Wednesday, 17 September 2014

I'm back!

I’m back from my trip to Australia and have finally had time to write another article. All your prayers helped make my visit a very fruitful one, and I’m happy to tell you that I will be entering the Dominican Order there in January. I learned a lot of things from my trip, especially concerning the religious life, and I wanted to share them with you.

It isn’t difficult to discern – Many people have the idea that discerning what you should do in life is an extremely difficult and painful process. They think in order to figure out what God wants them to do, they have to go on multiple retreats, visit multiple religious communities, and wait a very long to for God’s will to be manifested. But it’s so much easier than that! St. Ignatius tells us that if you find a good religious community and they think you are a good fit for the order, then enter. Don’t think for years about it, just do it! The Devil likes to make things seem overly confusing in order to make us lose our peace of soul. But please, don’t let him do that. If your discerning your vocation, ask the opinion of others, try out a religious community first to see if it’s right for you, and if not, don’t worry. Soon enough God will manifest His will for you. Discernment isn’t painful, it’s an adventure. “ ‘Make haste, I beseech you,’ exclaims St. Jerome, ‘and rather cut than loosen the rope by which your bark is bound fast to the land,’ for even a day’s delay deprives a person of invaluable merit, which he would acquire in religion,” says Father Doyle.

The Immense Beauty of the Religious Life – One thing that struck me during the first few days at the convent was how incredible the life is. There’s no more worrying, no fear, only peace and joy. “What a glorious kingdom of the  Holy Ghost is the religious state!” writes Father Meschler, S.J. “It is like an island of peace and calm in the middle of the fleeting, changing, restless flood of this earthly life.  It is like a garden planted by God and blessed with the fat of the land and the dew of heavenly consolation.  It is like a lofty mountain where the last echoes of this world are still, and the first sounds of the blessed eternity are heard.  What peace, what happiness, purity and holiness has it shed over the face of the earth.” I hear people say that they’ve thought of entering religion, but they think the married life is better and more beautiful. But in fact, the religious life is a more perfect, and more beautiful way of life. The life of a religious is solely centred on the salvation of one’s soul, the salvation of other souls, and the hope of heaven. And in order to accomplish these three things, the religious lives a life of perfection and grace. What could be more beautiful than that?

Attachment to the World – You also hear people saying they could never give up their possessions, or give up their family forever. But Our Lord has an answer for you. He tells us that if you give up your possessions and your family for the kingdom of God (which you will have to do anyway at the end of your life), you will receive a hundred-fold and eternal life! In other words, any pleasure, any person, really anything you give up for God will be given back a hundred times over. St. Alphonsus also gives us advice on this points. St. Alphonsus says that the hardest trial of all his life was when he told his father he was leaving the world.“Dear father, I see that you suffer for my sake. However, I must declare that I no longer belong to this world: God has called me, and I am determined to follow His voice.” For three hours the father clasped him in his arms weeping and repeating, “My son, do not leave me! Oh, my son, my son! I do not deserve this treatment.”  If he had listened to this pathetic appeal the Church would have lost one of her grandest saints; fortunately he remembered the words of Him Who could call Himself “the kindest and gentlest of men”: “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace but the sword. For I came to separate the son from the father, and the daughter from the mother; … he that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Father Doyle also says, “Though it meant a big sacrifice, even a serious loss, no right-minded father would dream for a moment of forbidding a marriage which would bring to his child joy and good fortune; why then interfere with that holy alliance, made in heaven, which means far greater happiness?Detachment might seem like a scary thing at the moment, but God will give you the grace to separate yourself and be completely His.

Paradise! – And just think of this, if you enter the religious life, God will be able to give enough merit not only for you to be very high in heaven, but your whole family and many souls! And while He is doing great works because of your sacrifice, you enjoy on earth a kind of earthly Paradise. “An earthly Paradise,” says St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi; and St. Scholastica, “If men knew the peace which religious enjoy in retirement, the entire world would become one great convent.” Our world at the moment is tearing at the seams and we need people to give their lives for others. Now is the perfect time to enter the religious life, what will you choose?

So I ask for your prayers again now and at the time I enter the Dominican Order, and I ask you to advise those discerning their vocation to try the religious life. For “many are called but few are chosen.” God bless!