After two years of contemplating a religious vocation, Virginia Cotter thought she was finally ready to visit some orders for a closer look. When she arrived at the Sisters of Life convent in New York last year, she was in for a shock.
“Most women, and certainly girls, would be shocked at the joy that they will experience with a visit,” Cotter said. “I was on cloud nine for a week after I first visited. I could not believe the genuine joy there; all of these sisters just, like, beam.”
The first problem I have with this article is the author's comment that Ms. Cotter was "in for a shock", and then Ms. Cotter's own statement that people would be shocked at the experience of a visit. She describes the joy of the Sisters, so I have to ask...why was this a shock? Or was this quote just taken out of context and she intended a wider audience, directed towards those who have a stereotypical idea of a dour, sour frown-and-ruler-bearing nun?
She...has advice for any young men or women who think they may be hearing the small voice of God calling them.
“I would say you need to be open to what God’s plan is for you. Consider your options, not just assuming automatically that he wants you to marry and have a family. The thing is, nothing bad comes from discernment,” she said.
I totally agree! Yes, discernment is agonizing, and painful, but it leads to a greater good and we'll never know what we are called to be unless we pass through this particular cross.
“They are not pushy in the least. They will never come to you, so any decision is absolutely yours. Even if you do not enter an order, you will come away having seen the beauty of religious communities and will have gained more clarity about what God wants for you,” she said.
She also suggested staying close to the sacraments and preparing to see overwhelming joy in a religious vocation.
I agree with some of this, too. No, the communities you'll visit aren't pushy. They are as interested as you are in finding God's will for you. If they can serve in any way in that regard, they will do so. You are NOT wasting their time if you go to visit and find that their charism, their way of life, or their spirituality is not for you. (if they ARE pushy, that's a huge red flag and a sign you should step away!)
I also agree that you (we!) should stay close to the sacraments, but that doesn't just go for those in discernment, but for all of us. It's just that we who are discerning may need that grace even more than those who already know where they are called.
A caveat, though, and I don't mean to nitpick at all. I know what Ms. Cotter is getting at, although I'm not sure everyone would. She said, "You will have gained more clarity about what God wants for you."