Starting afresh

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When last I wrote, it seemed that I had practically given up on discerning my vocation. And in truth, these last two months have not been the best spiritually speaking. Scared and ashamed, I practically gave up praying altogether; I did not go to mass; I did not seek the sacrament of reconciliation. And why this abrupt rupture with the Lord, when it is exactly in such times of need that we should cling most to Him? Because I felt ashamed of not following His call, because I let fear command my actions. I did not (and perhaps still don't entirely) feel worthy of Him or His mercy.

And so I returned to the United States, and even began entertaining ideas of getting a job, settling down, and - who knows - perhaps be content with just being a deacon somewhere down the path. Here I was again, trying to control my own life, map everything out. It was as if I had learnt nothing during my discernment period - that one's life is in God's hands, not ours. I may have turned a blind eye to the Lord's calling, yet He did not do so to me. During this last month I have felt an interior motion, as St. Ignatius would put it, a very soft, gentle nudge to return to my old praying habits. It is very hard to describe in words exactly what it is; suffice it to say that it almost seems to say "Return to prayer; remember the joy and release that was part of always calling on the Lord."

During this last month I have also answered job applications. Even here the Spirit has been making itself known. For the more job ads I answered, the more came into my head "This is not for me. Why do I want a job? I don't want a career, to make money to buy a house, to buy material possessions. Isn't all I've ever been searching for in the Lord?"

The fire has been rekindled. I start my discernment afresh. This time I will try to take it more seriously than I previously had. My only regret is that my vocational director is not here: I had come to trust him and appreciate his insights. At this moment I'm not so sure as I once was about being called to a community based on Ignatian spirituality; as I begin to pray again, slowly other things start to emerge from the deep. And here, dear brothers and sisters, is where I ask for your help. You see, in Portugal I had only one vocational director. He is a diocesan priest and he introduced me to the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Sadly, I left just at the time when he said that should I understand that they were not to where God is calling me, that he would introduce me to other religious, with different spiritualities. To make a long story short though, I would like to know: do you have only one vocational director, or have you visited various communities and have one from each community? Answering this would greatly help me to start off again.

My prayers are with you all.

Pax Christi,
Mark of the Vineyard


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