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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sacrifice of Vocation: Family

This last summer, during my retreat in Wisconsin, as I knelt praying at 6 a.m.or so, I pondered the sacrifices required of any Vocation.

I thought of the priests I know who, like it or not, are offering Mass at 6:30 a.m. or earlier, or even in the evening on Sundays, 9 or 10:00 pm if they are assigned to a college campus.  Their preferences matter not; they have laid their lives down for Christ, and it is He whom they serve, according to the needs of the Mystical Body, no matter how inconvenient.

I knelt there that early morning, preferring to be snoozing, pondering the reality of the married life.

Yes; I was pondering married life and the sacrifices required of any couple.

I thought of those who were single women, who left behind or dispensed with what they had or combined their property with that of their beloved. I thought of those men I knew who sold or gave away their property in order to receive that of their beloved, and together, make their home.

I meditated deeply upon those families that combine their resources. Fundamental to my meditation was, actually, my mother's expressed position that those who marry our relatives become members (are absorbed into) our family. She did not reference any relative as "removed" as in the terms "a cousin once-removed" or "twice-removed".  Those were mere legal terms; they did not express the reality of our family.

I could recall many times my mother deflected me away from legal definitions in order to help me understand that marriage bound one family to another, helping me to see that the fruit of the various marriages were my own relatives, those bound in the Sacrament truly became my own cousins or aunts or uncles. If they were related in any way, they were family and should be received as family and acknowledged as family.

This reality came home to me in a special way after my parents divorced when I was a child. Family on Mom's side always asked after Dad and his family. Family on Dad's side never acknowledged the fact we had other relatives.

That said a lot. A lot.

I pondered, this summer, deeply, the effects of a decision to end my solitude

I considered that for so long I have been an "old maid", so accepted in our culture, unnatural in God 's own order.

I'm tired of being alone. I'm tired of being an anomaly, of being the "old maid" in a culture so PC it can't call a spade a spade for fear of being sued by the ACLU.

A man and a woman, when they are married, make some very serious changes to their lives.

I know that, as a woman, if I married, my life would change. I would embrace a different schedule, adopt traditions belonging to another family and make those traditions my own. I'd make sacrifices and my life, as I know it, would be no more. Period.

My definition of "freedom" would change, for I would give up my life for love, I would forsake my belongings for love, and I would look to a future with my beloved, rendering mere "stuff" unimportant.

In this regard, entering religious life is no different than marriage.

When I enter, I enter, as in marriage, with all that I am and all that I am not.

I will take on another family, and that family, in turn, will absorb me and mine into it. We will become bound together.  Life will not be the same. Whether I am married or whether I enter religious life it is the same; I cannot continue as I am, as a single woman.

I look forward to and welcome the change. Yes, it is a struggle as I look around my house and realize my attachments, but I know my attachments make my sacrifice greater, for if I didn't care, or rendered it all as "nothing" then I would ultimately go to Our Lord empty-handed, my offering meaningless.

Yes; I want to give everything to Him, for Him, through Him.

I want to enter my new family as a contributing member, knowing that any vows I take bonds my blood-family more closely to Our Lord, for, if my family's premise hold's true, they do not lose me, but only absorb another family.

If Jesus is my spouse, what does that mean, according to Mom's philosophy?

What family would not want to claim Jesus as a member?

I pray Mom lives long enough to see my final profession if it be God's will. I pray my brother not feel abandoned as he sees his sister enter "the cloister".

Yet...I haven't even begun....nothing is formal, I have no entrance date.

Just faith, hope, and love. Nothing more, nothing less.

That is the sacrifice of a Vocation.


owenswain said...

Just going to miss you so much but happy for you so happy, too much to want things to stay the same. It's going to be wonderful for you and when you're there, please pray for me and my family and will do our best to continue to pray for you and your new family.

belinda said...

nice reflection. I especially like the idea of - if you marry into this family, your family and forever.

David Meyer said...

Either way it is a sacrifice, you are right. There is a lot of crossover too I think. Sometimes when I look around my house at my 4 little girls and my wife it seems like a convent, especially at prayer time! And I am sure nuns in a convent see themselves as in a family. Each vocation has eternal value. I will pray for you. And please pray for my little convent if you get to yours!

Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

Jesus desires your love so very much.
And our "Nazareth family", as humble and obscure as it is, welcomes you with open arms.
To belong to Jesus; to love Him in the hearts of Mary and Joseph; to belong to Him in a family that will endure until our death...a true gift;
beautiful meditation!

An Empty Clay Pot said...

Beautiful. I loved your post. You have a tremendous gift, to be able to share your heart through words so eloquently.

Adoro said...

Owen ~ Of course I'll pray for you and your family, and thank you for your prayers for me these last several years!

Belinda ~ It is a nice thought, isn't it? One doesn't marry-out of a family, but rather, into another! The spouses of our cousins were always considered to be cousins themselves.

David ~ I think you describe it well - and yes, I'll pray for your little "convent". :-)

Nazareth Priest ~ I LIKE humble and obscure! It suits me! (Not that I'm humble, but..>I want to be!) I can't wait to see you all again soon!

An Empty Clay Pot ~ Thank you. I write because I must and I write with the prayer that ultimately, it edifies others in some way.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

You are absolutely right about the change that happens when you marry into another family. I'm so happy that you are readying yourself for that state of being. I know some people that didn't do that, and it causes such pain when they decide to leave (divorce, leaving the order) and break away from their family. Your mom had it right. The benefits and love you receive from belonging to a family, far outweigh the annoyances they can also sometimes provide ;) My in-laws all tick me off sometimes, but I know they would have my back in a heartbeat and that they love me as intensely as I love them and that we are tied together, forever! Even my horrible ex-sister in law is in my heart and always will be...she gave us our nieces and nephew and made my brother happy, for a time...sorry to go on and on. I was really touched by your description of family here in this post.

Harbor Star said...

I have re-read this post several times and I have to say that it's simply profound. It never ceases to amaze me how God works through his children. You... dear one, have such a gift and I'm grateful for having found this post... once again.