How does a lady choose between active and contemplative religious orders


#1

If I don’t decide to be a consecrated lay woman of some sort, I will become a woman religious. But how do I choose between active and contemplative religious orders? I love serving the poor, but when I’m volunteering at a local ministry I get annoyed when people keep talking to me and so I can’t pray and work at the same time. I don’t show this annoyance of course, they have no idea I’m praying and most people chat away. I stay cheerful. But I still love to serve those in need. So how do I choose between active and contemplative life? How do I know where God wants me? What sort of signs do I look for? I love service but I love to pray.

And then there’s some voice in my head saying that contemplative life is lame and that we’re not good Christians if we don’t do practical service for the needy. But that may just be my protestant roots showing through.


#2

[quote="LilyPearls, post:1, topic:312836"]
If I don't decide to be a consecrated lay woman of some sort, I will become a woman religious. But how do I choose between active and contemplative religious orders? I love serving the poor, but when I'm volunteering at a local ministry I get annoyed when people keep talking to me and so I can't pray and work at the same time. I don't show this annoyance of course, they have no idea I'm praying and most people chat away. I stay cheerful. But I still love to serve those in need. So how do I choose between active and contemplative life? How do I know where God wants me? What sort of signs do I look for? I love service but I love to pray.

And then there's some voice in my head saying that contemplative life is lame and that we're not good Christians if we don't do practical service for the needy. But that may just be my protestant roots showing through.

[/quote]

Perhaps consider a community with some balance between an active apostolate and the contemplative life? The first thing, in my humble and not so learned opinion, is whether you are attracted to a particular spirituality within the Catholic Tradition. If so, you can take a look at communities who practice that spirituality to see if there is a charism of living which is attractive to you.

I understand where you are coming from in terms of wondering if the contemplative life is less than practical, but consider whether you are doing the world more good through your works, your prayer, or some mix of both.

If there is a vocations director in your diocese, you might consider speaking to them. You also might look into groups such as Imagine Sisters, as they might be able to help you. imaginesisters.org/

This thread has some positive stories on women religious which may be of interest to you.
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=737023

Peace,


#3

[quote="jwinch2, post:2, topic:312836"]
Perhaps consider a community with some balance between an active apostolate and the contemplative life? The first thing, in my humble and not so learned opinion, is whether you are attracted to a particular spirituality within the Catholic Tradition. If so, you can take a look at communities who practice that spirituality to see if there is a charism of living which is attractive to you.

Peace,

[/quote]

I've always been attracted to the carmelites. Even before I converted. I also love lectio divina, but obviously one I don't have to be a Benedictine to do lectio devina. I have not found an active order that I feel particularly drawn to, but yeah I just love the carmelites and st Teresa of avila, st john of the cross and st therese of liseux.


#4

[quote="LilyPearls, post:3, topic:312836"]
I've always been attracted to the carmelites. Even before I converted. I also love lectio divina, but obviously one I don't have to be a Benedictine to do lectio devina. I have not found an active order that I feel particularly drawn to, but yeah I just love the carmelites and st Teresa of avila, st john of the cross and st therese of liseux.

[/quote]

Unfortunately, I am not aware of whether or not any Carmelites have an active apostolate or not, or of any communities which have a balance between active and contemplative living in the Carmelite tradition. I am moderately conversant in the structure and charism of the Dominicans and the Benedictines, but I don't know much at all about how the Carmelites function. Thankfully, there are some Secular Carmelites here on CAF, perhaps one of them will join in the discussion and clarify some things.


#5

I would suggest you talk to the vocation directors of a few different congregations. They will no doubt invite you to some vocation weekends where you can experience the life for yourself.


#6

The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus combine contemplative life and an active apostolate:

carmelitedcj.org/

youtube.com/watch?v=3qUeBzsbafY


#7

There will usually not be supernatural signs. God often reveals vocations to people in a natural way (via friends, your community).

It is hard for us to answer without knowing more about your secular life or your background.

If being active and constantly interrupted by seculars is not unbearable, you might try an active order, and if you are unhappy, transfer to a more contemplative order.

Find a vocations director, however. The forums are not usually the best place to seek vocational advice. You'll best find your answers from a priest, from friends, family, and people who know you.


#8

[quote="detoutcoeur, post:6, topic:312836"]
The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus combine both contemplative life and an active apostolate;

carmelitedcj.org/

youtube.com/watch?v=3qUeBzsbafY

[/quote]

I'm in Canada


#9

So are they…

carmelitedcj.org/convents_n_amer.asp


#10

Hi LilyPearls,

After reading your post and the responses given I wanted to comment on the relationship between discerning religious life and your anecdote of annoyance with being bothered in prayer during service. I do not know you at all other than this post so please know this is just a suggestion. I would not consider your annoyance at being interrupted in prayer as an indicator of a vocation to a more contemplative vocation. I don't think it is an indicator either way of whether God is calling you to contemplative or active life.

The reason I say this is because, in whichever life God is calling you to, you WILL be interrupted in prayer. If you discern that active life is where God is calling you, you will find annoyance and distraction in the people you are serving, the people with whom you are serving, traffic, alarms and sirens...etc. If you discern that contemplative life is where God is calling you, you will find annoyance and distraction in the way the sister behind you sneezes or blows her nose, the sound of rosary beads hitting the pew next to you, the sound or sight of a sister turning up or down the heat or air conditioning...etc.

I am not saying this to be judgmental of your annoyance with interruptions in prayer but because I think its a huge tool to your growth in holiness in whichever life God is calling you to (Personally, I get the most annoyed in Chapel when I hear a particular sister clear her throat. I love her but it drives me crazy and I have to constantly offer that to God, ask Him for grace, and rededicate myself to prayer.) Overcoming/living with virtue in these types of situations are how God turns us into saints. I don't know if you have a spiritual director but that would be a great beginning as well as getting to know a variety of sisters in different communities.

God does use our natural inclinations to show us where He wants us BUT He just as readily uses the things we don't like to help us grow in holiness.

God bless you on your journey!
SM


#11

Ah ha!!! I see that now! Thank you so much!!!


#12

[quote="SrMarie, post:10, topic:312836"]
Hi LilyPearls,

After reading your post and the responses given I wanted to comment on the relationship between discerning religious life and your anecdote of annoyance with being bothered in prayer during service.

. . .

God does use our natural inclinations to show us where He wants us BUT He just as readily uses the things we don't like to help us grow in holiness.

God bless you on your journey!
SM

[/quote]

After reading your post I feel a little foolish; you are absolutely right! Thank you for your words of wisdom. But what a joy it would be to be given the gift to be in that chapel everyday, annoyed by the sister clearing her throat!


#13

[quote="LilyPearls, post:12, topic:312836"]
After reading your post I feel a little foolish; you are absolutely right! Thank you for your words of wisdom. But what a joy it would be to be given the gift to be in that chapel everyday, annoyed by the sister clearing her throat!

[/quote]

There is nothing to feel foolish about! Trust me, wherever God has planned for you to live out your vocation, you will be given the joy of annoyance in one way or another!:)

Prayers for your discernment!
SM


#14

[quote="LilyPearls, post:11, topic:312836"]
Ah ha!!! I see that now! Thank you so much!!!!

[/quote]

:) Praying for you as you discern...


#15

This is just a thought and definitely not an answer to your questions so please take it for what it is, but why are you annoyed? God will always allow distractions so that we can merit from them. I would rather have people disturbing me then devils.

I will say a prayer for you sister!

Nils


#16

[quote="LilyPearls, post:8, topic:312836"]
I'm in Canada

[/quote]

Lily, keep in mind that a vocation can sometimes be realized outside of one's home country. I know of one Discalced Carmelite nun, born and raised in the U.S., who found her vocation in Wales. I know of a an American young man who is now a Carthusian in Spain. The Holy Spirit may prompt us to leave home to find our home. :)


#17

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