Discernment: Answering a Call to Priesthood or Religious Life
How do I know if my vocation is to the Priesthood or Religious Life?
Look for signs from God! Have you noticed any of the following things taking shape in your life?
Growing Faith - A person experiences an increased awareness of God in his or her life and a developing appreciation of Jesus, His way of life, His mission, His holy people the Church, His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, and His Sacraments.
Growing Zeal - A person's developing friendship with Jesus will lead him or her to desire more and more to share in His mission of saving the world, saving people and saving souls.
Growing Desire to be Consumed - A person's increasing desire to give himself or herself completely to the Lord.
Growing Interest in the Life and Work of a Priest or Religious - A person's growing wonderment at what it would be like to give themselves completely to the Lord and the works of the Lord - being Jesus for others, gathering all people into God's family, preaching the Word, celebrating the Holy Eucharist and Sacraments, and organizing people for service.
Growing Desire to Lead People - A man or woman exhibiting leadership skills in school, community and church.
Growing Sensitivity to the Needs of People - A man or woman who enjoys being around people and has a caring attitude toward all.
Growing Sense That God Has Something Great Planned for You - A man or woman with the sense that there are more important things in life, and that God is calling him or her to be part of these deeper mysteries.
The call to the religious vocation is a call to total self-sacrifice for Christ and His Church. Although it is a life which requires that you "lay down your life" (i.e. your own personal interests and comforts) in order to serve others and God, Jesus promised that "he who loses his life for My sake will save it." The religious life is considered as the most perfect of the states of life, not because priests or nuns are necessarily any better than married or single people, but because the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience which religious take, involve the renunciation of everything that human beings most prize: possessions, marriage, and power. To dedicate oneself wholly to the service of God and work "in His vineyard," leaving everything for love of Him, is a truly beautiful act, if it is the one to which you are called.
Ever since the early days of the Church, some Christians, both men and women, have practiced celibacy and devoted themselves to prayer, penance, and various apostolates. Some of them remained in the world in the service of the Church, and others left everything and went out into the desert to be alone with God. The beginnings of religious orders came in the third century A.D., when groups of hermits began to be organized into communities with a specific rule and a superior. Eventually, religious orders arose from this basis