Br. Gerald’s Vocation Story
For some of us the decision to enter the monastery wasn’t at all an easy choice. I first wrote to this Abbey requesting vocation information when I was in my early 20s. That literature got put in the back of a dresser drawer for the next 10 years or so, but I knew that someday I would seriously address the issue of a monastic vocation and perhaps make a decision.
When I was in my early 30s I was in a good job with a promising future and was pretty content overall, enjoying not only the job but my weekends especially. One day the owner of that firm asked me if I would be willing to become the operations manager. I said I would reflect on the offer and get back to him. It was as though the rug had been pulled out from under me because I knew that if I accepted that management position, I would be solid in that company for the rest of my career. Front and center loomed that monastic vocation issue again, but this time it demanded resolution: this was the either/or time for me to decide on a career path or to move toward possibly entering the Trappist Abbey here at Lafayette.
I decided for the latter and gave the company my notice. They were shocked at my decision, of course, and asked that I extend my period-of-notice from 2 weeks to 6 weeks in order to train those who
would be replacing me. Fine, I did that, then took a year off to reflect on and pursue the matter of a religious vocation. My parents had just retired, so the three of us spent a very enjoyable year together.
Six months into that year I made my first visit to Guadalupe Abbey, soon accepting the offer to come for a month to experience the life from the inside. The monks were great, friendly and helpful, but I felt like a foreigner, not sure what I really should be doing when I wasn’t at an assigned task or in church or at meals. Nonetheless, I made the decision to enter the Community, even though I largely felt blind about where it would lead. Taking one day at a time, resolving to just focus on this day and what I’m doing now…each now…was what made the monastic journey possible for me. It seems to be working, after 35 years now!
The matter of ‘God’s Will’…
Each of us generally is intent on wanting to do God’s Will, of basically following the right path. With regard to deciding upon a monastic vocation, however, a person can be tempted to see ‘God’s Will’ as more of a solid wall than a comfortable invitation. This monk faced that dilemma with an expectation of receiving some sort of sign, a real confirmation, when it came to making a decision in favor of a monastic vocation. No sign came. What did come was the understanding that God opts for me rather than for my choice of a path in life; He will be with me if I resolve to become a monk, or He will be with me if my decision is to remain a secular. THAT is supportive love!