Dicerning a Lay Order Calling

Just as a note, one is called to live the gospel life and call according to one’s state in life. Thus, whether one is called to lay affiliation with the Franciscans or the Dominicans, one must live that charism according to one’s state in life.

So I had to chuckle when I saw your post which said, “I can’t be preaching at my patients all day.” Well, that’s true, but it’s also true that you can’t give up all your stuff and live like a hobo. Giving up all your stuff is textbook “Franciscan” living, just as preaching like the dickens is textbook “Dominican” charism-- but lay affiliates are called to the charisms of preaching and poverty in the Franciscan and Dominican lay orders according to a manner which befits their state in life.

(I would add, of course, that poverty and preaching are characteristics of both orders. I can’t imagine St. Anthony not preaching any more than I can imagine St. Dominic not poor-- and if you read a good history of the early order, you’ll see that the early Dominicans were especially zealous for poverty, because St. Dominic was extremely zealous for it. Likewise, St. Bonaventure’s intellect equaled St. Thomas’s-- but let us not forget the zeal for the poor which the humble lay brother, St. Martin de Porres had… or indeed, for justice for the lowly which Bartolomeo de las Casas had. There’s a lot of overlap-- the orders are brothers to each other.)

Instead, a poster above I think gave some sound advice. The Franciscan charism focuses more on the corporal works of mercy. It tends to help the body. The Dominican charism tends to focus more on the spiritual works of mercy. It focuses more on the soul.

As a doctor, you of course treat patients according to their bodies, and not their souls. This might mean that you’d fit in better with the Franciscans, even though you are a very intelligent and intellectual person. Your ministry is to their bodies.

On the other hand, as a doctor you are in the center of very serious issues in our contemporary society: medical ethics. Medical experts who are good Catholics and also experts in orthodox Catholic ethics are incredibly necessary in our Church today. It is a central battleground. This would tend to be a more Dominican sort of charism. It aims more directly at the soul.

My sympathies, of course, are with the Dominicans. :smiley:

But remember this too: just as the human being is soul and body, so too our relationship with any order must be soul and body. You need to like not only the abstract: the charism in theory, and the spirituality of the founders and saints, but also the concrete, the body if you will: the actual people to whom you will be brothers and sisters, and with whom you must become friends. That’s why I say go and visit both. You might just click with one rather than with other. You need to know them in the flesh before you can decide.


Greetings and Blessings to all. Not sure if this will help at all really… when I felt a call to join an Order as a lay person it came about during a re-awakening of my love for the Church. I converted from Protestant some 36 yrs ago, was on fire and then, like many of us during the stresses of mid-life, I neglected my Faith and God to a large degree. I felt called to return, this came greatly through a new prayer life that included Our Blessed Mother. I felt such a strong sense of Her intercession, such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I had to do something more than just fire-up back in my parish. Through some very odd coincidences… (God doesn’t do anything by chance, does He?) things that just couldn’t be ignored… the Presence was SO strong… I found myself looking into the Charisms of different Orders that accept lay persons. How I came across the Secular Order of Servants of Mary is beyond my explanation. Yet there it was! I’d asked in prayer to serve, to serve Our Lady and here it was. Now, to find out where they were and if they were near me. Several other Orders were within 1-2 hrs. drive but nothing in the Charisms had clicked or stood out for me. I wrote to national headquarters of OSSM in Chicago. A response came to me from a woman who was Prioress of the Community nearest to me. She belongs to my home parish! She lives in my home town! The Community meets only 30 min drive from my home! How did I not know this? Boom! The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, Portland, OR is only 30 min away, I’ve been there many times, like to attend special Masses there… totally didn’t even know that it was Friar Servants of Mary who run the place! I guess I wasn’t ready to know before and when I was called, it all unfolded before me so dramatically I could not ignore it. I said ‘Yes Lord, Yes Mother, Here I am!’ I never looked back, never questioned how would I fit this in my life, where would I find the time or anything. I was just so convinced of the call that I laid it in Mary’s hands and those of Jesus and said, ’ Take me and use me as you wish, whatever it takes.’ I embarked into the Inquiry Period, applied for the Rite of Admission and am now happily in Formation and can’t wait to make my final Promise. Yes, I’m a busy person, I have loads of commitments but somehow time always is made. I learned that Being a Servite is who I am all the time, it’s about Being a Servite in everything I do, not what I do to be a Servite. The right Order, the right Charism, the right time, the right place all just fell together and into my lap. The Servites are one of the oldest Mendicant Orders, along with the other more well known ones, you just never hear of us as much, we are smaller in population, yet ancient and world-wide. I guess what I’m saying is that to join an Order takes as much being called as it does seeking. It’s an invitation, we are free to say yes or no. It can’t be forced or it is not a true vocation. It takes prayer, openess and faith to just ‘Let it be done unto me according to Thy Will’. Pray, Pray, Pray and Be Still… you will know where, when, how and why. Normally I toss so many questions and goop into things that I mess it up… I just let this one happen and trusted and it came about in ways that I have no words to explain. I finally learned to step back and let God in the driver’s seat. He and Our Beautiful Mother didn’t let me down. I Praise and Thank Him daily for the Graces bestowed. Discernment, Grace, Wisdom… none of these can come from us, they are gifts freely given. Pray for His Will alone and let what comes be your answer. That’s the best I can offer. If you have a vocation, it will find you and the right Order will find you. Yes, you make choices and many paths are good ones but be open and let God lead, even though it takes patience and you are eager to get going, His timing and place are always perfect. May you be Blessed on your journey. God knows your heart, He won’t let you down, He has a place for you. With my prayers and best wishes… Yours in the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary,
MaryTeresa, OSSM in Formation

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