I am often reminded of the first desires I had, and rather the first callings I felt, to the religious life. I was already in the diocesan seminary and was receiving a very good formation from my first rector. It was not a perfect place and, in reality, no house of formation is a perfect place. There was, however, a good example stirring the ship at the seminary.
Gratefully, the schedule was not very strict so one could have additional rigor added to his life so long as his spriritual director permitted. With this, I was able to be in the chapel relatively early. It was the best time to pray for me, when no one else was there except Our Lord and His Angels. And, in my humble opinion, it’s always easier to pray when all the lights aren’t on.
It was there, in the quiet mornings with just the Tabernacle lamp burning and some lights shining on the Tabernacle, that I recognized a calling not just to the priesthood, but to the religious life. I wouldn’t know for some time how to voice this or move forward since I had only ever known diocesan priests.
It was in the happiest times and the saddest or toughest times that I needed to be reminded of this calling. Such a calling must form one’s entire life, for it is through the calling that he does the most important thing, love. In those early mornings, I would know this desire as described thus by Saint Teresa of Jesus: to be alone with the Alone.
And so it is today, that I must remind myself of the importance of this prompting to be alone with the Alone. It is only from that time, I will truly know how to move forward in continuing my discernment of my vocation and ultimately how to love in a world of people who don’t know Love, Love Crucified for their sake.