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kateritekakwitha

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

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chrysostom
6 hours ago, kateritekakwitha said:

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.

*disclaimer, I have zero experience!*

Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this, but some communities aren't necessarily looking for an SD's reference but rather something like a parish priest's reference or someone similar. But I don't really know. The communities you are interested in are probably the best contacts to answer questions like that. I'm sure they get lots of inquiries, and not everyone is in a "perfect" place for timing, and life happens. Better to ask them up front what kind of references they are looking for than to assume they want something else and find out differently a year later.

"real fast"

Hey, sometimes life happens faster or slower than we think it will, or it goes down a completely different path than we thought it would. There's a time to not shrink back from doing what is necessary, but there's also a time to live with circumstances outside our control. If I get any more specific I'm probably going to give inaccurate advice, but those are my two cents!

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Egeria
10 hours ago, kateritekakwitha said:

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.

While I have some reservations about widely-held notions of SD on this forum, and while my own experience is a couple of decades old, my understanding is that the purpose of having a spiritual director is to assist you on your own journey to God (wherever that takes you) rather than to provide a reference to any community you are applying for. In fact, I suspect that some spiritual directors would hesitate to provide such a reference because their primary loyalty is to you and your journey rather than to any community, and also because it is not appropriate to share the material dealt with in SD with a third party. The situation with a parish priest or an employer is entirely different. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever considered asking my SD for a reference, although he later visited and got to know the community after I had entered.

Edited by Egeria
Typo.

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Sister Leticia

Yes, engage with a SD because you want someone to help you with your journey with God; with growth, prayer, reflection, discernment... with knowing yourself better and what God may be asking of you, and with being truly open to whatever God's plans may be. 

Don't engage with a SD simply in order to obtain a reference or tick a box you think a community might require you to tick.  

And as Egeria says, there are strict protocols around confidentiality in a spiritual direction relationship which would be observed by trained and experienced directors. 

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JHFamily

Kateri, do you go to confession regularly and go to the same confessor?  If so, this is called a "regular confessor" and many communities want to see that an aspirant has a spiritual director or regular confessor.  So, this could, indeed, be your parish priest, and you may already have such a relationship as part of your regular spiritual life.

Otherwise, it's okay to start contacting orders before finding a spiritual director.  An example from a religious order's website:

"Obtaining a spiritual director: 
We can never direct ourselves. It is important to find a good priest who will help you discern the desires of your heart and what vocation will fulfill those desires. Sometimes young men cannot find a priest to be their spiritual director for various reasons. While this is not recommended, God can still lead you in prayer if you are sincere and hoping for a director as soon as God gives you one. In the end though, vocations are confirmed through the discernment of a spiritual father."

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kateritekakwitha

Another question - should everyone try out each type of vocation before deciding?? because if you don't try you may not know if you like

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Pax17

If there's one thing I've learned on VS, it's not a matter of "liking" a vocation, it's about being "called" to a vocation, and then trying to live it.

 

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kateritekakwitha
12 hours ago, kateritekakwitha said:

Another question - should everyone try out each type of vocation before deciding?? because if you don't try you may not know if you like

Does anyone know?

 

 

12 hours ago, Pax17 said:

If there's one thing I've learned on VS, it's not a matter of "liking" a vocation, it's about being "called" to a vocation, and then trying to live it.

 

Yes but no one can know the will of God barring extraordinary locutions and such. Even solemnly professed nuns can still leave. So we cannot know what God's call actually is, only what we think it is.

So I am talking about the experience of discerning that call.

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JHFamily

Beatitude, what a lovely answer to the question!  Your experience has been what I have experienced as well, for the most part.  The only exception was a Carmel who won't allow visits until a spiritual director or regular confessor confirms that it seems you have a call to Carmel.  However, this Carmel is quite exceptional in that it cannot take all the young women who apply;  they choose only the very best cream of the crop.  I think this helps them from being completely inundated with discerners. 

I actually feel sorry for many discerners;  they discern forever and become so anxious about their vocations.  We have had seven men and women enter the seminary or religious life over the last five years from our community.  Some of them wrung their hands and agonized for a long time.  We old fogies (moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas) kind of laugh among ourselves because we can easily see which ones have vocations and many times can guess where they'll end up.

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CatherineM

I’ve been told many times that the best spouses are those who have discerned a religious vocation. It has something to do with choice rather than falling into. 

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kateritekakwitha
7 hours ago, beatitude said:

Vocations aren't like clothes. You don't need to try every single one on to see which is the perfect fit. :) By that logic you'd have to date every single person and do a live-in with every single community, just to be sure that you're really in the right place.

I think lots of people get anxious that they're going to make the 'wrong' choice and be really unhappy. God doesn't work like that. He will bring joy out of every good choice we make. So providing your decision is pure ("I'm not sure I'm meant to be a nun, but I see You in so much of what they do, so I'll give it a shot, Lord!" as opposed to, "People in my parish will be impressed if I'm a nun") it will be blessed. Maybe you'll make final vows in that community, and maybe you'll realise the life is not for you and you will leave - but either way, God will bring good out of your efforts. The same with marriage. "I love So-and-so and being around him makes me want to be the best person I can be," is likely to lead to a good choice. "I'm frightened of being alone, so I'd better get married," is not.

I met a community about a decade ago now, and at first we thought I wouldn't be able to live their life because of various neurological disabilities I have. But we became friends and I visited them often, just as a friend. Recently they said that if I wanted to try their life, I would be very welcome, and they would do everything they could to make it possible for me. We will discover together if it's right. I still have doubts about my aptitude, but I won't know unless I try. It really has been that simple.

As for spiritual direction, when I was discerning religious life, I visited a handful of communities (besides the one above, whose ministry I felt was beyond me). The prioresses of the two monasteries I visited spoke to me in depth for a few hours and they had a lot of questions, but neither of them asked if I was receiving spiritual direction. They wanted to know about how long I'd been a Catholic, moments in my life that led me towards religious life, my current job and living situation - basically lots of things that gave them a picture of my prayer life, my capacity to live with others, and so on. I know that if I asked for entrance I would have had to provide a character reference, but it wouldn't have had to come from a spiritual director. Receiving spiritual direction can be an extremely valuable thing, but it isn't the be-all and end-all. I have known people who use their lack of spiritual director almost as an excuse: they can spend hours browsing community websites, they talk about discernment online, they go on retreats...but they never take steps towards actually entering, because they're waiting to find a spiritual director. And waiting. And waiting. In some cases this seems to be down to a fear of making the 'wrong' choice: the person wants someone to tell them explicitly that yes, they're doing the right thing. In other cases it seems to be fascination with religious life combined by fear of it, and unless they're willing to face up to the fear, it's doubtful that a spiritual director could help much, as another impediment would just rise up to the supplant the absence of SD. "Oh, my SD is a diocesan priest, but I don't think he's the right fit for me, I need a religious." Or, "I'm just so confused. I only get to see my SD for an hour a month, and it isn't enough. I need more regular direction!" and so on. SD can be very enriching, but as the name 'direction' implies, it's only useful if you enter it with the idea of getting somewhere, as opposed to a way of stalling.

Thanks very much for such a detailed answer beatitude - I didn't mean visit all communities, I meant - should everyone try a contemplative community, a apostolic community, a secular institute, a dating of boys, to see which is the best one. What do you think?

Your post makes me feel a lot better about discerning without an SD

Edited as this is a persistent troll making malicious and defamatory remarks about religious. - beatitude.

 
5 hours ago, CatherineM said:

I’ve been told many times that the best spouses are those who have discerned a religious vocation. It has something to do with choice rather than falling into. 

Can you explain what you mean? Do you mean, people who are married but were a nun or priest before?

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JHFamily

There are signs of abuse and immorality in convents and monasteries if you look for them.  Moreover, I'm pretty sure that these examples are the exception and not the rule.  Look for charity between the sisters.  That is a great sign of health in the community.

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Antigonos

Have you given any thought to the type of order you might wish to belong to, rather than the age of the community and externals like habit, etc.?  Are you more of a contemplative bent, or do you wish an active apostolate, such as teaching or nursing?  It makes no sense, IMHO, to discern with a contemplative order if you feel a calling to a life of teaching, for example?

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Francis Clare

Oh my, there is quite a bit of generalization going on here, dontcha think?!  Kateri, from your profile you are 23 correct?  Where are you getting your information from?  "I heard  a lot of stories" is NOT helpful to anyone, let alone a discerner or possible discerner.  How do you know the veracity of the information?  Where are you getting your information from?!  Rumor mills are rampant, especially around the topic of religious life.  It seems everyone has a story, knows someone who has a story, has a friend who has a friend who has "heard" a story, and on and on.  If you don't have first hand knowledge, then IMHO it's irresponsible to repeat it. It is not helpful nor edifying, to say the least. And for heavens sake, don't generalize that all communities are the same.

From your posts I think you either are very confused about RL (due to the terminology used, stories told, etc), or r perhaps you are "playing games" with us here.  That wouldn't be the first time it's happened.  I'm not accusing you of anything, just bringing up a possibility due to the a few of the salacious comments contained in some of your posts.

I suggest you do some research, spend time in prayer and adoration and listen to what God is saying to your heart, and then come to the Phorum with questions.

To be honest, your last long post really offended me (and I'm sure those in RL who post on this Phorum as well) and my sensibilities.  I will pray for you.

 

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beatitude
1 hour ago, Francis Clare said:

From your posts I think you either are very confused about RL (due to the terminology used, stories told, etc), or r perhaps you are "playing games" with us here.  That wouldn't be the first time it's happened.  I'm not accusing you of anything, just bringing up a possibility due to the a few of the salacious comments contained in some of your posts.

Got it in one. Those comments rang alarm bells for me too, so I had a look at this poster's history.

He/she is the same person who used to post as oremus (the character who claimed to be discerning a vocation to consecrated virginity) and oratefrates (the character who claimed to be discerning priesthood).

Kateri: I am going to ban your account. Any future accounts you make will be banned outright. If you really are a Catholic, I am going to suggest that you take the opportunity to ask God to help you let go of this malicious behaviour. Trying to stir up trouble and gossip about others is malicious, and it's sinful. If you are not Catholic, some soul-searching still wouldn't go amiss. Try and find a kinder way to spend your time, instead of wasting ours.

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