And what does the Spirit say? Come and listen to me... Rule of Benedict
If you've ever wondered how – or if – you could fit into religious life, know you don't have to be perfect - not by a long shot. But you do have to be able to get along with others. Look at your relationships – at work, in the community, and at home – for clues. If they are healthy, you could fit in.
In general, religious communities look for stability and maturity in candidates. You have to be able to work both independently and with others. You have to be able to relate to a variety of people.
Indeed, the range of personalities within a religious community run the gamut from extrovert to introvert, and fun-loving to somber. To be able to get along with everyone requires maturity, a quality vocation directors look for from the start.
Lifestyle Skills are Key
Life is full of ups and downs, and how we handle those events shows how balanced we are. If you feel someone has insulted you, for instance, how do you react? Do you try to hurt back? Do you sulk for days? Do you communicate your feelings to the person you believe insulted you? Or do you let it go?
Vocation directors aren't looking for perfection. But they do look for age-appropriate maturity. A young woman might not be able to handle conflict in a mature manner yet. But, by 40, if she reacts to a perceived insult with the cold-shoulder treatment, that's a bit immature.
In communities of dozens – and sometimes hundreds – of people, lifestyle skills are key. You will be affected by many other people in community. You need good problem-solving and communication skills. You need a good understanding of who you are, as well.
Religious Life not an Escape
Who you are helps enflame your desire to explore religious life in the first place, of course. But take a close look at your motivation. The call to religious life can sometimes be confused with wanting to escape from secular life.
The desire to live in community is based on a call from God. You must feel called to seek God together with others, using prayer as your cornerstone. You don't enter religious life to escape issues or avoid problems. You need a level of faith maturity to hear and respond to that call.
How can you know whether you really have that call?
It takes time and patient discernment to discover what your call is. A vocation director can't tell you that religious life is absolutely for you, but she can identify the skills and God-centeredness that are crucial to religious life. Giving your life to God in this way is a deeply joyful experience for those who are called.
Benedictine vocation director Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB is happy to help you in your discernment: email@example.com or (309) 283-2300