of greater self-knowledge.

I am not an organizer or a leader. Don't put me in charge of anything; I can't organize and lead my way out of a wet paper bag ripped open on both sides! (Don't laugh: it's true!)

I am a person who needs structure. I can work within structure and process. As a friend once said to me, "You just have to know exactly what your job is, and once you know that, everyone get out of your way and let you work!" Yes, yes...the years have borne out his observation time and time again! I may adapt things to fit the situation, but overall, I need structure or I am lost. Ergo:  I am not a creative person.

I am occasionally a ham, but more often a wallflower. I prefer silence and solitude to noise and crowds. I far prefer Gregorian Chant and Classical music to Praise and Worship and Heavy Metal. (I like Evanescence, though!).  I prefer to work in the background, out of the public eye, and let someone else stand in the limelight. While I can do public speaking and do enjoy it, I cringe at standing in the center of a crowd of people firing questions at me or telling me they need this and that and shoving documents and things into my hand while I stand rooted there, blinking in confusion.

I am happiest when I am writing, when I am praying, when I am walking my dog. I am happiest when working to bring back the lost souls, the generations of Catholics and others who have fallen away from God.

I know, without a doubt, that God has prepared me for a particular service to Him and to the Church. The Bishop, in his homily at our Graduation Mass, spoke to us about having a "zeal for souls"; his plea resonated with me. That is the call of the Saints, it is the mission of the Church.

There are others who can teach children. My focus is on their parents, their grandparents; those who were lost and slipped away in the confusion following Vatican II.

If some of us don't go after those generations, their children now will be as lost as they. Our society is becoming more and more antagonistic towards religion. In the meantime, those lost generations are becoming more and more ambivalent and lukewarm, choosing neither this nor that, preferring a smattering of "whatever feels good".

I've seen too many Catholics at "ecumenical" events quite literally apologizing for "still being Catholic".

Too many who claim to be Catholic haven't even the foggiest idea what it means, why they stay, why they even claim the title.

That's the crowd God has called me to serve, and I know I am not alone in this.

What that means for my Vocational Discernment?  I don't yet know. But I do know that it indicates one thing:   I am not called to be an elementary teacher, or even a middle school teacher.

I am called to reach out to adults; for now, those who ask for help. Just last week I sat down with a friend, a teacher, from work. She needed help with a theology class she is taking this summer. The time with her FLEW by, and I was absolutely overjoyed to explain and help her understand a particular prayer of a Saint about which she had to write a paper. It was an absolute JOY to assist her!

Occasionally, because of my blog, people write to me and ask questions about Catholicism. Some of them are Catholic themselves, others are not and are just looking for information. I love answering those questions, helping them find other resources, helping them, hopefully, come closer to God.

That's what I'm called to. That is my passion.

So, tomorrow I head out to the next chapter and even as I learn a new skill, I will be living the monastic life once again, with my big question to God:   "What now?"

Maybe this time He'll answer. I'm ready to make a decision.

** ** **

Previous convent/ monastery experiences can be found at the links below. Interestingly enough, most of them have proven to be among my most popular posts; they continue to receive a lot of hits by people using search terms relating to discernment, convents, and monastic life.

Life in the Convent
The Bells of Temptation
Kissing the Cross
Advancing the Quest
Cistercian Retreat
Monastic Silence
Entering the Silence


Robin said...

Prayers for you as you take this next step. You sound delightfully filled with energy and purpose.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Prayers will assist you :)...I'm in a slightly different dilemna which I'll explain (one day) over an e-mail...

Brother Charles said...

I will be praying with you as well.

Banshee said...


paramedicgirl said...

God is with you Adoro. I can tell you won't do anything that is not the will of God. God bless you! (You would make a good apologist!)

ck said...

Have you sent your resume here?

Lucia Maria said...

I hope it goes well for you, whatever ends up happening.

If it's not for you, have you looked into Opus Dei in your area? They are fantastic for helping adults in their faith, especially in some of the more way out and wacky insane places, such as where I am.

kam said...

We will remember you in our prayers.

Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

It's Saturday the 17th.
We miss you already!
Thank you for your time with us; it was a gift, truly. (I hope this is okay to post; if not, take it down.)
You are in our hearts and prayers as you seek God's will for you.
You have a lot to give to Jesus, His Church and souls. A lot.

Adoro said...

Thank you all, for your prayers, they are greatly appreciated and obviously, much needed!

CK ~ I miss our "Coffee Twalk"! Do you still have room for me if I have a chance to visit? I'd love to sit down and talk over with you all the latest stuff...... But anway, no, I haven't sent my resume to EWTN. Whenever I have gazed randomly at their employment they are looking for technical help; their theological help comes from within. Besides, if I even stepped off a plane there in the summer I'd die from heat exhaustion from the very moment my foot touched the soil! Those people are un-wiltable!

Lucia ~ We don't have Opus Dei anywhere near us and they have never appealed to me personally,although I appreciate the suggestion. I'd lean more towards the Dominican Laity if they were actually faithful in my area (which they aren't).

Nazareth Priest ~ Awww! I miss you all already too! Believe me, my time there was a gift to me as well!

Maybe I'll need to come back...

You all also remain in my prayers. Gosh I almost feel like I've left family members!

ck said...