Need help in directing others on how to discern religious life?

If you’re a vocation director at a small religious community, you might not have the experience of working with many young women or men discerning religious life. Thus, you lack the knowledge that you need to properly direct them.

Woman discerning religious life while praying with Bible

One strength of the book is that it does not promote any one religious community.

So how do you as a director break apart into understandable parts the subtle ways that God’s grace works in such souls? Especially in today’s distracted and often troubled world?

That’s where a new book comes in handy – Discerning Religious Life, by Sr. Clare Matthias, the vocation director of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. Sr. Clare relies on years of experience and relates many stories in offering help in this area.

This book on how to discern religious life can be used by any community

One thing I like about the book is that it does not promote any one particular religious order. The sisters whose testimonies are offered are not identified in terms of their community. Thus the book can be recommended by any vocation director, or given to a candidate for reading. We will certainly be using it here at Vocation Promotion to improve our Come & See Vocation Promotion Program.

Some of the chapters are, “The Agony of Discernment,” “A Foundation for Discernment,” and “What a Community is Looking for in You.” But the one I really like is “The Six Month Discernment Challenge.”

This chapter is a practical, step-by-step guide to move a person along the path of discernment. The author challenges the discerner to take these steps: 1) Make a Commitment, 2) Develop Your Prayer Life, 3) Seek Accompaniment, 4) Don’t Date and Discern, 5) Start Visiting, 6) Look for Confirmations of the Call, and 7) Take a Leap of Faith!

Upcoming email mini-course

We here at Vocation Promotion are planning to use these seven steps as part of a newsletter mini-course as part of our monthly promotion plan that helps others to discern religious life.

One important insight in discernment that I learned was that it takes time – time given to God in prayer and with the advice of others. The vocation director works with the candidate as he or she is aided also by their spiritual director. As Sr. Clare relates, the seed of a vocation is often planted in childhood, and this inspiration needs room and air to grow as a person matures. Sr. Clare compares it to a flower bud with petals that gradually open.

These insights will provide a better background as we here at Vocation Promotion strive to understand the mind and heart of the many vocation candidates we recruit. Our social media ads provide the initial invitation, but the newsletters we send as part of our Come & See Vocation Promotion Program have to speak to the heart and bring the person along toward a decision. In fact, just last week we obtained more than one hundred names of young women for a Franciscan community of sisters in the Midwest. Now we will nurture their knowledge and interest in religious life with a stream of helpful newsletters.

Overall, Sr. Clare has a firm grasp of vocations work today. She explains,

It is not the intention of this book to unveil the mystery of the religious life for your inspection. No, the life of a religious is necessarily shrouded in mystery. … Mysterious though it is, the story of this unique call, to a closer following of Jesus Christ as a religious, must be told. … It is increasingly difficult to hear and interpret that call in our modern world with all its many distractions and with the decreased visibility of religious sisters.

To order the book, click on “Discerning Religious Life” at Vianney Vocations.