Is my daughter "missing" her vocation?


#1

I'd appreciate any counsel regarding how I might best support/guide/advise my high school graduate in her future plans when she seems very undecided. She is a sweet and faithful girl, always dependable, and had yearnings for religious life as a young child. Now however, she says she feels no "pull" to a religious vocation, and so since she feels she is not called by God for religious life, she is drifting in and out of different areas of interest, vocal music (classical and Italian), business franchise, cake decorating...without any distinct assurance of which way to go. When pressed as to her desires, she says "I have no preference." Her godfather is a seminarian and he has felt convinced that she has a religious calling for some time. But she herself does not...


#2

If she says she has no pull for religious life, take her word for it over godfathers. Some people know early on that they are cut out for a religious vocation, other knows that they are not. Have you asked her recently personally? Just ask once if she has considered whether or not God has called her. If she says no, take her at her word and then invite her to consider career counseling (she may ask her high school guidance counselor or college career office) if she doesn't know what she wants to do. However, none of the activities which you have listed are exclusive of each other, and in fact, one of them, "business franchise", may support one of the others, "cake decorating" or even "classical music" (music performance as a freelancer, maybe?)----in the first, she may gain the experience to run a business in the second. Her godfather may gently advise her, but ultimately she is in charge of herself.


#3

rosadelima, much as you may wish to direct your daughter, she really does have to make her choices herself. We really can't do a whole lot more than pray fervently for our grown children; and to love our children with peace, and not to try to push them. They...and your daughter... already know what we believe and no doubt have already been told. As long as we push them, they are not going to make a free choice for themselves. They are more likely to defend their current position within their own mind.

Your daughter sounds like a good and wonderful girl. All these changes and experiences could well be a broad education for her future calling. That could be in Religious life (or it could be as a beautiful, capable mother.) As yet she isn't tied down, and is enjoying her freedom to choose. She isn't doing wrong, and she is acting according to her own honest belief that she isn't called to religious life. She would do wrong it she wasn't being honest in her present course. As it is, pressure might only cause guilt and even the birth of resentment. She needs to be loved and accepted just as she is right now.

A calling comes from God, and it's God's problem to help bring that about.

Whatever belief your daughter has, and whatever belief her godfather fondly has (and the fact that he is a seminarian doesn't guarantee he is right. He too is just a man, like every other man and he could be right, he could be wrong. My son was a seminarian once and he didn't have some divine ability to be always right in his assessments.)

It all comes down to trusting God to guide your daughter, trusting your daughter to respond, and allowing both God and your daughter the time they need. So often we parents want to hurry and to resolve things, with our very best and most loving intentions. And I do understand your concerns.

May God give you and your daughter all the graces you both need for the fullness of God's loving will in your lives.

....and it takes longer to build and launch a liner than it does a canoe!


#4

I felt a call to the religious life probably, when I was ten, Since then it has been on and off to the extent that when it's off, I laughed and say "O, I might have been crazy to even think of religious life".

To make long story short, I'm now a Master student (LL.M), 28 years of age only to realise that I was born to be a nun; to belong solely to Christ. If God wills, I will join a convent/Monastery next year!

God is so patient, HE will wait.
Don't push her, encourage her but most of all, pray for her especially to our lady. If it's her vocation, it will not disappear for good.

You are such a good mother!

Will pray for her and you.

Give her time, may be God is calling her to make a long road before arriving at her destination.


#5

[quote="rosadelima, post:1, topic:220183"]
I'd appreciate any counsel regarding how I might best support/guide/advise my high school graduate in her future plans when she seems very undecided. She is a sweet and faithful girl, always dependable, and had yearnings for religious life as a young child. Now however, she says she feels no "pull" to a religious vocation, and so since she feels she is not called by God for religious life, she is drifting in and out of different areas of interest, vocal music (classical and Italian), business franchise, cake decorating...without any distinct assurance of which way to go. When pressed as to her desires, she says "I have no preference." Her godfather is a seminarian and he has felt convinced that she has a religious calling for some time. But she herself does not...

[/quote]

Your daughter sounds very much like me. I discerned for a period of 3 years before I finally gave up because I wasn't called and now, it feels like I was never called. It's just not there. My mom, dad and extended family have been very concerned about me because they worry that I am not sure what I want to do with my life. I've had some very tough times with jobs and I am unemployed again. I honestly did not have a clue what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and felt a bit aimless and alone. I was scared because everyone that I knew from high school was getting married and having families of their own and I am still living at home with my parents. But I realize now that I had two problems. I took a bit longer than most to figure out what I wanted to do and I realize now that its ok as long as you don't take such a long time. I have a clear goal set in mind and, though it will take some time to get there, I feel it is absolutely right. Also, I realized that I relapsed into my depression which I found out may be lifelong (I've had it off and on since I was 15 or 16). I went back on medication and have never felt better. Sure, I am without a job at this time, but I am still looking hard and gearing up for when I'll have to go back to work again and I'm anxious/excited to go back to school as soon as possible to accomplish my goals.

I say this, not to put the focus on me, but to show you that as long as your daughter is not just sitting around, doing nothing with her life, let her find herself. She may not have a clue as to what she wants to do and it takes time to find what you are really interested in and want to do long-term. For some of us, we naturally take longer than others. Talk to her about your concerns and see if she would like some help, but don't push it. If she doesn't feel called to religious life, then she probably is not called or hasn't been called personally yet. It could happen later or never. What one person thinks (in this case, her godfather) may or may not be true. Be open to her and be open to a vocation should it happen, but let her continue to find herself in her own time.


#6

It is the duty of parents to support their children, not to decide where God is calling them. That is between them and God. Stay out of God's way.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#7

[quote="rosadelima, post:1, topic:220183"]
I'd appreciate any counsel regarding how I might best support/guide/advise my high school graduate in her future plans when she seems very undecided. She is a sweet and faithful girl, always dependable, and had yearnings for religious life as a young child. Now however, she says she feels no "pull" to a religious vocation, and so since she feels she is not called by God for religious life, she is drifting in and out of different areas of interest, vocal music (classical and Italian), business franchise, cake decorating...without any distinct assurance of which way to go. When pressed as to her desires, she says "I have no preference." Her godfather is a seminarian and he has felt convinced that she has a religious calling for some time. But she herself does not...

[/quote]

Dear Mother, I am a Parish Priest in Canada who is called upon to direct many young men and women discerning God's Will in their lives. I remember like yesterday being where your daughter is. I am presently guiding a few young ladies who are the same age as your daughter and are in the same situation. Each soul is unique yet the basic principles of Discernment remain the same. Firstly, God is directing your daughter obviously, through Our Lady-She is the one who chooses brides for Her Son(Religious Life), and Mothers for Her children(Married Life), you can say. Mother knows best, She is your Mother too. Ask Mary to help you say the same thing as your daughter first of all: I have no preference...for my daughter, as long as God 's Will be done, then you will not run the risk of imposing your will a 1001 ways upon her, with the best of intentions, you see?You need to do this out of love for her and for her vocation and God, first and foremost. Your daughter has the right attitude, she is like the scale willing to tip on this side,(Religious Life) or the other side(Married Life). She has decided not to do her own will but God's and not fret and worry about it. She will learn and discern as she serves the Lord. The Lord will finish what He started. She will mature in her response to her call and so will you. I recommend that you speak to a Priest and Nun about how to be there for her. Make your heart like a garden to help the seed of her vocation grow, but you don't control the growth,nor the nature of the seed of her vocation, you see?You are not the author of her life, only an instrument open to the Life of Christ in her, Jesus is the Author of her vocation, the Gardener if you will. He is using you as a docile instrument for His gardening, to cultivate His seed, His chosen flower that will bloom according to His will. Secondly, you can tell her that you found a great Priest or Nun that she can talk to if ever she wants, and, to show you are open to her possible vocation to Marriage, you can encourage her to speak to good devout couples that you know. Then, leave her choose, leave her feeling free, secure, loved, looked after, thought of , considered but free to choose. You are surrounding her with the ressources that will help her choose, that is guidance without getting in the way. In other words, put yourself in her heart and skin, what would you like from yourself, if you were her? Is that not the Golden Rule? And, if she wants, I'm here too. God bless you. Remember if you really love someone, you only want God's will for them, not your own. The greatest charity is to enable someone to say FIAT, Yes, let it be done to me to the Father, nothing else.;)

Fr. Dominic La Fleur


#8

As a parent it is your duty to take care of your children and to guide them helping them seek Gods will. If your daughter does have a call to the religious life it will be in God's timing, not your own. Others may see in her a calling to the religious life, but she may not be ready to answer a calling to either marriage or religious life at this place in her journey. It seems she is young and exploring may interests of hers, which is good and healthy. In order for one to see where God is calling them it is good and necessary to be open to ANY vocation. I discerned the religious life for 3 years; I did not date, but sought God's will during this time to see where He was leading me. I had not known any Religious sisters growing up, and had no idea what there vocation truly was. I was encouraged by a dear friend to spend time in prayer seeing where God was leading me. I began to do so, and thought it would be a good idea to visit a Religious community of my interest. I was blown away in awe of the beauty of their vocation; after a few years of discernment I discerned it was not called to the religious life (although I was open to it), but to a holy marriage. These years were a beautiful time in my life, I saw the beauty and grace in Religious life, and also in marriage. What a grace to see the beauty in both, then see where God leads! There is no one who ever pushed or encouraged me to be a nun; no one who said "you are called", it was simply God placing the desire on my heart to seek if this was His calling in my life; and it came in God's timing when I was ready to hear His call. Your daughters choices are her own, she has free will; and you can encourage and support her in any vocation; just pray and encourage her to be open to God's will and seek what He asks of her, with no expectations or hopes of your own; trust God's leading her; He is.


#9

[quote="JReducation, post:6, topic:220183"]
It is the duty of parents to support their children, not to decide where God is calling them. That is between them and God. Stay out of God's way.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Great advice. Let her discover her vocation, whether it be religious, married or otherwise. You didn't say how old your daughter is OP, but she needs to explore who she is and what she wants to do. Only she can decide what is God's will for her life.


#10

[quote="rosadelima, post:1, topic:220183"]
I'd appreciate any counsel regarding how I might best support/guide/advise my high school graduate in her future plans when she seems very undecided. She is a sweet and faithful girl, always dependable, and had yearnings for religious life as a young child. Now however, she says she feels no "pull" to a religious vocation, and so since she feels she is not called by God for religious life, she is drifting in and out of different areas of interest, vocal music (classical and Italian), business franchise, cake decorating...without any distinct assurance of which way to go. When pressed as to her desires, she says "I have no preference." Her godfather is a seminarian and he has felt convinced that she has a religious calling for some time. But she herself does not...

[/quote]

I just love it when someone else "feels" that a young person has a vocation to a specific form. They may or may not be right, but heaven help all of us if they push it.

Your daughter does not sound at all unlike most people her age.

If God is calling a person to a certain vocation, and the person does not go through that "door", God does not punish, nor does He abandon; he opens another door.

In addition, many people now are what we euphemistically used to call "delayed" vocations. People are simply not signing up in droves at the age of 18. In addition, many of the communities they could sign up with do not particularly want someone at that age - for any number of reasons. Among them are the fact that people nowadays at 18 go through far more permutations on "who they want to be" than people used to 50 years ago or more - when there were more people entering religious life at 18. There is also the very economic fact that if the person entering does not have a college degree, and in the opinion of the community should have one, it will be a cost to the community that they often cannot well bear.

Some people with vocations never get a clue about it until later in life (that is not as a child); and many children dream and model on having a vocation, grow up, and are actually called to a different vocation, a point not often considered by others.

It would seem, if she does not perceive at this time that she has a vocation to the religious life, that others who are concerned about it should keep their counsel, pray that the Holy Spirit direct her where the Spirit would have her, and support any decision making process she goes through - even if it is not what they "feel" she is called to. One wants to encourage all vocations; but frequently commenting on what one "feels" she is called to can have just the opposite effect - pushing her away. She has been asked and has answered. Assuming she is a reasonably intelligent young lady and not drifting in her faith, she has answered the question asked. That should be respected.

And if she is drifting in her faith, continuing to probe and comment is more likely to push her away than to bring her back.

And religious communities need people to decorate cakes, bake pies, teach music, do the books, operate a business... all of the things she is expressing interest in can have value to a community.


#11

And while we are at it, there is the possibility that she is not called either to married life or to a life in a religious community, but simply called to be celibate - either promised or simply lived out daily. Just because someone is not called to married life does not equate with them necessarily being called to religious life.


#12

It is not right to push her one way or the other. Please let her hear God's calling - or she may make a choice that is not her own - and she will come to resent you for it.


#13

[quote="otjm, post:11, topic:220183"]
And while we are at it, there is the possibility that she is not called either to married life or to a life in a religious community, but simply called to be celibate - either promised or simply lived out daily. Just because someone is not called to married life does not equate with them necessarily being called to religious life.

[/quote]

Ah yes, agreed. Thank you!


#14

[quote="o0mariemaple0o, post:13, topic:220183"]
Ah yes, agreed. Thank you!

[/quote]

If she is not called to the married state, automatically this entails remaining celibate, as a Consecrated Soul, either in Community or associated with others as in the Association of Consecrated Virgins or other association where a lay person makes private vows and stays single in the world, an urban hermit if you will. In any case, the first thing to discern is the Married State or the Celibate life with all its variations-Religious or Secular, Private or in Community. She may begin by belonging to a Third Order or other Lay Movement, or Secular Institute, then, move on from there. God, grace and time will tell.

Fr. Dominic La Fleur


#15

[quote="Father_La_Fleur, post:14, topic:220183"]
If she is not called to the married state, automatically this entails remaining celibate, as a Consecrated Soul, either in Community or associated with others as in the Association of Consecrated Virgins or other association where a lay person makes private vows and stays single in the world, an urban hermit if you will. In any case, the first thing to discern is the Married State or the Celibate life with all its variations-Religious or Secular, Private or in Community. She may begin by belonging to a Third Order or other Lay Movement, or Secular Institute, then, move on from there. God, grace and time will tell.

Fr. Dominic La Fleur

[/quote]

perhaps in Canada it is automatic. Around these parts of the woods, it is not. we simply seem to have a number of people around who do not have a vocation to marriage or to religious life, and are not in any other association/group. all good ideas; but many are cold, few are frozen...

I think too few people are aware of the vows that can be made by laity. Those who do make them are a select few.


#16

if she has no pull to the religious life, she doesn’t and that is that. It is not for you or her uncle to make such a choice or to push her in that direction. She is an adult and such pressure is inappropriate, just as would be forcing her into marriage. The fact that she does not have a religious vocation has nothing to do with her other issues about career choices. A vocation is much more than a career.


#17

[quote="Father_La_Fleur, post:14, topic:220183"]
If she is not called to the married state, automatically this entails remaining celibate, as a Consecrated Soul, either in Community or associated with others as in the Association of Consecrated Virgins or other association where a lay person makes private vows and stays single in the world, an urban hermit if you will. In any case, the first thing to discern is the Married State or the Celibate life with all its variations-Religious or Secular, Private or in Community. She may begin by belonging to a Third Order or other Lay Movement, or Secular Institute, then, move on from there. God, grace and time will tell.

Fr. Dominic La Fleur

[/quote]

One has to be very careful here, Father. Not all secular orders allow a person to enter, if they are discerning a religious vocation. I know that the Secular Franciscans (SFO) not to be confused with the OSF, do not admit anyone who is discerning the religious life. It's against the rule and constitutions. They require that the person feel called to their way of life as a perpetual state. Sometimes it happens that God calls from within a call. That's how my own community was founded. The founders were three Capuchin Franciscans (including me) and four Secular Franciscans. Those are what Mother Teresa so wisely described as "a call within a call." I don't know abouit Secular Carmelites and Lay Dominicans, because they have different sctructures and as I understand it, they are not canonically autonomous orders. The Secular Franciscans are an order of Pontifical Right. I'm sure that they are not the only secular order that is of Pontifical Right with such requirements. I do know that they will not accept anyone who is considering entering the friars, nuns or sisters of any religious family. They will accept a young man who is considering entering a diocesan seminary, because the order has both clerics and lay members.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#18

I also pulled this from the CCC under the 4th commandment - I hope it may serve as a guide:

2230 When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them - quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family.

2231 Some forgo marriage in order to care for their parents or brothers and sisters, to give themselves more completely to a profession, or to serve other honorable ends. They can contribute greatly to the good of the human family.


#19

[quote="otjm, post:15, topic:220183"]
perhaps in Canada it is automatic. Around these parts of the woods, it is not. we simply seem to have a number of people around who do not have a vocation to marriage or to religious life, and are not in any other association/group. all good ideas; but many are cold, few are frozen...

I think too few people are aware of the vows that can be made by laity. Those who do make them are a select few.

[/quote]

You are absolutely right about the practical reality. That is the way it is. It is no different in Canada, it is as bad if not worse. The young laity and singles of any age I know suffer tremendously because of it. I simply am pointing out the objective truth of what committments are possible in the Church. After a Reality check as you suggest, there are extremely few to be had. The vows we all must be faithful to are our Baptismal Vows, our call to Holiness. What I do see happening in some Dioceses are Family Conferences, usually involving mostly homeschooling families at first. The spiritual desert and winter in which we live is a challenge for Bishops to create a warm climate where responding to God's Call in any way, shape or form, is normalized. To obey and do the will of another is not popular. In the world it is abnormal; a Catholic is by definition abnormal, above the norm, not a mutant or deficient and called to be exceptional, not superior to others, but goes beyond the minimum. Remember the early Christian Martyrs who were charged with crimes against humanity, against religion, corruption of the youth, against the values and morals of the Romans...You don't have to become a Nun or Priest or Consecrated Lay person to serve God, or to become a Saint. We need to create environnements, Oasises of Faith where people can meet others who seriously want to please God and become Saints. Then, the calling to what state of life, what kind of Saint, is another question. I see Diocese trying to create such a space through Vocational evenings where all feel welcome and do not see the meeting as a simple recruiting strategy for Vocations. We must search and trust that the Lord will provide. To be or not to be...a Saint, that is the real question. God's Will is never easy but always simple as God is pure simplicity of Light, Love and Truth.


#20

Yes, thank you Brother for pointing out the importance of clarity and precision. It is always litterary purgatory to write something general with a good intention and then end making an approximate generalization. I know what you mean. The less said the better, most of the time. We can always specify to death about canonical terms and so on, and meanwhile, souls walk away during wars of words, as Saint Paul says. Thank you! I will be careful.

What I meant is, in general, either we are in one State of Life or another, we orient ourselves towards considering Marriage proper of a life of Celibacy in some shape or form. Different groups or associations allow married couples of singes to join. One may meet their future spouse or decide to embrace Religious life during their experience as a member of one such group.

I am not a canonical expert on Orders, Institutes, Associations, Movements, Societies, etc. and such. I think the thing to point out is to start somewhere where she will be accepted to discern a calling as you said, and from there, she may move on. I work with the Lay Missionaries of Charity as a Local Spiritual Director. The vows are renewed every year. One is free to continue or not. These kind of associations allow one room to grow and discern. Of course, each committment has its demands and limitations and criteria for accepting candidates.

I remember verifying the criteria for so many different groups I developped vertigo before considering joinging any! I thought I will remain an o.p.(ordinary person) or o.s.(ordinary sinner or ordained sinner) is what my choice was! God bless!


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