Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Major Change In My Life? A monastery, even?

For a long time I've wanted to start another family. I am disheartened by how my four kids and I relate. We're not close and don't contribute much to each others lives, much of which is my fault, complications arising from my lack of character and the symptoms of my bipolar mood disorder in my younger years. My best friend, Mark's family is very close. When he asks his 3 kids to volunteer and help serve the homeless at Catholic Worker where he and I are on staff, they all come to help out cheerfully. I guess it's not always a good idea to make comparisons...

I love babies and feel young, though I'm pushing 50, look young, too, thanks to my half Japanese genes. And so I've been somewhat searching for a younger woman who wants to bear a couple children into this world.

But I've recently experienced a release in my spiritual life where remaining chaste actually seems a real possibility. That has led me to deepening my spiritual commitments. Combine that with the desire to do something about my fear of death and the desire to live eternally, has me thinking of straightening out my life to be in accordance with the Catholic Church and its teachings.

The Church takes very seriously the words of Jesus. It's one of my main attractions to it. Jesus said remarrying is adultery (the Church teaches only an honest annulment corrects this) and I've been married three times. So, unless I can honestly obtain three annulments, which seems mind-boggling to my ADD brain (long term projects are VERY hard for us), then it would be a grave sin for me to remarry. And since its a grave sin to be intimate with a girl outside of marriage, then I'm looking at lifelong celibacy. Something which seems easier to enjoy since said spiritual release from the fires of lust (which one can only hope is permanent).

Now, I have come to realize that I am drawn to the monastic. I really enjoyed getting up two hours early, a few years ago, and driving to Mark's house for coffee and morning prayer from the Divine Office, an ancient Catholic practice which all the priests, nuns, sisters and brothers in monasteries do worldwide everyday throughout the day. I did that for over a year. I also spent quite a few times a week during that period before the Eucharist in a Chapel of Perpetual Adoration, which the Church teaches is the direct Presence of God. Much of that time was chronicled in my earlier blog The Lucky Man. Reading The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris and her other book, Acedia and Me, opened my eyes to the joys and strengths of the monastic life.

Soooo, I am considering becoming a Benedictine Oblate, a third order (layman) member of the huge Catholic order founded by St. Benedict. And perhaps even joining a monastery in a deeper commitment to the order. I don't think I'm eligible to become a priest at my age and education level with all the baggage in my life, but there may be a monastery which would take me in. Or I could lead a life like Kathleen Norris, full of layman commitments and activities while writing award winning poetry....

Now, mind you, these are all thoughts just beginning to percolate inside my often dizzy little head. We shall see where this all goes....

6 comments:

lwestin said...

Wow. Keep going. You're doing great!

Debbie said...

I think it's wonderful that your relationship with Christ and the church has continued to grow. It's great when you find a church that "feeds" you spiritually. Please continue to keep us posted.

Mortgage WIKI said...

You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
– “Senses”

memoriadei said...

Interesting indeed! One thought on the marriage. You don't need 3 annulments. You might need one if you were ever married in the Church but not necessarily. Depends. Were you married in the Catholic Church the first time? If so, you need that to be annulled. The other two were not recognized so you don't need an annulment on either of 2nd or 3rd. That's just an example because I am pretty sure you were not married 3 times in the Catholic Church :-))

Benedictine Oblate is great! Is there a monastery near you?

Prayers with you on your discernment !

sarah retzloff said...

this is so cool, tim. i will be praying about this for you. that God let His will for you and how He will use you be known. i will also be praying for your relationship with your kids. please hit me up on twitter when you've updated this. now-a-days it's so hard for me to keep track with my friends' blogs!

Anonymous said...

Tim, Interesting that you are feeling so spiritually drawn. Don't forget, though, that Jesus taught the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30. We are to grow among the weeds, not sequestered from them. Although I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who make such vows, as those of nuns and monks.

You are doing so much good in the world... -Alex