In the past few years, I’ve strolled through quite a bit of material on the web devoted to religious vocations and religious life, motivated by several kinds of curiosity. Sometimes I become a regular reader of blogs which post more than the occasional “come and see” announcement or inspirational passage, and I appreciate the ones which really attempt to share some dimension of their community’s ongoing life. A blog is an easy format, and a difficult one, and even personal bloggers know the longing to speak freely which can lead you in the end to say too much. And how quickly it all becomes TOO MUCH online, where it stays around forever, for anyone to see.
I have very mixed feelings about the whole phenomenon of mediating vocations through the internet, which offers instant and continuous access, yet perhaps amplifies certain voices in a very misleading way. I mean, I think it’s an issue not just for those “discerning” (speaking of a horrible and overused word), but for the “press” of the church in general. Luckily it is not my problem! But even the best community journals raise some questions about the “marketing” of their newer members– young people who are, at least initially, in a very tentative and vulnerable place. When it comes to sites like this one, with its endless “countdowns” and fangirl squeeing over habits and wedding dresses, well…
But I hear you asking, “What are you doing hanging around there anyway, old lady?” A valid question, and I have to admit that I read a couple of blogs mainly because the authors are so obnoxious that they give me a negative thrill of superiority. I may have fewer readers (well, ok, I have no readers) but compared to them I am so HUMBLE. And irenic, and open-minded. And because the authors do have a basic foundation of learning and intelligence, I sometimes get more insight from them than I probably deserve. But browsing those previously-mentioned forums is basically just the equivalent of watching a reality show, and I don’t really have an excuse for it.
Most recently, they’ve exceeded expectations and offered us the spectacle of knock-down drag-outs around the theme of “I’m the Bride of Christ, and YOU’RE NOT,” led off by a purported CV (although her real identity or location is not available, at least to casual readers). I’ll admit, I’m still a romantic, and a, uh, past-ophile, and I love both the beautiful imagery and counter-cultural witness of the early virgins, but reading this thread makes me glad to be Jesus’ best friend’s homely sister. And if I had the impression before that the whole “bride of Christ” thing was a little out-of-hand on the net– distorted, and even, dare I say, cheapened– this has left me without a doubt of it.
I personally think the thread reached its apex with this comment: “Who would have thought there would be bridezillas in the consecrated life?”
Touché. Oh, touché.
It’s hard to stop reading it– it’s even more fun than Hermit Wars. But if, like me, you wake up ashamed and need to clear your head, I recommend this post, which I was impelled to go back and search out.
However, this whole entry came to be in the first place, because I discovered this lovely discourse, from which the following is an excerpt:
I think that sometimes we forget that married life and the single life are just as much a vocation as priesthood and religious life. For the Christian a vocation is not just something that God calls us to do, it is also the person God calls us to be. When Jesus called his first disciples by the lake of Galilee it wasn’t just so that they could help him in his work, it was so that their lives could be transformed through his friendship and love.
The blog is Colwich Novitiate, which was always a spontaneous affair, and now has only an occasional post. But I first loved it for the charitable and unaffected honesty it still retains, as it bypasses the veiled mania for status and commodities and addresses the concept of vocation with the grounded sanity of Benedictines at their best.