Lead Me Lord, I Have Come to do Your Will–This is the last in a series of three articles on “Finding Your Purpose in Life”.
Article one, “Discovering Your Gifts” explored personal prayer and opening your heart to listen to God, letting go of your need to control. Article two, “Finding Your Passion” encouraged you to reflect on your personal gifts and to discover your uniqueness in God’s eyes. The possibility that God might be calling you to become a Catholic sister, brother or priest was also introduced. Now, as you experience a deeper communion with God, your heart becomes more receptive to hearing God’s desire for you. This article will explore how this openness allows you to hear God’s call to service on a deeper level by following in Jesus’ footsteps with the possibility of becoming a sister, brother or priest in religious life.
First of all, you can’t choose what you don’t know! So if in the course of your prayer time with God you continue to reflect on religious life as even a remote possibility, it is time you found out what it is like to live the life of a religious sister, brother or priest. To begin this process visit http://www.vocationnetwork.org/directory to learn of different religious orders available to you. You can also talk to a parish priest or a diocesan or community vocation director, if you already know a Catholic religious order. Take the initiative to visit the website and Facebook page of several orders that are of interest to you and then contact a vocation director for that religious community or diocese.
They will be open and receptive to an initial discussion. Most people feel it a bit daunting to make that first connection. All kinds of questions run through their head. What will they be like to talk to? Will they think it absurd that I would consider religious life? Will I be able to fit in? What if I don’t like it? Will they pressure me into joining?
Their answers may surprise you because religious vocation directors are very easy to talk to and very welcoming. They are happy to meet with you and share their experiences. They will be great listeners as you share your journey. They will spend time in prayer with you and introduce you to other members of their community. They can assure you that they were also apprehensive about fitting in when they first began to explore the possibility of becoming a religious. The process to become a vowed religious involves many discussions with several communities to be sure you have all you need to make a decision that is best for you and for the community. After your initial contact with them, if you wish to explore things further the next step is to visit the community or to go to one of their “come and see” weekends to learn more about religious life in a relaxed atmosphere where you will be joined by others who are also exploring religious life.
When talking with religious sisters, brothers or priests during a “come and see” weekend you will discover that their life is filled with opportunity to grow in their relationship with God, in their personal life and, in the development of their life in ministry. It is not at all unusual for a religious to be given tremendous opportunity within their community to develop the gifts unique to them in serving God’s people. They find personal fulfillment throughout life in their ministries.
Your first glimpse of life in community can be a real eye-opener as you experience the community members’ bright minds, quick wit and the joy they feel in the path God has called them to. They, like everyone else, come in all shapes, sizes and personalities and are eager to express their special gifts in serving those in need of God’s grace and comfort. Religious life also affords them a rich prayer life and a tremendous sense of support from their community members. They are also very close to their family and to their friends outside the community that they have come to know over the years. They don’t lose that strong bond as a religious. They gain another family!