Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Discerning God's Call: Part 4

retreat house chapel at Holy Cross Abbey

I've been reading the book, In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart. It's basically the spiritual journal of an anonymous Benedictine monk who, during Eucharistic adoration, was inspired to record certain messages from God. He writes:

"The vocabulary and the style are mine, but the substance of what I wrote came during prayer, without any effort or prior reflection on my part. There would be an inner movement to write, and I would write until the inspiration stopped. After writing, there would be a grace of quiet union with Our Lord or with Our Lady."

Once, on a silent retreat at the Trappists' Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville VA, I had a similar experience. It was the Vigil of the Feast of the Holy Trinity in 2015. After spending a good amount of time praying in front of the tabernacle in the austere chapel at the retreat house, I was relaxing in my room. Then, all of a sudden, I felt compelled to write. Words flowed onto the page followed by a deep sense of peace. After a short period of time had passed, I slowly read through the words I had written.

"I am the bridegroom and my spouse is the Church. Every member of the Church, my body, will be espoused to me in a chaste consummation of love. I love you. I have taken away your sins. You were washed clean in Baptism and set free to love me without shame. Do not be afraid to love me because of your past sins. In Heaven we will be espoused but my love is impatient, why must we hold back? Why must we wait to give ourselves, to abandon ourselves to each other? I am ready. I am the maiden in the Song of Songs waiting for you to come to me, to meet me in the chamber. You think that you are the one searching for me, but I am the one searching for you with my infinite, as yet unrequited, love. Receive my love and return what I have given you. Your wedding gift is the pearl of great price."

Praying and meditating on these words, it began to seem to me that the Lord was calling me to religious life and that I was hindered by feelings of inadequacy due to sins committed before my baptism. Within the next two days the Lord made it clear that such stains, which have been washed white as wool by the blood of the lamb, present no obstacle.

As Fr. William Doyle, SJ wrote in his fantastic document called Vocations: "Often that invitation is extended to those whom we would least expect. Magdalene, steeped to the lips in iniquity, became the spouse of the Immaculate; Matthew, surrounded by his ill-gotten gains; Saul, 'breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the Christians,' each heard that summons, for a sinful life in the past, St. Thomas teaches, is no impediment to a vocation."

"The first duty of the consecrated life is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called. They bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world." (Vita Consecrata)

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