My junior year of college I broke up with my boyfriend to discern a religious vocation.
I remember the chaplain at school counseled me to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) so I would have no doubts in the future about whether God was calling me to the religious life. During my discernment process, I visited cloistered and active orders, one of which was the Sisters of Life in New York.
I visited the Sisters of Life for a weekend and was able to have an interview with the vocations director. At the end of the weekend I spoke with the Mother Superior about what God was calling me to do. After a peaceful and prayerful weekend, I discerned that God was not calling me to the religious life at that time.
The Mother Superior and the vocations director advised me to see a spiritual director regularly. I was so touched that — even though I wasn’t called to be a Sister of Life — these two women cared so deeply for my soul. They pulled out a map to find a priest who lived near me and even called him to set up the first appointment.
I was called to live out my single vocation and a spiritual director would help me to navigate those waters.
The reason I share this story is because recently a fellow CatholicMatch member asked a question in the com-box of one of my posts: “I thought the use of a spiritual director was to discern a religious vocation?”
A spiritual director is not only important for those who are discerning a religious vocation, but also for those who are married or single. Pope Benedict XVI states, “Anyone who wants to live their baptism responsibly should have a spiritual director.”
The goal of spiritual direction is to help discern what God is calling you to do. Not everyone is called in the same way.
I learned this simple message during my visit to the cloistered convent. In my mind, I thought that cloistered sisters contemplating our Lord in the silence for many hours of the day was the best vocation to have. I wanted to be called to that life, but when I visited the convent I knew without a doubt that God was not calling me there.
I was so mad at God. “Why aren’t you calling me to the highest vocation?” I shared my thoughts with the Mother Superior and she so delicately responded. “Contemplative life isn’t the highest vocation. The highest vocation is the one that God is calling you to.”
As I sat in the chair, it felt like the Holy Spirit hit me over the head. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).
Of course! Not everyone can be called to the contemplative life. God needs teachers, mothers, priests, doctors, fathers and candlestick makers. God has a unique path just for you and your spiritual director helps you to find that path.
Not everyone has the luxury of a Mother Superior to help you find a spiritual director, but there are many helpful resources online.
Check out the links on this page and begin by praying to know God’s will for you.