Journal of a Vocation

This article first appeared in You! Magazine  in 1998.

Part I: Simple Vows
The mind cries out, explains, demonstrates, protests; but inside me a voice rises and shouts, “be quiet mind; let us hear the heart!”
–    Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco
 
ROME, ITALY, 1992
 
April 28   Today I met some Benedictine monks. I was very impressed. I remember this girl just stared at them as they walked down the street. The policemen on their motorcycles looked downright silly next to them.
I still sometimes feel that I would like to become a priest. I would love to belong to the Church in that way. I would love to wear those robes! They say Vespers at 7:15. Perhaps I’ll go . . .
 
May 19  I just got a job in a monastery! I can’t believe it.
It’s such a quiet place. I must remember to be quiet. That will be difficult for me
– a good thing, though . . . I think. I wonder if I’ll like it. This is such a foreign experience for me. I’m not used to it, but I’m sure I’ll be able to cope.
 
May 20  The monks keep asking me what brought me here; well, I just don’t know.
Perhaps it was God . . .
These guys are cool, but I could never be a monk. And yet, living and praying and talking with them makes me so happy . . . If I were this happy all the time, who knows how my life might turn out?
 
 
June 14  You know, I’ve changed a lot over the last few years, but something has happened to me here in this monastery that has changed me in a profound way. Right now I’m not too sure what it is, but I feel as if a seed has been planted somewhere inside – somewhere in my soul. It grows every day like something living. It’s not just confidence that I have gained. It is something greater. I think I am beginning to feel what some people call “inner peace.” The funny thing is that it hasn’t exactly made me happy. Whatever the case, I think I am beginning to learn who I really am. It disturbs me though because as I learn about myself, I am more aware of what I don’t know…the more peace I find within myself, the more I am aware of the parts of me that are not peaceful. I am learning not just about myself, but about God and what he meant by creating me. I have more confidence and peace than ever before in my life – but at the same time, I am more confused and unsettled than ever before.
 
SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI, 1995
 
April 11  Is the monastic life really for me? I have a girlfriend! Things get so complicated.
I was at peace no more than three weeks ago. Now what? Why, if I am to be a monk, would God send me a woman I could care about?
A Benedictine! To spend my life in search of God! To wear the black habit! To celebrate the Eucharist, hear confessions, preach sermons! To vow my life into bonds that free my soul! To live each day in prayer, close to the heart of our Saviour, close to his holy presence in the Blessed Sacrament!
Am I to be a priest? Please, God, be more specific in your directions. This is a crucial moment here. Make your move, God.
 
 
April 27  I have such an awesome decision before me. I have come extremely close to entering this monastery . . . but I just can’t make that final leap. If I knew it was what God wanted, I would certainly trust Him to work things out. But I’m just not sure . . .
 
June 15  I’m sitting in my room wondering what I just did with my life. I walked into the monastery this morning, found the Abbot, and asked him if I could join his community. I’m tired of messing around.
Very well. I’m leaving for the monastery. I’m taking a risk. I’m going for it – all out!  Look, I want to do the right thing.  Christ will not abandon me if I seek him honestly. I will not be a Macbeth. I’ll do it – for better or for worse. On second thoughts, I like my life the way it is. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I am really happy – or at least I have been. But all of a sudden, I feel so sad.
No, I have chosen to begin. I have chosen to stop making circles of my life and to begin the search. There comes a point when you have to move from fun to joy. Now I have to empty my heart. Now I have to put my trust – all my trust in Jesus Christ. If I seek him, he will not abandon me. Am I strong enough for this? No. Is He? Yes. He will not give me a burden I cannot carry. I can’t say I know where my future lies, but I know it’s time to grow up. The celibacy part is going to be tough. Really tough. And obedience ain’t gonna be no piece of cake either.
 
June 19 My first night in the monastery. Will this be my home for the rest of my life? Oh my God.I’m scared again. I’m depressed. Can I be bound into this monotonous cycle of living? PRAY-EAT-WORK-PRAY-EAT-WORK-PRAY-EAT-WORK . . . I’m scared.  I’m depressed. I’m tired, too. And I want a girlfriend.
 
 
June 29 Last night I had a dream. I don’t remember the details of it, but I know that in it, I met, or spoke with or discussed St. Augustine and decided to name myself after him.
When I woke up, I pulled out his autobiography and read the following passage: “So my two wills, one old, the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, were in conflict with one another, and their discord robbed my soul of all concentration . . . I was split between them.” This is exactly what I’ve been going through. But St. Augustine gave up everything in the end. Will I?
 
August 28 My first day in the habit. People call me “Brother.” The title feels strange.  Like I don’t deserve it. The habit feels strange. Like I don’t fit it.  I don’t know whether or not I’ll stay here more than a year, but I’ll try. I am not so happy as I am at peace. Does that make sense?
 
 
SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI, 1996
 
January 7 Tomorrow I begin my novitiate. Does it scare me? It does. But no matter what path I choose it will have pain. Deep, agonizing pain. If I have a girlfriend, it might be jealousy, if I have a wife, it might be boredom or fear for my children. If I am celibate, it may be loneliness. Whichever path I choose, pain is an inevitable consequence. Because I am human. I can’t spend my life running away from suffering.
But even God felt pain. Jesus felt pain and loneliness and rejection. Just like me. “He who wishes to follow me must drink from the same cup as I.”
I asked for it, didn’t I? “Yes,” says Jesus, “Yes, you did.” The cup of bitterness.
The cup of loneliness. The cup of emptiness.
 
January 11 I’ve made it through the first three days of novitiate. So far, so good. Only 363 more days to go (It’s Leap Year!) For once in my life, I have no say in what happens to me. I am no longer in control. For one year, I will shut up, keep my head down, and listen . . .
 
May 29  I dreamed about surfing last night. Surfing and having a girlfriend. I can’t figure out which I miss more. Still, I suspect I’ll stick around when my novitiate is up. I am beginning to really love the silence.
 
June 12  What has happened over the last month? Nothing. Everything. I have never been so busy and so bored all at once. Nor have I ever felt so jumbled up and at peace. I’m sure that I am hard to live with.
 
July 4  Sometimes I pray that I am not called to be a monk. At moments like this I ask,
“Why me? Did I not have enough pain in my life that I had to go and add celibacy to my list of struggles?” I’ll tell you what: nothing short of God Himself will keep me in this monastery. Fortunately, I think God Himself is keeping me in this monastery. You can consider my presence here as proof of His existence.
 
August 6  Perhaps I should be more open to following the Holy Spirit instead of trying to squeeze my feet into the sandals of a saint. Take it easy, Augustine. Do what you’re told and follow the will of God as you feel it in your heart. You’re no saint, so just work with what you’ve got. Amen.
August 8 Lately, my doubts have grown more serious. I told Mom and Dad I wasn’t going to stay. There are other things I would like to do. Go off to L.A. Be a real writer.
 
August 15 Who would have thought that I would wind up in a monastery! Where will I be a year from now? Is ambition really such a bad thing? Even after 14 months in a cloister, I still want so many worldly things. My thoughts are all questions these days . . .
 
August 21 How many days have I wasted away in sin? This monastery seems to have brought out the worst in me. But then, that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? To flush out the demons so I can meet them head-on.
My most recent demons:
Demon #1:      Whining – “Why are they picking on me?”
Demon #2:      Shifting the Blame – “He shouldn’t have said it that way…” Demon #3:   Tepidity – “I just do what I’m told.”
Demon #4:      Self-Deception – “But this is prayer for me…”
Something occurred to me today. I’m a lot like the House of Israel: God singles me out, gives me this special purpose, reveals himself to me, teaches me the laws for my own sake . . . and I respond by deliberately and repeatedly turning away from him. Again and again I do it. Again and again, He welcomes me back. Will I never learn?
 
August 24  I have been here over a year and I am still not used to waking up at five a.m. I need something to end this torturous indecision. Faith, perhaps. But since I obviously don’t have enough of that, I’ll ask for a miracle instead.
August 28  The Feast of St. Augustine I had a dream this morning while I was meditating. I dreamt that I was standing in the middle of a small room. I was surrounded by vicious, snarling monsters – anthropomorphic and grotesque. They approached me on every side, poised to devour me. But instead of defending myself, I lifted my hands to heaven. And the monsters were whisked away.
Weird.
October 1, The Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux Over the last week, I have received three roses: a red rose, a white rose, and today, a yellow rose. What can they mean? I have made my decision. I will join the monastery.
 
October 8 Today, the novices had a talk with Patrick Barry, the Abbot of Ampleforth. He warned us against constantly “looking over the wall.” “The modern world is such a world of options,” he said, “that we find it almost impossible to commit to anything. But doesn’t it all boil down to trust? Isn’t that the most fundamental thing expected of us?
Some day, you will think of changing your mind, but will trust Him instead.“Stick to the facts. Forget your imaginings about the future. Picture yourself the blind man before the Pharisees: ‘All I know is that I was blind, and now I see.’ Stop arguing with God and trust him.”
 
November 15  What have I learned from my novitiate? That suffering is the key to real joy.
Strange as it may seem, I could not find peace of mind or heart until I learned (as Saint Benedict had commanded in the Rule) to “accept humiliations joyfully.” In them, I have participated in Christ’s passion.
This story is over. The end of my novitiate. The end of my beginning. As my Latin prof used to say, “Now there’s a story with a happy middle.”
 
 
Part II: Solemn Vows
 
“Man, my friends, is frail and foolish.  We have all of us been told that grace is to be found in the universe.  But in our human foolishness and short-sightedness we imagine divine grace to be finite.  For this reason we tremble...We tremble before making our choice in life, and after having made it again tremble in fear of having chosen wrong.  But the moment comes when our eyes are opened, and we see and realize that grace is infinite.  See!  That which we have chosen is given us, and that which we have refused is, also and at the same time, granted us.  Ay, that which we have rejected is poured upon us abundantly.”
                                                     --IsakDinesen, “Babette’s Feast”
 
1997
 
January 1       Three days ago I took Simple Vows.  The ceremony was beautiful and we all cried.  Now I’m a monk.  I made the Brave Decision that I have always admired in others.  Now I have to live it out.  At least for the next three years.
           
 
January 5  I feel restless. Sometimes I get this way. Is it because I am not leading the monastic life whole-heartedly or because I’m not praying the way I should?  Or is it because I belong somewhere else?  If that’s the case, then what exactly does “belong” mean?  Surely if there is a God, He will not have allowed me to be here without a purpose.  If there isn’t, then none of this matters anyway.  I need air. 
 
January 12 I have not been praying enough.  I’ve had a touch of the flu, which is an excellent excuse for sleeping through meditation—and often lectio as well—and this, I suspect, has something to do with the uneasiness and impatience that have been the soundtrack to my life of late.  I do want to be a saint, but it’s the daily—no, hourly—struggle of self-discipline that I find difficult.  A single act of charity or kindness (even of martyrdom, perhaps) would be easier.  It is the “daily grind” that gets me down.  I just don’t study during my study periods, pray during my prayer periods, or work during my work periods.  I don’t do my jobs around the monastery as well as I should (and blame others when they get angry), and as if my own short-comings weren’t enough to keep me occupied, I spend half my time getting angry about other people’s faults.
            And is prayer the solution to all this?  I think it must be because only Christ Himself can free us from our sins. I almost never turn my work into prayer.  What a shame to see so much good work wasted.
 
 
January 29     My first job in the monastery is Sacristan.  I prepare everything that will be needed for each mass: cruets, vestments, purificators, incense...all must be set just so.  One could not design a job less suited to my temperament.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that I am the worst sacristan St. Louis Abbey has ever had.  Nothing is ever in its place. Last week, I left a bowl of incense in the Refectory.  Fr. L mistook it for a bowl of candy and was well into his first mouthful before he realized what he was eating.  Lucky for me, he thought it was funny.
 
           
February 20   Why is it so hard to love the people I live with?  Saint Augustine says, “The man who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is still in the dark.  Do not imagine that if you hate your brother you live in Christ and walk in the light.”  Well, I’m in the dark right now, and that’s no joke.
 
February 25   Funny.  I am only two months into Simple Vows and have already been thinking about leaving.  I guess it is just in my nature to be dissatisfied with what I have.  Always looking over the wall.
           
February 26   I was talking with my students at lunch the other day, and I began to understand what St. Paul meant by “glorying” in his weakness.  All that partying and rowdiness in college, which, objectively speaking, did me no good at all, is transformed, by virtue of my consecration to God’s service, into something useful.  The kids identify with it, and when it comes to giving advice, I can say, “Stay away from that.  Trust me.  I’ve been there.”  I feel useful.  This is what happens when you confess your sins, I think.  God actually draws something good out of them.  Like St. Francis De Sales says, He turns lead to gold.
            I do wish, however, that pain weren’t such an integral part of all this.  It’s not good to wish that, perhaps.  Suffering, in a certain sense, is a privilege--an opportunity to share in Christ’s Passion.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. 
             
 
April 13  It would make more sense to me if suffering were a complete evil and man were expected to give his life for God.  Instead, the Christian perspective is that suffering can be good, and God gives his life for man.  What’s more, God doesn’t do it for reasons that we might expect: He doesn’t give his life for us because we’re so beautiful.  He gives His life for us precisely because we are so despicable.  he gives his life for our SINS!  I don’t know why this makes sense to me.
            I messed up all my jobs today and everyone complained.  Then, to top it all off, there was no food left when I showed up for dinner, and I got in trouble for making myself a sandwich.  Why am I here?  Why am I doing this to myself?  Am I ambitious?  Ambitious for what?  Heaven?  PAH!  I’ve got everything so jumbled up inside, and the irony of it all is that when people see this “young monk,” they imagine that I must be floating on a cloud of peace.  They don’t see the ripping loneliness.   They don’t see my sins, my lusts, my cruelty...  All  they see is the happy monk.
            And yet...and yet...though I hate to admit it when I’m in one of these moods...there is, underneath it all, a certain deeper sense of joy.
            But I’m in a bad mood and I don’t want to talk about it.
 
June 26   Well, I made it through my second (or is that the third?  fourth?) vocation crisis; and, as might be expected, I feel stronger than ever.  It is a quiet Sunday afternoon.  I have some time to myself, so I am sitting on the back porch of the monastery with a cup of coffee and some oreos to watch a storm role in.  Storms remind me of fear without actually frightening me, which is why I like them so much.  “Floods of thunder sing the story.  In God’s temple, we all cry Glory!”
           
 
.September 4 I’m getting a little tired of being a monk.  Father L says that’s a good sign because it means I’m starting to really be a monk.              Hmmmm.
            It’s a no-win situation, if you think about it.  Or a no-lose situation.  This morning, coincidentally, I read a little excerpt from the autobiography of Therese of Liseaux.  Her sister, Celine, had lost her desire to become a nun on the eve of her first profession.  “That’s perfect,” the little saint answered, “Now you are fit to take vows.  It’s a temptation from Satan.”     See what I mean?  You just can’t win.
 
 
September 12  This morning after mass, a man in his fifties walked up to me outside of our church and took my hand.  It surprised me.  “You’re doing a good thing here,” he said. “Stick with it.  And remember: no matter how hard it gets, it’s not as hard as marriage.”  Then he walked away.  I watched him approach his car and climb in.  His wife was waiting for him.  Maybe the grass isn’t so green on the other side.  None-the-less, I’ll bet I don’t stick it out in this monastery.  My guess is that I’ll leave when my Simple Vows run out.  Perhaps I’ll go off to New York.  Try to become a real writer.
 
 
December 22     All of life is conflict:  interior, exterior, relational, vocational, intellectual... Sometimes, I just don’t feel strong enough to keep fighting—or even to keep fighting the fighting.  There is something to be said for abandonment to Divine Providence.
            Br. A and I seem always to be at odds.  We even fought over the heater in the car.  Br. T hates my guts.  Fr. L and Fr. C think I’m egocentric, and they’re probably right.  Is there a way to move with this?
            Enough of me.  This is God’s day.  Advent.  I am waiting for the Incarnation.
 
1998
 
January 7       I do have a good life.  It has some suffering, some sorrow...but it has purpose.  And I do the things I love on a daily basis.  Sometimes I doubt if I’ll make it as a monk.  But tonight I don’t.
March 7   I forgot to return the car keys again today.  Everyone got on my case.  It’s not easy living with twenty-five other guys.  Sometimes I feel like they’re driving me crazy.  But you know, it’s really just I who am driving me crazy.  Dorotheos of Gaza says that if a brother annoys you, then it is your own fault.  You are like “winter wheat”—outwardly calm, but inwardly empty.  He’s right.  I can afford to be patient with my own shortcomings.
            Sure, it would be nice if we all had the same faults.  That way, when I’d lose the keys to the car, everyone would understand.  But of course, we’d never drive anywhere.
 
April 1  A prayer at the End of the Day: Lord,I made a few mistakes today.  But I have also accomplished a few small things as well. I prayed.  I worked.  I tried to conform my life to your will (whatever that is).  And ultimately, the trying is the most important part.  I thank you for the privilege of being alive and the honour of being your servant.  These alone are all the consolation I need.  Thank you for your many gifts to me.  You are indeed great.  Tomorrow, I will try again.
 
June 27  At a retreat last weekend, someone told me I reminded them of St. Francis.  That amuses me for a number of reasons.  First of all, how could they possibly know what St. Francis was like?  What she must have meant was that I reminded her of the qualities she imagines St. Francis might have had.  So what are those, I wonder?  When I think of St. Francis, I imagine a sort of happy-go-lucky, fly-by the-seat-of-your-pants kind of hippy.  I think of someone who has perfected a certain sense of joyful peace, abandonment to providence, and childlike trust in God.  But from my perspective, none of that fits me.
            Could it be that other people see me differently than I really am?  If the truth be known, I’m a class-A worrier.  That doesn’t seem to fit with the image I have of a Saint Francis.  And yet saints are complex characters, aren’t they?  Could Saint Francis have been a worrier?  That would imply a lack of trust in God.  But when God called, Francis didn’t hesitate.  Of course, if a crucifix spoke to me, I guess I wouldn’t hesitate either.  More likely, I’d check myself into a hospital.
            I’ve been having second thoughts about my vocation for two years now.  Am I just wasting my time?  Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
July 2   Most of the time, I just feel frustrated when I’m praying, but every now and then, a little shaft of light pierces the darkness.  Hands clasped before my face, thumbnails touching my nose, I search the air in front of me, invisible as God (and just as present).  Then I hear Him: “This is where you belong,” says the Silence, “Just like this.  This is your job.”
 
July 9  I tell the kids in our school that monks are the spiritual “green berets” of the Catholic Church.  Today we took another casualty.  Fr. J informed us that he is leaving the community—and the priesthood.  In a community of only 25, that’s a big upset.  Well, you can’t fight a battle without casualties, I suppose.  And we’re on the front lines.  Still...it’s so sad.  At times like this, the community is in fact unusually graced.  Father Abbot had a chapter meeting of all the monks, and it was a beautiful thing to see them bind together.  Our little differences, our petty quarrels seem so insignificant in the face of a lost vocation. 
            Fr. Abbot asked me in private if all this had lead me to question my own vocation.  On the contrary, I feel all the stronger.  I say to myself, “By God, I won’t let that happen to me!  The world needs monks and the world needs me!”
 
August 16  As I approach my last year in Simple Vows, I ask myself again “Is this for me?”  While the thought of a lifelong commitment scares me, the thought of leaving saddens me.  Which is worse: being scared or being sad?
 
November 1   Here I am a monk—an “icon of Christ at prayer”—and yet I skip prayers whenever I can.  Sometimes, it’s as though I would rather do anything than pray:  read a book, floss my teeth, wash my socks...
 
November 27   I am still ploughing through my daily prayers.  Often they are a joy.  Most of the time, it’s just work.  “Ora et Labora” (Work and Prayer) is the Benedictine motto.  It ought to be “Ora EST Labora” (Work IS Prayer).
            Brother A will take Simple Vows in January, right about the same time as M will be joining the Postulancy.  Brother B, Brother M, and I seem to be sticking it out, so our little monastery continues to grow.  We have filled up all the cells now, and monks are living in the guest quarters.  Praise God.
 
1999
 
October 10     I’ve been so busy the past few months, I’ve hardly had time to write: teaching, coaching, running the kitchen, seminary...and Solemn Vows are just around the corner!  Have I thought this out properly?  I told the Abbot I wanted to take vows, but did I mean it?
          
October 25     So.  The religious life.  IS THIS WHAT I REALLY WANT?!?!  Two months from Solemn Vows and I can honestly say...I don’t know.  Some days I I like doing this, and some days, I don’t.  What is all this anger and loneliness about?  Who am I?  What does God want me to be?  For three years I’ve been wrestling with this decision.  I’d ask God directly if I thought He’d give me a straight answer.
            Lord, You know how I have agonized over this decision.  Grant, then, that this, my final resolve, might be nothing more or less than the fulfilment of Your Holy Will.  I can’t take vows any more than I can live them out faithfully.  But in You, all things are possible.  So I pray that You will grant me today the great gift of perseverance (and while You’re at it, throw in Patience and Chastity and Prudence and Wisdom and Self-abasement so that I might be less of a burden to my brothers).
            Lord, grant that I may ever live through You and in You.
 
November 8   Can’t I put this decision off?  It’s not like the monastery is going to move away.  I could spend a year or two on my own.  Date around a little more.  Do some more writing.  Maybe do grad school.
            The real issue here is trust, isn’t it?  I guess when push comes to shove, I just don’t trust God.  Or maybe I don’t really believe that He exists.  Would he allow me to take a vow I couldn’t keep?  Would He let me do something that would make me lonely for life?  If that’s the price of Heaven, then Heaven had better be good.
            Lord, can I trust you?  Just prove to me that you exist.  Give me a sign.  I need proof.
 
            Dear Augustine,
             You need proof?  Has not your whole life not been a testament to my trustworthiness?  Have you forgotten how lucky you are?  Where do you think all this comes from?  Were you there when I set the stars in the sky?  Were you there when I pulled earth from the sea?  Were you there when I punched a hole in the darkness and brought forth light?
            You get back to work.  Let me worry about proof and trust.
            God
 
 
November 20 This morning, the community voted on whether or not I should be allowed to take solemn vows.  They decided that I should.  There is only one more step to take, then:  the vows themselves.
            Simple Vows were easy enough, but Solemn Vows are a whole different story.  I imagine myself growing old here.  Dying here.  It scares the begeebers out of me.  How can I make a commitment like this?  Once those vows are taken...man, that’s it!
No more women.  Period.  No wife.  No children.
            It’s settled, then.  I am incapable of following through on a commitment like this.  So why do I still want to take vows?  I guess it all boils down to trust, again.  Do I trust God enough to throw my life in His hands?
            I guess I do.
            I mean, where else would I go?
 
December 4    Outside, the rain is whispering against the window of my cell.  I am lonely.  On my desk sit three hundred invitations to my Solemn Profession.  So it is settled.  I am to be a monk.  What a struggle, though.  I do want to be a saint.  Honest.  But why can’t it be easy?  I have the potential.  We all do, right?  So why can’t I pull it off?!  Lord, save me from myself.
            I’m scared, too.  In a month, I will take Solemn Vows.  What makes me think I can make a commitment like that?  I can’t even take responsibility for the car keys!  How am I going to take responsibility for this?  How am I going to make it fifty years?  I barely made it through the last four!  In a sense, outright martyrdom would be easier.  (Not entirely out of the question...they already blame Catholics for all the world’s social ills—overpopulation, child abuse, environmental abuse, mysogyny, racism, war...)  At least it would be over quickly.
            On the other hand, you only live once.
 
December 27  I told Father P after dinner tonight that I was scared to take Vows.  He said, “That’s because you’re focused on what you are giving God, and not what God will be giving you.  Our Lord is never outdone in generosity.”
            “Alright then,” I said to him, “What’s in it for me?”
            “Are you familiar with computer terminology?” he asked.
            “A bit,” I answered, wondering where this conversation was going.
            “Your Solemn Vows are like a baptismal upgrade.  The grace you received at baptism will be renewed, refreshed, expanded, fortified...”
            That makes sense to me.
 
December 31    The night before.  I can’t believe it has come to this.  I will make my Solemn Vows tomorrow.  SOLEMN VOWS!  There’s no backing out now.
            Vows.
            The concept is just too big.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  Every now and then, the full weight of my decision hits home, and I feel nauseous.  By far and away, this is the most frightening thing I have ever done.  Ten years ago, when I was on Beach Patrol, someone spotted a corpse floating next to the pier near my tower.  I had to wade into sixteen feet of water to look for it.  That was scary.  But not as scary as this.
2000
January 1       It is finished.  At 9am, I became the first monk of the millennium!  On the way over to Church, Brother A looked across the hall at me and said: “I can’t believe you’re doing this!”  I can’t believe I did it.  God, I hope I don’t regret this.  I feel like I ought to be depressed.  Perhaps I am depressed.  Do I regret what I have done?  Was I really ready for the commitment?  I don’t know.  But who ever is?  I certainly wouldn’t get this much preparation for marriage.  And I don’t plan on making it by my own strength anyway.  I’m going to let Jesus take over from here on out.  And why not, huh?  I have no choice now.
 
January 3       At last I am in Solemn Vows.  I am a monk.  I shall always be a monk.  I shall die a monk.  At last I can say with complete confidence that I have a vocation to the monastic life. I have found my place in the world.  My entire life is consecrated to Jesus Christ. From now on, everything I do is consecrated to Christ: I wake for Christ, I sleep for Christ, I work and play and teach and learn for Christ.  I eat cereal for Christ, brush my teeth for Christ, lose the car keys and annoy the brethren for Christ.  I live for Christ.  Laus tibi Domine.
GALVESTON, TEXAS, 1990
 
March 20 What will I do with my life? I want to BE something! I have all this energy and don’t know what to do with it. I hope I find my place sooner or later . . . I’ve prayed for it, I’ve searched for it, but I can’t find what I’m looking for. I have this feeling and I don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes I try to channel it into my studies, but as soon as I sit down with a book, I lose it.

© 2018 SAINT LOUIS ABBEY