Should I Choose the Religious Life?


In 2018 we went to the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles to be present at the Abbatial Blessing of Mother Cecilia, the first-ever consecration of a Benedictine Abbess in the Traditional Rite in the United States!

There was also First Professions and Investitures. It was a long ceremony (4 hours) but oh! so beautiful and inspiring!

They had the abbatial dedication of the Sisters’ new church the day before (almost 8 hours long) so it was a big weekend for the Nuns!

Here are a few pictures….

This big weekend was the inspiration for this post. Excellent advice from Fr. Fulgence Meyer, 1924 from Youth’s Pathfinder…

“Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts, 9: 6)

A number of our Catholic young men and young ladies, who are called by God to the priestly or religious state, remind one, in their attitude towards the divine call, of the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob. When Jesus asked her for a drink she thought that she was to bestow a favor on Him, whereas in reality all the favor was to be hers.

Our Lord intimated this when He said to her: “If thou didst know the gift of God, and Who He is That saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (John, 4, 10).

Instead of deliberating whether they should favor God  by answering His call to the sanctuary or the convent, these young people should feel highly favored for being called at all.

But how is a girl to know, if she has a vocation for the convent or not? Before I give the answer to this question, I want to observe, not only to girls but also to young men, who may have a call to the convent or the priesthood. While the call to the priesthood is more sacred and consequently more distinct than the call to the religious life: still the general canons for distinguishing the relative vocations are about the same for both.

The call to the cloistral life may be extraordinary or ordinary. When it is extraordinary, it is manifested in an unusual manner, say by means of a personal supernatural revelation through a vision, a dream or some similar channel.

The subject of this revelation has no doubt and can have no doubt of its genuineness; yet he duly submits it to the judgment of his spiritual director before acting on it definitely. Several saints, for instance St. Paul, received their call in this way.

The Ordinary Way

Instances of this kind of vocation, however, have always been and are today very rare. They who are known to have been the beneficiaries of them, never sought, prayed for, or expected them. These vocations always came unsolicited and altogether unlooked for. Even some of the greatest saints and apostles of the Church, of both sexes, received their calls to the convent or the priesthood in the ordinary way.

This consists in a certain inclination to the life, together with a consciousness of having the qualifications of body and soul that are necessary to make a success of it.

The aforesaid inclination does not have to be an overwhelming and irresistible attraction that one sensibly feels for the consecrated life. It may be a mere leaning of the mind and heart towards it coupled with a will to embrace it even if the emotional nature should rebel against it with a degree of sensible repugnance, fear and revulsion.

The Will Is Lacking

If one, then, has the desire to follow the life, and possesses the corporal, mental, spiritual and moral properties to render it successful, there is every evidence of a vocation. There is nothing more required in addition, but that the person in question definitely resolve to follow the call, and make application to the superior of the convent or, respectively, to the bishop.

As soon as the superior receives the postulant in the community, or the bishop admits a young man to sacred orders, the call to the religious or priestly life is completed, and is as certain and secure as God desires it should be.

It is to be noted that, all other things being given, the will of the individual plays a large and decisive part in establishing a vocation, in pursuance of our Lord’s words: “If any man will come after Me.”

Usually, when true vocations do not mature, this will in the subject is lacking; and, alas, it is lacking in far too many of our Catholic young men and young ladies in the United States today.

You Must Take a Chance

The mistake many of them make is, they virtually and unconsciously, if not expressly and knowingly, look and wait for an unusual sign of vocation, when they are not entitled to it and will consequently never get it.

They are always about to be told by an angel or by our Lord Himself, in a dream or a vision, that they should enter the convent.

They delude themselves and ordinarily die unclothed with a religious garb. They should be satisfied to do as thousands of others have done and are doing, to their own and others’ temporal and eternal welfare, and follow the ordinary signs of vocation.

To use the usual phrase, God wants those who follow Him to take a chance, and to trust in His loving providence and generous fidelity for the future. And they who take this chance in abiding confidence and whole-souled attachment are never known to regret it ever so little.

Famous and Fortunate Chance-Takers

Abraham took a chance when he complied with God’s bidding, that he should leave his country and his kin. The apostles took a chance when Jesus, hardly known at the time, bade them to leave their boats and their nets and follow Him.

He never disappoints those who sincerely renounce everything to follow Him. But in every single case He makes good His grand and magnanimous promise:

“Amen, I say to you that you, who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My Name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall possess life everlasting” (Matt., 19, 28, 29).

The Test Is Not Hard

Every girl, therefore, who feels inclined to convent life and is satisfied, that in view of her physical and moral qualifications she can make a good nun, especially if her judgment is supported by that of some other discreet and reliable person or persons, such as her parents, pastor, confessor, her nun teacher or nun friend and the like, is warranted in believing that she has the necessary vocation, and is at liberty to apply for admission in the cloister.

If the superior duly receives her, she need have no fear whatever regarding the genuineness of her vocation, even if she was never vouchsafed a revelation from on high in the form of a heavenly voice or apparition, telling her that her place was in the convent. These manifestations of vocation are, as has been said, most unusual and infrequent.

The best marks of a divine call are the ordinary ones, as a rule, for they are easier and surer discerned, and there is not so much danger of delusion in regard to them as there is respecting pretendedly extraordinary signs of vocation.

This is true, of course, in an equal degree of a young man contemplating the pursuit of the priestly or religious life.


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