Personal Prayer is Essential: The Lord speaks to us every day, and our conversation with Him will provide the answers to whatever questions may be on our soul. God is a communion of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we pray, we share in that relationship. It is why Jesus taught us to call His Father, “Our Father.” (Matt. 6:9) When we were baptized, we became adopted sons and daughters of the Father, brothers and sisters in Christ. (Jn 1:12, Rom 8:14-17) Often, all the Lord is waiting for is for us to call out to Him in faith. When we do, then we will not miss the Lord’s call. He will show us that we are lovable, we are loved by Him, there is a plan for us, and we can trust Him to bring it about at the right time.
Seek Wise Counsel: God made us social beings; He wants us to help each other out. Asking the right questions of the right people is essential. “Be not afraid!” (Mt 14:27) “Put out into the deep.” (Luke 5:4) If holy people are hinting, or even teasing, that we should look at the consecrated life, then perhaps God is gently nudging our hearts in that direction. Having a spiritual director, or at minimum someone wise in the spiritual life to whom we can share our dreams and fears, is important. They often will be able to affirm where God has been active for us or offer some insight as to why something is amiss.
Patience & Providence: God has a plan, but the timing is often the painful part of the process. Most of Jesus’ own life was quiet preparation. It was about thirty years of formation in Nazareth before Jesus stepped out into ministry. But when the ministry started, it was a fast-paced race to the finish. Likewise, we may spend months and years dreaming and thinking about being a Sister, and along the way it will feel like an eternity while the Lord sends subtle hints, arranges encounters, and forms us in virtue. Then, when all is ready and we have the sense that we are supposed to make the leap of faith, the process will come faster than we may be comfortable with. Lots of patience. Lots of trust. God has a plan, and grace will get us there. Pray and seek wise counsel.
Beware Spiritual Warfare: We don’t like to admit it, but there are people and fallen angels that are not in favor of us joining Jesus’ team. They may try to dissuade, discourage, or even boldly block us from following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As noted above, this is where personal prayer and wise counsel are important. The Evil One is not interested in us going on retreats. If we do go, he will try to steal graces away upon our return. So, as long as we know this in advance, we have nothing to fear. If God wants us to respond to a vocation call, and we are faithful, then all will come about at the right time. If we should falter, fear not, God can get us back on course.
Holiness & the Sacraments: Our first vocation is to holiness. The simplest way to holiness is to go to Confession often and Eucharist as frequent as is possible. Spending time reflecting on how we can be perfected by grace, especially while adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, is a great way to understand God’s will for us. We can become saints before becoming sisters or wives, and this indeed is what God wants for us. The secret is to grow in love with Jesus and His bride, the Church.
There are other important principles in the spiritual life not yet mentioned. The list above is a short introduction, so that a young woman can know she is generally on the right track. Do not be afraid to ask for help from those given to you by the Lord as wise counsel.
Fr. Aaron Kuhn
Priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN. Ordained in 2007. Currently finishing a licentiate in canon law from The Catholic University of America.