Monday, February 19, 2018

Becoming Benedictine

I've had Sara Bareilles' "I Choose You" stuck in my head for the past couple of days. As I drowsily wake up from whatever dream (or nightmare) I'm having, the chorus keeps repeating in my mind...

"Tell the world that we finally got it all right,
I choose you.
I will become yours and you will become mine,
I choose you..."

What does this song have to do with the blog title? Well, perhaps the fact that after years of going back and forth on third orders (it was a tie between lay Carmelites and third order Dominicans with the Dominicans edging them out in recent years), I've finally settled on a lay order that (seemingly) came out of nowhere.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've finally decided on becoming a Benedictine oblate.

"Wait, Benedictine?" you may be asking me. "Since when were they on the radar?" It's kind of a long story but I'll try to condense it for y'all.

When I first got the idea to look into third orders -- when I was sure I wasn't called to become a religious sister -- I looked at ALL the third/lay orders. I will admit that I dismissed the Benedictine oblates because they didn't seem to be a right fit for me. Even my spiritual director at that time thought I was a good fit for the Dominicans because of my academically-inclined mind and nature. My favorite saint (well, blessed), Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, was a lay Dominican. I loved St. Catherine of Siena. I had a fire to teach others about the faith and defend it, especially when I was an undergrad at my CINO (Catholic in name only) college. With one of my dearest friends discerning his vocation with the Discalced Carmelite Friars and so many of my friends leaning Carmelite -- as well as finding a kindred spirit in St. Therese of Lisieux -- I also considered the Carmelites as frontrunners. I think I kept going back and forth between these two orders because, as much as I loved the people associated with them and the orders themselves, neither felt like the right fit for me.

How did the Benedictines win me over? I believe it started with reading The Benedict Option by Rob Dreher last Lent. Yes, I know... I know. A controversial book, but I got my first real taste of Benedictine spiritually from it. After reading it, I was intrigued to learn more about the order so I read The Rule of Saint Benedict. All this happened last Lent. Little did I know that everything (and I mean everything) that began last Lent had planted the seeds for what I was going to go through for the rest of the year. I had no idea that it meant me also choosing to become a Benedictine oblate before this year's Lenten season began.

When I knew I was finished with school, my former spiritual director's words kept coming back to my mind, "Wait until you finish school to discern. Wait until you finish school to discern..." Then I met a lovely lady who talked about discerning with the Monks of Norcia and it all clicked for me... including the thought of discerning with them as well. There has always been something about them that has a struck a chord with me (those who have been reading this blog long enough may remember I even donated my entire royalty check (and then some) of the last novel sale of 2016 to their earthquake relief fund).

I'm lucky that they accept overseas oblates. It will mean a lot of hard work in the future because it will mean that I'll have to make a trip out to Italy once a year but I'm willing to do all the work to make it happen. (btw, if you do want to make a trip to visit them -- even if you aren't a discerning oblate -- there's one coming up this year). I've also looked into the local Benedictines (at St. Andrew's Abbey) but there's something in my heart that really wants my discernment to be with the Monks of Norcia. I've already contacted them and now I have to wait to see what happens.

If you're wondering if there was one specific thing that sold me on the Benedictines, the answer is "no." I took a lot of things into consideration: their spirituality, what was required of its oblates, the orthodoxy of the particular abbey, my strengths, my weaknesses, my temperament, what gifts God has given me, what I felt He has planted in my heart (which I have yet to share with the world), where I felt He was leading me to, etc. Most importantly, I didn't do it on a whim... which I tend to do when I get excited about things. I took the time to think about it, research it, pray about it, and make sure it felt like the path God was leading me down on.

And so my journey begins. I don't know where it'll end but I've felt both very excited and at peace about this decision for a while now. I can't wait to see what God store in store for me. :)

That's it for now. I'm still feeling weak and terrible (I've actually written this blog post in parts over the past 2-3 days.

I hope you all have a lovely week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


Catherine Hawthorn said...

Excited for you, Emmy!


Emmy Cecilia said...

Thank you, Catherine. :)

AnneMarie said...

Oh wow, this is so awesome!!! There's a Benedictine monastery about 3 hours from where I live (Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey), and we got to visit once and I decided that Benedictines are fantastic :)

Sarah F. said...

Praying for you as you start this path!! Timely post, as I've also just started looking into oblate orders after reading about a local oblate community near me in South Dakota. I've decided to try to work through . I'll look forward to reading anything else you write as you continue in your discernment.