Mennesket er et søkende vesen. Det finner sin hvile i Gud alene.«Kom og følg meg», betyr mer enn å ta en tur rundt kvartalet med Jesus. Det betyr å ikle seg hele Hans vesen, og å gå Hans vei. Det er snakk om liv og livsstil, og for mange betyr det et liv i kirkelig tjeneste, i bønn, i klosterfellesskap.
Å finne Gud har alltid følger
Klosterliv er en slik følge. Så hva gjør vi egentlig om vi føler dragning mot klosterliv, mot et liv i tjeneste og bønn i Kirken?
En mulighet er å ta kontakt med en ordenssøster/bror eller en prest man stoler på. Lufte tanken! Snakke om den! I fellesskap vil dere finne en passende vei videre.
For enkelte fører veien videre til et «Kom & se-opphold», hvor den som vurderer sitt kall, bor og lever med klosterfellesskapet en stund. Merk at et «Kom & se-opphold» er uforpliktende for begge parter.
Kristian Joy kom for et «Kom&Se-opphold» på Katarinahjemmet vinteren 2018, før hun skulle returnere til sitt hjemland. Hun valgte å dele sin erfaring og nedenfor kan dere lese hennes refleksjon. Takk til Kristian Joy for fin refleksjon og for stor åpenhet.
DO NOT BE AFRAID
The evening I received a clear message from God, just over a week after celebrating my twenty-ninth birthday, is deeply ingrained in my memory for it was a significant moment in my life. As I lay in bed feeling so frail and defeated, I heard for the first time the gentle voice of Jesus in my heart say, “do not be afraid”.
At that moment, I knew exactly what God wanted me to do or rather what God gave me the courage to do, which was to quit my job. Tears of joy came running down my face and I was filled with gratitude and sense of relief knowing that that my recent sufferings and the trials which God allowed me to experience would soon come to an end. Even after being comforted by His words, “do not be afraid”, I honestly still felt a little worried about not knowing what the future would hold for me. However, with God’s grace I humbly surrendered completely to Him, saying “Jesus, I trust in You. I will follow You wherever You will lead me.” I decided to let God have control over my life and it became a great desire of mine to seek and do His will. Thereafter, I was overwhelmed with peace and joy.
With the resolve to resign from my then-current employment, which Providentially was the main reason that led me to Norway, I was determined to take each day as it came and was excited for where God would lead me. Not only was I not emotionally prepared to let go of the wonderful life and the people who were part of my journey in Norway, I strongly believed that God still had unfinished plans for me there. I soon discovered that my remaining weeks in Europe was a gift meant for me to begin seriously discerning my vocation; to take action in my discernment rather than just remaining in prayer about it.
A GREAT JOY
For as long as I could remember, it has always been my dream to get married and have my own family someday. I recall even been asked by my Parish priest and a religious Sister on the celebration of Good Shepherd Sunday, only a few months before leaving Melbourne in 2017, if I had considered or would ever consider the religious life. My immediate response was “no”. To my surprise, in between then and now, I have not only befriended many religious Sisters, but have also discovered a great joy, beauty and freedom in their vocation, and developed a great openness in their way of life. Who wouldn’t.
THE VOCATIONS OF MARRIAGE AND THE RELIGIOUS LIFE
Falling in love with Jesus Christ and forming a personal relationship with God changed my life, so much so I began questioning what my purpose was in life. Soon after, I felt very confused about being attracted to both the vocations of marriage and the religious life; an amazing and beautiful dilemma I had never encountered before. These thoughts and feelings circulated in my mind and heart intermittently over a few months, but after a while I decided to ignore them hoping that they would eventually go away. Furthermore, after residing at convents during my pilgrimage in Italy in the summer of 2018, my desire to experience a life of simplicity, prayer and in community did not fade. Even better, this desire which I entrusted to God was fulfilled in His time. I did not quite understand why I was so drawn to Katarinahjemmet, but I trusted my inner voice and had the courage to make known my request and God made a way.
‘COME AND SEE’ AT KATARINAHJEMMET
In the beginning of 2019, I lived with the Dominican Sisters at Katarimahjemmet for five weeks. I remember having ‘cold feet’ before moving in. Though I quickly reminded myself that God would not have planted this desire in my heart if there was not something He wanted to reveal to me. Hence, I came with an open heart, ready to immerse myself in all the experiences I would have.
The Sisters showed great hospitality, were very generous with their time and willingness to ensure that I would have a fruitful ‘come and see’ encounter at Katarinahjemmet. More importantly, I am most grateful for their support in my journey of discernment through their friendship, counsel, and prayers.
During my stay at their convent as an observer, I joined the Sisters in daily prayers (lauds, none and vespers) and Holy Mass, shared meals with the community in their refectory, gained insight into various aspects of their common and individual apostolate(s); particularly helping in the dining hall and kitchen, interacting with the young women residing in Katarinhjemmet, conversing and playing with the children in their leksehjelp program in English, and occasionally accompanying the Sisters, volunteers and/or children on special Feast Day Masses at St. Olav’s Cathedral or on excursions. Furthermore, I was also given the freedom to continue being involved in my regular activities at Church and within my Parish communities, attend special celebrations, and enjoy some recreation.
SET THE WORLD ON FIRE
My experience in Katarinahjemmet was certainly a time of grace. A time to spend in silence, a chance to slow down in life, to be kinder to myself, to learn to live with others, to serve others, to listen to God’s voice in prayer and Scripture, to discover myself more as a person- my strengths and weaknesses, my likes and dislikes, my hopes, desires and fears, and to embrace my humanity. I found inspiration to study more about my faith, the history of the Catholic Church, to deepen my prayer life, and read and meditate on Jesus’ Words in The Bible more often.
Three months on, as my journey of discerning my vocation continues, I am trying my best to remain faithful to Jesus, saying YES with great love to all the little things in life, being attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and trusting that God is leading me to who and where I am meant to be. As St. Catherine of Siena beautifully reminds us, “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
BE BRAVE AND TAKE ACTION
For men and women discerning the religious life, I encourage you to be brave and take action. Perhaps that might be to seek spiritual direction, go on retreats, visit different communities, speak with religious Sisters and/or try a ‘come and see’ experience as I have. As subtly depicted in the collage of my personal encounter at Katarinahjemmet, we may have to venture more deeply beyond the surface to be able to see what God wants to reveal to us. May God bless your journey and remember that you are never alone.
Let us continue to pray for all vocations, strive to live virtuously, and to respond fervently to our call to love and holiness.