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I believe I am called to a religious vocation but I don't know where or what. If I am not called to be a priest which due to my age (37) and lack of a college degree is probable. But I feel that I am called to be a monk. I am getting all these subtle hints that I am indeed called to a religious life. For example...several months ago one of my co workers was leaving to retire in Arizona. This was a guy I had a lot of respect for. He was curious about the Faith as he would read through my Missal when I brought it to work (which I told him was OK of course) and he would ask questions about it which I answered the best I could. I had mentioned that I had spent some time as a candidate at a monastery and been on some retreats at other monasteries and I told him that these were some of the best times in my life both spiritually and health wise.

On his last day he told me to keep pursuing my calling to the religious life because he feels this is what I am called to do.

So yesterday I was cleaning my room and I found a letter my mother had sent to me when I was in the monastery and she had said she knows I will succeed because this is what I had always dreamed about (that's true) and it's what God wants of me.

Then, I found a book on monasticism another friend from work had given me. This is a guy that recently was fired due to inappropriate web sites he went to on the job. He had written a note to me in the book that I never saw at the time he gave it to me. The note said he hopes that I don't give up on becoming a monk. He said he could never become a monk because of his passions that he still has even at 65. It's clear in the note that he has some struggles that ended up costing him his job. He also mentioned that he would love to go and visit the monastery I was at with me some day.

It's clear that he, like all of us is struggling with sin and temptation but he told me that he feels I would be a good monk and he hopes the security job is only temporary for me.

Obviously the first thing that has to happen is I need to pay my debts. The good news is after just getting my income tax refund it looks like I am going to be able to pay off my credit card debt this year which is a year earlier than I had planned. I was able to cut my cell phone bill by almost $40 a month by eliminating e-mail and text messaging from my plan and I will be further cutting that this summer when my contract expires and I will probably go with a pay as you go plan since I hardly even use the thing other than for emergencies.

I just paid another bill I had off last week so the only outstanding bills I will have once I pay my credit card is my car payment and with the money I will save from not having to pay the other bills I can put more on my car payment to pay that off earlier. This will be good no matter what vocation in life I have.

So obviously there is nothing I can do about a religious vocation until I get my debts completely taken care of but I still feel that I am being pulled in that direction. I guess if it is meant to be, God will remove whatever obstacles are in the way.

Thank you for the post and for sharing your thoughts on discerning a religious calling.

I, too, feel the pull in that direction.  For me it is a subtle yet always present pull.  Well, pull is too strong of a word.  It is a gentle, a gentle and subtle feeling.  Feeling, too, isn't the right word.  It's just kind of hangs out there, underneath everything, quietly directing my thoughts and interests, popping up in expected and unexpected times.  Sometimes a comment made by a friend can trigger an intense longing, or sometimes reading something (like your post), or seeing a pictures of a monastery.  I spent some time at the Christ in the Desert monastery (yes, it is a NO Benedictine monastery, but reverent and contemplative and in an incredible location in the high desert of northern NM:  http://www.christdesert.org) and felt at home in the rhythms and spaciousness.  There was also a bit of fear, but not fear that I would run away from, but fear that in some way interested me.

I can see a long history of it, too, in my life.  Monasticism is something that I have always found interesting.  Before I was Christian, I spent some time practicing Theravaden Buddhism, in particular the Thai forest tradition, which is a very strict monastic tradition.  Something about the monastery felt right to me, regardless of how I felt about Buddhism at the time or after.  Even now, I look back at those intensive silent retreats and know how much I enjoyed the simplicity, the silence, the solitude.

My first steps to Catholicism came via Thomas Merton.  A friend gave me Seven Storey Mountain.  It sat on my shelf for awhile, but kept calling to me, primarily because of the title.  I love Dante's Divine Comedy and particularly enjoyed the Purgatorio.  When I read it, Merton just spoke to me, just sang to my soul.  His struggles, his understandings, his interests, and his education were all very similar to mine.  His journey to the monastery just opened me up wide -- I remember the chapter when he finally decided to become a monk.  How he gave away his belongings, collected his last paycheck, rode the train to Kentucky and then caught a ride to Gethsemani.  He knocked on the door with a suitcase of all his possessions in his hand.  The monk who opened it for him asked if this time he was there to stay.  He responded something like, "yes, if you'll pray for me," to which the Brother said, "I have been."  Ah, even now, thinking about that renunciation...

Like you, I have some debts to pay.  Student loans... yikes... so I've got another 8 or 9 years until I'm debt free.  There's some other reasons, too, that make me wait to take any sort of official steps to discernment for some years.  It's a good time to be patient and be open to whatever God's will is.

This spring break I'm planning on spending a few days at the SSPX monastery that's only a couple of hours away: http://www.ourladyofguadalupemonastery.com.  I figure until the point where it is more realistic for me to really start discerning, I'll just spend lots of time at nearby monasteries and try to live my current vocation as best as I can.

Thank you again for posting your thoughts; it was nice to reflect on them and add my own.  I pray that you'll find God's will for your life and perhaps, God willing, a few years down the road we'll call each other Brother.

Pax vobiscum,
Jesse
Obviously it's the same as Monk, but you may want to look at the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. They accept Oblates (seemingly analogous to religious Brother) up the age of 40. The SSPX Brotherhood is similar. Also, just because of your age, don't automatically write off Priesthood in one of the traditionalist Orders or Societies. The Call comes when it comes, so don't be shy about writing to one of them and saying that you feel called despite your age. The worst they can do is say no.
I have class with a handful of seminarians who are around your age.  Don't count it out.  Maybe it's what you are called to and maybe it isn't, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. 
(02-12-2010, 07:51 PM)Walty Wrote: [ -> ]I have class with a handful of seminarians who are around your age.  Don't count it out.  Maybe it's what you are called to and maybe it isn't, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. 

Yeah, I contacted the FSSP and they said my age and diabetes (another issue that complicates things) would keep me from entering their order.

I'm also discerning a vocation right now, and as well, financial debt is the biggest obstacle.  No credit cards, but I have student loans and other finances to take care of first.
(02-12-2010, 08:32 PM)Petertherock Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-12-2010, 07:51 PM)Walty Wrote: [ -> ]I have class with a handful of seminarians who are around your age.  Don't count it out.  Maybe it's what you are called to and maybe it isn't, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. 

Yeah, I contacted the FSSP and they said my age and diabetes (another issue that complicates things) would keep me from entering their order.

Have you checked with any other orders?

There are also more monastic type orders that say the TLM privately.
Google "Wyoming monks".  They are Carmelites.

Also google "clear creek monks".  They are Benedictines.

Both have the TLM at their monastery.  Both are prospering well.
I would suggest thinking about the permanent diaconate. The Institute of Christ the King/ICKSP has an auxiliary group called the Oblates of the Institute, which are basically brothers who are employed as office admins (clerks in the original sense of the word), gardeners, cooks, sacristans and such. Some of these Oblates are ordained as deacons. The max age requirement is 40, no college degree required.

Here's the link: http://www.institute-christ-king.org/vocations/oblates/
(02-12-2010, 08:44 PM)Walty Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-12-2010, 08:32 PM)Petertherock Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-12-2010, 07:51 PM)Walty Wrote: [ -> ]I have class with a handful of seminarians who are around your age.  Don't count it out.  Maybe it's what you are called to and maybe it isn't, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. 

Yeah, I contacted the FSSP and they said my age and diabetes (another issue that complicates things) would keep me from entering their order.

Have you checked with any other orders?

There are also more monastic type orders that say the TLM privately.

Well, one place I am attracted to I will be going on retreat to during Holy Week. I have been in contact with them for a while. They never have told me no but of course the debt is the biggest issue right now.

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