Sunday, May 23, 2021

Am I Becoming a Consecrated Virgin or Am I Getting Married? — Discernment FAQs


Even though I’m no longer active on Twitter, I still get folks from the site who message me on Instagram or the blog’s FB page, asking how I’m doing or (increasingly) where I am in my vocation discernment. I’ve already given you a quick update on my health over the last couple of months so I’m going to tackle the second question in this post so I’m not repeating myself in private messages.

Am I still discerning consecrated virginity? 

Yes and no. Yes, I’m still discerning in the sense that I believe this is what God is calling me to do. I’ve been actively and earnestly discerning this vocation for the past year and a half. I’d previously thought about it but I didn’t have the courage to do it until things became a bit more complicated for me (more on this later). I’ve read the literature. I’ve had a spiritual director for most of my discernment guiding me. I’ve been living my life as if I were already a CV. 

I’m not discerning in the sense that I’m no longer asking God for clarity on whether this is my vocation or not. I feel at peace with this vocation and the discernment journey. I don’t think there’s much else I can do. It’s the waiting game right now. I’m waiting to talk to my SD and see if and when we can move forward with me having my interview with Archbishop Gomez. He (Abp. Gómez) will ultimately decide whether he believes this is my vocation or not. Since we were in lockdown during the first year of COVID and Abp. Gómez has been the USCCB president for the last almost 2 years, going forward and getting that interview has been on hold. Hopefully things will move forward again soon now that things are opening up and his term as USCCB president is coming to a close. 

How I knew I wasn’t meant for religious life or marriage.

Like with everything else, discernment is key. I discerned religious life first. I discerned it more than once because I wanted to be a nun for the wrong reasons the first time, in my early 20s. 

I also dated. I hated dating but my former SD said I had to at least try it so I would be sure it wasn’t for me. He wanted to be sure that I wasn’t running away from the vocation because of my dislike of dating and love of my independence. There was actually someone in my life before I started discerning CV — someone with whom I had talked to about marriage. Engagement and wedding dates were actually planned (and not by me!) but it wasn’t right. I was going into it for the wrong reasons. As hard as it was, As soon as I realized that I hated that Jesus didn’t have all of my heart I knew I couldn’t continue entertaining a possibility of marriage with anyone.

After a lot of prayer, the 54-day Rosary novena, a lot of time spent in Adoration, and attending daily Mass, I knew that I had to discern consecrated virginity. It took a lot of courage to break things off and to disappoint everyone who wanted to see me married but I couldn’t ignore the pull in my heart to give it fully to Christ. 

Did a bad experience scare me off of dating or discerning marriage? 

Nope. I’ve had some amazing men in my life, some of whom are still good friends to this day. My last experience wasn’t the best but even before things went south, I knew it wasn’t for me. I had known for years but a combination of doubts, pressure to marry from the most important people in my life, and my own stubbornness (I really wanted to get married and have a family) were the excuses I used to not properly discern. 

What if Archbishop Gomez says I’m not called to the CV vocation? Will I discern marriage again? 

I’m following what I believe is God’s will for me. If He wants me to become a CV (as I believe He does), I’ve been on the right path. If He wanted me to discern this because it was necessary for me to get in the right mind frame for marriage, than that’s what’s going to happen. If I’m meant to be single and make simple private vows, that’s what I’ll do. I’m just following God over here. 

A dear friend recently put it this way — maybe God is testing me, to see if I’ll do what’s being asked of me. Maybe, at the last minute, He will provide a poor sacrificial ram caught in the brambles like it happened for Abraham. (Side note: yes, I still laugh over that analogy — poor sacrificial lamb of a man if I’m a called to marriage).

Regardless of what ends up happening, I can’t go wrong doing what I believe is His will for me. And, yes, I truly believe God is calling me to this beautiful vocation of consecrated virginity. 

How have I grown during this discernment?

How much time do you have? Lol. This discernment journey has been a massive blessing in my life. I’ve learned so much about myself. God has shown me all the unhealed wounds I’d been carrying. (I’ll post about the healing process and what I’ve learned from it in the next post). I’ve grown tremendously in my spiritual life, though there have been long periods of spiritual dryness.  God has shown me my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve seen my selfishness, pride, and lack of humility. But He gives me hope that I’m not a total lost cause and that makes me excited for the future, whatever it may be. 

Can I still become a consecrated virgin despite my visual impairments?

Yep. I’ve started writing (working) again. I may eventually change careers if I regain most of my eyesight back but for now I have an income and resources which will help me not be a financial burden to the archdiocese. I can do a lot more these days than I did a couple of weeks or months ago. Even if this is it — if my eyesight doesn’t improve any more and I have the blind spots permanently — there’s a lot I can do for the archdiocese as a CV despite the physical limitations. God will provide. 

I think that pretty much covers the questions I often get asked. I don’t think I’ll address this topic again until after I have my interview and know whether I’ll move forward by setting my consecration date (yes, I’ve already picked one) and getting the small things (e.g. picking my consecration dress, choosing a scripture verse to engrave inside my ring, etc.) rolling. 

Please say a prayer for me as I wait and then move forward with my discernment. 

I hope you all have a lovely Pentecost Monday!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Jealousy, Being Small, & a Return to Blogging

   I’ve been feeling the tug to return to blogging for a while now but I wanted to make sure I was in a place where I could do it again. And I am. This post is one I feel like God is asking me to write; to share this thing I’ve had on my heart  

If you haven’t been following updates on Twitter or Instagram (the only place where I’m actually active), you might’ve not heard what happened to me shortly after my last blog post. If you want a more detailed story of what happened (and how Blessed Carlo Acutis interceded for me), please read my first Epic Pew article in months

In a nutshell: I lost my eyesight and I almost died. I don’t say that to be a sensationalist. My body was shutting down and I seem to have had at least one adrenal crisis. I was almost completely blind by the autumn after a rapid decline of my eyesight over the summer. I spent weeks hospitalized between May and November of last year, trying to get healthy. Again, full details are in the article; details I won’t repeat on here. All I will say is that I’m immensely grateful for all those who prayed for me and the doctors who didn’t give up on me.

As I mentioned in the most hopeful Instagram update yet, my neuro-ophthalmologist was utterly shocked by how much of my eyesight has been restored in the last 3 months. I still have multiple blind spots in both eyes (and I can’t see anything straight ahead out of my right eye). However, the shrinking of the blind spots and how clearly I can see out of my left despite the lingering blind spots is causing us to hope for a miraculous recovery — one we are crediting Bl. Carlo for. I still need the accessibility features on my phone (everything I type or highlight is read to me) but I’m slowly getting there. I couldn’t see any text months ago. I still can’t see most photos nor watch movies but it’s getting better. The doctor gave me the okay to get back into writing at full capacity (or as much as I can do). That’s why I’m writing again. 

Now that I’ve given you guys a quick update to my life over the last couple of months, I can talk about what I want to share: God calling me to be small and the jealousy that prompted me to have this epiphany. 

As some of y’all are aware of, I’m not active on social media (save IG) so I miss out on a lot. And it seems like so much has happened in just a relatively short amount of time. More and more friends are having their books published by big name publishers. Almost everyone seems to have a podcast. My beautiful and clever friends and acquaintances are true inspirations with their entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s a beautiful thing to see… but I can’t help feeling jealous. 

I don’t wish them to be less successful nor do I “hate” them for their success. I’m simply jealous that they’re out there, doing things I had dreamt about. I feel left behind and I have moments where i feel as worthless and useless asl some people have made me feel. I’m sure you’ve seen some people on Twitter calling me a “poor little girl with a weak little body” and other condescending comments like that. 

Not being able to make ends meet  and unable to contribute to the household income is hard for me. I’m the one who is supposed to be taking care of my retired mother, not the other way around. I feel like a burden to her; having to rely on her to cook for me and be my literal eyes when going to new places so I don’t accidentally hurt myself with things I’m unable to see. If I could at least help bring in some funds it wouldn’t hurt as much but it does. And then I see everyone flourishing and thriving and the jealousy returns. 

I know this is all pride talking. “I’ve been writing longer. I’ve been at this longer. Why can’t I get a break! Why did these health crosses make me an invalid for months? Why is the future uncertain? Will I ever be able to do enough — be enough?” I’ve wrestled with all these questions and more. Thankfully, sooner or later I recognize these intrusive thoughts as being from the devil. The devil feeds our wounded pride. He wants to cause division and cause alienation. But God is greater than he will ever be and I can hear God’s voice. 

“Be small, my daughter. I love you regardless of what you can or can’t do. Be small. In your smallness, your heart will grow and more United to me you will be.” These are the words that I hear in the deepest part of my heart. 

God is calling me to be small. He knows how susceptible I am to letting little successes get to my head. He knows what a prideful person I can be. He wants me to reside in His heart and vice versa. He wants to completely engulf me in his love and mercy… and this is something that the jealousy made me realize. 

How will I try to be small? Staying off social media. Don’t get me wrong, I seriously miss all of you with whom I got to know via Twitter. As many of you know, I don’t reply to comments on Twitter; only links are posted on there. I’m going to continue sharing beautiful quotes by saints and other inspirational people (and, okay, the occasional funny reel) I come across on Instagram. But it’ll be less “this is the random thing I’m thinking or is happening to me” and more intentional posts I feel a tug to share — which was the initial purpose to my IG account. 

How else will I try to be small? Keeping myself to my little corner of the internet as quietly as possible. I’ll only share what’s on my heart after I take it to prayer first. I won’t insult God by not using the gift He has given me — the gift of writing. I don’t think of myself as a particularly good writer (and I’m not saying that to get compliments; please don’t) but I know that sometimes what I write helps others with whatever they have going on and that’s all I want — to help others.

I have a feeling God has not given me the success my peers are enjoying not only because of the risk of pride but also because He knows where my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m not a good Public speaker. I stink at evangelization because I live in dread of saying the wrong thing that will lead a person away from God; something that is actually not a Church teaching. It’s not about looking uneducated. I simply don’t want to say something that will harm another person’s journey towards Heaven. There are others who can — and do! — do that beautifully. I’m not one of those people. I can open my heart and share what I think and feel but that’s about all I can do. 

These are just some of the ways I’m going to start trying to be and stay small. I’m sure there will be other ways I’ve yet to discover. I know I have a lot of growing to do when it comes to humility — a lot! But just as St. Therese was small in her Little Way, so will I take a page from her book and find the ways God is calling me to be small. See, IG friends? I told y’all there was a reason why St. Therese was (and still is!) everywhere a few weeks ago. lol. 

I don’t know how frequently I’ll update this blog. I’ll rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help me with that. But I will be writing more often again. My laptop has bitten the dust (I haven’t used one in at least two months now) but between my phone and my (arriving soon-ish) tablet, I hope to both blog and write more articles for Epic Pew. 

Thank you all for your prayers and your time reading this. You have all been and will continue to be in my prayers. 

Until next time, thank you for reading and God bless!