18 April 2009

Journey and Destination

From quite a young age I felt the call
To follow my LORD and give my all.
Giving up that which others would seek
Following a king both humble and meek

God’s call to me was not always clear
I had searched for it both far and near
In Chicago and in England, too
I searched sincerely for what I should do

Priest, Friar or Monk are they all the same
There is more to this than just in name.
Reading lives of saints can put things askew
Showing us ideals attained by few

Living for Christ can be done today
He gives each one of us our own way
Ways that were strange when I was younger
Now in my heart; for which I hunger

The need to be seen working a job
Now doesn’t seem to be worth “a bob”
Worshipping God by praying the Hours
Feeling his Love; Feeling his Power

The Opus Dei is now job one
After which the other tasks are done
So we are told in the holy Rule
For living a life in Love’s own school

It all seems so clear, now it makes sense
The fog now gone at the time was dense
Robert, Alberic and Stephen show
Along with Bernard the vale of Cîteaux

17 April 2009

Second Visit to Mount St. Bernard Abbey - one month away

I will be making my second vocational visit to Mount St. Bernard Abbey in about one months time. I am quite excited about this prospect. This time I will be staying with the community instead of in the guest house..

I think one of the tougher aspects of the visit is to remove my rose-colored glasses. It is too easy for me to superimpose what I am looking for on to what actually exists. The best mind-set is for me to go in with an open mind, not wearing any blinders. It is easy to say, but hard to do. Part of the difficulty is that I have been trying for years to follow my vocation.

I think there is a parallel in the dating world, when someone is in love with the idea of being in love; but not in a true loving relationship with the person they are dating. And whether one is looking for their religious vocation or there spouse, when you get to a certain age there is a lot of pressure.

I need to be sure I do not overlook a possible significant, or make a mountain out of a molehill. Or, I should say, I need to rely on God's grace and the prayers of others. When making a these steps in what will eventually be a life-long commitment, the logic of the world does not always apply. The time comes when one can no longer leave their options open. I think it is Kierkegaard who talks about taking the leap of faith. And ultimately faith is all that matters in my decision.

I pray that God blesses those who have taken the time to read my little blog, and I humbly ask for your prayers for my decision.


13 April 2009

Why Now?

I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Holy Easter Season. A number of friends have asked why I am no looking at a monastic vocation.

For the last ten years, give or take, I have worked for Commercial Insurance brokerages. I have worked on some large national accounts and I have worked on “mom & pop shops”. Some of the accounts I worked on had thousands of locations. One of the accounts was recently named in the federal indictment against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevic. In my last position I worked on a book of business that generated over $660,000 in revenue with the premium volume being around $5,000,000. I would work until 8 - 10 PM most nights.

I was making pretty good money, but I barely had a life. I was sleeping very little during the week and twelve hours a night on the weekend. I rarely made it to Mass. (I still wish there were Sunday evening Masses around Blue Island.)

On Ash Wednesday 2006 my mother passed away. My two brothers were living at the house, but because of financial reason, the house needed to be sold in 2008. A number of months later, around 10PM, I turned off my computer at work with the thought, “Why am I killing myself with this job?” I went home and wrote my letter of resignation.

I knew I wanted to do something important with my life, and I was thinking about going back in to education, but this time with a degree. I was looking at getting my masters, but first I needed to get some undergraduate requirements fulfilled. I signed up at a local community college to take a couple classes. Before the classes even began I had a number of realizations.

I started going back to Mass at St. Isidore’s It is a wonderful little parish at the border of Blue Island and Calumet Park. I realized how much I missed Mass, and how important it is to me. I began to reflect on what is truly important to me and what was not. The house, the car, the big paycheck grew wan in my eyes. Things and stuff are not important to me. What is? THE ETERNAL. GOD. HEAVEN. SALVATION.

On Saturday August 20, 2008 I went to evening Mass at St. Isidore’s. (Later I was to find out the August 20 is the Feast of St. Bernard.) Sunday morning I prayed Lauds, the went on to the internet to check my email. Almost instantly I felt the need to search out monastic communities. I fire was lit under me, and I searched with single-hearted purpose. I kept searching until 6PM. I ended my search with Vespers and three communities that stood out. I have talked about my search criterion previously, and I do not want to bore you with repetition.

But I will go back to talking about the fire that was lit under me. It has been a driving force in my life, and affects all of my decisions about the future. When I felt this renewed call to religious life, I was just a few days away from my 40th birthday. I had never felt such impetus in my life before. In the past, when I had to do something “now,” the order came from outside myself. God has put this impetus deep within me, and it has given me a direction and a joy that my life sorely need.

04 April 2009

Taking Holy Week off from Blogging

After Easter I will be returning to this blog. Until then I will leave you with this funny quote:

I once asked Master what a monk is. "A monk is anyone whom a monk says is a monk." he replied.

When I asked if I was a monk, I was ejected from the compound. Monks are a strange lot.

~Lord Byron
Have a Blessed Holy Week!!!