I'm lost in my discernment process!


#1

Dear Sir or Ma’am,
This to all the experts out there! I am currently a junior in high school, and I’m 17 years old. I keep hearing God saying he wants me for himself, but the problem is I’m scared and I don’t know where to begin? Can you please give me some advice? I’ve thought about religious life since I was 15 years old, now I’m seriously starting to discern what it is that God wants me to do; however the problem is that I’m in my valley in life so I can’t seem to hear his voice anymore. Also how do I really truthfully know what God wants me to be, or if this really is him asking me to enter the Religious Life?

I feel LOST!!!

I’m SO Confused!!! I’ve had some weird thoughts lately too that don’t help me at all. I keep thinking that I wish I was a boy, so then I could become a Priest, however I can’t because I’m a girl. I think I’m feeling this way partly because I have low self-asteem, I think at times that I’m worthless or not worthy enough to enter religious life, and I think somehow find it really hard to believe at this moment in my life, that women help this world. I keep thinking how could I, a mere small young lady make a stand in the world, if to others or myself I feel like nothing. I wish so badly that I do not think this but I do. I feel like us women can’t achieve nearly as much in Religious Life as men can, or sometimes I feel like us women can’t get nearly as close as a relationship to God as men are able to. I know this is a weird question, but when I heard the scripture reading about where it tells you to take up your cross and follow Him, Can people still have fun, be human, laugh, and live life, or are they completely consumed by the will to do God’s will?
Lastly Please pray for me and my process in discernment, and please pray for my friend who is going through trying to relearn how to walk again. Thanks for your answers ahead of time! (PS. I think it would probably help you to know that I’m a girl!) :slight_smile:
Your Truly,
A Friend in Christ,
Rebekah Arrigo


#2

Keep praying, you don’t have to have to be ordained to serve God. Even for men, I know some brothers who are just as happy in their ministry as the priests in their community.

You can even serve God as a married person. There is so many options in which we can serve God and his people, and we don’t have to be ordained to do so. We need priests, but only certain people are chosen for that ministry.

It is easy to feel like God is calling us to priesthood, because it is a pretty attractive lifestyle. But that is not always the case.

We all come to confusion in discernment, and that confusion is where prayer is helpful. Also speaking to a spiritual director helps.


#3

Dear sister in Christ.

When I read your post, I felt a great connection. I am by no means an expert - actually, I’m only a couple of years older than you. But at the moment I’m going through my own discernment process and have experienced and am experiencing many similar things.

I think it’s okay to be scared. The future can be a scary thing to think about, regardless of where one’s vocation lies. I don’t think we can ever really be sure of where we are meant to be. There’s a lot of talk about being “certain” or “knowing” what our true vocations are, but in truth I don’t think we can ever be certain or ever truly know. There’s no guidebook or answer. When I first began considering my vocation, I really just wanted to know straight away where I was destined. I needed to be certain. And that caused problems for me, because we can never have this certainty. All we can have is patience and tolerance.

So, if we can’t be certain, how do we discern? I only recently began my own discernment, and the following things have helped me most:

  1. Attending Mass, Adoration, Sacraments more regularly to form a closer relationship with Christ and the Church.
  2. Taking some time to pray each day, read Scripture or meditate to deepen contemplation and to guide the heart.
  3. Speaking to trusted people about your thoughts to get support and guidance. Family, friends, a priest, a sister, whoever.
  4. Researching religious orders to get some more guidance and to form a better idea of personal preference. Contact any that interest you.
  5. If things get serious for you in regards to discernment, try and form a regular contact with someone from the order or orders that most attract you.
  6. Probably the most important and necessary - be patient with yourself and with Our Lord.

The priesthood certainly is attractive. I’m also female, and I think serving God and Christ in that way is an amazing thing, but clearly it’s not possible for us :slight_smile: I get what you say about religious women not being able to give as much as religious men. I believe that’s true to an extent, but there are many proactive, inspirational, world-changing nuns and sisters out there, whether they be contemplative, active or both.
Feelings of unworthiness are not uncommon. When I first felt drawn to religious life, I was taken aback. I kept thinking, “Who, me? I’m so unworthy! God can’t possibly be calling me to serve Him like this!” God calls and elevates His lowliest servants. You have the power - as a single, married or religious person - to make a difference in our world. Even Our Blessed Mother spoke about her lowliness, but she accepted her future wholeheartedly even though she didn’t understand it completely.

A relationship with God comes from somewhere deep inside. From the heart. That is what God sees - He does not look at the exterior. My relationship with God is different to that of any other person, and that’s okay. Just work to nourish your personal understanding of and friendship with the Lord. Trust that he will guide and strengthen you.

See, that’s what really gets me. A lot of people talk about doing “God’s will” and worrying that they aren’t doing it. I think all that God wants for us is happiness and goodness. I believe He wants us to bring Christ and His Spirit into the world, through a life of happiness, service and mercy. God can’t make the choices for us. It’s up to us! We need to discern and act responsibly. To work out how best we can fulfil the above, and to work out whether it is what we want. God wants what is good for us. He does not want our unhappiness. If we are not happy, we cannot make others happy.

Accept that your vocation is something that will take time to discern. I felt lost for a while, but talking to people (particularly priests) and praying helped me most. I pray to know my vocation in time, and I ask God to guide me and reveal Himself when He sees fit. I pray for my future spouse, if marriage ends up being the end to which I am called, and I also pray for any possible future as a religious or single woman. But ultimately, I just ask to be open to and hear my personal call when it comes.

I hope I could help you. As I said, your post resonated with me a lot. Wishing you much happiness and strength in this time. You will be in my prayers, as will the friend you mentioned. One of my closest friends recently learnt to walk again also, so that’s another issue close to my heart. May God bless you, sister in Christ. Feel free to contact me at any time if you wish.

P.S. You may find this site interesting. I came across it recently and even though it focuses on discerning the priesthood, there is some quite useful stuff there: franciscanbrothersminor.com/FBM/Discernment_1.html


#4

God works in mysterious ways

Deal with it, f@ggot.


#5

Hi Rebekah,

I’ve been discerning a possible call to the religious life for a number of years now (though, God willing, I’m getting closer to entering!) and in the process I’ve found a handful of books that have helped me to deepen my understanding of the religious vocation. I’ll make a quick list in the hope that some of these resources might be helpful and/or reassuring to you too!

In print:

  • A Right to be Merry by Mother Mary Francis, PCC (Poor Clare Colettine). It’s a lovely, joyful book written by a cloistered contemplative in the 1950s, recently reprinted. If you only have a chance to read one book about the religious life, I’d recommend this one!

  • Religious Vocation: an Unnecessary Mystery by Father Richard Butler, OP (Order of Preachers - the Dominicans). This is heavier reading that the one mentioned above, but very useful in its pragmatic explanations about what the religious vocation is and is not.

Out of print:

  • Shepherd’s Tartan by Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, OP. I’d call it the Dominican equivalent of A Right to be Merry. It’s a little dated, but still charming - if you can track it down in a library, it’s worth a look.

  • *Dawn of a Consecration *by Father Thomas Dubay SM (a Marist priest). It’s a book of meditations written for postulants and novices to help them adjust to the religious life.

Websites:

poorclaresroswell.com/AnsweringGodsCall.htm
adorationsisters.org/called.html


#6

I don’t know where to begin? Can you please give me some advice?

There are great books mentioned aboove. Also, start meeting Sisters and nuns. If you don’t know where to find some, visit vocation match.

I’ve thought about religious life since I was 15 years old, now I’m seriously starting to discern what it is that God wants me to do; however the problem is that I’m in my valley in life so I can’t seem to hear his voice anymore. Also how do I really truthfully know what God wants me to be, or if this really is him asking me to enter the Religious Life?

You won’t “know.” It’s a leap. You learn about religious life, discern your calling, and when you think you’re ready, you take a leap - hopefully, it will be the right one.

I keep thinking that I wish I was a boy, so then I could become a Priest, however I can’t because I’m a girl. I think I’m feeling this way partly because I have low self-asteem, I think at times that I’m worthless or not worthy enough to enter religious life, and I think somehow find it really hard to believe at this moment in my life, that women help this world. I keep thinking how could I, a mere small young lady make a stand in the world, if to others or myself I feel like nothing. I wish so badly that I do not think this but I do. I feel like us women can’t achieve nearly as much in Religious Life as men can

*You are not the only woman with these thoughts. I had them myself. At first because I could not be an alter server as a child, and then because I could not be a priest. I think that have been able to come to terms with this by embracing my feminist leanings. I suggest you meat and learn about stron Catholic women. Consider taking a look at this book:
Consecrated Religious Life: The Changing Paradigms by Diarmuid O’Murchu *
This insightful man has successfully predicted trends in our Church, and predicts that within our lifetime, 60% of the Catholic theologians will be women. Find women who can inspire you because they are out there! Think of Saint Catherine of Sienna (Doctor of the Church). In her time the pope was living in France and the greatest men of her time could not convince him to return to Rome, but SHE could. The accomplishments of men are usually easier to see, while the accomplishments of women are overlooked ot taken for granted, but they are vital.

sometimes I feel like us women can’t get nearly as close as a relationship to God as men are able to.

We can’t follow Christ in some of the ways men can, even apart from the ordained vocation. But we can can have just as close a relationship to God. God is Love, and love is our strength!

I know this is a weird question, but when I heard the scripture reading about where it tells you to take up your cross and follow Him, Can people still have fun, be human, laugh, and live life, or are they completely consumed by the will to do God’s will?

**Absolutely they can! We are not called to be dower and sour, but to be fully human. St. Theresa of Avila stated: “A sad nun is a bad nun. I am more afrais of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits.” **

I am a Sister now, and I see more and more what am impact how great an impact women have in the world despite the fact that they are not given nearly enough attention or credit for their work and accomplishments. I wil pray for you and your friend. I believe that you have a LOT of potential to change our world for the better because you see and feel deeply the need for the voice of women to be effectual and recognizable. God bless you on your journey.


#7

RebekkaH:

It’s normal and natural for a person at your age (and even a bit older) to be confused about such things. This is because it’s a big world (society is). It’s hard to grasp how it all works. It takes time. (Quick question: do you know what a municipal bond rating house does?)

So pause and get some breath in you.

(1) YOU’RE VERY LUCKY. You’ve heard God’s call. This is a bit like winning the lottery; very unique deal. Many people don’t know what to do; God’s call is a pretty hard to refuse orientation.

(2) There are plenty of women’s religious orders. Take some time, figure what fits you. (If anything, I think the options are better for women than for men; I particularly would not like doing a priest’s job, some things there that would be very unpleasant to me, but think it would be wonderful to be running a school or hospital or other kind of thing: sisters and nuns get into lotsa things).

The local vocations director at your diocese is put there to help kids like you. Best of it!


#8

by no means am i an expert at anything, I am a 33 yr old male, i have served in the Army 1997-2000, i have had one roller coaster ride thus far and i am starting my discernment process and i can honestly say i am nervous !

I know I want to live a religious life where I can help others, and by no means should you think that just because you are a female that your ability to serve is limited.

A prime example is Mother Teresa, a woman who has lived an extraordinary life in our life time and is on the path to saint hood if not already ( i havent checked recently ).

And my personal Favorite Saint is Joan of Arc, a mere teenager at the time, she saved France, her Faith in God, never failed, and her courage and service was just as strong, even when everyone turned their backs on her. And i think like over 100 years later she finally became a Saint.

So there ya go, Mother Teresa has changed the world for the better in our life time, and a teenage girl from France Centuries ago is a major inspiration in my life and my Favorite Saint.

You have no limitations. Only a different means of service.


#9

Hi Rebekah,

I could have written pretty much everything you said in your post -- the vocation confusion, desire to be a priest, and struggles with self-esteem. I'm your age and a young woman as well, and while I'm definitely not an expert, I can offer you my prayers, at least.

One of the biggest things I'm learning is that God does not always work within what we think are ideal time parameters. I want to understand my faith, I want to learn about it, and I want to recognize what God is calling me to -- right away. And yet to not be able to understand so clearly is humbling. No matter how small and insignificant you feel, you're a child of God, He loves you, and He has a perfect plan for your life. Be patient, pray, meditate on Scripture, go to Mass, and grow as close to God as you can. In time, He'll show you where He wants you to be. It might not be right away and most likely it won't be super clear at first. Just keep your eyes on Him.

I can't offer you much advice on the whole women-can't-be-priests deal, other than to say I've struggled a lot with a desperate desire to be a priest and administer the sacraments, so I understand what a helpless and confusing feeling it is. However, women certainly have many beautiful ways to serve God, even if priesthood is not one of them.

You will be in my prayers. :-) Remember that this is a beautiful journey and that you are seeking God, and that is beautiful too.

Christ's peace be with you,
lefty22


#10

My prayers will be with you in this process.

It's never easy because severals years ago, i was in your case. It's important for you to have a spiritual director who could help you in this process. Don't think alone in you area about your vocation. Despite all the advices we could give you here, it's also important for you to have a priest who could be your guide.

Then, just know that doubt is generally normal in this process, but don't be invaded by hesitation because sometime the demon try to put many confusions in our head to disturb us in our reflexion, mainly when it's really serious.

God Bless You,

leandresz.com/en/

[quote="Rebekah45, post:1, topic:283224"]
Dear Sir or Ma'am,
This to all the experts out there! I am currently a junior in high school, and I'm 17 years old. I keep hearing God saying he wants me for himself, but the problem is I'm scared and I don't know where to begin? Can you please give me some advice? I've thought about religious life since I was 15 years old, now I'm seriously starting to discern what it is that God wants me to do; however the problem is that I'm in my valley in life so I can't seem to hear his voice anymore. Also how do I really truthfully know what God wants me to be, or if this really is him asking me to enter the Religious Life?

I feel LOST!!!!!

I'm SO Confused!!! I've had some weird thoughts lately too that don't help me at all. I keep thinking that I wish I was a boy, so then I could become a Priest, however I can't because I'm a girl. I think I'm feeling this way partly because I have low self-asteem, I think at times that I'm worthless or not worthy enough to enter religious life, and I think somehow find it really hard to believe at this moment in my life, that women help this world. I keep thinking how could I, a mere small young lady make a stand in the world, if to others or myself I feel like nothing. I wish so badly that I do not think this but I do. I feel like us women can't achieve nearly as much in Religious Life as men can, or sometimes I feel like us women can't get nearly as close as a relationship to God as men are able to. I know this is a weird question, but when I heard the scripture reading about where it tells you to take up your cross and follow Him, Can people still have fun, be human, laugh, and live life, or are they completely consumed by the will to do God's will?
Lastly Please pray for me and my process in discernment, and please pray for my friend who is going through trying to relearn how to walk again. Thanks for your answers ahead of time! (PS. I think it would probably help you to know that I'm a girl!) :)
Your Truly,
A Friend in Christ,
Rebekah Arrigo

[/quote]


#11

[quote="Rebekah45, post:1, topic:283224"]
Dear Sir or Ma'am,
This to all the experts out there! I am currently a junior in high school, and I'm 17 years old. I keep hearing God saying he wants me for himself, but the problem is I'm scared and I don't know where to begin? Can you please give me some advice? I've thought about religious life since I was 15 years old, now I'm seriously starting to discern what it is that God wants me to do; however the problem is that I'm in my valley in life so I can't seem to hear his voice anymore. Also how do I really truthfully know what God wants me to be, or if this really is him asking me to enter the Religious Life?

Lastly Please pray for me and my process in discernment, and please pray for my friend who is going through trying to relearn how to walk again. Thanks for your answers ahead of time! (PS. I think it would probably help you to know that I'm a girl!) :)
Your Truly,
A Friend in Christ,
Rebekah Arrigo

[/quote]

I see you haven’t been back online for several days, but just in case you return I wanted to share this thought the Lord put on my heart while reading your post. It is the fifth rule of discernment in the Ignatian spirituality;

"The fifth: In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation it is rather the good spirit who guides and counsels us, so in desolation it is the bad, with whose counsels we cannot take a course to decide rightly."

There are times in our life when we experience consolation. This is the good times in the spiritual sense, we can easily hear God's voice and we feel very confident in what we hear to be His will for us. Then there is desolation, this is the dark nights at Blessed Mother Theresa called them. The times when we do not hear His voice or seem so far away from His love that it hurts. This seems to be what you are experiencing, we all experience this.

Here is the key to persevere, rule 5. Keep doing the mechanical things of the faith that you feel a fond attachment, Mass regularly, confession, the Rosary or other private devotions, etc. Soon this valley as you put it will pass.

What happens in time is the valleys and peaks start to equalize somewhat, the highs may not be quite so high; but most importantly, the valleys are not as deep.

Stick with the decisions made in discernment during the consolation, and persevere in the mechanics during the desolation.

But as my spiritual director always reminded me to do, don't focus on the magic! Most of all, remember you are a 17 year old "kid" (I mean that in the nicest way possible). So don't forget to be a kid! I will keep you in my vocations prayer!


#12

Hi, You don’t know me but I feel the same way. I am also 17years old and this is my third year in discernment. Can I tell you my story…

          It was the year 2009 and I was at a Catholic church camp called CHIRSTpower. While I was there I got the chance to go do Adoration. While I was in our chaple praying and really praying. I said "God I give my life to you, do with it whatever you want" a few mintues after I said that I heard a voice say "I WANT YOU TO BECOME A NUN FOR ME". At first I thought someone in the room was talking to me and I was kind of mad since we were suppose to be quiet. When I looked around there was no one talking. I then said "God if this is your will, let it be."
         Since then I have been praying daily, going to Mass more and looking into become a sister, One problem my parents are not Catholic and they don't understand and I joined the Church in 2009. I feel like he is still calling me daily and yet I am so scared. I have gone through several stages. 

[LIST=1]Acceptants of the calling
2.Looking into becoming a Nun
3.Falling out of Faith
4.Becoming scared
5.Entering back in to the discernment process[/LIST]
It is a scary time but I have learned that if you really trust in our Lord, Jesus Christ no matter what Vocation he calls you to you will be happy. Our Lord will not call us to do something that he knows will not makes us happy in the fauter. Just pray and talk to your Prist of your church and if you have Nuns or Sisters in your church talk to them as well. Try to do a Nun run they are the best way to see and feel what it will be like if God is really calling you to become a nun.
I am here for you because I know what you are going through and I will be praying for you. If you want to talk to me I have facebook (Michelle Brittingham) or e-mail at blueeyes94@hotmail.com. Just remember God loves you and will always be there for you even in the rough times.
God Bless you!
Your sister in Christ
Michelle


#13

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.