I actually had a whole article written before but I decided to get rid of it in favor of something a bit more serious and that requires an open mind for those who don’t know me personally or those who know me but don’t REALLY know me. There are only a few people who really know me. These groups include: my inner circle from AQ and some other very close friends who understand me in some rather deep parts of me.
For all you others, I ask you maintain an open mind as I share this with you because I am SICK TO DEATH of lies being spread on account of assumptions, false judgments, jealousy, and just plain malice.
I have been discerning my vocation for over ten years now. And right now, I feel that God is calling me to religious life. Right now, I feel that God is calling me to enter the Felician Sisters of OL of Hope Province. However, things were going to be easy for me because I have some dark secrets from my past that only one other person knows fully and that person is someone whom I have known for six years. That person is my dear spiritual director/confessor/confidante/best friend. They really are my best friend. *hand to God*
One of the main things that has been kinda plaguing me in my discernment of religious life is the sacrifices. I can give up the sex. I can give up the whole personal property thing in favor of common sharing. Heck, with all my “ambition” for higher education, I am more than willing to give it to God if it means doing His will and advancing the Kingdom of God on earth and thus bringing more people closer to Him and His love.
Something that sticks in my mind are the personal relationships that will be kinda cut off for at least some time while I am in formation. One of those relationships that I “worry” about most is that which I have with my dear spiritual director.
I have been through a lot in my life, mostly because of one of my siblings and another reason because of my own stupidity and hypocrisy.
My brother, God love him to the highest heights of Heaven, for the longest time suffered from dual-addictions to prescription drugs and alcohol (though you never fully recover really). I could tell you horror stories of coming home for a week or so from school and being sent to check on my brother. I would walk into his room and find him on his bed. He would be out cold, little to no detectable breathing, and skin clammy and cold as death. No matter how much I tried to get him to respond to me, he would not. That was, until I pulled out my Rosary, it seemed that as soon as those beads went into his weak and cold hands, he would try to grip them. They would load him into the ambulance holding my Rosary.
When those moments in my life came, I would text my spiritual director or call him. Yes, I text my spiritual director. He’s that amazing. I would tell him the things that went on in my mind and in my heart that no one else (not even my parents) know. He was always there for me and my family.
When I was up at school and my brother would have another one of his episodes (they happened frequently over the course of years), one of the ladies from my mother’s work would call the church and get in contact with him to let him know what was going on. I tell you, there were times, according to what my parents have told me, when he would be sitting next to my brother’s hospital bed when he came out of his whatever it was.
Then, there’s my own fallen-ness. I was in a horrible spiritual state for years before I reverted to the practice of my faith. I remember the “Augustine moment” if one could call it that:
I was washing up for bed and Father Corapi was on the TV. He was talking about what happens to the soul when it is in the state of mortal sin. I remember splashing my face with water, looking myself in the eyes and thinking, “you need to talk to a priest.” It was at that moment that my reversion began. I got my cell phone and called my parish, fully aware that the office was closed and that I would get a voice mail.
I got through to my spiritual director and left him a voicemail requesting an appointment with him for a Confession. This was before we were really coming in for regular sessions. In fact, I think the only reason I talked to him was because my original director had been transferred. Yeah, my poor spiritual director was my “last resort.” God provides in the end.
Long story short, after a two-hour long Confession where I poured my soul out to this guy I hardly knew but felt I could trust, I heard those beautiful words of absolution. I remember him getting up and going to his office at one point. He came back with two prayer books. One a Handbook of Prayers that Midwest Theological Forum puts out and the other a book of devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Those two books have never left my side to this day. In high school, they were always with my school books. At college, they were always in their own pocket in my backpack. And now, they have pride of place in my room with other things that are very important to me.
I also remember the feeling of crying years worth of guilt and shame onto a perfectly good clerical suit coat and God did it feel good to have him speak such reassuring words to me. He just let me cry and cry and cry. He is one of the only people I can cry in front of. It’s partly pride. It’s mostly trust. I have unfortunately been burned too many times so now I have to be selective about certain things.
That, I really believe, was the beginning of our relationship as spiritual father and daughter. He’s seen me through a lot.
When I was leaving for school and scared out of my mind, he helped me. The day I was to move up to school, I went to morning Mass for the last time in a long while. He called me up and told the people I was leaving for school that morning. He then gave me a special blessing and walked with me to the back. After we got to the sacristy, I just cried and cried. This time, all over his green chasuble. Whenever he wears it, I remember that. When I noticed the water spots on it and apologized, he just said, “don’t worry, it’s just holy water.” He always knows what to say to reassure you. He dealt with the long emails detailing my homesickness. He dealt with my texts during class. He always had stuff for me to do when I was home on break.
And Lord, when I was home, we always talked. No matter what. Even when he was really busy. He always made time to meet with me even if it was for five minutes before or after morning Mass. When I was up at school, every once in a while my phone would ring and it would be him calling to say “hello.” He’d be on his way to something and figured he would call me and see how I was. Sometimes the conversations were twenty minutes. Others were less than ten. But I was guaranteed prayers and support at the end of each of them. And that meant more to me than he or anyone else knew.
Now that I am home, I see the guy almost everyday. He always greets me with “‘ello, Ms. Allie.” with his own unique intonation. Sometimes at lunch we join the others and play Jeopardy! and he wonders how I know all that stuff (I read encyclopedias as a kid). We talk more often. Mostly in random conversations. Other times in sarcastic banter. Every couple weeks or so we have a sit down chat. It really depends on what is going on. But he is always there.
I tell you all of this to give you a rather in-depth background of my reason for reticence.
You see, the Evil One knows my weaknesses well. Very well. When he wants to get me, he knows EXACTLY where to strike to get me the worst with the least effort.
This is one of my vocational weaknesses that while most times I am totally fine with in the “embrace your cross wholeheartedly not begrudgingly” way there are a few times when it genuinely gets me.
Besides the sacrifice of seeing family and friends often and such. Besides the sacrifice of the familiar. This sacrifice is the most painful and yet necessary in its own way: my second home and my spiritual director.
Sure, we’ll stay close friends. Sure, he’ll always be my spiritual father. But there will be things that won’t be anymore. And really they are for the better. God allows them only the time during which they are most beneficial to both parties. At one point, it’s going to serve its purpose and things will move on. I dread that knowing that I really won’t lose the man as a friend. Damn the Devil to Hell with his lies and deceit. Damn him. Oh wait, he already did it to himself. Pah.
Another thing that ANNOYS the GEHENNA out of me is how people make horrible assumptions about my relationship with my spiritual director. While it’s only a very small few, I can’t stand the fact that people think that way. I personally know of a couple but they have since left the parish for one or another reason. Some would be surprised with one. Others, meh, they could care less.
Just because a young woman is close friends with a man who happens to be a priest does not mean they are doing bad things or flirting or whatever the heck they think. Not all of us are controlled by the baser elements of the human condition. Some of us can actually spend quality time with members of the opposite sex (not “gender” … I hate the agenda behind that word) without there being anything inappropriate. Some of us can have deep relationships with persons of the opposite sex without it going into sinful things. Our relationship is purely platonic. It always has been. It always will be. Per omnia secula saeculorum. Amen.
So what if at times we seem to banter at each other? So what if we are informal with each other? So what if we have nicknames for each other (“Ms. Allie” and “TTO”)? Aren’t those things that friends do regardless of the station in life or the sex of the parties involved. Just because we have a close relationship and do those things are a part of such a relationship does not mean that there is any else going on. We are who we are.
God, I can’t stand it. It annoys me to no end.
And if anyone reading this thinks they know other than what I am saying here, let me say this, “You are being deceived by your own blind ignorance. Unless you really know the situation (which VERY few do) then I would charitably recommend that you keep your mouths and minds shut for your own spiritual welfare.”
Please do comment on this post. I would like to hear your thoughts on this. It just one of those things that ANNOYS me to NO END!
In other news, I shall be on a “Come and See” Retreat Weekend thing with the Felician Sisters this weekend so prayers would be much appreciated.
Have a great evening!