Note: Following the Benedictine Sojourner experience, a woman may choose to return to her previous life-setting, taking all she has learned back with her, or she may choose to begin a process of discernment with our community to see if she may be called to community life with us. Paz has expressed the desire to begin this process of discernment with the sisters. She has chosen to share her thoughts about this transition in this blog post. It is important for a woman in discernment to be free to hear God’s call in her life. We invite your support for Paz by praying for her and our community as we discern and by refraining from pressuring her with questions.
Everything started when I sent an email to Sister Lynne, asking to be considered for the Benedictine Sojourner program in December 2014. I did this after many months of discerning if I really wanted to change my life pathway in a radical way or not. I didn’t want to make mistakes or change my mind at the last moment, I wanted to be sure. During this discerning time, I asked advice from my spiritual director, Bill Kerley. We both agreed that I needed to try it. This idea did not suddenly show up in my mind one day; it seems that everything surely started a lot earlier. All my life I felt attracted to spiritual life, but I never had the courage to try it. I knew that after six months living at the monastery I would know for sure if this life was for me or not. But first I needed to be there, to try it, to know the community and let God talk to my heart.
In April I visited the monastery for an Exploring Benedictine Community weekend retreat. I fell in love with the people and the place. I could not believe this all was real. Then, I received an invitation for a two-week retreat. Trying to maintain a skeptical point of view, I thought that after two weeks in the monastery I could see better and know if all this was not just an illusion. And it was NOT. My next visit in July made me more in love with the praying and life rhythm in the monastery.
When I spoke with my spiritual director about coming to the monastery, he was thinking that six months was a big commitment and he was proud of my decision. I was thinking six months was not such a big commitment, because inside myself I knew that during these six months I would be doing my own internal discernment. At the beginning this idea scared me a lot. How could I dare to think about that? This is a big thing. I must be crazy! Am I brave or crazy enough to change my current life, from scientific to religious life?
I think I am brave. The difficult part is already happening, leaving my family and friends. I am experiencing a different way to interact with them. I have been living in the monastery for five months now, and I don’t miss my past life, to give it a name. But I do miss talking with my brother Gerardo a lot. Every weekday for around one hour, we used to talk by phone. He called me every day during the six years I lived in Houston, and this was an anchor for me during that time. Now, at the monastery, I cannot take his calls most of the time and that makes my heart break.
However, I don’t see myself in the future living outside the monastery. At Christmas time when I visited my family in Los Angeles I thought, this will be my litmus test, could I really live most of my life away of my family? It made me really sad to think that I will not see my niece and nephews grow day by day. When I left Mexico my niece Fatima and I were very close and I feel this link is not as strong now. I am afraid the same will happen now with the relationship I have with my youngest niece and nephew, Alejandra and Gerardo Jr.
Then I ask myself if it is possible to have more than one family. Could I be able to deal with my heart divided in two? For sure there is a way, since many sisters and brothers around the world can do that. I think God put me in this situation and I am praying to have the courage to follow my calling. I think I am doing my part, so I will say: “God, this is time for thou to do thy part.” For this reason, I am thinking of extending my stay at the monastery. And I ask all of you for your prayers, and I thank the sisters for agreeing to help me through this discerning time.
Read this post in Spanish. Para seguir a paz en español: Discerniendo el futuro una nueva vida
Read more from Paz in her blog series, Little notes from a prairie journey.