Articles of the Month
What do you do when you think that you might have a calling to the religious life or to the priesthood?
Many single Catholics have thought about becoming a religious sister, nun or priest at some time in their lives. It takes time to decide whether this "feeling" is a true calling to the religious life. It is a blessing to dedicate one's life to God and to Our Lord Jesus. If a person feels a strong urgency to find out more about this type of vocation, the best thing to do is to speak with a sister, nun or priest first to find out what the vocation would entail. Many times, speaking with a person who is already in the religious life can help by answering questions concerning the religious life and can lead you to the appropriate places that you need to go to in order to get more information on the type of qualifications and education you will need to become a religious.
Another thing to do if you're on the fence on deciding whether to pursue the religious life or the priesthood is to go on a Catholic retreat for men or women. The quiet time will pull you away from all the world's distractions and you can pray and ask God to help lead you in the right direction for your life. You can also find out if you truly want to become a sister, nun or priest by volunteering to help sisters, nuns, or priests where they work. You will have the benefit of finding out exactly what the religious and priests do and you can ask them many questions of whether they enjoy their vocation, is the work difficult, etc. You can then decide whether you want to do the same kinds of things they do.
You can also join a religious order as a lay person living in the world such as in the Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, and Dominicans. These religious orders have 3rd order lay associations which take some type of vow but you can still work and live on your own. For more information on these types of associations, just search "third Order Franciscans, third order Dominicans, etc... on the computer and you will be given their information. As I said before, dedicating your life to the Lord is a wonderful thing and it is a blessing but it should not be taken lightly. It is also a sacrifice. Like marriage and single life, it also has its ups and downs. So, it is imperative that everyone who is considering the religious life or priesthood take it seriously and not rush into making any decisions. It takes time to discern the "calling" to find out if it is really what you want. It is a life-time commitment.
There are also many DVD's on priests and nuns living in communities such as in the Benedictines in Monastery and sisters in the Carmelites. These DVD's show what the religious life and priesthood is about and also shows their day to day functions and responsibilities. Many religious sisters and priests are now becoming involved in evangelizing in the media. When you go to a religious community, you will usually be asked what you will want to do when you become a sister or priest. Many times, the communities will allow you to work in the specific type of work that you request to work in but you must ask them before you decide to join that community.
Whether you choose to become a sister, nun or priest, you are the one who needs to decide. Ask others to pray for you as you make your decisions for your life. May God bless you in all the decisions of your life. Take care.
Can I dedicate my sufferings, penances and sacrifices to the Lord?
Yes. We can all dedicate our sufferings, penances and sacrifices to Our Lord and to Our Blessed Mother whenever we want--preferably every day if possible. Our Lady of Fatima requested that every person dedicate their sacrifices, penances and sufferings to the Lord for the sins of others and for the conversion of sinners. Sometimes we may forget but if we put it into our daily schedules, it might be easier to remember. There is a morning offering prayer that we can all say which will help us automatically offer whatever we do and say during the day:
O My God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary (here kiss the Brown Scapular+), I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the altars throughout the world, joining with it the offering of my every thought, word and actions of this day.
O My Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can and I offer them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate. . . that she may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart.
Precious Blood of Jesus, save us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
--Plenary indulgence under the usual conditions once a day.
For example, if we suffer some humiliation, we can offer it to Our Lord and to Our Blessed Mother. We can also offer going to Mass for the souls in Purgatory, for the salvation of ourselves and for our loved ones, for the conversion of sinners, etc. as well as offering our Holy Communion with the same intentions. We not only contribute to our salvation but also for the salvation of others. It is also an act of mercy when we offer our works, deeds and thoughts for others.
Another sacrifice that we can offer is the recitation of the Holy Rosary. This sacramental was brought to us by Our Blessed Mother Herself so it is of tremendous importance for us and for others. It is a means of gaining salvation for ourselves and for others, as long as we also follow the dictates of the Catholic Church and the Commandments of God. Our Lady promised the glory of Heaven for those who recite the Rosary every day without fail and go to confession and attend Mass every week. It is also a sacrifice to wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It is an outward sign that we are dedicated to Her.
For those who are disabled, they can dedicate their sufferings to the Lord and to Our Blessed Mother through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus too. Whatever misfortunes, mishaps, sufferings, tribulations and disabilities people may go through in this life, they can be sure that those circumstances do not have to go to waste, but they can be used for the good of souls. Whatever hardships we may endure, we can be sure that our offerings to the Lord and Our Blessed Mother will always be put to good use for the good of others. May God keep you under His care. God bless.