My discernment to religious life has had its difficulties. For a long time, I felt uncomfortable whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I found that most people just couldn’t fathom the call I’d received from the Lord Jesus and, as a result, often offered a plethora of alternative “career-choice” suggestions.
By Maria Greco
“So you want to be celibate for the rest of your life?!” one of my peers had asked me, with an underlying “why would you ever want to do that” tone that I was pretty much used to whenever I talked about my desire to become a Sister.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
“I did not call you,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am,” he said. “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.
You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
For a long time, I felt uncomfortable whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I found that most people just couldn’t fathom this call and as a result I received a plethora of career choices that they thought I’d take a fancy to. I was used to this response, so for a while I decided not to be honest about what I truly wanted for my life. However this past year, I decided that there was nothing wrong with being upfront about the fact that I am discerning to become a nun. When my peers had asked me that question about celibacy, my answer was simple. When you really love someone you are willing to do anything, give up anything, take on anything to please that person. So it’s the same with religious life. When you fall in love with Christ you are willing to do anything, give up anything, take on anything to please Him, even when it means choosing a life of celibacy. This response seemed to quell their confusion.
The Call and Discernment to Religious Life
For someone who had no reason to be called to religious life, here I was responding to the Call. It’s been known from of old that God doesn’t necessarily call the holiest or the most well equipped for His missions. Think of Jonah who at first refused God’s command to evangelize to the Ninevites, or think of St. Paul who literally murdered Christians before he received the call to follow Christ. So I start off by affirming that the call to follow God exclusively in the vocation of religious life has nothing to do with one’s worthiness. It’s simply another testimony of God’s kindness and humility. It’s a sublime, unmerited invitation to follow Christ exclusively. It is an invitation to say no to the beauty of bearing children and yes to the beauty of universal motherhood; it’s saying no to the comforts of the world and yes to beginning Heaven on Earth. It’s an invitation to experience that God alone suffices.
Do Not Be Afraid!
As Saint John Paul II often said to the youth “Do not be afraid”, our Lord now says to you “Do not be afraid”. Do not be afraid to open wide your heart to anything that God will call you to. Do not be afraid to radically give yourself over to Christ who radically gave Himself over to you. Do not be afraid to renounce society norms to embrace the deep waters of sacrifice. Do not be afraid to say “yes” to Jesus. For it truly is “in giving that we receive”, giving our wills over to Christ and it truly is “in dying that we are born to eternal life”, dying to ourselves to become a new creation in Him.
This act of total self-giving was first displayed in our Blessed Mother whose fiat would change the world forever. Even though she wasn’t sure what her “yes” would entail, she knew that the One who was asking for her “yes” was trustworthy. Our Blessed Mother is truly the best model of trust in Jesus that we can follow. If we allow her, she will take us by the hand and walk with us along the path our good Lord has laid out for us. She is the best of mothers and will never leave us. There is no one better to lead us closer to Christ and His plan for our lives than the Holy Mother of God.
As you know and can see, your “yes” to God, no matter where you are being called, will bear fruit, much fruit, fruit that will last.
The call to religious life is a call for exclusive love. It is to allow yourself to be loved by Christ in a unique way, He who first loved us.
“…young people are always searching for the beauty in love. They want their love to be beautiful. If they give in to weakness, following models of behavior… in the depths of their hearts they will still desire a beautiful and pure love. This is as true of boys as it is of girls. Ultimately, they know that only God can give them this love. As a result, they are willing to follow Christ, without caring about the sacrifices this may entail.”—Pope St. John Paul II
Attribution: By Robert Frank Gabriel, Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons