DISCERNMENT: We are looking at four elements of discernment suggested by Sister Clare Wagner, OP, in the pamphlet entitled “Make a difference! A guide for life choice,” published by the National Coalition for Church Vocation, in 1995. I had published the wrong publisher in the previous emails.
Those four elements of discernment given in that pamphlet are:
· Listening to God’s purpose
· Listening to your heart
· Listening to the data available and
· Listening to the decision being made in you.
In this blog I want to focus on “Listening to the data available.” In order to make a wise decision, you need data. That means doing research. Get to know as many different religious communities as possible. By typing in “Women Religious Communities” in the internet search box, you will be directed to a Directory. In that Directory, click on the name of a religious community and its website will emerge. Read, pray over, and reread the material presented there. What is the Spirit saying to you when you reflect upon that community’ charism, what they do in ministry, where they serve, how they live community life, how important prayer is in their lives? Are you being nudged to check it out more thoroughly? Is a small voice encouraging you to visit that religious community? Is the call to religious life being enflamed?
Talk to the Vocation Director of the community/communities to which you are attracted. Talk about your hopes and your fears. Talk about community life, mission, spirituality, and the importance of prayer as you perceive such essentials of religious life at this point of time in your life.
In visiting a religious community, what are the Sisters like? What attracts you? How are their gifts being used to build up the Church, the Kingdom of God? What is their experience of living the three vows? What is their experience of community living? What has been their ministry experience?
Read about the Foundress/Founder of the community to which you are attracted. How did the Spirit lead her/him? What inspires you as you read the life of the Foundress/Founder of a particular religious community?
When you take your experience of a religious community into your prayer, what feelings emerge? Listen to your heart—God directs you from that center!