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Author Topic: When your spirituality clashes with your personality...  (Read 1641 times)
Justicia et Pax
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« on: May 31, 2013, 08:53:39 AM »

I am just interested to see/hear if anyone else on WF has experienced this.

When I was a child, I was fascinated by stories of the female saints and the trials they endured and the mortifications they performed. I wanted to be a saint, though probably for the worst reason (so that everyone would think I'm great)!

Since becoming unwell, I have done a lot of Google-ing and spent a lot of time reading up on particular saints and their writings. I have found myself increasingly drawn to Carmelite spirituality. It's not just a fascination with it or a simple longing for it... it's a gentle but strong pull towards it.

The only thing is that I am in no way suited to Carmelite mysticism or practice myself. And I'm not just talking in terms of becoming a nun (I've been told by two priests that that is not my calling and I trust them on that). I'm very chatty, I like to gossip, I am stuck in sexual sin, and lots of other bad things. More importantly though, is that I have no capacity for silence and stillness, as Carmelites are required to. I cannot spend hours with the Lord, unless I am very ill.

It saddens me that my personality is so incompatible with my spirituality I feel pulled towards. I just wonder if anyone has experienced the same, or has any comments or insights that they wish to offer. I know it's not the end of the world that I am not more like the Carmelite saints I admire but I can't help feeling disappointed.

(As an aside: if I ever WERE to become a nun, I've picked an Ignatian order. Not that I have the discipline for Ignatian prayer either!)
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ncjohn
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 10:01:30 AM »


I wanted to be a saint, though probably for the worst reason (so that everyone would think I'm great)!


There are few things I find more amusing than when I find myself showing great pride in my humility!!  Cheesy

Quote

It saddens me that my personality is so incompatible with my spirituality I feel pulled towards. I just wonder if anyone has experienced the same, or has any comments or insights that they wish to offer. I know it's not the end of the world that I am not more like the Carmelite saints I admire but I can't help feeling disappointed.


I have been professed as a Secular Franciscan since 2007. I have to admit to having many times when I struggle with how badly I "do" that. I feel a genuine calling to the Franciscan charism but overall am terrible about pulling myself away from my self-centered pursuits to truly live the gospel life, especially the call to serve the poor, that the profession calls me to. The key thing though, in my eyes, is that by surrounding myself with other people trying to live this vocation that I at least want to do it, however much I may fail.

I don't think you should necessarily rule out the calling you are feeling at all. One of the great things about the secular orders is that they involve a substantial time of formation and discernment during which you explore it all much more deeply before actually taking vows or making a profession. It is very easy to just not move forward due to feeling unworthy and incapable. But none of us are worthy, and none of us are capable. We only become so by giving God the chance to make us worthy. The old saying, "God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called" is very true.

I also find myself frequently encouraged by a prayer from Thomas Merton that I ran into several years back:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

"But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you." You clearly have that desire, Shan, and I would encourage you to at least explore further whether this is what God is calling you to.
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Alan
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 11:23:24 AM »

The old saying, "God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called" is very true.

I like that.  I've never heard it before.

Quote
"But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you." You clearly have that desire, Shan, and I would encourage you to at least explore further whether this is what God is calling you to.

I agree with this.  I do think you have the desire, Shan.  

Sometimes the way to closeness to God is through a Holy Spirit boot camp.  And you may find that what you thought were flaws may have helped you get stronger.  At least more wise and serene, abd understanding of other's situations.  It gives you depth.

Luke 15:7
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Alan
« Last Edit: June 05, 2013, 11:27:23 AM by Alan » Logged

... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Justicia et Pax
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2013, 07:45:04 AM »

Dear John and dear Alan,

Thank you for taking the time to post in my thread. I'm sorry I've only seen this now - completely forgot I'd posted this thread  Undecided

John, it is very encouraging to hear from you, since you are very wise like Alan and I admire your posts and gain much from them. I've heard of people on CAF being third order Carmelites but tbh I don't know that much about it and how it works, and whether it's even done in the UK! Something for me to investigate maybe. I admire you for professing as a secular Franciscan. The Franciscan path is a hard one, for sure - the spirit of poverty and humility required is admirable to me but one I doubt I could ever attain  Embarrassed

Thank you to you and Alan for your quotes from Thomas Merton and from the Bible. I had read the Thomas Merton quote before but not the whole of it, I don't think. It reminds me a bit of St Therese of Lisieux, whose little way I try to implement in my own life (without great success most of the time. A work in continual progress, I suppose!).

I really am grateful to you both for posting your thoughts and encouragement. I don't really have anyone in real life to talk to these matters about, save for my SD, and I don't see him as often as I'd like.
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ncjohn
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2013, 09:36:11 AM »

Shan, it really is a matter of "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

You clearly have had experiences and times of truly feeling connected, even if they might be largely connected with times of illness or distress. The thing is that those experiences are blessings that allow you to "know" in a way you can't stop and go back from. You may not be able to recreate those experiences but the knowing stays with you.

The question then becomes one of figuring out how God is calling you. Not everyone is going to be called to a third order. But if you feel a calling or identification with one it is well worth the time and effort to take that first step and make the inquiries to investigate it and do the discernment. I have known several who looked into a third order only to find that there calling was to a different third order than they would have expected. Usually the people conducting formation and discernment within our orders are very helpful in assisting you in finding where you belong, and we have no problem at all when someone finds they aren't really suited to our order and helping them find where God is calling them.

The main thing is to break the inertia and move forward, breaking that feeling of unworthiness or belief that you can't live up to the ideals of something. None of us can do that on our own. We make the commitment to do the best we can, then turn it over to God to do the hard work of actually leading us where He wants us to go.
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
JimR-OCDS
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2013, 04:30:14 PM »

Not all Carmelites are cloistered in monasteries. Some, live in monasteries, but their work is outside of the monastery.

As far as a 3rd Order Carmelite goes, my wife and myself are professed Secular Order Discalced Carmelites, i.e. OCDS.

It's by no means, a silent order at the monthly meetings,  but the love for interior silence is a desire.

However, you mention you have some issues with sexual behaviors and such.

To enter any third order, you have to go through a period of aspirancy and then formation.

For OCDS members, aspirancy is about 1 year, before you receive your scapular and enter formation. Then it's two years before temporary promises, then another year before life promises.

Before you begin, you have to have a strong commitment in following Jesus Christ, and devotion to the Blessed Mother,  be in good standing with the Church.

But all this being said, it doesn't mean you can not follow Carmelite Spiritualty, by learning how to pray and live a contemplative lifestyle.

It doesn't require being silent, but embracing interior silence.

If you pray with sincerity and ask for God's transforming grace, you'll be drawn to the vocation that God desires, which is the only agenda we should be following in the first place.

Jim
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Justicia et Pax
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2013, 05:12:15 PM »

Hi Jim, great to have you join the thread and to hear your input. I do think the sexual sin stuff could be problematic to my joining a third order of any kind. More of an obstruction, though, would be my health problems and the necessary church attendance to fulfill obligations Sad I've done some research today about the third order in the UK and whilst there are parts of me that deeply resound with Carmel (e.g. love for interior silence, as you have rightly said), I don't think it's for me.

I will keep praying - as you say, my job is to follow God's will for my vocation, not my own. Would you mind praying for me, that I may discern correctly and carefully?

John, as always, I'm grateful for your encouragement. God bless you! Smiley
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