Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Half way through Postulancy

Today marks a halfway point in my postulancy. Because of my previous experiences in religious life, I was given a shorter time. Usually the time is a full year, but they cut mine in half. After completing 10 months in Belize with S.O.L.T. I was hoping and praying to receive a shorter postulancy, which was granted. Praise be to Our Lady of Mercy!

It takes awhile to get in the swing of things. Everything was fresh and exciting the first 3 months. Now the routine is set and what was exciting in the beginning is fading and deeper realities are surfacing. I think of the dynamics between the brothers now, instead of awing the beauty of the house, incense, prayers and living in a monastery. When I refer to the "house" I mean monastery. It is a residential house yes, but also a monastery. There is plenty of excitement still, but now energies funnel into getting my duties done, playing my part and not so much looking in like a fish bowl. You might say, now it is time to build a foundation, since the property has been purchased. 

Postulancy is sometimes called pre-novitiate and rightly so, since that is the next step. Novitiate is regulated by church (canon) law to be a specific way, so that the person can be properly prepared to take vows. The Church wants to make sure a person knows the expectations of religious life.

One of the gradual preparations is in phone use. My phone use is shortened to only on weekends now, which opens up more time to reflect and pray, and post on the blog. There is a degree of maturity a person has to have to make these important life-changing decisions. Hopefully that person has already been living or trying to live a religious life before entering so the transitions aren't as difficult. God provides for every grace, despite obstacles, if you are meant to be here. Everybody comes from a different starting point, so there is some adjustment that occurs, just like any family, you'd expect some rub every once in awhile. Families aren't perfect and neither is any religious order, so naturally you can expect to see places where we need to improve, and things that are holy.

A prospective religious needs to find the best fit, but then, once that is done and you feel called to that order, should take the leap of faith. I asked for several different confirmations from Our Lady of Mercy and St. Peter Nolasco that would be solid evidence they wanted me here; an obvious one would be acceptance of your application. There are an infinite amount of reasons to not make commitments, but once you receive consistent confirmations from heaven and those in the place to discern and they all match up with your heart, there is no good reason not to commit. It would be reasonable to take the jump. The postulancy is voluntary anyways, so you can leave at anytime, but you'll always question why you didn't if you hold back. 

Now that I've come this far, I can say it isn't about questioning the call anymore as it is about making sure I am prepared to be a holy religious. The same concern should be addressed by every vocation. Am I fulfilling the universal call to holiness of life? For the religious that is all the more pronounced because you give up everything to fulfill that. I think, in the heart, a true holy person, has to give up every selfish desire to attain holiness or otherwise you are not being honest with yourself. This is a lifetime trial, ferreting out selfish parts of our life, one day at a time. A religious takes this completely serious, abandons their previous life, turns to God and never looks back. Everybody in the monastery is dedicated to that, literally vowed to it! As a Mercedarian you even take a 4th vow which commits you to offer your life to ensure others don't lose their opportunity to live out that life of holiness; so important is. Praise be to St. Peter Nolasco and Our Lady of Mercy!

2 comments:

St. Michael the Archangel said...

Patrick,

Well said! You are absolutely right, it is journey and some people think (I did once), that when someone enters the religious life they can forget about all the wiles of the world and they are hidden from the devil and have a place of refuge. That assumption isn't correct and thinking it can get you into a whole world of trouble. Granted, there are many things that help people in the monastic life, however, to think that a person living such a life is free from the temptations of the world is a huge misunderstanding. We each come from different backgrounds as you said, that being the case, we each have our own temptations, limits, and spiritual boundaries. Once you make it as you said past all the fluff and beauty of the place (like looking through a fishbowl), you make it into a deeper realization of the sacrifice that you are committing yourself too and in that you are also having to understand the many idiosyncrasies that your brothers in Christ have.. however that can be used and should be used to further your own spiritual path to sainthood and holiness.

I am glad that you are now delving into the deeper spiritual world of your pre-novitiate and I pray that God will give you the strength, courage, and grace to not only endure during these next few years, but to complete yourself spiritually.

Great post!

God Bless,

Michael (another soul on a journey)

Patrick said...

Thanks for the comments, wisdom and prayers! To the plow and never look back! Praise Jesus and Mary!

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Patrick
Mercedarian Novice, photographer, humorist, handy-man, fence-builder, prayer warrior, lover of Eucharist and Blessed Mother and Holy Mother Church.
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