An Enlightening Week

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's two days now since I got back from my visit with the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary at one of their houses in Madrid.

I now understand what my vocational director meant by his departing words, when last we met - that having given myself up to God, that the Enemy would do his best to steer me away from God's path. I was pretty ecstatic about visiting the DHJM ever since my vocational director told me that I should visit them, but two days before the trip the doubts began: "I must be crazy", "This isn't for me", "I'm not worthy", "This is escapism", "I have no faith and this is all a sham", etc. Insidious doubts, slowly creeping into my head, but most of all into my heart. The day of the trip I was petrified. For a couple of hours I seriously considered not going. But then I remembered my director's words and that I had people praying for me, and so I mustered up the courage to get on that midnight train headed for the Spanish capital, albeit still in a nervous state.

I happened to meet a friend of mine that works on that train, and as we got to talking about why I was going to Madrid my courage slowly came back as I enthusiastically told her my story and how I had come to this particular point.

To make a long story short, this past week was one filled with consolation. The moment I was received into their house I felt as though I was amongst family; in about a day or so I had broken the ice (which is normally a very hard thing for me to do). I had all the time to pray that I could ever ask for. A normal day consisted in the following:
7:00 - Rise
7:30 - Laudes (sometimes mass proceeding Laudes)
9:00 - Breakfast (time between Laudes and breakfast was for individual prayer)
9:30 - Chores/prayer
13:45 - Examination of conscience
14:00 - Lunch
14:30 - Chores (after lunch we'd go down to the chapel in the basement for a quick community prayer asking for those considering religious vocations)
16:00 - Rosary and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
17:45 - Chores/Individual prayer/relax
21:00 - Dinner
21:30 - Examination of conscience
21:45 - Vespers
23:00 - Bed

When Mass was not celebrated in the morning, it would generally be sometime in the afternoon. Whenever we left the house and returned home we would stop by the chapel. All trips were preceded by prayer. The Angelus was prayed always before lunch. Friday was a day of penance.

It was a busy week because classes had ended the week before, summer camps were being prepared and also one of the Disciples was to be ordained priest. The ordination took place in Cuenca (about 200km from Madrid). It was a very beautiful ceremony; I had never attended an ordination before, so I lapped it all up. We had a party afterwards at the novitiate, which is in a village some 80km or so from Cuenca. Lots of work to be done there as well - the day before and the day of the ordination - cleaning the house (which had been closed for a few months), preparing food, etc. I got to meet a few more of the Disciples there, their former Superior General, as well as the current one. Almost the entire village came to the party, as well as some kids from Madrid. The night before the ordination we held a vigil.
The novitiate couldn't be better situated: the village is very peaceful (in the heart of Castilla-La Mancha - "Don Quijote country"). The house has a fairly large estate, where one can dedicate time to prayer, manual labor, and studies with hardly any distraction.

I think I improved my prayers a lot during that week. I also learned the benefits of nearly constant prayer, of consecrating the day to God, of keeping Him in your thoughts and actions since first you wake in the morning - it helps you to live in the moment; to give your best that very day, as if it were the only day; to thank God for all the good He gives us and to find Him throughout the day; to truly love.

Heavy was my heart all during the last day, and as I said farewell after dinner I felt as though I was saying good-bye to my closest family. I pray that I shall see them again some day.

Next step: a retreat with my vocational director, to see what to do after that.

I will be praying for you all.
Pax Christi,
Mark of the Vineyard

The interior patio at the novitiate:

A view of one of the houses of the novitiate:

A small hermitage built on the property by the first novices and some of the villagers, dedicated to the BVM:

Windows in the hermitage:


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