What I Want vs. What God Wants

I was talking with this girl the other day who is discerning a religious vocation like me, and she said that “She would love to join this certain order, but after prayer she doesn’t feel that God is calling her to that order.”

I’m confused.

If you love a certain religious community, and would love to join them, wouldn’t that be a sign that God is calling you to that order ?

No. I loved being a postulant with the Conventual Franciscans. I would love to join them. Love them all. I’m not called to be there. So I can answer this question with an astounding “NO!!” based on personal experience.

A vocation is a vocation. God knows how much some times we long with our whole heart to pursue a certain path, and yet for many valid reasons we know that it is not our calling, or at least not yet.

I personally think that God’s calling is like falling in love: when the time arrives, we know it :slight_smile:

As I struggled with reconciling what I want with what God wants during my own discernment, I’ve come to think of it this way;

God isn’t interested in our happiness so much as our joyfulness. Happiness is based in the physical world and as such is impermanent, temporal. Joy is to be found solely in the Lord and like Him is eternal.

Now there are plenty of things in this world that make me happy and unfortunately a lot of them take me further from God. Some don’t even take me further from Him but do nothing to further my journey towards Him and I know that I must never stop or God forbid, go backwards.

So it seems likely that this young girl asked herself if joining that particular order would bring her joy or merely make her happy and then based her decision on what the Holy Spirit revealed to her.


Of course you’re confused. That’s how you learn. St. Benedict said, “By charity, I belong to all communities, but by obedience I belong to my own.” It is possible to love a community and not be called to join it, just as it is possible for a woman to love a man without desiring to marry him (or a man a woman for that matter). By “love” she may not have meant the attraction that draws you in to spending the rest of your life with them. She may have merely meant that she enjoys their company, praying with them, and/or their ministry. That is not the same as wanting to be one of them, you know? Awesome!

God bless,

Fr. Scott, AVI
Apostles of the Interior Life

I know this was a question from a while ago but I thought I’d answer for anyone who still thinks this is a sign that you’re called.

I discerned for a while with the Francisan Sisters of the Renewal. I loved EVERYTHING about them and I knew them quite a bit from contact I had with them on Young Adult Retreats. I finally got up the nerve to contact the Vocation Director to make a visit to the convent. I mailed her my “Come and See” application in June 2009 but didn’t hear from her until October 2009. I was able to make a visit in January 2010 to one of their vocation discernment retreats. I stayed an extra night because of the airfare being cheaper so I really got a good view of their life. As much as I love them, my time with them felt completely neutral. I didn’t feel a call to them either way until I spoke to the VD and Fr. Andrew Apostoli one-on-one. Both of them agreed that I needed to continue looking because the CFRs weren’t the right fit for me because of my health issues. Since they are a mendicant order, they are unable to afford the care that I need. I know now that, just because you love an order, it doesn’t mean they are “the one.” The desire to join has to be confirmed by admittance to the order and a sincere call. Both of which I didn’t have. That doesn’t mean I don’t love them still. In fact, I still tell people, if I could join any order in the world regardless, I would join either the CFRs or the Poor Clare Colettines. :slight_smile:

Generally speaking, basic signs of vocation are:

*]Attraction to the life
*]Ability to live the life with necessary qualities, including right motivation
*]Acceptance into the life (postulancy and noviciate and then temporary vows are discerning states within religious life - and discernment by person and community with leadership. Final vows are actual acceptance into the life and at this point, one KNOWS one has a vocation to a specific religious order)
[/LIST]The above are the generally quite basic signs that The Lord is calling one to religious life for example. Can the signs vary? Yes, they can (the above are only generally-speaking signs, the most common if you like, signs) This is why spiritual direction and advice is the very best way to go. Any person who desires to take The Gospel and their spiritual life quite seriously would absolutely profit from sound and holy spiritual direction. To choose a director who is educated and strikes one as a holy type of person. One can make wrong choices of course, it is simply a pretty good rule of thumb.
*]Does attraction exist is the first step
*]Next question: Do I have the ability and qualities with right motivation for this way of life? If I do -
*]The next step is: Ask the religious community involved if you could enter (perhaps after mutual correspondence and live-in)
*]However, if one does enter the life formally (postulancy) the next 5half to 6 years usually will be a time of discerning still whether one might have a vocation to the life or not.
[/LIST]The very best road to go is with spiritual direction.

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