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Everyone's been asking me if I'm excited about leaving for the monastery and the truth is, I'm not, really. I mean, I know it's an exciting thing, but I'm more nervous and scared. It could be the caffeine I've been having, but I think it's a lot more factors than just that. I don't have much of a spiritual setting in my mom's house where I've been the past week, so I feel like entering the monastery, from my current perspective, will be like being wrenched almost unexpectedly out of the world, and no one really likes being wrenched from anything, at least not in the moment. I'm not in a horrible state, but it could be better. I'm not complaining, either, just telling it like it is. Yesterday my mom gave me my bloodwork results and my red blood cell count was slightly low, I think less than .5 units below normal. Everything else was good, but that made me freak out a little, especially after the dentist also told me I needed to get my gums checked because they bled too easily, though there isn't much explanation as to why (I don't have gingivitis and I keep my mouth really clean--it probably has something to do with grinding).

I started wondering what I would do if the monastery "kicked me out" and I didn't like it. I thought, "maybe I could marry Mr. Dominican..." but then there's the fact that he'd have to leave seminary (though he's expressed his own doubts, so I guess that wouldn't be tooo difficult), not to mention that there has thus far been no formal courtship between us, let alone a marriage proposition. Then there would be the question of what I would do for a living, other than mooch off my mom and step-dad. Plus, if I married Mr. Dominican I'd have to help him pay off enormous school debt. Besides, it just seems like the coward's way out and my heart isn't that in it. I think if God wanted us to be married I might have hesitated and/or said something different when he expressed doubts about his vocation to me instead of encouraging him to stay the course. Furthermore, I've heard that you're supposed to fall in love at least once, anyway. One thing for which I'm grateful, though, is that if this is it, it's not the recklessly blazing fire of romance or anything like that. I hope it's more like the love of St. Francis and St. Claire or Bl. Jordan of Saxony and Bl. Diana D'Andalo. I've probably said that already, but since this may be my last post, I think I'll let myself ramble and be repetitive.

All the struggles, when I am comparatively good, help me remember how much God loves me, because I just have to recall that he is worth it all, no matter what. The day I forget that, I am lost.

You will not abandon my soul to sheol

One of my friends asked me what was on my bucket list yesterday, and that helped the reality of what I am doing sink in. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die," an earlier distinction for monastic life was the 'white martyrdom' etc. I don't really have anything on my bucket list except to not mess up. I guess if I thought I had a few more decades in the world to live I'd come up with something, but there isn't really anything I want enough right now other than to not mess up. For a while when I was visiting family with my brother and whatnot, there was a sense that I was kind of trying to recapture bygone days and hold onto them forever, but needed to realize that they are gone and I need to move on with my life. They'd be gone whether I was entering a monastery or not.

When I consider the thoughts, memories, and temptations that have been coming to me lately, it makes me very grateful for how good the Lord has been to me. In some ways he has allowed me to be raised in adversity already, and until now I don't think I have fallen too far. During crisis moments in my life I have seriously considered whether or not I was mentally ill, and given the environment when I am living my mom, at least once yesterday the thought crossed my mind that there have been people who have *murdered* their parents for much less. In a moment of trial yesterday I mustered the strength to be weak and went into my room to punch the mattress a few times and cry. My prayer was "God, help me be good. You are worth this suffering, and I will accept it gratefully if only you will help me to do so and help me be good. If you won't help me to be strong and accept it properly, then please take it back."

Also, a few days ago while I was still in Tally I remember reflecting on how, in the last two years I've been attending the church near my mom's house when visiting, no one has really stopped to talk to me and ask me who I was. A nice hello here and there, or a smile or some other acknowledgment, but that's about it. I told the Lord that it would be nice if he could show me that he is present in that parish by having someone talk to me while I was there. It didn't need to be so I can reveal that I was planning on entering a monastery or anything, just a "Hi, what's your name? What are you doing in town?" or something like that. Interestingly enough, when I was still in Gainesville after visiting my brother, my mom called to tell me she'd met a sister from that church and was talking with her about how she (the sister) wants to go to nursing school and how I want to be a nun. Yesterday I met that sister. Not only did she ask me about myself, but it also came after some weird feelings about the celebrant for which I had to reprimand myself. A friend of mine has been writing a lot about all the scandal in the Miami Archdiocese and I think I have been reading too much of it and letting it get to me. I don't think there should be any laxity in such matters, but I also don't think I should feel as if I've been given leave to be judgmental towards people who are already weak humans in the first place.

PS I really want to get the soundtrack to Of Gods and Men. I watched it at the suggestion of Mr. Dominican (he had a break from seminary formation and we met for coffee the other day), and liked it a lot. That night I journaled a little bit, kind of to just officially lay down the line and let the Lord know that no, I do not in fact have actual feelings for him. I have a great affection for him, and if I was pressed for some strange, apocalyptic reason to start looking for a mate I might start with him, but other than that I'd rather compare it to the love that St. Francis and St. Clare or Bl. Jordan of Saxony and Bl. Diana d'Andalo probably had for each other. I was very glad that I didn't even let his doubts about his vocation creep in. On that note, why doesn't anyone ever get angry at the Devil? He is the one who is the source of all our pain after all. It's not entirely his fault since we choose when to give in to him, but he is the father of it all. I think that is something I will try to focus on more. I don't think venting one's anger at or towards God is without merit since it at least usually turns you toward him, but I think it gives you a greater perspective when you realize how angry you should be with the Devil for tricking us so.

Neatoes

This guy is apparently my great great great great great great great great great grandfather.

A little petty

I've been searching desperately for the perfect medal of St. Michael for my brother. I want it to also have the USMC emblem on it, and the portrait of St. Michael needs to be just right, and it needs to have a decent finish, and not too high of a price...I'm not getting too far. Right now I think this one might be my best bet because because St. Michael looks more gangster there than any of the other ones, but then one website said their jewelry has a warranty, and this one doesn't...oh, bother -_- Also, I would prefer a medal that had "St. Michael, pray for us" to "St. Michael Protect me" because the implications of St. Michael praying for the whole and not the individual is something I like better. Actually, the words pray and protect I think are kind of interchangeable...Also, it would be nice if the medal came with a prayer card, but the only one like that I've found was a cheap pewter one. I don't know why I'm making such a big deal out of this...I'd like to have an order in before I go back to Tallahassee so I can have Msgr. (Michael) Tugwell bless it before I go home again and give it to my brother, but I still have a few days left.

Am I more than flesh and bone?

Not only is my long-lost half brother (who is 41) a Catholic convert of five years, but apparently he is also a Knight of Columbus. Living in the capital city of Protestant Arkansas. Gonna meet him at the airport tomorrow, woot!

right quick

I'm entering the monastery August 8, the feast of St. Dominic. More later.

womp womp

For those who haven't already heard, yesterday I got an e-mail from Sr. Mary Rose that basically said, among other things, that they'd been expecting me to enter some time around my birthday all along, but Sr. Mary Rose sincerely thought I was vacillating between desire to be a mother and desire to be a nun when such was not truly the case. Now I really don't know what to do. I really want to enter sooner than later, but my spiritual director has already suggested that I wait another year (albeit before any of this news) and I have already told everyone at work and elsewhere that I will be staying another year. Booo! My sister says I should go sooner than later, but she supports me whatever I choose. My (half) brother is on my side. My atheist/agnostic friend Galen says I should go because it's what I want to do...I'm hoping I will be able to reschedule with my spiritual director so that we can talk, cuz right now our next meeting is set for the end of June. In the meantime I guess I'll just try to ask around and see what others think, and pray a whole lot. I'm hoping I can make a retreat at Conyers or somewhere soon...

Quick update

I feel much more at peace now about waiting at least another year before possibly entering the monastery. As my spiritual director suggested, I will be offering up this year as a gift to God to do with it what he wills. In the meantime, my roommate and I may be renting the master bedroom in the house of a guy who goes to my church. We met him when we saw the house yesterday, and he was actually the first president of CSU and volunteers with Talahassee Healing Prayer and things like that. It seems like part of what he does is artistic ministry to bikers? When I asked if he was an artist he went into this long spiel about these pieces that have been coming together and it seems like he was kind of the visionary behind them and did a lot of work on them but in many cases also got help with detailing and whatnot. He seems like a cool guy. The room we'd be renting is really huge and not anything I think either of us would otherwise be into (particularly considering the rent, which will be something like 3-4 times our current rent...), but I think it will be a good place to live and a good experience, and will help this guy do what he does. We're still praying about it, though, but our pros greatly outweigh the cons.

My brother and I went home for Mother's Day and surprised our mom. She cried and slapped my brother for not calling her and then continued to cry. She was really happy. It was one of if not the best visits I've had with her, and she kept thanking me for coming. We also visited with our (half) sister, who has found and made contact with our other half brother named Chris! Here's a video of him: click! It makes me so happy! I started e-mailing him yesterday. It's sad because he's going through a divorce and he's really upset, but it's also reassuring that he seems very happy that we have made contact (and that he has a baby grandniece--he really loves kids), though understandably still needs to get used to all this.

Also, my brother has officially been a US Marine (recruit) for some time, now. His official rank is Poolee since he hasn't even been to bootcamp yet and doesn't have a degree. He'll start bootcamp in November and finish basic training next year. My mom seems much more open to it since she said when he graduates basic training we'll drive up to see him.

I feel so much love for my brothers right now! My marine, biological brother (he will beat you up, for realz), the (big brother!) half-brothers I'm learning about, bro-in-law, the ones I will probably be living with (yes--scandalous! jk), and all y'all guys reading this <3 Aforementioned bro Chris just e-mailed me back and asked if I would be able to e-mail him from the monastery if I entered, cuz he enjoyed e-mailing me. So sweet <3

Arrrrgh!

Dear Kathryn,
I too prayed that you had a Happy Easter and felt the love of our Risen Lord.
I think that you should just relax and live each day as God presents it to you. Leave the discernment to Him. He will guide you as long as you remain faithful to Him.
Perhaps, eventually, you may consider having another period of aspirancy here with us if you still feel inclined to the cloistered contemplative life. You did have a positive experience the first time. doing this may settle your mind one way or another. You are young and have plenty of time to sort things out. So there is no need to rush.
Know that you are always in our prayers and ask our Dear Lord to guide you daily on your journey through life. He is the wonderful Good Shepherd and you are His fragile, little lamb and He will carry you all through your journey through life.
With love and prayers,
Sr. Mary Rose

That's the e-mail I got from Sr. Mary Rose. Soooo frustrating! I kind of want to cry =( Part of me wants to write back something like "Dear Sr. Mary Rose; If you asked me to enter tomorrow and I could have all my affairs settled by then, I would say yes. I want to get this done with as soon as possible. As much as I have known anything, I know that this is what God wants me to do. I recognize that this may just be my impulsiveness, but God has not directly revealed anything to me to the contrary. I know he would show me the way if I had to stay where I am now, but I don't have any particular prospects on the line, I don't see a whole lot of good I could do here right now that would be convincingly much better than what I could do as a nun (though obviously I could be wrong, but how am I to know?), and I am in agony about all of this. God has been telling me, I think, on an almost day to day basis, that he wants me to pursue the contemplative life but at this point there is not much more I can do to respond. Blessings, Kathryn"

When I think about trying to run from God and doing the opposite of what I think he wants me to do (eg running off somewhere to do missions abroad or getting a new degree, leaving my job to volunteer somewhere, dating and looking for a husband, etc.) it doesn't sit well with me, and besides that there are way too many options to easily pick one. In a way I'm glad that he has made rebelling against him difficult. Despite my frustration, this has all been a great blessing, but in particular when I realize just how agonizingly frustrated I am but how much more greatly he is worth it all. That just about reduces me to tears. Even if I don't immediately feel it, I *know* by default that he is better than it all and that he's worth it, and that somehow makes everything better. It is a great grace, though, and I know that things like this don't come as easily to everyone. For me, however, the greater the struggle, the greater I realize is the love of God. It helps me to ask for suffering and to remember to honor the times I have already asked for it and not to forswear myself.

I almost want to print out this letter to read to my spiritual director. Either way, just going by how I feel right now I think I might end up crying in his office or coming very close to it. That's not my style though, so I'm kind of hoping that Mass will help me to man up right before we meet.

Really though, I need to remind myself of what I have said several times already: I don't like the idea of the day to day, but I am still incredibly blessed that I nonetheless have all of my needs taken care of. I have some semblance of a community, I have a good, accessible church to go to regularly, I'm active in some form of ministry, I have a job, I'm healthy etc. Part of me thinks that saying all of this is a cop out for letting myself be vulnerable (really, I don't give people enough credit who have the courage to rail against God and/or simply pour their hearts out about how miserable they are, but as far as being spiritually beneficial or healthy I'm still not thoroughly convinced about which approach is best), but part of me really does need to recognize this truth.

Here's to hoping...

Stalker

Last week may have been the time when I most seriously considered the possibility that I am not being called to the religious life. Regardless, it was very eye-opening, in a mixed bag kind of way. It is a lot easier now for me to look at my vocation with disinterest (in the non-biased way) and say honestly that I even look forward to potentially spending a year or more where I am, or at least the possibilities that may hold. I guess life isn't all sunshine and lollipops, but really, when it isn't, I think it's mostly because of my bad attitude. I would like to find a job that 'suits' me better, but if I can't I can still be very grateful that I have what I do. I sent a comparatively direct e-mail to sister Novice Mistress yesterday basically asking her how long she thinks would be a good amount of time to expect that I might need to continue discerning. I acknowledged that it seemed at least a year would be good and beneficial, but I don't know if I need more or what I should really do or avoid doing in that time. I still feel called there, just not right this moment, necessarily.

Someone from my parish is putting his house up for rent (he wants to go on pilgrimage/adventuring) and I've been inquiring about it. It's a 3/3 supposedly conveniently located in town with several attractive qualities, including the presence of an actual washer and dryer (my current place has neither). Plus a mutual friend says he's really nice, and that doesn't hurt. I'm hoping we'll be able to get at least 3 people to split the master bedroom if we end up going this way cuz that would be super affordable, and then perhaps 1 or 2 other people in the other room(s) (I'm still not sure if he's keeping his room for himself or if someone is already renting it or what).

Meeting with spiritual director tomorrow. Have lots to talk about...