DISCERNMENT: THE RIGHT “FIT”? Having come to the conclusion that “yes” God is calling me to consecrate my life to Him as a woman religious, the discerner is faced with the question: Which religious community is “the right fit” for me? Dominicans? Franciscans? Benedictines? Carmelites? Augustinians, or any other? Women and men who are members of a religious congregation are committed to the vision of the Foundress/Founder of that Order and the spirituality that person has embraced (that of St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Benedict, that of a Marian thrust, the spirituality of St. Faustina, St. Ignatius, St. Augustine, etc.) So, a discerner needs to learn a little bit about the Foundress/ Founder of the community in which she is interested ( an indepth study is part of the postulancy/novitiate/and temporary vow phase of being incorporated into that community). To what was the Spirit calling the Foundress/Founder? How did they live out their call within the Church and the world in their time and space? As your interest in a religious community grows and if the Vocation Director senses that you might be called to her community, she will introduce you to the Founder/Foundress. As you are introduced to the Foundress/Founder of a religious community, I suggest that you study that bit of information in depth, asking yourself: if I had entered at the time of the Foundress/Founder, how would I have lived out my calling? How might the Spirit be asking me to live this person’s gift to the Church today? Do I even feel a kinship to the Founder/Foundress’ way of living the Gospel? And, are you interested in learning more? If “yes,” continue your discernment with this community.
In your discerning, also consider the following: If the Community in which you are interested is a Franciscan Community, (or any other tradition) you might want to look for some literature in that tradition. If Franciscan, for instance, you might want to look for a book that will introduce you to Francis’ spiritualty (there are lots of books written about him and are available on Amazon.com.). Does Francis’ spirituality, in this case, align with yours in some way? Are you willing to learn more about St. Francis of Assisi? If yes, continue your discernment with this Franciscan community.
In other words, a “yes” to the questions I raised above, may be the Spirit’s nudge to continue serious discernment with the religious community whose charism/gift to the Church inspires you.