Need Help for Discernment


#1

Hello to all –

I’ve been in a rut lately about discerning my vocation. I’ve been considering entering religious life since middle school, but I have no clue what order I want to join (I’m attracted to both the active and contemplative lifestyles, with emphasis on a sort of *“active mysticism” *, for lack of better terminology), which ministries do I want to pursue (I’m sort of leaning towards scholarly and pro-life work, but I’m considering the possibility that God may want me to do something completely different), etc.

Also, going through high school and now college, I realize that there’s also a problem with being the only child (literally) of the family, and my father is really big on wanting the family line to somehow continue with grandkids. :shrug:(And don’t even get me started on the student debt issue!)

So, with a plethora of congregations and orders to select from, what advice can anyone give me (besides prayer and discernment, of course)?

P.S. By the way, I do have a spiritual director, but any advice from a sister or other religious would help. Thanks again!


#2

If there is a contemplative community near you, have you considered going for a retreat? Having just a little bit of silence away from the world can be very helpful in just listening to God clearer, even if it’s just for a few days. If there are any active religious near you, see if you can volunteer with them. Maybe in doing these things you will find something clicks.

You cannot live your life to keep your father happy. If he wants grandchildren but you feel called to religious life then that is his problem to deal with, not yours. I have my own family issues in my discernment so I know it can be difficult but we must realise that when we find our joy in our vocations then our families will experience that too. They will in the end only want us to be happy.

I run a vocations directory and we’ve actually just put up a guide to finding a contemplative community which you can find here. There will soon be one for finding a active community as well.

God Bless you
Emily Ann


#3

I just checked your website, Emily Ann, and I've found it somewhat helpful.

However, having said that, two things have stuck out for me so far: the Dominicans and the Carmelites. What about these two? Do they dovetail together in some way (I know it's usually St. Dominic and St. Francis, but I've never been totally attracted to the Franciscans for some strange reason)?

Furthermore, how can I find out the general charisms of other orders and congregations? (As an example, I've tried to check out stuff about Benedictine spirituality, but I still don't understand their view, so to speak, and then there are other lesser-known congregations that I've never even heard of before until now.)

Thanks again!

~ParvaDei


#4

[quote="ParvaDei, post:3, topic:284312"]
I just checked your website, Emily Ann, and I've found it somewhat helpful.

However, having said that, two things have stuck out for me so far: the Dominicans and the Carmelites. What about these two? Do they dovetail together in some way (I know it's usually St. Dominic and St. Francis, but I've never been totally attracted to the Franciscans for some strange reason)?

[/quote]

The Dominicans are usually preachers and teachers, though there are a few contemplative Dominican communities. Carmelites are contemplatives, though there are a few active communities. What is it about these that attracts you? Knowing what attracts you to each of them could help find something that merges those aspects.

[quote="ParvaDei, post:3, topic:284312"]
Furthermore, how can I find out the general charisms of other orders and congregations? (As an example, I've tried to check out stuff about Benedictine spirituality, but I still don't understand their view, so to speak, and then there are other lesser-known congregations that I've never even heard of before until now.)

Thanks again!

~ParvaDei

[/quote]

This is the website of the Order of Saint Benedict. It has the Rule of St. Benedict there (it's not very long) and other resources that may help you. This explains very simply the major orders, both contemplative and active. For smaller congregations sometimes the best thing is to simply visit their website, they will often have a section on their history and their charism.


#5

What attracts me to both the Carmelites and Dominicans? Hmm . . . let's see: :hmmm:

On the part of the Carmelites, I have a great love for mysticism, contemplative prayer, and their spirituality of detachment from the world. (Actually, I feel at times that the Lord is calling me to a mystical vocation myself.) Furthermore, I do recognize that I have gained bad habits from the world and that I need to rectify those -- and those of others -- through prayer and sacrifice, and the world of the cloister does seem to attract me in its own unique way.

But on the other hand, I like the Dominicans due to my scholarly nature (I love to study subjects as disparate as theology and economics) and the fact that I have an opportunity to spread the Gospel to rest of the world (I actually at times feel sorry for those who haven't fully understood Catholicism right here in my own American backyard, and I want to teach them the correct way of thinking, having been there myself). Also, I view this opportunity to spread the Gospel as something that flows out of this mysticism. As an example of this concept, St. Catherine of Siena was out there actively spreading the Gospel of penance and renewal to the laypeople of that time while engaging herself in contemplation and mortification.

So, that's that. By the way, I've also been considering the Sisters of Life since I have had personal leadership experience with pro-life activism, especially when it comes to community organizing. (Plus, I'm very interested in studying political science as a means to help the pro-life movement succeed. However, I don't know how that's going to work out once I take my vows, though -- I'm willing to put my work into lobbying, among other things, but I really don't know where to go at this point.)


#6

The main point of Benedictinism is stability and conversion, from which one finds peace–PAX. St Benedict wrote his rule at the end of the Roman Empire, and there were roving “monks”.

St Augustine’s rule is more liturgically-oriented and written primarily for priests and brothers serving in the parishes. Many of the mendicant orders follow this rule with constitutions which interpret their “flavor” so to say.

The Albertine rule was written for the hermit brothers of Mt Carmel, and is usually the premier eremitical rule.

The Franciscan rule is its own, and emphasizes poverty and joy.

A note about Carmelite writings–they’re for everyone. You wouldn’t believe how many recent converts want to be another St Therese.

Eremitical rules include that of the Carthusians; Camaldolese; and St Columba. St Francis wrote a rule for hermits as well.

Once you find which rule attracts you, then start looking at communities which follow it.

HTH

Blessings,
Cloisters


#7

Thanks for that clarification of info – I did read some of the detailed stuff about the different orders online, but sometimes you get confused when you look too hard at the trees instead of the forest. :smiley:

Also, while I have read Ste. Thérèse’s book, Story of a Soul, I have been attracted to Catholic mysticism even before I received it from a church acquaintance. I guess what I would say about it is that it has helped further my desire for union with God even more. (And by the way, I’m a revert cradle Catholic – not a convert in the strict sense of the word. ;))

Again, thanks to all!

~ParvaDei


#8

Sounds like the Order of Friars Minor, to me.


#9

[quote="ParvaDei, post:3, topic:284312"]
I just checked your website, Emily Ann, and I've found it somewhat helpful.

However, having said that, two things have stuck out for me so far: the Dominicans and the Carmelites. What about these two? Do they dovetail together in some way (I know it's usually St. Dominic and St. Francis, but I've never been totally attracted to the Franciscans for some strange reason)?

Furthermore, how can I find out the general charisms of other orders and congregations? (As an example, I've tried to check out stuff about Benedictine spirituality, but I still don't understand their view, so to speak, and then there are other lesser-known congregations that I've never even heard of before until now.)

Thanks again!

~ParvaDei

[/quote]

Dear ParvaDei,

  The discernment time can be quite fun, daunting, and rewarding. There is no right way nor wrong way to approach it as everyone's path is somewhat different.
  Today's candidates have a somewhat easier time broadening their search as there are many directories and vocational help websites to aid in the initial process.
   If I might add a few suggestions that may be of help to you:

  1) You might try reading about the various saints who began the major orders to get an idea of their sprituality ( Such as St Dominic, St Teresa  (called by some "Big St Teresa)or St Therese (Little Flower called by some "little" Teresa), St Benedict, St Francis, St Clare.. etc...{even if you are not "particularly drawn to the Franciscans)
  This will help you to at least get a feel for the major orders.

 2) Try some of the websites here in the states that help with the beginning stages of discernment... you may get more information than you will actually need but the connections and information can help you to identify various orders or communities that seem attractive to you..from there you can begin the process of connecting various communities.
              1) [religiousministries.com/](http://www.religiousministries.com/)
             2)[vocationsplacement.org/](http://www.vocationsplacement.org/)
             3)[vocationnetwork.org/](http://www.vocationnetwork.org/)

3) Talk to some relgious from the actual tradition that seems to attract you
i.e. for instance a Dominican sister or a Carmelite sister, even if you don't apply to their own community many times you can obtain good background information on the charism of their founder/foundress. Once you have a general idea of say Dominican, Franciscan, Carmelite spirituality then you can begin to look at the various communities and how they apply the general spirituality to their own community (through their constitutions)

4) Also you might contact the vocations director for your diocese..sometimes they will have books for those discerning vocations that offer good helps for retreats, spiritual directors, and even sometimes spelling out the various charisms of the different orders.

                 Blessings on your journey,

                   Sr. Debbie O.S.C.

            ( A Poor Clare soon to make temporary vows:) )

#10

Eh? :confused:
I mean, I’m open to reading about Franciscan spirituality, but it’s never really appealed to me (not that following “Lady Poverty” as a spiritual discipline is bad, but it’s never been a sticking point in my life) . And what about St. Catherine of Siena? She was a third-order Dominican, a mystic, and active in the world (at least, in the latter part of her life, anyway). And I’ve also heard of Carmelites who do similar things.

I mean, for me at least, it seems like an open field. :frowning:


#11

There are contemplative and apostolic convents you know. I myself want to join one. I don’t know if you are into Dominican spirituality, but the three I like are the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, or the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.


#12

ParvaDei,

Each order is influenced by its founder thats true and each has certain charisms, the wonderful thing is within each group there will be a wide variety of apostolates within each:

For instance (even though the Franciscans at this time may not strike a chord,)the order is so large that you will find active communities, contemplative communities, active/contemplatives, those that teach, work with social justice, nurse etc.
I only point this out as it can be daunting to look at the various groups and wonder if they fit your temperament… take your time, explore, ask questions, make notes of what advice seems helpful, discard what does not seem to apply.

[Sorry as usual I got long winded… in a nutshell what I meant to say… is don’t get to hung up on the details… explore, pray, talk to other religious… pray and explore some more]
Blessings,

                              Sr Debbie

P.S. There are a number of religious on the boards from various communites… perhaps ask how they arrived at their decision as to the community they joined and the charism of their order/community??


#13

WhitePeony is right, I should have thought of them earlier! The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are beautiful congregations. They do apostolic work and also have an excellent prayer life.

Have you been on VISION Vocation Match? It's not foolproof of course but it might give you some good suggestions to look into.


#14

I didn’t try to close it, I h gave an opinion/suggestion, whuich is what I thouf ght you were looking for from the foum. You said this:

I’m attracted to both the active and contemplative lifestyles, with emphasis on a sort of “active mysticism”

This is a pretty succinct description of OFM. As for poverty, they ain’t that poor what with having their own iPhones and all. I really have no personal interest in what you choose to do, but I will say you don’t seem to have a grasp of what it means to be OFM in the new millenium. OTOH, by-pass whatever you wish.

Good luck.


#15

Some great advice I received from a friend is this. While vocations are something you should carefully discern, don't let your discernment take over your prayer life. If you do let that happen then you might not have too much to pray about once you discover what God is calling you to do!

Other helpful hints I've received in the past - Try Lectio Divina on Matthew 19. Prayerfully meditate on the whole chapter, and try to hear what God is saying to you.


#16

As a final note (as far as I can say anyway):

Besides the usual advice (such as retreats, asking nuns, etc.) and reading the rules of each order, are there any other books that would describe the spiritualities of the major orders in more detail and how it affects their lifestyles?

God bless to all, as usual.

~ParvaDei


#17

I am a secular Franciscan and i may be able to help in your process


#18

Well, here’s my first question:

I’m not acquainted with Franciscan spirituality too well, so how would you explain how the charism’s emphasis on poverty and joy affects your life as a lay, third-order Catholic (and perhaps extending this to actual religious/consecrated life)?

Also, while this isn’t totally related to discernment, is it true that Franciscans are taught to be peace bearers through the renunciation of violence (even in terms of legitimate defense)? If so, what does that mean in relation to pacifism and their relationship to those in other orders – and lay people in general – who may hold just war theory (i.e., are Franciscans inherently pacifistic)?

Thanks again!


#19

My Prayers will be with you during all your discernment process. When i think, i was in the same situation several years ago.

The prayer will be one of keys, also the direction of your spiritual father as you started.

God Bless You,

leandresz.com/en/


#20

A good person to ask these types of questions (re Franciscan Spirituality is Brother J.R on the forums here.)


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.