Monday, January 23, 2006

God's Call, Part I

I asked for suggestions about what parts of monastic life could be better explained to my readers, and I plan to do this at regular intervals. In my first-ever attempt, I received a request from a fellow blogger, Archer of the Forest. "[P]erhaps a little of your own journey or how you discovered that monastic life was for you would be helpful."

Thank you, Archer! And God's grace always guide you in your studies.

Our Monastery is very near to throwing the switch and firing up our new and improved website, and one of the features will be the vocation narratives of various brothers. I find them quite fascinating. I will expand on my own for those of you who are interested.

The idea of the priesthood or religious life is certainly not foreign to my family. In my mother's family, there was one friar and one nun in my grandmother's generation, as well as a second cousin who still today is active as a priest in the LaCrosse diocese. Nonetheless, growing up as the only boy in the family and in the wonderful 1970's, the road to consecrated life was not directly presented to me. I did go through phases as a child when I prayed a great deal. I was also blessed with a fine catechist for a few years of junior high. He was a Carmelite priest who would routinely interrupt the therapy sessions that passed for religion classes in those days (early 80's now) and insist that we understand some things about, say, the Creed.

My faith began to wane for a couple of reasons. One was my own array of foibles: in junior high and high school, I realized that my athletic and musical talents could give me cachet with my peers, whereas church was decidedly uncool. This was also a period of time when my parents' marriage was coming to an end, and for a variety of reasons, the family's relationship with the Church was strained (something I think unavoidable--I don't blame anyone).

Interestingly, it was a Norbertine priest whom God sent to me at this time. He was my Latin teacher and a guidance counselor at my high school. We would meet from time to time just to talk about how things were going. He helped me contextualize the suffering involved and see it, however faintly at the time, in the light of the cross. Fr. Angelo remains a friend of mine today. I should also note that being at a Catholic school with a number of good priests around gave me a lasting appreciation for the goodness and, if I may say it, the manliness and fraternity of the priesthood. These Norbertine priests were crucial role models at a time when I suddenly became the only male in my home.

As so often happens, we navigate past one crisis only to fall into another, for failure to appreciate that God was the rescuer and not ourselves. I will continue with my college years in a future post.


The Archer of the Forest said...

Thank you for beginning to share your story. I always enjoy hearing what God is up to in other's lives.

I have been meaning to come and visit your monastery and spend a few days at your guest house. My seminary friends find it interesting that there are monks who have blogs.

I do have one other question for you: do any of the brothers of your order do spiritual direction?

Anonymous said...

I have the same question about spiritual direction. And I am very much looking forward to your community's new Web site!

Prior Peter, OSB said...

We do offer spiritual direction, though at present, we are 'at capacity'. If someone would like to visit on an ad hoc basis, something could be worked out.

If you are looking for a regular director, the Archdiiocese of Chicago can recommend qualified persons.

Archer, thank you for the tip about avoiding spam. I am not the greatest adept at computers!


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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
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Origen of Alexandria
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