Maybe you want to discern your vocation, but you’re not ready to talk about it with anyone yet.
Maybe you’re just searching the Internet and you’re not exactly sure why, but the “crazy” idea of becoming a Sister won’t leave you alone.
That’s okay. It happens to more women than you think.
But what should you do?
All the Sisters’ websites you’ve visited (this one included) tell you “Contact us! We’d love to talk to you!” But if that’s too scary, or it’s too soon, there are some great resources out there for you to help understand yourself and what you’re feeling and exploring. Here’s a few…
- Vocations Anonymous. This is one of our favorites. Vocations Anonymous has some great practical tips from prayer helps to the whole “how-to” of getting to know any congregation’s Sisters to what to expect in “Come and See” weekends. You can buy this wonderful book here.
- Vision Guide. Another great resource is the Vision Guide. It’s a magazine that has useful articles and lots of ads from different communities. (A side note: the Handmaids don’t have an ad in this magazine, but please don’t forget about us!). One recent article is by our own Sister Margaret Scott, aci. Way to go, Sr. Margaret! You can read the digital version of the magazine here or order a print version of the next copy here.
- Your local retreat house. Another great resource is your local retreat house (look on the Internet or ask around at your parish). Getting away from your to daily routine and pray about your life, giving thanks to God for all He has given you, may help give you clarity. Ask if there is a “director” who you can talk to. Don’t worry, spiritual directors or retreat directors aren’t like movie directors who tell you what to do, where to stand, and what to say. They are more like “personal trainers.” They work with your goals in mind — but instead of goals like weight loss or marathon training, they’re goals like “have a more satisfying prayer life” or “be more generous” or “discern my vocation.”
By the way, you may read lots of vocations-themed words that you don’t fully understand. Sometimes we vocations directors forget that we have specialized lingo that not everyone uses every day! Here’s some definitions that may help…
- “Vocation” is God’s call for your life, and you certainly have one. Your vocation may be to be a wife and physician, or to be a single person who designs software, or a full-time mom to four kids, or a Sister who teaches Algebra, or a nun who prays for the world from her cloister. But God is very interested in your fullness of life and in using your skills to better the world! So count on it: you DO have a vocation!
- “Discernment” means figuring out what the best course of action is. You discern, or “sift through”, all the pretty-good possibilities for your life (study art, study medicine, study law) and ask God what the BEST decision is. You will need the help of a wise guide who can help you (remember that “personal trainer” we talked about?). This is especially true when you’re talking about the Capital-V-Vocation (what your main life choice will be: married life, single life, religious life).
- “Come and See” retreats are a time for you to “check out” a religious community up close and see if it seems like a good fit. It’s also a time for the community to get to know you better and see if you seem called to their way of life.
- A “Vocations Director” is someone who has experience in helping people figure out if religious life is right for them, and specifically if religious life in a certain community seems to be God’s will for that person.
- “Women Religious” (as opposed to “religious women,” who are any women who happen to be religious) are another name for congregations of faithful women that the world sometimes calls “nuns” or “Sisters.” The Handmaids are a congregation of “Women Religious.”
We hope this has helped you sort through the process of discernment and given you some places to turn if you felt called to explore becoming a Handmaid or to join any other congregation of women religious. God bless you on your journey, and please, contact us if you have any questions or feel we can help.