I have received a couple emails from someone who is taking a fresh look at the possibility of a vocation. I do not want to disclose anything personal about this person, but I would like to share some general points just in case there is any one else in the same position.
Trying to discern your vocation is TOUGH. I think it is tougher for women because there are so very many orders. It is important to remember that a lot of the spiritual life is just you and God in silence. Every human being has issues,and in honest silence they will slowly rise to the surface. For instance, I never realised how judgmental I was being. In distractions from prayer, my judgmental-ness came quickly to the surface. Even though I did not vocalise any of it, I was shocked how bad I was (am). But, like the rest of life,I rely on God's grace for assistance.
So as you look at your vocation, look at its component parts.
- I consider the core of any vocation to be responding to God's Love with our love. Whether you are married or single, in religious life or not, God calls us to live a life of love.
- You should go to a monastery (of men or women) and experience the Divine Office, also called The Liturgy of the Hours. If you check out a monastery's daily time table it might have: Lauds, Vespers, Compline or Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer listed. I had never known about this until I was in my 20's. BUT I love the Divine Office, and it is a large part of my life. There are different ways of celebrating the Divine Office: In Latin, In Modern Translations (I have even seen politically correct translations), sung or recited.
- This is part of almost the life every nun or sister.
- Nuns, like monks, are contemplatives and are enclosed to varying degrees. The purpose of enclosure is to keep the distractions of the world out, not to keep you locked in... though at times it can feel that way.
- Sisters are active, that is, engage in active apostolates("outside" jobs): teaching, nursing, parish ministry, foreign missions, social work. Some orders are very flexible in how they balance prayer life and active ministry.
- I sought a monastery that celebrated the entire Divine Office in common: Vigils, Lauds, Sext, Terce, None, Vespers, and Compline. Some active orders might only celebrate Lauds and Vespers in common. You have to decide what you like.
God Bless You all!