Thursday, 27 September 2012

Preparing for Solemn Vows 3

Br. Ged and friends in Lourdes

My name is Brother Gerard Walsh; I am a Carmelite friar in first vows, living in our community in York, England.  I am currently working in chaplaincy, dividing my time between the University of York and the York Hospital.  Earlier this year I applied and was accepted for Solemn Profession of vows, which will take place at The Friars, Aylesford in October.  Here I will publically profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to God, within the Order of Carmelites, for life.  Over the next weeks I will blog how my preparation is progressing both practically and spiritually.  This is my third blog entry . . . enjoy.

Best wishes to all our visitors to the ‘Carmelite Street’ blog, it was great reading about Brothers Severin and Kurt’s first vows and it certainly made me reflect on my own forthcoming final vows, which take place in less than one month’s time.

Since my last entry I have been busy with the on-going practical arrangements and it is good to see things falling into to place.  I recently attended my friend’s wedding and saw the organisation that went into that terrific day; I was glad that my own special day would be a smaller affair.  Happily the practical side of my own celebration is progressing nicely and this enables me to focus more on the spiritual side.

Last time I blogged I was just about to commence the second part of my preparation retreat.  As I said, this was taking place at the Carmelite Monastery of Thicket Priory, located just outside York.  What I didn’t tell you was that Thicket is very special to me; it was where I began my Carmelite journey back in 2003.  As someone discerning a religious vocation, I was invited by our vocations director to attend a vocations retreat there.  I remember the occasion most vividly and especially the walk up the long drive, that lead to the then monastery, a large Victorian manor house.  Incidentally, in 2009 the nuns relocated to a smaller and more user friendly, purpose-built monastery, located in some of the land of their previous home.

On reflection, it only seemed fitting, that I concluded the preparation for my final vows in the same place I began this important journey of initial formation.  The time I spent at Thicket was wonderful, unfortunately the weather wasn’t very kind and this restricted me to the comfortable flat that the nuns provide for relatives and friends.  I built my day around the prayer of the Church, which was celebrated with the nuns in choir.  Each day, one of the local priests would come and celebrate mass for us all.  In between the liturgy of the hours, I was left to my own direction.  The flat was self-catering, so I would cook for myself and spend the remainder of the time in prayer and reflection and spiritual reading.  The main feature of this retreat was that it was spent in silence and solitude; this enabled me to direct my thoughts towards what God was really asking of me.

Silence seems to be a rare commodity in this world, our lives seem to be ruled by TV’s, PC’s and anything that has a fruit sign!  It was important for me to be able to literally ‘retreat’ from all these distractions and, in the words of the great Carmelite Saint, Teresa of Jesus, to take time to be alone with Him, who we know loves us.

Best wishes, love and prayers to all our readers, I pray especially for the students who are either embarking on or returning to their university education at this time.

God bless, Br. Ged, O.Carm.
Thanks Ged. 
As Ged prepares for his Solemn Profession of Vows, maybe you could spend some time thinking about your own attitudes to commitment. Does commitment frighten me? is the prospect of making lifelong vows either in religious life or marriage a daunting prospect? Do I include God in this decision?
Remember that the place where God wants you to be, is where your deepest gladness meets the worlds deep hunger.

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