Prayer And Discernment Resources
Prayer To Know One’s Vocation
Lord, my God and my loving Father, you have made me to know you, to love you, to serve you, and thereby to find and to fulfill my deepest longings. I know that you are in all things, and that every path can lead me to you.
But of them all, there is one especially by which you want me to come to you. Since I will do what you want of me, I pray you, send your Holy Spirit to me: into my mind, to show me what you want of me; into my heart, to give me the determination to do it, and to do it with all my love, with all my mind, and with all of my strength righ to the end. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen
What is Prayer
Praying the Liturgy of the Hours. . .
Local Chapel for Prayer and Adoration. . .
How to Pray the Rosary
Stations of the Cross for Vocations
Official Vatican Website. . .
Recommended Reading for Discerning Women
Is God Calling Me?. . .
Lectio Divina on the Meaning of a Call
A Eucharistic Hour for Church Vocations
The Vowed Life
VISION Vocation Network. . .
Retreats are important moments to listen to God and hear the talks of consecrated women. Retreats foster genuine discernment. In the midst of your busy lives, a retreat opportunity affords you time of silence and clarity that cannot be found in the world. Please take advantage of a retreat experience to ask God what He wants for your life – a retreat gives you such an opportunity. Your Diocesan Vocation Director. . . can tell you more about retreats near you. If you are interested in a retreat with a religious community, secular institute, or society of apostolic life, this link may be helpful to you: Religious Life, Secular Institutes, and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Señor, mi Dios y mi Padre amoroso, que han hecho de mí saber que, a amarte, para servirle a usted, y por lo tanto para encontrar y cumplir mis deseos más profundos. Sé que estás en todas las cosas, y que todos los caminos me puedo llevar a usted. Pero de todos ellos, hay uno en especial por el cual usted quiera que yo vaya a ti. Desde que voy a hacer lo que quieres de mí, te lo ruego, envía tu Espíritu Santo para mí: en mi mente, que me muestre lo que quiere de mí; en mi corazón, que me diera la determinación para hacerlo, y hacerlo con todo mi amor, con toda mi mente y con todas mis fuerzas righ hasta el final. Jesús, confío en ti. Amén
Find links on United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history—the page on which the “today” of God is written.
To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower. But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.
Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.
—Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2705-2708
Top Ten Things to Promote Vocations
For all Catholics:
- Pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Jesus says in Matthew 9:38 “to beg the master of the harvest to send laborers into the vineyard.” If we want more priests, sisters and brothers, we all need to ask.
- Teach young people how to pray. Pope Benedict XVI said that unless we teach our youth how to pray, they will never hear God calling them into a deeper relationship with Him and into the discipleship of the Church.
- Invite active young adults and teens to consider a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life. A simple, sincere comment should not be underestimated. An easy way to do this can be remembered by four letters: ICNU. “John, I see in you (ICNU) the qualities that would make a good priest, and I want to encourage you to pray about it.” It is a non-invasive way to encourage openness to a religious vocation.
- Make it attractive. Show the priesthood for what it truly is – a call to be a spiritual father to the whole family of faith. Similarly, the consecrated life for a young woman is a call to be united to Christ in a unique way, and to be a spiritual mother to those she encounters in her life and service. The challenge for priests and religious is to be joyful models of their vocations.
- Preach it, brother! Vocations must be talked about regularly if a “vocation culture” is to take root in parishes and homes. This means, first and foremost, the people need to hear about vocations from priests through homilies, prayers of the faithful, and discussions in the classroom. Vocations kept out of sight are out of mind.
For those considering a vocation:
- Practice the faith. We all need to be reminded that the whole point of our lives is to grow in a deep, intimate and loving relationship with God. This is the first step for any young person desiring to discern any call in life.
- Enter into the Silence. Silence is key to sanity and wholeness. We can only “hear” the voice of God if we are quiet. Take out the ear buds of your iPhone, iPod, and iTunes and listen to God, the great I AM. Young people should try to spend 15 minutes of quiet prayer each day – this is where you can begin to receive clear direction in your lives.
- Be a good disciple. Some bishops say, “We do not have a vocation crisis; we have a discipleship crisis.” Young people can become true followers of Jesus Christ by serving those around them. By discovering your call to discipleship, you also discover your particular call within the Church.
- Ask God. Ask God what He wants for your life and know He only wants what is good for you. If, in fact, you are called to the priesthood or consecrated life, it will be the path to great joy and contentment.
- In the immortal words of a famous sneaker manufacturer: “Just do it!” If you feel that God is inviting you to “try it out,” apply to the seminary or religious order. Remember, the seminary or convent is a place of discernment. You will not be ordained or asked to profess vows for many years, providing ample opportunity to explore the possibility of a call to priesthood or religious life.
A woman who enters consecrated life chooses to deepen her baptismal commitment by taking vows which emphasize the values of prayer, loving service, and simple living in community with others. Consecrated women serve the Church and community in many ways, including: youth ministry, homeless and hungry, battered women, education, healthcare, family life and parish pastoral ministry. Some Sisters are totally dedicated to the contemplative life. The resources here are to help a discerning woman discover the next steps in her journey. May God bless you as you search for His holy will.
Prayer and Discernment Resources
The realization that God is asking you to follow Him in consecrated life is made through active participation in the Church, prayer, receiving the sacraments, spiritual reading, and service in the Church. It may be an idea you have considered for a long time or one that has come to you during a significant moment in your life. These are prayers and resources to assist in discerning God’s plan for you.
Vocation Directors Near You
Find a Religious Vocation Director
Consecrated Life is distinguished by the Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The beauty of the consecrated life is expressed in various forms: Eremitic Life, Consecrated Virgins and Widows, Religious Life, Secular Institutes, and Societies of Apostolic Life. Each form is described by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and we have provided a link, where possible, that will help you learn more about the various forms of Consecrated Life and be in contact with those that interest you.
Find a Diocesan Vocation Director
If you are not certain of your interest in a particular community or form of consecrated life, yet believe you may have a vocation to the consecrated life, a Diocesan Vocation Director may help you discern. They can suggest reading materials, arrange for visitations, answer questions and provide the spiritual guidance candidates need. Every diocese has a Vocation Director who can provide information about religious communities or institutes of consecrated life for women, and this link will bring you to a map whereby you can find a Diocesan Vocation Director. . . near you.
Forms Of Consecrated Life
All information is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
915. Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.
916. The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.
920. Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits “devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance.”
921. They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One
Consecrated Virgins and Widows
922. From apostolic times Christian virgins and widows, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in the respective states of virginity or perpetual chastity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”
923. “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.” By this solemn rite (Consecratio Virginum), the virgin is “constituted…a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.”
924. “As with other forms of consecrated life,” the order of virgins establishes the woman living in the world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the state of life and spiritual gifts given to her. Consecrated virgins can form themselves into associations to observe their commitment more faithfully. consecratedvirgins.org. . .
925. Religious life was born in the East during the first centuries of Christianity. Lived within institutes canonically erected by the Church, it is distinguished from other forms of consecrated life by its liturgical character, public profession of the evangelical counsels, fraternal life led in common, and witness given to the union of Christ with the Church.
926. Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the counsels. Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior’s bride. Religious life in its various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time.
927. All religious, whether exempt or not, take their place among the collaborators of the diocesan bishop in his pastoral duty. From the outset of the work of evangelization, the missionary “planting” and expansion of the Church require the presence of the religious life in all its forms. “History witnesses to the outstanding service rendered by religious families in the propagation of the faith and in the formation of new Churches: from the ancient monastic institutions to the medieval orders, all the way to the more recent congregations.”
Helpful Web Sites
Institute for Religious Life
National Religious Vocation Conference
Religious Ministries Guide Online
Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
928. “A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within.”
929. By a “life perfectly and entirely consecrated to [such] sanctification,” the members of these institutes share in the Church’s task of evangelization, “in the world and from within the world,” where their presence acts as “leaven in the world.” “Their witness of a Christian life” aims “to order temporal things according to God and inform the world with the power of the gospel.” They commit themselves to the evangelical counsels by sacred bonds and observe among themselves the communion and fellowship appropriate to their “particular secular way of life.” www.secularinstitutes.org
Societies of Apostolic Life
930. Alongside the different forms of consecrated life are “societies of apostolic life whose members without religious vows pursue the particular apostolic purpose of their society, and lead a life as brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions. Among these there are societies in which the members embrace the evangelical counsels” according to their constitutions.
Sr. Yolanda Cruz, SSMN, 909 W. Shaw Street, Fort Worth, TX 76110 or Call: (817)923-8393; firstname.lastname@example.org