Where or how can I find resources and support for myself and my parents while discerning?
Dear Fr Anthony,
I`m in discernment with a Franciscan community, although I won`t be able to enter until I complete my education. My parents were pretty upset when I told them I wanted to be a Sister, but over time (and with a LOT of prayers) they seem to be mellowing out a little. I`m wondering if you know of any resources that could be helpful to my parents as they try to come to terms with this crazy, completely counter-cultural way of life that their only daughter feels so drawn to.
I`m also looking for ways to be connected with others who are also in discernment and/or finding various articles or resources that can help to support those who already feel very strongly called but must wait, for whatever reason.
Thanks so much!
As regards your parents, you must keep in mind that a vocation is a completely supernatural happening. Though the way we discover it might seem natural enough (a person we meet, a retreat we go on, a book we read, someone we admire, a community we visit and feel at home in sometimes the circumstances seem so simple that we even doubt it really is a vocation), it is always an initiative of God’s grace, and with all its demands it can only be understood from the point of view of faith. There is really nothing logical, outside of the logic of faith, about giving up so many good things to follow Christ as religious (family, marriage, possessions, our independence), not to mention the particular rules of each religious family.
So, the first and best resource to assimilate your vocation is right there in front of your parents. They are probably already using it, but perhaps not with this intentionality: Jesus himself present in the Eucharist. His sacrifice on Calvary and his silent, serving presence in the Eucharist are key in order to understand the consecrated vocation. Next to him, as always, is Mary, the first mother to face the shock of the Father’s hand upon her Son when he was 12 yrs old: Did you not know I must be about my Fathers’ business?, and Mary had to process that. She kept all these things in her heart, turning them over. Her fullness of grace did not exempt her from feeling difficulties. It did not give her immediate and untroubled understanding. It just gave her trust and acceptance in which she could grow in her understanding, consciously giving God his place.
It may also help your parents to get to know the particular group of Franciscans you will join. It would be great if they could visit, meet some of the sisters, see for themselves, ask questions and also to see the transformation in you when you are in their company (that is, of the Franciscans).
As far as your question regarding resources, you can use as a support during your necessary wait before joining religious life, I know you are already doing this, but the principal one is prayer, constant and regular use of the sacraments (daily Eucharist and regular Confession, weekly if you can), and devotion to Mary. Continue to grow in your personal relationship with Christ.
Then, if it is possible, try to visit regularly the community you intend joining, and also if possible, be in touch with other candidates to the community so that you can support each other. If the Newman Center at your college does not have a vocations group, offer yourself to help get one off the ground. For example, you could bring in speakers, organize a special Mass each month, get a discussion group going. If you need help getting materials we will be able to help you here at vocation.com.
I will pray for your intentions and your perseverance.