[quote="JReducation, post:3, topic:281075"]
What should be most important is whether or not Christ calls you to that particular community. They may dress in a way that you like, with or without a habit. They may pray as you like. They may do work that you like.
But it's like a marriage. There is much more to it than what you like. There is an internal affinity. I call it an affinity of the spirit. When a man comes looking at my community, I look for that affinity. We may like each other very much, but if that affinity is not present, then it's not the community for you.
We all begin looking at the externals, but as we proceed down the journey of discernment, the externals lose their importance, just like any other love affair. As my wife gets older, fatter, grayer, sicker, the affinity does not change. I first noticed her beautiful legs at the high school prom, which led me to ask her to dance. Then there were other externals that led me to ask for a date and so forth. But as time goes forward, I come to realize that those things are not what make me happy. It's all about the spirit. If it's not there, I will never be happy. If there is an affinity of the spirit, the externals will not make much of a difference.
One falls in love with a way of life, not the pieces that make up that way of life. I know what I'm trying to say, because it's my experience; but I can't put it into clear terms. I can honestly say that I fell in love with Francis of Assisi, not the habit, the prayer life, the friary, the ministry or any of those other things. In fact, some of those things were annoying as all heck. But the Franciscan way of life was made for me and I for it. We were a match.
To this day, even as I move into a new community, it's still the Franciscan way of life. That does not change. The change is in the focus of service. I guess the most important thing is the Gestalt. I have to feel that I fit in.
This last point is very important. The community is not joining me, I'm joining the community. The community is what it is. It may meet all of my requirements and when I try the life, I don't fit in.
I guess that's what one must look for, a place where one belongs. All those externals: habit, prayer schedule, ministry, infrastructure, location, etc can change and will change over the years. I can't define my vocation by those things. Their important to me, but I must also be willing to give them up if God asks me to do so.
A wonderful example of this is Ven. Mary Ward.
Br. JR, FFV :)
I agree with you on most of what you said; the most important aspect in choosing a religious order is that you are called to it by God, however one can feel that God is calling them to a specific kind of order and there can be evidence to back that up. For instance I already spend most of my day praying and would like to be able to continue spending my days that way for the rest of my life. This has been the case since March 2010.