Do I Know?
The Call To Religious Life
do you know if you have a vocation to religious
life? First of all it is not the typical experience
for God to call in dramatic or earth shattering
ways. The call for most people is gradual and organic;
a whisper, an inclination, a thought that keeps
recurring. You begin to get in touch with God’s
desire by taking the time to be quiet and to reflect
upon the inner stirrings of your own heart. What
are your deepest longings? What is your vision
and dream for the future and the kind of person
that you want to be? When you think about religious
life how do you feel? Are you energized? Excited?
Hopeful? Peaceful? Alive? It is also common to
feel scared and apprehensive. These are natural
feelings for anyone who is discerning a life decision.
Feelings of apprehension and fear will come and
go, but they are not the predominant feelings.
God is calling you to religious life, God is not asking
you to deny who you are, but rather to become more
fully the person that God has created you to be. The
congregation that you are contemplating entering, should
be a place where you feel at home. It is crucial that
you feel connected with the group and what the group
is about in their mission and ministry. The community
needs to be a place where you can be yourself and use
the gifts and talents that God has given you. As Sr.
Joan Chittister, OSB states, “It is not about
simply going through the motions, it is about the development
of self to the point of unbridled joy.” This
is what vocation is about. It is about living life
to the full.
is about “what we do with the fire inside of
us and how we channel our passion” says Fr.
Ronald Rolheiser in his book The Holy Longing.
the vision and dream of religious life, and of a
particular religious congregation, fit with your
vision and dream for the world and for yourself?
Do you have the desire, skills and gifts to live
that vision well, and joyfully as a religious?
Merton writes, in New Seeds of Contemplation, “It
takes heroic humility to live faithfully and fully,
life in all its complexity, and walk and dream and
strive to be our mysterious self in the Great Mystery.
But that is what sanctity is. (This is what vocation
is!) Walking in our own shoes, limping and running,
and being formed by the journey. Our ‘perfection’ (fulfillment)
comes with each step and each choice to keep moving
toward the face of God. It takes heroic humility
to be who we are.”
O mysterious Artist, who uses my life to paint new color for the world,
give me the courage to receive your unique gifts in my life. Be my
sanctuary when I become afraid of becoming that full being that is
uniquely your presence within me. Sustain me and help me walk gracefully
in the true beauty you call forth from me.Give me the heroic humility
to be as you would have me be. Amen.
Helpful Steps in Discernment ~ Trying
to figure out if religious life is for you!
time for prayer and quiet reflection. Listen for
the answer taking shape in your heart.
- Journal – it
is often helpful to keep a journal. What about
religious life is most appealing to you? What are
your hopes, desires, fears, concerns? When you
think of yourself as a religious sister, how does
it feel? What do you think will be some of the
to gather information on religious life and religious
communities. You cannot make a good decision
for yourself if you do not have the information.
Some good resources are: Vision Magazine – www.visionguide.org, www.vocacioncatolica.com, Vocations
Anonymous, a book on discernment by Sr.
Kathleen Bryant, and the video, A Different
Path which can be obtained by contacting www.nccv-vocations.org.
may want to begin meeting with a spiritual director.
A spiritual director is someone who can assist
you in your prayer life and discernment. Spiritual
directors are trained to help people identify the
movements of God’s spirit. The director will
not give you the answer but will help you to discover
the answer to your heart’s longings within
yourself. You may contact the Diocese or retreat
houses in your area to obtain a list of spiritual
directors in your area. It is possible to interview
the person before actually asking them to be your
director. Be sure you are comfortable with this
active in your parish, your community or some type
of service opportunity, if you are not already
some religious communities. A visit can be planned
with the help of the vocation director. Speak
with the vocation director of your diocese or
a particular religious community.