Few Questions RE: Discernment


#1

Hi everyone!

I’m a sophomore in college, a “revert” to the Catholic faith (grew up Catholic, but the lack of a relationship with Jesus Christ left me more of an agnostic through high school, until college, where I was challenged to a prayer life, asking God for the grace of faith: He, merciful as He is, bestowed it upon me), and thrilled to be discerning a vocation to the religious life.

I have a few random questions, and they feel very “fluffy,” but they’ve been on my mind and I haven’t been able to find anything online to put these thoughts to rest. I’ve been praying fervently, of course.

First, is anyone aware of a religious order for women dedicated to the study of theology, or to teaching theology on a secondary+ level? I absolutely adore intense theology, and one thing that I’m worried about sacrificing is the time to engage in the literature and philosophical/theological evangelization.

Second, how does one go about finding a spiritual director? I’m originally from Minneapolis, currently a student in NYC. I attend daily Mass at our university parish, and know the priests there well enough, though the constant contact with them (at Mass, our Catholic group, other events, etc.) makes me think that spiritual direction would be uncomfortable, considering that it entails revealing one’s soul. Any suggestions? And what does one say? I’m looking for direction? I’m discerning?

Third, is there anyone out there who can put into words what it feels like to be called? I’ve felt a tug, a kind of inward hope that, in the end, my vocation will be religious life, as I love Jesus with all my heart, but I’m not sure if this constitutes a call or if it’s something I’m wishfully attributing.

Fourth, I had a very powerful Confession in early December. It was, as far as Confessions go, normal in terms of content (though superbly healthy for my soul, etc.). What made it powerful was the set of questions the priest asked me at the end, after absolutely zero prompting from me: 1) Have you ever considered religious life? (Yes.) 2) Would you be surprised if this was your vocation? (No.) Then, he said: “I think the Holy Spirit is calling you in that direction.” I’ve been praying for an answer to this question, as I’d really like to know. I don’t know anyone well enough to share something so personal (as very few people know about my discernment), but I’ve just been wondering if this means that I’m 100% meant for religious life, or if this is only the Holy Spirit’s way of telling me to commit to discernment.

Thank you! God bless!


#2

Fourth, I had a very powerful Confession in early December. It was, as far as Confessions go, normal in terms of content (though superbly healthy for my soul, etc.). What made it powerful was the set of questions the priest asked me at the end, after absolutely zero prompting from me: 1) Have you ever considered religious life? (Yes.) 2) Would you be surprised if this was your vocation? (No.) Then, he said: "I think the Holy Spirit is calling you in that direction." I've been praying for an answer to this question, as I'd really like to know. I don't know anyone well enough to share something so personal (as very few people know about my discernment), but I've just been wondering if this means that I'm 100% meant for religious life, or if this is only the Holy Spirit's way of telling me to commit to discernment.

I think I would consider speaking to this particular priest about spiritual direction, since he seems to have quite a read on you. You may have been directed to him for that very purpose. Just a thought.
God bless you in your discernment process.


#3

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:267769"]
Hi everyone!

I'm a sophomore in college, a "revert" to the Catholic faith (grew up Catholic, but the lack of a relationship with Jesus Christ left me more of an agnostic through high school, until college, where I was challenged to a prayer life, asking God for the grace of faith: He, merciful as He is, bestowed it upon me), and thrilled to be discerning a vocation to the religious life.

I have a few random questions, and they feel very "fluffy," but they've been on my mind and I haven't been able to find anything online to put these thoughts to rest. I've been praying fervently, of course.

First, is anyone aware of a religious order for women dedicated to the study of theology, or to teaching theology on a secondary+ level? I absolutely adore intense theology, and one thing that I'm worried about sacrificing is the time to engage in the literature and philosophical/theological evangelization. ]Second, how does one go about finding a spiritual director? I'm originally from Minneapolis, currently a student in NYC. I attend daily Mass at our university parish, and know the priests there well enough, though the constant contact with them (at Mass, our Catholic group, other events, etc.) makes me think that spiritual direction would be uncomfortable, considering that it entails revealing one's soul. Any suggestions? And what does one say? I'm looking for direction? I'm discerning?

Third, is there anyone out there who can put into words what it feels like to be called? I've felt a tug, a kind of inward hope that, in the end, my vocation will be religious life, as I love Jesus with all my heart, but I'm not sure if this constitutes a call or if it's something I'm wishfully attributing.

Fourth, I had a very powerful Confession in early December. It was, as far as Confessions go, normal in terms of content (though superbly healthy for my soul, etc.). What made it powerful was the set of questions the priest asked me at the end, after absolutely zero prompting from me: 1) Have you ever considered religious life? (Yes.) 2) Would you be surprised if this was your vocation? (No.) Then, he said: "I think the Holy Spirit is calling you in that direction." I've been praying for an answer to this question, as I'd really like to know. I don't know anyone well enough to share something so personal (as very few people know about my discernment), but I've just been wondering if this means that I'm 100% meant for religious life, or if this is only the Holy Spirit's way of telling me to commit to discernment.

Thank you! God bless!

You might want to consider the Benedictine order, but there are others with a teaching function. Sisters of the Cenacle also provide spiritual direction and the ones I have met seem very well educated. You can google Roman Catholic orders of Nuns and check on the charisms of several and see if any resonate with you. If you have summers off, you may be able to visit or make a retreat with an order you find interesting.

I can't help much with a spiritual director - I have searched for one myself without much success. I do know however that there are lay people trained in this as well as nuns and most priests I would think. How about going back to the priest with whom you had the powerful reconciliation experience and asking him for a recommendation? You could also reach out to your campus priests for a recommendation, and yes, let them know that you are discerning a call to religious life. They will help you I think.

I don't know about spiritual direction being uncomfortable - if you are saying because you know the priests so well in another context, well maybe. ...maybe not. It is worthwhile checking out. They can direct you to someone else,

Continue in your prayer life, but it may be important at this point to include someone who can offer you perspective and feedback on your journey.

God Bless you little one. I will keep you in my prayers.

[/quote]


#4

Please excuse the color thing. I am still learning to use the site and come up with some “interesting” goofs!!!


#5

Hello Safia! Congratulations on your vocation! I too am discerning a call to be a nun.
Your first question: well you have to dig deep inside yourself and askyoursef what kind of order you think God is calling you to. Cloistered like Carmelites or active like Dominicans. Both are dedicated to the studies and histories of our faith. You should definitly look into the Dominican order. One to point out: the sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist. They are a teaching order.
Your second question: you should really set an appointment up with your priest or your parish vocations director. They can give you some good advice. I spoke with the Deacon of my parish and he was very kind and understanding.
Your third question: well for me the call was kind of hard to hear at first but I know I heard something. I prayed and prayed to our Lord for guidance and reassurance and eventually I opened up fully to our Lord and realized my true vocation; my true calling. I suggest spending a fair amount of time in front of the blessed sacrament and ask the Lord to guide you and just be open to all the possibilities and just listen.
Your fourth question: well as I said before you have to be open to our Lord and trust in Him. Let Him know that you are listening; listening for an answer. He won't let you fall.
Hope this helps! And I hope everything goes well from here on out.
God Bless!
Sincerely,
Piparadiso


#6

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:267769"]
Second, how does one go about finding a spiritual director? I'm originally from Minneapolis, currently a student in NYC. I attend daily Mass at our university parish, and know the priests there well enough, though the constant contact with them (at Mass, our Catholic group, other events, etc.) makes me think that spiritual direction would be uncomfortable, considering that it entails revealing one's soul. Any suggestions? And what does one say? I'm looking for direction? I'm discerning?

[/quote]

Well, it depends on where you're currently going...

-]If you're going to a school run by a religious group, such as St. John's, then you would simply talk to any of the priests/nuns/etc on campus, preferably one you trust/-]. (EDIT: I see by your previous posts you go to NYU. Good luck with finding anything religious there. Having gone to state school for a year myself, I feel your pain.) If not, go to your parish priest. Assuming that he was the one administering the sacrament of reconciliation, I'd say that he'd be a good place to start.:thumbsup: You obviously feel that you can trust him enough to answer his vocational questions straight (i.e. not vaguely, such as "maybe")...

As to whether or not it's a 100% sure sign, I don't think that anyone truely experiences something to that effect... I do however think it warrants looking into, but at the same time, keeping that discernment to yourself until you're more sure. After all, it would be rather obtuse to tell everybody "I'm thinking of becoming a nun" (or something to that effect), and then finding that the religious life is not your vocation.:o

I'm not entirely sure about any female religious devoted to soley teaching theology (and honestly, I don't think you're going to have much luck finding such a group, but I've been wrong before), however I do know of many orders with teaching apostolates (the Sisters of Notre Dame coming to mind).


#7

I don't know much it myself since it's not my vocation but considering that you live in NYC, that city seems to have quite an active Catholic population. I suggest that you contact your local diocese and look at religious orders in that city and see what you can find. When I visited New York city a few years ago, my group and I visited the Sisters of Life. They were really special women. Maybe one of the sisters would be willing to give you some spiritual direction and guidance on this matter.

Quebec which is close to you also has quite a few religious orders. There are all kinds up here and they do speak English. It might be worth your while, visiting and exploring a few. If you like teaching, the Salesians of Don Bosco are also pretty cool. I know a few a few and they are very special women. They are located in the East end of Montreal, Quebec. We also have the Sisters of Notre Dame as well as the Sisters of Saint Anne. All three have a legacy of teaching.

Bearing your soul isn't easy but when you are discerning, it is important to bear a bit. It helps to have someone who you trust because the more open you are with yourself,and that person the more aware you will become of God's calling for your life. Montreal has some great resources for people in that position. I suggest that you pray and ask God to send you the right person. If you are really worried, you could always explore that calling in the Montreal area, in a place that doesn't know you. The people inside the Montreal diocese are really nice and easy to talk to. You could always tell your friends that you are coming up to visit the city. While you are here, you can always visit the various orders.

If you decide to do that, be sure to set up your appointments a few months ahead of time because the diocese tends to shut down during the summer months. There is also going to be a Youth Summit May 18-21, 2012 in Montreal if this idea has some merit.

If you want more information about Quebec, please send me a line and I'll contact you with a few people.


#8

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:267769"]
First, is anyone aware of a religious order for women dedicated to the study of theology, or to teaching theology on a secondary+ level?

[/quote]

The Dominican family focuses substantially upon learning and academic excellence, and although Dominican nuns proper are usually enclosed, there are many other female religious in the family that are apostolic in focus and go out to work. Information about the Dominican way of life is easily available on the net, and you could contact any local communities that might exist to learn more. There are also many other religious institutes that have a focus on teaching.

However, one should never really approach a religious community because of the work alone, but rather because of an attraction to the charism that they promote, which is the underlying spiritual assumptions and practices that are in turn expressed in particular forms of work - it's the difference between looking at religious life as a career, or as a means of strengthening your relationship with God by following a particular tradition. That may seem counter-intuitive, but entry into religious life obviously affects all aspects of the individual, not merely work, so it does require a broader focus. That's why I'm suggesting you look at charisms before you select a community solely because of the work they do.

Prayers and best wishes in your discernment.


#9

Thank you, everyone. At the very least, I'm now at peace, and will turn as best I can to the search for direction.

God bless!


#10

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