Vocation is indeed hard to try and put into words – but what i’m trying to do is put my basic journey forward, although its not going to represent my actual feelings at the time fully! But then again it is only the basics…….and for someone discerning a vocation – it’s impossible to try and describe what is going on inside yourself. Its like trying to describe a pilgrimage – you can only put across the bare realities but the actual experience is something different (unless you have a real gift with words etc…….)
So to skip a few years – because i wanted to go on a pilgrimage, it worked out that i was to go to Lourdes, although i really wanted to go to the Holy Land. I found myself going for the first time on my own not knowing anyone, it was our Diocesan Pilgrimage. I had a great time on the whole and made lots of new friends, but half way through the week i started to feel different, i was spending a great deal of time on my own (which was nothing new considering i am shy), and alot of time at the Grotto (especially at night after the torchlight procession). At the end of the week i was in tears , i didn’t want to leave, i had found a new peace in me. When i returned home i knew i wanted to go again, so i started to save my pennies and look at different companies to see which pilgrimage would do for me. I booked my next pilgrimage for the following year -in the summer- it was the National Pilgrimage this time at the end of May that was an experience and the Military from all over the world are usually present at this time. On arrival i decided to ask if i could help out as an handmaid, looking after the sick etc…..they got me in and i helped out at meals times. We also had to help out if people wanted to go round the shops and this was quite fun, but what an experience, visiting the baths was great but i was a coward to go in!!!!!!!! I found that my prayer life was deepening slowly and other people around me were seeing a gradual change in me. Again by the end of the pilgrimage i was in tears for having to leave but i found out that it is a tradition that whoever knelt down by the crowned virgin in the middle of the esplanade and recited 3 hail mary’s would come back. So i did, and back i went – later on in the same year. By this time with my prayer increasing i started to think of a possible vocation but thought that i was nuts, some people had also suggested the possibility of a vocation but that was rejected. Well i went to lourdes in the october and i was determined to try and talk to someone over this as i was at the time not getting any help or advice from other areas. That pilgrimage was a success in many ways, i had received help and i had also discovered that the real miracle of lourdes is not only the physical healings but the countless spiritual healings that are not seen or heard about. Once back i had then to decide which order/community i thought of joining but i had a ‘short list’ if you like – it had to be either Benedictine or Carmelite. I was too timid for an active community, i didn’t want to teach or nurse or be a missionary. One thing which i knew is that i had to pray for priests, and pray for the homeless on our streets. So the search was on and guess what – the following year i was back in lourdes again -twice!
I had to take into account that although i was still living at home i had a good job, a great hobby and a car, so i had to consider all these things that i would have had to give up. Well the fifth and final time i went on pilgrimage i had made up my mind and i said the 3 hail mary’ s but this time realising that i would not go back there agian. Yes, you’ve got it i had found the community i was looking for after a struggle during the discerning process, and in- between the last 3 pilgrimages i made – i was looking at various communities, and found the one!!!!!!
Will continue with the entrance and early days in community next time!!!!!!!!!!
God bless you all for now and have a very happy lent.