Further to my previous post about work, I have been thinking hard and feel that yes, I could put Carmel off until April to keep my job open, but:
- Is this showing faith in Our Lord, if Carmel is my true calling - no, I feel.
- It would be easy to leave Carmel at the first hurdle if I knew I still had a job to go to.
- In my current job, I don't feel spiritually fulfilled, so don't believe it's my calling
- Why put off Carmel for another 3 months? St. Aquinas says that one should not delay any longer than they can help.
So, it seems that instead of keeping a 'security blanket', I will hopefully enter Carmel with more faith and love if I sacrifice my job. After all, it's never good to hold onto things that may keep you back.
I have realised that my doubts have no real foundation; they could actually be the work of the devil, to try and keep me away from Our Lord. On reflection, there is no reason for me to not to go to Carmel, since God appears to have made my path clear. That is one of the signs that is looked for in aspirants. About my concerns of my personal commitment, I have read and been told that if God truly wants you somewhere, He will give you the strength and graces required and so I need to have much faith in Him.
I was thinking of my vocation in a similar way to dating, engagement and marriage. After 2 weeks in Carmel as an Aspirant, I have kind of 'dated' and would like to, as Americans say 'go steady' as a Postulant before I become betrothed as a Novice. If, in the first 5-6 years in the novitiate I strongly feel Carmel is not for me, then I can leave and seek further afield as to where God wants me to be. I needn't be scared, as St Therese believed that God wouldn't place a desire in her that was not possible (she wanted to be a saint before she was one!). Therefore, as I'm sure that as God placed this desire within me, despite my various worries, it must be possible for me to become a Carmelite.
If I was to not go ahead, I have to consider whether I would deeply regret not giving it a try. I know for sure, I would.
To to other women or men discerning their vocation, I would say:
- Recall frequently what first moved you towards considering the religious life or what signs you've had in your life.
- Think of the spiritual experiences you have had and graces you have received. Treasure and thank God for them.
- Consider keeping a spiritual journal to help you reflect on your journey.
- It may help to have a spiritual director - others can sometimes see more clearly whether we are called or not.
- Go to confession, Adoration and Mass frequently where possible.
- Be cautious, as doubts can enter the mind as you come to make your decision. Pray about them, ask God to guide you and try to weigh things up in your mind to see if they are warranted. Don't give up at this point or rush to make a decision, there will be a moment when you will be able to see more clearly - never make a decision until you are sure.
- Don't worry about your own weaknesses, as God will help you to achieve His Will
- Read http://www.lafayettecarmelites.org/god_calling.php which I found useful. It's based on St. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises.
- If you decide to become a religious, try to stay true to it and remind yourself as to why you have made that decision.
- Have faith in the Lord. He will make sure everything works out.