30 January 2010

I Have a Confession to Make...

For the last week we were on retreat. During that time I went completely without emails or the internet. The doctors have told me that the tremors and the nervous tick should pass shortly. ;-)

A little while before the retreat while in prayer, the idea of making a General Confession came to me. Just a few days before the retreat I was reading from A Spritual Directory for Religious (Gethsemani, 1946). In it there is a recommendation that postulants should make a General Confession before receiving the Habit. I spoke to my Novice Master, and he thought it was a good idea. Then I made arrangements with my confessor.

A word to the wise, one should always talk with their spiritual director or confessor BEFORE making a General Confession. A General Confession is not for somebody who has a problem with scrouples, it is not for somebody who has a poblem with a past confessor, and it is not for somebody who is recovering from a sinful life and doubts the Mercy of God. General Confessions are often used by people as the begin a new chapter of their life: not just receiving a habit, but before marriage, before ordination, or when re-committing your life to God. I did it is not only to prepare for the new chapter in my life, but to firmly shut the book on the old chapter.

There are two schools of thought on how to make a General Confession. One is recommended, and one is not.

I had started down the wrong path. I tried to identify every sin in my life as best as I could. I began to think of things I did when I was eight and nine years old. DO NOT DO THAT! If you have confessed your sins before you can be sure of the absolution that was given. If you were baptised after leading a sinful life, those sins were forgiven. God's Mercy and Forgiveness is real, permanent, and absolute. God's Love is stronger than the memory of ANY sin.

What you want to do is examine the patterns of sin in your life. Examine them honestly. I prepared a number of hours of three days - with frequent prayers to the Holy Spirit for assistance to uncover everything. I included smoking the things in my past that I do not ever want to go back to. I even including smoking cigarettes. Now when someone has an addiction, there is a limitation to there culpability; but when I started smoking there was no addiction at that point. Now the body, as scripture teaches us, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (And before you say it, cigarette smoke is not incense!). I knew that smoking can harm the body, and that is why it is a sin. I have written this not to preach at smokers, but purely as an example of uncovering ALL sinful patterns.

I looked on the internet for advise on making my General Confession. A lot of what I read was not helpful. But I did find one thing that was. If I can find it again, I will post the reference to it. But it gave a simple list:

Write down all your sinful patterns as a guide for your confession. DO NOT MAKE THIS LIST ON ANY COMPUTER. DO THIS BY HAND, AND DO NOT LET THE LIST OUT OF YOUR SIGHT.
At confession, if it is too emotional for you to read the list, hand the list to your confessor.
Get the list back.
After confession burn the list and flush the ashes down the toilet.

Now I did not follow the last peice of advice, but I did avail myself of a frequently used criss-cross paper shredder.

One last thing. General Confessions are not required of anyone. If it is not something you think is helpful in your spiritual life, you are by no means obliged to even consider it, let alone actually do it.

May God's Love, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Peace dwell with you always.

23 January 2010

Retreat Time

We are going on a community retreat in a few hours. It will last seven days. During that time I will not be posting anything or even checking emails. It will be an spirit-filled internet-free week. I will probably write some things during the retreat and post them afterwards.
God Bless

p.s. God Willing, it is 61 days until I am clothed as a novice. Not that I am counting. :-)

17 January 2010

More Ideas for Discerment

Here are a few more thoughts on the process of discernment. The following is taken from some correspondence with someone thinking about becoming a sister.

Every Order that exists was founded for a specific reason and has specific gifts from the Holy Spirit. These gifts are called "Charisms". One of the goals of Vatican II, was to get orders to rediscover their Charism. The Charism can be their spirituality and our their mission, or both.

In my estimation, School Sisters should not run medical clinics and Nursing Sisters should not be teaching Grade Schools. I believe this solely because it is not a part of their Charism. However, if a school sister wanted to serve the poor, maybe she could teach in a poor neighbourhood; and if a nursing sister wanted to teach, maybe she could teach nursing, pharmacology, or what have you. The Trappist monasteries that ran schools now have very few monks, because that is not what Trappists are supposed to be doing. [If anyone disagrees with these statements I would not mind an open friendly dialogue with them. I will not debate you,but I will post your opinions].

I believe the orders that are dying off either have outlived their charism (eg, there is a order that was founded to rescue slaves from Barbary Pirates) or they are not living out their charism (teaching sisters that are trying to be social workers [there are, btw, sisters who specialize in social work).

If you were to become a sister or nun, would it matter where you were? I believe part of my vocation is to be in England, that is why I am over here. Some people are particular to even what neighbourhood they are in, and there are those for whom location does not matter.

Does the size of the community matter to you? Large, Small, any??? Does the wearing of the habit matter to you?

As far as apostolate with children: one can teach, one can teach children with special needs, one can teach children in abject poverty (both in the US or abroad); one can work with orphans, wards of the state, or run-aways; one can work in hospital, etc.

Remember, if it is important to you, it is important!
Some times God chooses to speak to us through things that are unimportant to others.

These are my thoughts, and I speak for myself alone. I hope I speak with Christian Charity and concern.

God's Blessings to you all.


ps, there are only ten weeks until my clothing as a novice, God Willing

09 January 2010

Requiem Mass for Fr. Peter Logue, OCSO

The Requiem Mass for Fr. Peter Logue, OCSO will be at Mount St. Bernard Abbey on 11th January 2010 at 11:00 AM.

08 January 2010

Father Peter Logue - RIP 1913 - 2010

This morning at 12:50 AM Fr. Peter died. He was a monk at Mount St. Bernard Abbey for 75 years. He is lying in repose in the monk's church at the abbey. His small frame belied a great man. He was greatly loved. He will be greatly missed.

Thursday is the day we remember the Lord's Last Supper. Thursday was the last day Fr. Peter shared in the Eucharist, a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet. On Friday we remember the Lord's own death. It was on the cross Christ said to the good thief, “I assure you: this day you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43). May Fr. Peter share in the Heavenly Banquet today.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
Requiescat in pace

06 January 2010

Please pray for Fr. Peter

Fr. Peter is the oldest monk at Mount St. Bernard Abbey. Fr. Peter is the oldest monk to ever be at Mount St. Bernard Abbey. Fr. Peter I believe is the oldest monk in England. Fr. Peter recently turned 96 years of age, but we do not think he will be with us much longer.

Sancte Benedicte et Sancte Joseph orate pro eo nunc et in hora mortis.

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison
Kyrie Eleison


03 January 2010

Some steps in Discernmet

I have received a couple emails from someone who is taking a fresh look at the possibility of a vocation. I do not want to disclose anything personal about this person, but I would like to share some general points just in case there is any one else in the same position.

Trying to discern your vocation is TOUGH. I think it is tougher for women because there are so very many orders. It is important to remember that a lot of the spiritual life is just you and God in silence. Every human being has issues,and in honest silence they will slowly rise to the surface. For instance, I never realised how judgmental I was being. In distractions from prayer, my judgmental-ness came quickly to the surface. Even though I did not vocalise any of it, I was shocked how bad I was (am). But, like the rest of life,I rely on God's grace for assistance.

So as you look at your vocation, look at its component parts.
  1. I consider the core of any vocation to be responding to God's Love with our love. Whether you are married or single, in religious life or not, God calls us to live a life of love.
  2. You should go to a monastery (of men or women) and experience the Divine Office, also called The Liturgy of the Hours. If you check out a monastery's daily time table it might have: Lauds, Vespers, Compline or Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer listed. I had never known about this until I was in my 20's. BUT I love the Divine Office, and it is a large part of my life. There are different ways of celebrating the Divine Office: In Latin, In Modern Translations (I have even seen politically correct translations), sung or recited.
    • This is part of almost the life every nun or sister.
    • Nuns, like monks, are contemplatives and are enclosed to varying degrees. The purpose of enclosure is to keep the distractions of the world out, not to keep you locked in... though at times it can feel that way.
    • Sisters are active, that is, engage in active apostolates("outside" jobs): teaching, nursing, parish ministry, foreign missions, social work. Some orders are very flexible in how they balance prayer life and active ministry.
    • I sought a monastery that celebrated the entire Divine Office in common: Vigils, Lauds, Sext, Terce, None, Vespers, and Compline. Some active orders might only celebrate Lauds and Vespers in common. You have to decide what you like.
  3. You also have to decide, do you want to live alone, in a small group, in a larger group. Small groups are toughest and require a lot of patience, compassion, and Love. In an order like the Carthusians, you are basically a hermit: most of your days is YOU and GOD in Silence. If that is your calling, it is beautiful. If that is not your calling, it is probably scary. It scares me.
  4. If you are looking at community life, a balance of ages and the presence of other people trying out their vocations is a very good thing. When there are older members you have wisdom on which you can draw; when there are younger members, there is the promise of a future.
On this the Feast of the Epiphany, may we follow our guiding light of Faith to meet our King.

God Bless You all!