Well last Saturday was a great day. Not just because of numbers, which were 14, but also because of the atmosphere. Everyone who came said it was special. Now I know that everyone says this on such occasions, but this day was definitely something special.
We began by welcoming everyone. Two people had come from London, a young PhD student in music and a 29 year old girl from Rome, currently living in London. It caused laughter when we discovered that so many of the rest came from Manchester. It was good to welcome our enclosed Carmelite nuns from Liverpool and Preston Carmels respectively. Sr. Mary of the Incarnation, Prioress of Liverpool Carmel, spoke about life in an enclosed convent. This was interesting. She was honest and direct. She spoke about coping with loneliness when she first began, but how she had come to appreciate solitude and silence; something you have to experience, it isn’t something you learn from reading. It was obviously really austere when she firsts began, but since the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960’s, life has got easier. However, the young novice said it was still demanding.
The day began with a talk on discernment, an important subject when you are looking at vocation. Fr Jim Noonan, came specially from Ireland. His talk was magisterial. It must have been helpful to anyone who is seriously thinking of vocation to religious life. He spoke about the importance of patience; God’s time isn’t our time. Also, of self-knowledge; how important it is to know yourself; to know what motivates you. He also spoke about the importance of what others say, especially people who know you well. Then how do you feel yourself; are you happy, at peace, excited. God doesn’t twist peoples’ arms, or make them enter religious life against their will.
For me the best talk of the day was by our Brother Noel, who also came specially from Ireland. He spoke about his own vocation. He was a successful banker in London; earning lots of money. However, it wasn’t enough, he felt a certain emptiness. Try as he might he couldn’t find what he was looking for. He tried the Cistercians but in the end they didn’t seem right. Then one day he met a nun, dressed in a white habit, who told him that he might have a calling to Carmel. And it was true.
Whatever the outcome of the day it was, as I said before, a special experience. Everyone who came would have benefitted. I felt that we should do another sometime. The only problem is the expense. It costs a lot of money to advertise. But it’s money well spent. Just thought I’d share these thoughts and reflections with you.