September is a time of new beginnings. The fall brings much anticipation with the start of the new school year, sports seasons, new jobs, and is even a time when some begin their journey in religious life. This week the Friars of the Renewal have welcomed five new postulants to New York to begin their formation and process of discerning with our community. With all the new beginnings there is a real sense of excitement, joy, and of course maybe even a little nervousness! We all face new beginnings. Whether it is a significant life change or just something small, we have to start somewhere and maybe for those who are discerning it would be helpful to learn a little about what it means to “begin discerning.” The following are three areas which one can begin to consider when discerning a religious vocation.
Do not be afraid!
Our vocations are a gift given by a God who loves us and has called us. Our vocation is not to be found using Google to look up the nearest community that fits all of my personality requirements or desires. Our vocations are a part of us, found deep within our hearts, and understood in an intimate relationship with the One who created us. Time in prayer with the Lord listening in the quiet of our hearts, coming to know more about the One who has called and learning more about ourselves whom He is calling. Beginning the process of discernment is not necessarily about seeking a particular community or way of life but about seeking the One is who is calling, Jesus, and it is Him who will give us all we need to respond faithfully.
Come on, answer my call!
The fulfillment of our vocation doesn’t happen overnight. Those who are living the religious life can tell you that it is a test of daily fidelity to God working and moving in our lives is what is important. So much conversion needs to happen before we can be in a place to say yes to what the Lord is preparing. How easy it would be if our Lord just proposed and we were off to begin! Instead it is important to recognize that there is much purifying that needs to happen with the Lord, in our relationships with others, and within our own selves before we are ready and prepared to take the next step. We must trust in the beautiful process that is preparing us for the next step and embrace the sometimes painful but truly necessary work the Lord is waiting to do in our lives.
Let me mold and shape you.
Discernment takes time. It also takes patience and trust over the course of many months and even years as the Lord is preparing and sowing the seed of a call in our hearts. Don’t be in a rush! Look at discerning as a journey of becoming your true self rather then a stress filled process of “doing” something for the Lord as soon as possible. We all want to reach the fulfillment of our call and vocation but that plan we have for the future might not go as we hope it would. To persevere and trust that the Lord knows what He is doing is a key to discerning, especially during times that might seems dark, or the future might seem unclear. There is not doubt the Lord knows you and wants you to know who He is calling you to be. Persevere to the end and you will be fulfilled!
I’m supposed to be in the convent already!
If the journey of discerning your vocation is new for you, commitment to prayer, openness to conversion and trusting perseverance are all tools that might help in this new beginning. In this time of new beginnings, let us rejoice in the Lord and be grateful for all the things He wants to do in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
God bless you,
Br. Angelus Immaculata Montgomery, CFR
St. Joseph Friary | New York, NY