Do you feel that you may be called to a life of loving service for others, dedicated solely to the Lord?
There are many things to consider when thinking about becoming a Sister. The first thing is to look inward and ask yourself some important questions:
– Do you feel a nudging to give more of yourself for others?
– Does your heart long to alleviate suffering?
– Do you want to share your talents to help the poor and all God’s people?
– Do you find that a career isn’t enough of a motive for your life? Do you want more?
– Does the idea of becoming a Sister keep coming back to you?
– Does your relationship with God sustain you, enliven you and invigorate you in a way that makes you want to share God’s love with others both inside and outside the community?
– Do you find yourself asking God for help?
– Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you are on the brink of a major life decision?
Are you still unsure about your role and your future? Take this Self Quiz.
The next step is to e-mail or talk with a Sister. A Sister can help you talk through these thoughts and your questions and concerns about being called to a religious life. Sister Dorothy Ann Dirkx is our Vocations Director and she would be happy to chat with you. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 920-230-6157.
~~~Read Reflections on What Drew Women to God Here~~~
What Attracts You to Religious Life?
We have collected some thoughts and reflections on what attracts women to consecrated life. Most were collected through our personal interaction with inquirers; some of the below responses were collected from surveys we received from VISION magazine (vocationnetwork.org). Enjoy their reflections here:
SSM Postulant Roxanne: What influenced her desire to seek religious life were “the many documentaries on the poor and suffering of the world, especially in Africa among children.” She “has also been inspired by the works of the Saints, especially Mother Teresa of Calcutta.” She wants to become a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother because that “could allow me the opportunity to care/help for the poor and vulnerable and to make a difference in the lives of many.”
SSM Postulant Rachel: What attracts Rachel to religious life is “St. Francis of Assisi: his joy, especially in relationship with creation; his easy-going attitude, his playfulness, his giving of himself totally to God.” What attracts her to the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, with whom she has associated for the past 13 years, is “their way of life, their ministries, and I, too, want to be a part of that. Furthermore, in my heart, I believe that I am Franciscan and so I want to serve while following in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare.”
SSM Postulant Jennifer: Jennifer is attracted to religious life because “I feel called to give myself in the service of others and to courageously live this in a faith community that nurtures and enables me to be faithful to that vocation.” She wants to become a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother because “I believe I am called to a Franciscan spirituality. The SSM sisters,” whom she has known for 20 years, “have taught me a great deal about the sacredness of the ordinary life and the joy of a truly integrated spirituality. I feel I can serve the poor and develop my desire to write about the faith life as an SSM sister.”
“I am attracted to religious life because I have a servant’s heart and want to spend all my time in prayer, serving God, and serving others.”
“Simplicity, prayer life, service to humanity, the silence of the convent.”
“I feel a stronger desire daily to be close to God in a more intimate way, and to help people through prayer and works. I think I would enjoy living in a community, I like company but also quiet time. Ultimately, I feel a call from God.”
“I want to be loved completely and perfectly and I know I can find that only in God. I want to learn to love perfectly and completely and I know I cannot do that without God’s help. I feel called to make radical choices to love and be loved that way and I think religious life might be the answer to that desire. I also have this fear that I am weak to the powers of this world – fame, money, status, security and I want to strip away those things that provide false comfort, false joy. I want true joy, true and eternal comfort. I think I might be able to find that better spending every day focused intently on loving Jesus Christ. Also, I am honestly just so curious about the beauty of religious life- it’s idea that’s crazy to me, but just won’t go away so I think it deserves serious thought and consideration.”
“I am attracted to religious life because it is ordered by prayer, attempted…community, and focused on imitating Christ’s example of poverty, chastity and obedience. These 3 things make absolutely no sense to the world…They are simultaneously fascinating and repulsive to outsiders because they are so strange! And because they are a wellspring of love.”
“The idea of giving my whole self to God and having everyday built around my faith is beautiful. I feel sometimes as if…religious life might be the only way to satisfy my thirst for Christ. Also, I love the idea of living with others who understand the depth of my faith and seek to live it out daily. I wish to additionally serve others and work as Christ’s hands.”
“Serving God and his people with the fellowship of others.”
From an aspiring doctor: “First of all, I do not think the married life would suit the vocation I had in mind. Being a doctor and a mother is not what I would consider the best for my children or husband. As I considered this, the religious and single life became more and more attractive. I have always admired the sisters that I see as well as priests and religious. They always felt like living saints to me. I would love to be that inspiration to someone else.”
“…I desire an intense life of prayer, a life of service, a divesting of myself and a giving to others and to God…as completely as I am humanly able to do.”
“Seeing what Mother Teresa accomplished.”
“I possess a strong desire to live a simple life of serving others. I do not mind periods of solitude and am quite happy to spend the day in quiet contemplation. I am happiest when caring for others and am not content living a life that is primarily self-serving. I do not have a spouse or significant other and no children, yet I never feel alone and consider all around me to be family. I believe everything happens for a reason, although that reason is not always meant to be known.”
“I want God’s will to inform and define my will…I want to share God’s love with people. I think it would be difficult to be a religious if I were merely seeking God’s love for myself. That’s not how it works.”
A 22-year-old says: “There is a joy and passion towards loving Christ and serving others in different capacities. I love seeing the solidarity alongside community. It’s wonderful.”
A 20-year-old says: “…two things: the joy that these Sisters I met absolutely completely and totally radiate and the vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience. I was just really drawn to the spirit of these Sisters I met. As for the vows: I like the idea of giving up the worries of the world (the security of my worldly possessions, are my clothes in style, etc.) in taking on the vow of “poverty.” In taking on such a vow of “poverty” it just sounds like a wonderful challenge to disconnect from materialism to embrace more of what truly matters in life: standing in solidarity with the least of our brothers and sisters and in doing so stretching and growing in our capacity to love. “Chastity,” on the other hand, is something I have been especially growing in my understanding of recently. The fact that we are all called to chastity in all vocations is something I don’t think I knew about growing up. But the more I learn, the more beauty I find….[T]he thought of becoming a Sister is one of those things that, even when I’m thinking about others things, keeps popping up in the back of my mind. If the idea didn’t bring to mind so many happy thoughts, I would find it annoying….Back to the vows: I also think “obedience” helps us grow in humility and challenges us to rely on Him. It might be difficult at times, but like I said, it’s but a challenge to stretch ourselves to become our best.”
“Actually I have felt drawn to religious life for about 4 years. But it was just this past month that I knew for sure that He wants me to be His bride!”
“At many times through my life I thought about it, but really sort of ignored it because I wasn’t really fully aware of what God was trying to show me at the time. At one point last year I was in a class to learn about the new Mass parts when someone was sharing a story of something, when all of a sudden I heard and felt strongly in my heart, “You are going to be a sister” and all I wanted to do was cry. I had never felt such a rush of emotions before; it was beautiful and unexpected and scary all at once.”
“All the time. But I also feel my education will help me help others in the best ways. I graduate in 2014. I volunteer at the hospital, and through my church I volunteer at the food kitchen. I tutor children in reading.”
“The deep peace and joy that I experience whenever I serve in the church and community in the parish where I belong.”
“I feel drawn towards a commitment to Christ, to put it simply, albeit maybe oddly, my heart isn’t at peace without His presence. I love the Lord, I love people…”
“Because I have never in my life experienced real pure love and peace within myself and because I have always had this need in my heart to do more work for those who need the Lord like I did before and I want them to experience his love just like I do now.”
“I know it is a good life but also a hard life. I feel there is more to life than getting married and raising a family. I want to serve God fully and let people see my love for Him.”
“The ability to serve others, love, and take the vows. The union/being close to God.”
A teen: “You get to spend lots of time with Jesus in prayer. Since sisters are married to Christ, I think I would have a more intimate relationship because I would be married to God. I really like the completeness and total self-gift to God. The saints say that religious life is the surest way to heaven.”
A 21-year-old: “God’s love is the most powerful, attractive force in the whole world. I’m so drawn to the mystery of the Lord and the holiness of His ways, I want nothing more than to know Him and to make Him known to others. For there is nothing greater than that blessed assurance we gain from a life in Christ. I want to be a humble servant of the Lord and a help to His children on Earth.”
A 24-year-old: “I am attracted to the discipline of prayer and life style. I like the idea of fidelity lived out in celibacy for God. I like the idea of abandoning the desires of the world and abandoning the pressures of what our society inflicts upon us.”
A 25-year old: “Whenever I see a sister, my heart is eager. I’m interested in a sister’s praying, serving and devoted life. Being a sister is my deep dream and belonging to God is my thirst.”
A 29-year-old: “The closeness to God and allowing him to be my number one priority. To focus solely on him and his purpose in my life. To live within a community where we help point each other to become closer to and more like God desires us to be each day. To be in ministry that will lead others to a personal relationship with God through religious education, personal example, and providing hope.”
A 38-year old: “To serve and do work for Our Lord.”
A 45-year old: “Because of God…spirtuality has been important to me. I feel like I’ve wasted all the years before now when I was not invested in the church. I’ve missed my true calling but mostly because of a lack of support or information on where to go. I love religion.”
A 55-year-old: “I am most content when in prayer or doing religious reading, or sharing in a group Bible Study, talking about the goodness of God, exploring the mysteries of the faith, immersed in His presence before the Holy Eucharist, singing/chanting/proclaiming his goodness. Over the past two years I have felt work and the pull of career and the usual concerns of daily life fading more and more into the background, as my only joy and consolation comes from the Lord. All other attachments are falling away. My desire and focus is on serving Him. It has become all consuming, burning desire within, crowding out the din of the world around me….”
A 53-year-old: “I trust the Catholic Church. I believe it is the only Church given to us by God through St. Peter. I like the fact that we are one, that we pray for the forgiveness of sins and pray for our dear Holy Mother and all the Saints. But the greatest lesson taught by the Church is to act like Christ to the best of your ability and when you fall short, confess and pray for God’s Grace. The Catholic Church has too many virtues to put down in this small space. I love everything about the Church.”
“I feel that God is calling me to religious life to serve Him more fully than I am able to do in secular life. I am attracted to the religious life, in living in a community that comes together in prayer many times a day. In living in community, I would be living with like-minded women, all who want to serve God in wanting His will to be done.”
A 57-year-old: “It’s rewarding—my idea of enjoyable. I can help someone and feel like I accomplished something (even if it’s making them feel better before they die). I can keep busy. I don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of the job. I can pray without criticism….”
A 64-year-old: “I have always been attracted to the religious life, but felt that what I was doing for God was enough. I kept ignoring my calling, and now I can not ignore the Lord’s voice any longer. I am so sorry that I am saying yes to God at this later time of my life. I do hope that what people are saying that the 60’s are the new 40’s so God will allow me to serve Him for the rest of my life.”
~~~Still Uncertain About Your Call?~~~
A letter from Sister Dorothy Ann to women discerning their call…
Being uncertain about your vocation, not sure whether you are called to religious or married life or the single life, is normal. Knowing which direction to take cannot be forced. What God wants of us is revealed in the nitty gritty of the choices we make. So, let’s say that you continue dating and as a result of those experiences, it becomes clear to you that you are or are not called to marriage; if you conclude that you are not called to marriage, you might then feel freer to focus most of your attention on seriously looking at the other vocations in life.
Living in the tension of not knowing is important. I suggest that, in prayer, you share your tension, all the feelings and thoughts that are going on within you, with the Lord as you consider all vocations. You could do that by journaling, writing the Lord letters in which you express these inner stirrings, the confusion, the questions, etc., you have about marriage, the single life and/or religious life. Eventually a clear picture will emerge in God’s time and place, not ours.
Do not rush the process or force clarity. Live in the mystery. Go about life, living it fully and intentionally, meaningfully and calmly as a student, if you are a student; as a participant in service and/or parish activities, in your area of employment, if employed, knowing that, as Isaiah tells us, “in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” (Is. 30:15). Keep seeking God’s will above all–He will show you what He wants of you as you continue to open yourself up to a variety of experiences and considerations, always seeking His counsel, calling upon Him for clarity, patience, humility and love. Be open to the possibility of intentionally remaining single, if that were God’s will for you. The key is: what does God want of you!
Since the Holy Spirit has whispered to you to consider religious life, it is possible that you are called to consecrate your life to the Lord. That, too, can become obvious as you search out information about religious life, browsing web sites, visiting convents, talking to vocation directors (face-to-face or through e-mail, telephone conversations, Skype), attending discernment sessions and/or “Come and See” events where you meet sisters, become acquainted with their charism and spirituality, listen to their vocation stories and ministry experiences, their living of community life, what makes them happy and joyful in their vocation, etc.–a sort of dating “religious life” over an extended period of time.
Many young women do not enter marriage or religious life until their late twenties or early thirties, so give yourself space to consider the vocation in life to which God is calling you without putting undue pressure on yourself.
I hope this information is helpful to you. As Vocation Director for my religious community, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at 920-230-6157 or by email at email@example.com. Let me know if you would appreciate the opportunity to chat about feeling called to religious life. I look forward to talking with you.
–Sister Dorothy Ann Dirkx, Vocation Director, Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, US/Caribbean Province