Nov 23, 2006

My Vocation Story - The First Obstacle

My mother made the very first protest against my interest in joining the Carmelite cloister. A very big one indeed.

I went to the Carmelite Monastery two Saturdays ago together with my parents. I’ve promised one of the sisters to help them with photocopying of some books. We have the usual and casual talk; I told her of some happenings in my life, asked them to pray for my cousin for her forth-coming public exam etc. Suddenly, they requested to speak to my parents.

I was happy, of course, that they were willing to 'meet my parents. So after I got my parents to talk to one of them, I went off to the Chapel to say hello to the Lord. But I went back after 5 minutes to see how my parents were doing. I was eager to find out what they were talking about, because I knew that just before I walked off 5 minutes ago, the sister was talking about me. The sister was talking to my Mom. Dad whispered to me when he saw me reappeared, "Your mom is feeling very uncomfortable."

My parents then made an excuse to leave while I continued talking to her. She invited my parents to meet the whole community. As I am an aspirant, according to her, my family is given the privilege to meet the whole community of Carmelite nuns. I was excited, of course! I’m an aspirant!!! Wow!! However, my Mom refused their invitation. It shocked me, because all the while I thought that she’s dying to meet the Carmelite sisters.

"It’s ok, dear." said Mother Conceptual. "She’s just not ready. We don’t want to scare them." After thanking her for everything, my parents and I left for home.

After two days, my mom suddenly raised this topic. She blamed the Carmelite sisters for 'brain-washing' me and putting in me the desire of joining them. She even warned me that I should never visit them anymore. I got a shock of a lifetime. Is there something wrong with my mom? Why is she putting all the blame on the nuns because of me thinking about my vocation seriously?

"The nuns' fault? Mom, this is ridiculous!" I lost my patience, which I was not supposed to. She continued with her own theory. I started with my own reasoning.

"Sorry Mom. I can’t listen to whatever you’ve said. You don’t make any sense!" I ended our argument. That very instance, Mom started a cold war with me.

We did not talk to each other for 4 days. I tried to break the ice, but mom ignored me. These 4 days were really a torture. I lost my concentration during work; I lost my appetite, and even my will to go on. When I was on my way to the office one morning, I ran the red light and almost collided head-on with an on coming car. Normally, situation like this would freak me out. But that morning, I was just so calm, as if I I’ve lost all my senses. Fortunately, the both of us stopped our cars just in time. I simply raised my hand as a sign of apology without even looking at the driver, and quickly drove away. When I replayed the scene that night, my whole being was immersed in fear. Gosh, I could have killed the both of us! How very dangerous I have been!

Obviously, my mother's objection to my vocation has impacted me a lot. Far worse than I’ve ever imagined and expected. For those 4 days, it felt as if I was completely separated from the One I truly love, as if my soul had withered. It felt as though I was given 2 choices – 1. Give up my vocation to please my mother, or 2. Give up my mother (and family) to live a life I am called to live. A very tough decision but I’m certain, that if I was to be given these 2 choices, I wouldn’t hesitate to leave everything for His Kingdom. I could have just left home and went straight to the cloister the very moment my mother voiced her objection. However, when I look at my small family – my parents are retired, my brother is still in college and I’m the only source of income, I believe that this is not the time for me to give up everything behind yet. My heart told me that God is still preparing me for the future; only He knows what the future is like.

Finally, I took the initiative and with the help of my father, my mom and I started to communicate once again. Gosh, it was a great relieve for me! Everything went back to normal. My love for Christ has gone another level higher, realizing how much I needed Him right by my side. I’m trying my best not to mention Carmelite as not to trigger my mom’s anger. I was upset with her for her objection, but at the same time I thanked the Lord that, if it was not because of this test I would not have known how much I really love Him.

I believe that this is not the end. There would be more to come along the way. I need to stay closely connected to the Lord through prayers so that I can stand firm no matter what. Regarding my parents, I pray that I can understand how they really feel and I offer them up to the Lord. Somehow, I came to understand how Mother Catherine Thomas (the author of My Beloved: the Story of a Carmelite Nun) has felt when her mother did not approve of her joining the Carmelite cloister.

For those who are discerning, be assured of my prayers. Also, I sincerely request for your prayers for my family and I, and all who are discerning a religious life.
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