Reflections of Entering Religious Life

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Every year several young men from all over the country visit St. Albert’s Priory for a Come and See weekend. I will never forget my first visit to St. Albert’s for a Come and See weekend.

So many things ran through my mind as I walked through the cloister, prayed with the brothers, and listened to talks about Dominican life. I wondered if this could be the life for me. I tried to imagine myself dressed in white, and preaching like the brothers who preached to us during that weekend. Well…fast-forward two years, and here I am, living life as a Dominican friar! It is amazing what God can do in such a short amount of time and how quickly life changes.

Entering religious life is an incredible experience that really seems to change your life overnight. One day I am working in a bank, living in the rolling desert hills of West Texas, and the next I am sitting and chanting in choir in a beautiful gothic church located right in the middle of sunny San Francisco. Talk about making a 180! Those first few weeks at St. Dominic’s were unforgettable, especially the moment I was first vested in the habit.

I will never forget the moment I knelt down before the Provincial to receive the habit. The setting was beautiful and intense. It was night, the church was dimly lit, and all the brothers were present chanting the Veni Creator Spiritus. As I knelt down in front of the Provincial, I had on overwhelming feeling of unworthiness come over me. I felt unworthy to be vested in the habit so many holy men have worn before me. I felt that I had stolen something that was not mine, and that I was totally unprepared to receive the grace of the habit. The truth is: I am unworthy and totally undeserving of this life. However, I believe that God, in His wisdom and providence, has led me here, and he will give me every grace necessary to be a Dominican.

Fr. Anthony, our novice master, gave us some advice he learned from a monk: the only requirement for being a religious is that one must be a sinner. If that’s true, I surely fit the bill! The Lord knows how imperfect I am and how much I am in need of His grace. This is what religious life is really all about—knowing that you are a sinner in need of God’s grace. Fr. Anthony told us that religious life is a school of perfection. The first lesson you learn is how imperfect you are.

Living with several other men is a challenge because we are all prideful and selfish in some way. We each think our way of doing things is the right way, and we never fail to make that known. These men, however, are also very virtuous in other ways. They can be kind, loving, and very considerate. They have a passion and zeal to serve our Lord, and to love people. So, whenever I think really highly of myself, I am humbled by the virtuous example of the brothers I live with. Not only do they remind me of how imperfect broken humanity can be, they also remind me of that goodness that God has put in all our hearts.

This past summer I knelt down before the Provincial once more, this time promising my obedience to him by making first vows. Again, I felt very unworthy. This feeling of unworthiness, however, was accompanied by a strong sense of peace—a peace I did not have a year before when I was vested with the habit. God has shown me that I do not have the power to live the vows on my own. I will never be able to live this life without God’s power and grace. This year is all about surrendering to God’s grace and allowing him to take the lead. I am placing myself before the Lord and this community, begging for mercy and help—help with being a sinner in need of God’s grace.

Br. Diego María Carrasco, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE