Am I worthy?
The short answer is no, but it’s not the right question. The question is: are you called? The old maxim applies, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” At the beginning of the 5th chapter of Luke, Jesus calls Simon Peter to be an apostle. Kneeling in a boat full-to-the-brim with fish, Peter says, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Jesus’ response? “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” Simon Peter’s own declaration of sin was met with a vocation. Jesus doesn’t call Peter because of his holiness, self-awareness, or his worthiness. He calls Peter because Christ knows Peter’s heart, and he knows where he will find salvation. It’s likely we won’t have an encounter with the Jesus of History, so how do we know if we are being called?
If you are seriously thinking about a religious vocation – get serious about your prayer life. But how? When asked how one should pray, JPII said, “How to pray? This is a simple matter. I would say: Pray any way you like, so long as you do pray.” Of course you must participate frequently in the Sacramental life of the Church. In addition you should begin the process of listening to God, also called contemplation. “Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son” (CCC 2712). This can take a lot of forms, centering prayer, lectio divina, the rosary, etc. We develop this prayer life so we can feel the gentle tug of our heartstrings, learn about ourselves, and begin a practice of listening that will sustain us.
Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s easy to get caught up in the discernment process. There are just so many different communities. You don’t have to visit every community in order to discern, there are some questions you can ask yourself/pray with that’ll help. What will sustain me: contemplation, community life, an active apostolate, the intellectual life? With the grace of God, could I live this life? Do I feel a sense of attraction to this life? With these men as brothers, do I feel a sense of home? Will this life draw me closer to the Lord? In living this vocation do I see the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)?
The greatest spiritual director is the Holy Spirit. But we can get in the way of ourselves. And we can deceive ourselves. If you are discerning, having a spiritual director is very helpful. Sometimes we need a sounding board, someone to listen to us. Other times we need someone who can see behind the words we are saying and help us read our own hearts. A good spiritual director will walk with you towards God and help you see the way that the Lord is leading you.
How is the Lord calling you to love?
St. Therese of Lisieux wrote, “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love!” If the Lord is calling you to religious life, your love is to be inclusive. We love our Lord more deeply by seeing Him in our brothers and in His Sacraments. Religious life is a way of perfection, and we are being perfected in love. The center of our lives, our primary intimate relationship is with God, who is love. That love of God cannot be divorced from love of neighbor. In fact they enrich and compliment one another. In religious life we are stretched and our love is to become expansive. If you are wondering if you are loving, look to those fruits of the Spirit again (Galatians 5:22-23), are they present in your life, in your relationship with others, and do you extend them to yourself?
The Catholic Church in the South needs more Dominican priests and brothers. Is God calling you to be a Dominican Friar (priest or brother)?