How will I know whether God is calling me to vowed religious life?
This is a question that undoubtedly surfaces as one sincerely listens to God in prayer and in the unfolding of one’s unique life story. We ask ourselves “What is my purpose in life? How can I best use my God-given talents? Where will I find fulfillment and happiness?”
There are no simple answers to these questions. In fact, a number of very different responses might seem accurate. Making important and responsible life decisions requires much time, prayer and discernment, not to mention faith and the courage to make challenging decisions and to act on them.
What does God’s call feel like?
- perhaps persistent, ongoing restlessness
- perhaps a need to keep searching
- perhaps a yearning to do more or be more
- perhaps a recurring passing thought: “There has to be more to life than this!”
Though we won’t find easy answers, the following questions and thoughts might be helpful as one seeks to know whether God is calling her to be a Sister. We invite a reader to prayerfully ponder them.
Do I want to be a Sister?
Can I imagine myself living a community life of sharing: both joys and pain, both successes and failures, both who I am and who I want to be, both Jesus’ love for me and my love for Him?
Have I had any real experience of “community” in my life? In my family, parish, college, faith community, mission group, volunteer group, other?
Do I want to live as a witness to God’s love for all people? Do I think I can be happy without having an intimate relationship with just one person?
Can I live simply and share what I have with others?
Do I experience enthusiasm when I picture myself living a vowed religious community life?
Do I have the right motivation?
I deeply love God and want to serve God and others in a very direct way.
I want to live the Gospel life as fully as possible and to carry the love of Jesus to those who are hurting or searching.
I want to grow in union with God through prayer and service to those in need.
I want to share a common vision of faith and spirituality with other women of like values.
If, on the other hand, a person has the following motives, it would be wise to consult with others while discerning:
I see religious life as a place of security where my present and future needs will be met.
I have a difficult time making and keeping friends, and I find myself feeling lonely most of the time. I see religious life as a means of being with others and therefore not lonely.
I’ve been involved in a bad marriage or an unhappy love affair, and I no longer want to have anything to do with men.
I should be a Sister because I think God wants me to be one, and I fear I’ll never be happy if I’m not a Sister.
What would constitute a “goodness of fit” between a religious community and an individual?
She has the ability to relate with a variety of people and to be happy whether alone or in a group.
She finds joy in serving others in any outreach, parish or community involvement.
She is generous and self-giving.
She has the ability to listen to others as well as be challenged by others.
She is willing to let go of a lot of the “stuff” in her life, to leave a life of independence and to move into one of interdependence.
She wants to be a lifelong “learner,” to journey from the known to the unknown.
It is helpful and important for an individual to share her reflections on these and other questions and concerns with a close friend, family member, spiritual director, or someone else who is able to listen and pray with her as she discerns God’s call in her life.
If you are interested in sharing your discernment journey with a member of our vocation team, please contact Sister Stephanie McReynolds via email or phone at email@example.com 719-955-7013. She would be honored to assist you in your journey in whatever ways she can.
To listen to what some Sisters of St. Francis are sharing about their vocation, click here.