Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My Religious Vocation... (2)

In my last post I tried to explain a bit of the experience of God in my life using the scriptures of the day which where very appropriate. In this post I will try and come back to the question how I know I am called to be a religious, something quite appropriate to discuss with my solemn vows (vows until death) coming up in a good weeks time.

In doing this I know I leave myself open to a bit of criticism. By trying to explain such a deep calling there is always the risk that other say 'that does not resonate with me, this does not seem relevant', or even feel that it seems that God is ignoring them. That is not my intention, and far from the truth! Everybody has his or her own personal way of relating to God, and words are always falling short in describing experiences so deep in the human heart.

The only way to discover how God interacts with you is to open yourself up to his grace through prayer. While I will in a minute specifically aim on describing my religious calling, everybody is called to communion with God. There is a yearning in every human heart to know God, a yearning for the infinite, a yearning for the fullness of life through love.

As I have often said on this blog, in order to discover or deepen our understanding of Gods closeness in our lives we just have to start praying, it is as simple as that.

On my journey I started to find a bit of silence every day on my way home from work when I passed by the local church. I just went in for 5, sometimes maybe 10 minutes to open my heart to God, to start to get used to the silence in which I slowly started to perceive the silent whisper of His promptings. Some describe it as a sense of peace, some experience a sensation or others again feel a completeness, but these are just a few examples of attempts of subjective experiences. Another important aspect for me was reading a small bit of the Gospels each day, in my case half a chapter before going to sleep. The encounter with the Word was something which completely changed my life!

So what about the call to a religious vocation, or more specific, my religious vocation. In a way it is very simple, from my very first discovery of God I think I more or less fell in love with God. From the beginning I started to look for ways to serve God fully, or at least as much as my state of life would allow. I didn't necessarily think it was going to be religious-life, or the priesthood, but expected it to be with God at the center. I assumed it was going to be God as an integral part of a family.

But after pursuing that path for three years it became clear to me that maybe God was calling me to an ever deeper relationship, a invitation to a more fuller union focussed on Him alone. My love for God grew deeper then anything I experienced before...

A religious lives a celebrate life, which mean that we do not marry. Instead we remain single in order to give ourselves fully and completely to God. In the case of a religious, the solemn vows, the vows we make until the end of our lives, are in a way our marriage to God, giving us completely to Him. This is often described for nuns and sisters as a mystical marriage between themselves and Jesus, as they give themselves as a bride to the eternal Bridegroom

And so too do I see the call, a call to completely trust God and give myself completely to Him. That is why I could honestly say in my previous reflection that there is this fire burning within my heart, the fire of a real love. A love for God which is imprisoned in my bones! It is a love which goes beyond anything I have ever experienced on earth, and beyond whatever I expect to ever experience. It fuels the hope and desire for everlasting life, when the promise will be completely fulfilled, a complete union with God, and that is all I desire.

This sounds probably cheesy, but so be it. How much we experience on earth, or can experience on earth, of this desired union I don't know. It does not mean that this vocation comes with some mystical experience, on the contrary, it is very dry most of the time, but it is at the same time a very strong conviction deep down in my heart. This conviction, the conviction that God can be THAT close to us makes me burn with fire to share it with others too who might not yet experience it as such.

I know that only giving myself fully to God will make me fully happy, I know that to be true. The call to full service of God is a call to the beyond of the ordinary, a call to the extra-ordinary.

It is hard to answer this question in some simple writing it being difficult at best, and borders probably on the impossible. God's ways are usually difficult to comprehend and each call by God is different. In discerning such a call therefore it is very important to find somebody to talk it over with, to help discern what God is really asking in the depths of our hearts!

'You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced;'




1 comment:

Carole said...

My dearest Brother Luke,

thank you for sharing your vocation story. I think people very much LONG to hear about the experience of encounter and calling. I realize that it must feel vulnerable to disclose something so personal, but it's really important! However, you must not downplay it or be apologetic about it--like Our Lady, you can say truthfully and gratefully, "The Almighty has done great things for me!" In this way, we magnify him.

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