A vocation to total consecration as a religious Sister is a gift beyond our greatest imaginings. If the Lord has whispered such a desire into your heart, be not afraid! You are not alone in this experience of His love – there are people who can help you to discern His will for your life, and to encourage you to embrace whatever that is, for “in His will is our peace.”
A religious vocation is about being so filled with the love of Christ that only giving oneself totally and exclusively back to Him will suffice. It springs from a relationship of love with the Lord, who initiates a deep interior call that beckons, “Come, follow Me.” He asks a person to be set apart, consecrated, that he or she might become an echo of His life on earth. With the call comes a mission, a specific participation in Christ’s redemptive mission.
As is seen in Scripture, the Lord calls different types of people, with different backgrounds, personalities, life experiences, and idiosyncrasies. The Lord chooses people from among His people. He chooses people both as representatives of His people, and He also calls a particular individual made in His Image and Likeness very personally, as if to confirm that each life is infinitely valuable in His sight and to His Heart.
A vocation is not, contrary to what we sometimes hear, a career that one chooses; neither is it about our plans to do good, or to serve others as efficiently as possible. It is important to distinguish a desire to do good work or to grow closer to Jesus from a life-calling that demands our very essence given in love to the Lord.
So, how does one know if the Lord is calling? In varied ways, but, as the newly canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta responded when asked how someone knows if she is called: “She knows, she knows.” This is the language of the heart, and often it is difficult to put words to the language of the heart. The good news is, no one discerns a vocation in the Church alone — with the help of a vocation director, you will be able to discern whether the Lord is calling you to one community or another, or to marriage or the single life. All disciples of Christ are called to love without limits, to give the gift of our very selves to others. Those called to religious life are called to live this “more” in a radical way, a way that would be impossible without the grace given by Him to carry it out.
Now what? The first way to discover and nurture a God-given vocation is by spending time with the One loved. Frequent (if possible daily) participation at Holy Mass, Holy Hours before the Blessed Sacrament and the Rosary are essential ways of growing in one’s relationship with the Lord. In the silence of our hearts, He speaks to us, He pours His love into our lives, He invites us to love Him in return. Remember the context in which our relationship with God exists: He loves us much more than we can even imagine. He wills only the good for us. It is with open trust that we must come to Jesus, not presenting our plans to Him, but allowing our hearts to receive what He proposes to us. He will never make us feel as though the idea of giving ourselves to Him is being forced on us – it is a free and total response to a great love.
Along with cultivating one’s prayer life, it is important to find a regular confessor, to receive the grace and strength given in the Sacrament of Reconciliation for growth in the life of virtue. For those who are further along the discernment process, a trusted spiritual director is very helpful.
The more we come to know Jesus, the more our hearts begin to cry out with the early disciples, “Rabbi, where do you live?” To us, as well, the Lord replies, “Come and see!” At a certain point, if the possibility exists of a call to religious life and to a particular community, it is important to visit that community. Witnessing religious women in their everyday lives is important. It’s important to see that the women Christ has already called, and who have already responded yes, are not all that different from you or your friends. More important, the Holy Spirit is actively present in each community through the unique charism He has given them — if the Lord is calling you to a community, that charism will resonate in the depths of your heart.
Religious life lived well should be a sign to all the people of God of the Lord’s Presence among them. It should enrich all hearts with greater confidence in the Risen One, greater hope for the glory that is to come, and greater trust in His abundant mercy. To be the one chosen to “play this perpetual game of trust” with the Lord who is ever trustworthy, it is an awesome thing indeed.
The Sisters of Life welcome vocation inquiries from single, Catholic women who do not have living children and are in good physical and mental health. Generally, the women who enter the community have completed some level of higher education, and are in the age range of 21-35.
For information on our “Come and See” weekends, or for additional information on discerning a call to the Sisters of Life, please fill out the Vocational Inquiry Form.
Sr. Grace Dominic, S.V.
38 Montebello Road
Suffern, NY 10901
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