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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Professional Professing

Hi Sister -

I hope you and your Sisters had a very nice Thanksgiving.

I am a candidate for the Secular Franciscans, and I have been discerning since March. I am beginning to think about my profession, which should be in spring of 2015.

Before I profess, I want to be very sure I have a true vocation as a Secular since I will be making a solemn promise to God. I am considering what draws me to the Franciscans, and I am not sure it is of God. I need to be sure, you see.

I am in an area with no First or Second Order Franciscans - they are all at least an hour away. My pastor is a former Franciscan, but is now a Diocesan priest. He refuses to help me. My fault, not his - I have offended him in the past.

I have begged his forgiveness, I have prayed countless novenas and rosaries for him, and have asked Jesus to direct the graces I receive at Holy Communion to my pastor so we can be on a friendly basis again. I really feel terribly about this. Father says he forgives me, but he will not speak to me, and as I said, he refuses to advise me spiritually.

My fraternity's spiritual advisor is a fine Franciscan friar, but he is over an hour away. He also has a very heavy workload. He is the guardian of a shrine with a parish, he is the chaplain of four Franciscan fraternities spread over two states, and he is a concert cellist. At this time of the year, his time is especially spread thin, so I do not want to trouble him.

To whom can I pray for guidance with my discernment of my vocation? And would you please pray very hard for me?

Well now look here, this is way too much for me to try to straighten out. The only person who can discern if you have a vocation or not is you.

I could go out on a limb and point out that if a priest won't talk with you about it, he might be leaning toward telling you, if he would talk to you, that you are not a good candidate.

But that is one shaky limb, because the truth is, we don't know what you did to offend him so thoroughly. We don't know that he hasn't forgiven you. We don't know that he has.  Priests are human beings first. Maybe he's struggling with forgiving you. Maybe he has actually forgiven you, but needs, for the sake of his own battles of the soul, to not be around you. Maybe you are for him, a near occasion of sin. 

It's a shaky limb because human beings can be wrong about the sincerity or motivations of others. St. Rita tried over and over to get into the convent and was told repeatedly to take a hike. Angels finally flew her over the convent wall. Even that didn't cause the nuns inside to embrace her. St. Therese the Little Flower was endlessly harassed by her mother superior, who refused to attend Therese's funeral. St. Joseph of Cupertino was tossed out of the monastery.

You have until spring. Actually, you have the rest of your life, but you have set your goals for spring. The Christmas season will end and the other spiritual adviser will put down his cello. Contact him now and set aside some time in February with him.

One last question, not for you to answer here publicly, but for yourself for clarity.
"I'm not sure what draws me to the Franciscans and I'm not sure if it is of God."  That's the whole Magilla right there.  Figure out what it is that draws you. What are the things that draw you? The sandals?  

The answer should be, giving myself to God in this way, in the life of a Franciscan, is the best way for me unite my soul to God.

Meanwhile, who could be better to guide you with intercession but St. Rita herself?  She did not give up and is the patron saint of impossible causes. That's how bad it got for her. Of course, she had no doubts about her calling. Talk to her while you peruse this.

I hope this helps you in some small way. Let us know how you're doing!

Meanwhile, it's Advent and we haven't even talked about that!

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