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kateritekakwitha

Discerning: How do you know you are in the right vocation?

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kateritekakwitha

So this is building on some other threads.  Some people say "I tried this community but I didn't like X Y Z" or "I want to pick one where there are  X Y Z ". Others will say "I think God is calling me to a X Y Z community"  or "God didn't call me to be a X Y Z" but some people are saying that feeling happy somewhere or desiring certain things in an order you want to try out is not a sign you are called to it. There is your personal preferences and the call of God and some people are saying they are not always the same. So I was wondering what it means?

It seems to me the discernment of vocation is comprised of:

DISERNER
- a desire to live the life
- an ability to live the life
- you have the external characteristics of that life (for example, being a man to be a priest, being a virgin to be a CV, being a woman to join a convent)

THE ORDER / DIOCESE / OTHER
- recognises and confirms you have all the above

Am I missing something ?

And what is your experience of discerning? How did you know a vocation was right or wrong for you?

I didn't include praying because I assume everyone prays, but even after praying we can still be in error of judegemt as to what God is calling us to and we cant know for sure

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Nunsuch

Usually the discernment process is long, extended, and multifaceted. Most communities ask for a spiritual and personal biography, several interviews, recommendations from a spiritual director and/or pastor, medical and psychological examinations, etc. Usually several visits of varying lengths are involved, including live-ins. I would be suspicious of any community that accepted candidates without much rigor in the process! 

Many communities have specific requirements, such as college degrees, a willingness and ability to pursue additional education, etc. For example, the community I know best would not admit anyone today without at least an undergraduate degree, and the assumption is that candidates would complete at least an MA in theology or religious studies before final vows. This, of course, would vary by community. But the days of many communities accepting people based on limited information or screening are mostly long gone.

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Francis Clare

Um..... might I suggest that you go back and read more about discernment.  Just because I might have the desire to live the life, a perceived ability to live the life,  and the proper "exteriors", what about the interior call from God?  What/where/how does God want me to live out my life?  There are SO many more questions that need to be asked here that it would take a very long post to get through even a small amount of them.  Do I have a Spiritual Director I see on a regular basis?  Do I spend tine in Adoration and ask Him what his desire for my life should be?  There are many ore things involved that the 3 you listed  It's not as simplistic as this --- in fact, for most men and women it's a pretty long, drawn out, emotionally charged L O N G period of time.  A bolt of lightening does not hit you and then "you know" RL is right for you.  Have you researched various Orders and their charisms?  Franciscan, Benedictine, Poor Clare, etc. if you're a woman.  Pretty much same for a man excepting the option of Diocesan priesthood.

This is topic which there are many, many threads already in existence.  And many Orders have wonderful sections on their websites that discuss the discernment process and offer suggestions.  Perhaps do some research on your own.

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CatherineM

As a spiritual director, when I’m advising someone who is discerning, I’m looking for a certain level of true maturity as well. 

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JHFamily

Kateri, you have it right.  But peace is what you will find.  Peace.  That is your answer... and discernment does not have to be long.  I know someone going to Carmel right out of high school, and her discernment was very short (on her side ... certainly longer for the community she is entering).   But each discernment story is different and unique.  Yours will look like no one else's.

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Bonkira

Discerning also absolutely requires outside voices--it requires a spiritual director who is the tool of the most high to help us really dig in and separate what is our voice versus the voice of God, what is our desire versus the desire of God, etc. Discerning is it's own formation, and that does not happen on our own. It should be lengthy, intensive, and, at times, uncomfortable--if your spiritual director does not challenge you, perhaps you need to evaluate how well that relationship is serving God and serving you and your vocationx in that order. Discernment shouldnot be short or easy.

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JHFamily

Bonkira, I agree and disagree.  A spiritual director is a great asset.  However, some will have a short discernment, even with a spiritual director.  I personally know of several.  My favorite is the 15 year old who wrote to the Poor Clares about entering.  They told her she would have to wait until 18.  She never wrote another letter until her 18th birthday and entered shortly thereafter.  She has been there for 20+ years.

Of course, Kateri, you have been discerning for 5 years.  Obviously, your discernment has not been short, but it may speed up at any time.

Edited by JHFamily

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Francis Clare

If you would ask most any Formation Director/ess, I would bet you close to  100% would ask if you had been seeing a SD. A SD is considered a "must" as one cannot discover God's will for his/her life in a vacuum.  Perhaps some of the Saints could, but, well, I don't think any of us fit in that category.  When I heard the words "short" discernment"all sorts of red flags went up IMO.   Also, we're dealing in hearsay when it comes to a 15 year old entering at 18 with no other contact with the Order.  That is NOT NORMAL nor is it helpful to point to as an example.

It bothers and frightens me that some people on this Phorum give "advice" that could be potentially harmful or misleading.  If one has questions about a particular Order or their discernment process, perhaps it would be best to write the Order directly.  One size does not fit all :)) I've been a SD for over 20 years, so I don't speak from little or no experience.  There are many, many books written about discernment - some better than others.  Pick up a few and read with any open mind and heart.

And....discernment of what?  Discernment is discovering what is GOD'S will for your life, not where YOU wish to be.  In a religious order?  If so, with what charism/s?  Cloistered, active, contemplative-active?  Marriage?  Single life?  Priesthood?  A CV?  A Hermit?  A married Deacon?  Just what is it and where is it that God wants you to be?  After all, He created you and knows the best for you.  So take all the help you can get!  Adoration, a SD, increased prayer life, etc.  God just doesn't "drop" your vocation in your lap, but He needs your cooperation in  your discovering just what is it.  So take the time to do it right.  Having seen many women over the years who have left RL or were asked to leave for any number of reasons, I would encourage you to take your time, do your "homework", and listen to how/where the Holy Spirit is guiding you.

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JHFamily

Actually, I know this Poor Clare nun personally and have heard her community laugh about it with my own two ears, so it is not hearsay.

I'd suggest reading the book, Religious Vocation:  An Unnecessary Mystery.

Edited by JHFamily

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Nunsuch
14 minutes ago, JHFamily said:

Actually, I know this Poor Clare nun personally and have heard her community laugh about it with my own two ears, so it is not hearsay.

I'd suggest reading the book, Religious Vocation:  An Unnecessary Mystery.

As a woman, I am highly suspicious of and would not rely on a book about vocation that does not include a single female voice! Really? 

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JHFamily

I can't even believe this!  It is a theological work about the theology of vocations.  Does it need a female voice?

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Nunsuch
4 hours ago, JHFamily said:

I can't even believe this!  It is a theological work about the theology of vocations.  Does it need a female voice?

If you are talking about a vocation to women's religious life--YES. And I would bet any amount that you are also someone who believes that women and men have distinct natures and vocations, right? Do you see the inconsistency? Look, you've been in this phorum for about 2 weeks. It would be nice if we had some sense of the authority from which you pronounce....

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Bonkira

Yes, if it speaking on something that pertains to women it needsa woman's voice.

Short discernment is always an option, but it needs outside consultation because, at the end of the day, is the voice and will of the most high not worth it and not worth taking extensive time to get to know it and make sure that the message is clear. 

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CatherineM

As an SD, it does me no good to prepare a person to enter who isn’t called by God to be there. Entering isn’t the victory. Staying because you are following God’s Will and have found the right spot, is the true victory. 

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kateritekakwitha
11 hours ago, CatherineM said:

As an SD, it does me no good to prepare a person to enter who isn’t called by God to be there. Entering isn’t the victory. Staying because you are following God’s Will and have found the right spot, is the true victory. 

Thanks everyone some very helpful thoughts on here.

A lot of people said I need an SD. My SD died recently. She was an elderly sister. So if I get a new SD, the communities I am approaching will they think it is bad if I only had my SD for a short time period? And probably the new one cannot give any references about me because they don't really know me. So what do I do. Should I delay approaching any communities and just get to know my new SD over a year or so? Or can my parish priest do it? And I found it hard to get an SD. So do I just ask around lots and take the first one because I need one real fast in order to start approaching the communities.

On ‎24‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 12:43 AM, Nunsuch said:

Usually the discernment process is long, extended, and multifaceted. Most communities ask for a spiritual and personal biography, several interviews, recommendations from a spiritual director and/or pastor, medical and psychological examinations, etc. Usually several visits of varying lengths are involved, including live-ins. I would be suspicious of any community that accepted candidates without much rigor in the process! 

Many communities have specific requirements, such as college degrees, a willingness and ability to pursue additional education, etc. For example, the community I know best would not admit anyone today without at least an undergraduate degree, and the assumption is that candidates would complete at least an MA in theology or religious studies before final vows. This, of course, would vary by community. But the days of many communities accepting people based on limited information or screening are mostly long gone.

Thanks very much @Nunsuch this is very helpful . The process for consecrated virgins seems a lot different since most just have private vow, and an interview with the bishop and maybe one or two references, and the discernment seems a lot shorter, some weeks or months even. Is this something to worry about because you have to absolutely know it all with your parish priest and spiritual director before.

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