4 Things to Know about Discerning Religious Life

By Sr. Marie Veritas, S.V.

What is some advice you would offer to women who are discerning religious life?

First, pay attention to the desires of your heart.  Every woman wants to do something great with her love.  Every woman – by virtue of her feminine nature -  is called to be Bride and Mother, whether that’s spiritually, or spiritually and physically. It’s a longing imprinted deep in our hearts.  And, at the same time, every woman desires to be loved - greatly, particularly, intimately. And that’s a good thing to be able to acknowledge, because it touches on a deep truth: the truth that God, from all of eternity, desired with all His Heart to create you, you, simply because he loves you.  As our father and founder, John Cardinal O’Connor, once said:

““I see a pearl of girl”… You have to have that reverence for yourself.  You have to see that “pearl of great price” of which Our Lord speaks, that you are made in His Image and Likeness.  The whole world is in you, that same sunlight that played in Eden.  And Christ walks with you and talks with you and Christ brought you into being because He loves you for you.  Not for your talents, not for your potential, not for any money you may have, not for your educational experience; He loves you for you.  And if you love yourself as Christ loves you, then….you are not afraid to put yourself into the hands of the One who made you…”          

Being able to recognize and name the desires of our hearts helps us to discover who were are - whose we are - as loved so intimately by God.  It also helps us realize that God desires our love particularly, because only you can love God in the way you do.

Second, pray.  Prayer is the food of discernment.  Jesus will speak to you in the silence of your heart. He wants you to bring the desires of your heart to Him, and to reveal the desires of His Heart to you. Whatever vocation we’re called to, He thirsts to be in deep, unitive relationship with us. That’s why it’s a good idea to make a solid commitment to personal, mental prayer with the Lord every day… because, ultimately, life is not about doing something - it’s about being with Someone. 

 Third, talk to a spiritual director or vocations director.  Speaking with someone who is wise and well-versed in the spiritual life is really helpful in being able to navigate the ins and outs of the spiritual life.  God can often use the words and witness of a spiritual guide to speak to us or to open our eyes to things we couldn’t see on our own. 

Fourth, give God permission.  Jesus has an amazing plan for your life.  Be not afraid to give Him your yes!