Invitation to Religious Life — The gift of a religious vocation

Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia Augusta Nickel

Above all, the gift of a religious vocation is just that: a gift. And as with all gifts God gives, he is not content simply to give good “things,” but in so doing, gives himself.

The invitation to consecrated religious life is an invitation to live deeply, intimately in friendship with Jesus Christ, dedicated to him as his bride. And this invitation, which is ratified through the profession of vows to live poor, chaste and obedient in imitation of him, is founded upon one simple fact, as explained in the 1994 document “Fraternal Life in Community:”

“Christ gives a person two basic certainties: the certainty of being infinitely loved and the certainty of being capable of loving without limits.”

In essence, the call to consecrated religious life is the call to pursue perfect charity. As St. Elizabeth of the Trinity expressed it, “To be the bride of Christ! ‘Bride,’ I must live all that this name implies of love given and received; of intimacy, fidelity, of absolute devotion! To be a bride means to be given as he gave himself … it is Christ making himself all ours and we becoming all his!”

My first awareness of Jesus inviting me to religious life came in eucharistic adoration. I grew up in a Denver-area parish where the pastor made a 24-hour adoration chapel and Jesus present in the Eucharist the focal point of parish life.

When I went to college, I eagerly sought opportunities to sit before our Lord “face to face.” And it was here that I told the Lord my plans — plans to be a doctor, a wife, a mother — and confidently asked for his blessing.

But my confidence in these plans wavered as my heart longed after “something more,” and I began to ask our Lord what he envisioned for my life. And he answered with one question that began slowly but consistently to form in my mind until it deafened all other thoughts: “Will you be all mine?”

Choosing to answer that question was one of the most frightening — and freeing — decisions I’ve ever made. With the help of some trusted priests in my life and a few “holy helpers” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux chief among them), I began to discern, to learn what it might look like to be “all his” as a consecrated religious sister.

Sixteen years after joining the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia based in Nashville, Tennessee, and having professed the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience “for all my life,”

I am so grateful that Christ pursued me and called me to himself.

Like every vocation, there is struggle and sacrifice — but truly it is a beautiful life, and I have found a joy and fulfillment that I didn’t even know my heart could experience. As my great patron, St. Augustine, puts it, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.” And while that final rest, peace and joy will come only with entering into Heaven, every bit of religious life here and now puts us in contact with Jesus — and forms us to live with him forever.

Do you sense his call? Do you long to make of your life something noble and great? Does your heart speak of infinite love, and tell you to “seek his face”?

BE NOT AFRAID! He who calls you will guide you every step of the way.

  • Stay close to him in the sacraments; attend daily Mass when you’re able, and frequent the sacrament of reconciliation.
  • Seek his face in eucharistic adoration or simply sit before him present in the tabernacle. Get familiar with his voice by regularly reading sacred Scripture.
  • Talk with a trusted spiritual advisor, a priest or sister in your parish, or those in our archdiocesan vocation office.
  • Visit a religious community and see what religious life is all about. Observe the life and ask: Can I see myself here?
  • Pray with confidence in the Holy Spirit, who will lead you.

Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia Augusta Nickel is director of faith formation for St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky.

The Record
Written By
The Record
More from The Record
Sacred Heart School for the Arts will present ‘Through the Looking Glass’
Sacred Heart School for the Arts will present the play “Through the...
Read More
0 replies on “Invitation to Religious Life — The gift of a religious vocation”