Skip to content

When God Calls a Woman to the Consecrated Life

Mother Assumpta Long on Divine Courtship

ANN ARBOR, Michigan, FEB. 13, 2004 (Zenit) - Each woman who is destined to be the bride of Christ as a religious sister has her own love story to tell.

So says Mother Assumpta Long, superior and one of the four founders of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

After many years in the religious life and witnessing a more than tenfold growth of the Sisters of Mary over the last seven years, Mother Assumpta has seen God's ongoing "courtship" with her fellow sisters, novices and those discerning their vocations.

She shared her thoughts on the challenges those women face in answering his call.

Q: How do vocation prospects today differ from, say, a generation ago?

Mother Assumpta: In past generations most young women entered the convent straight from high school or perhaps after a few years of college. Presently it seems that more discern God's invitation to become a consecrated religious after obtaining a degree and spending a few years in the work force.

God operates mysteriously in his own time with each soul; there is no "typical" timeline.

To one young woman he gives the grace of knowing she is destined to be his bride while in school, permitting her to give the gift of her youth and innocence at a young age; whereas to another, he gently pulls on the strings of her heart after she has sought to make her way in a career, realizing that no matter what riches, professional success or fulfillment the world may offer, she will never be truly fulfilled until she gives herself completely to him.

In our community we have young women from both ends of this spectrum and all along the middle.

It is an amazing realization for a woman that the personal qualities, gifts, talents and experiences God has bestowed upon her are actually gifts for her to utilize in her new family, the religious community. Every young woman who enters religious life is a priceless gift and she touches and affects the community uniquely and irrevocably.

It is amazing how uniquely he calls a woman to be entirely his; while there are several general characteristics which seem to point to a religious vocation -- such as love of the Church, liturgy and sacraments, devotion to Mary, love of Eucharistic adoration, etc. -- the love stories between God and the souls he chooses for his own are as unique as each individual religious.

One thing is constant: God's immense gift of love fills the heart and floods it with all the graces necessary to echo the fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation: "Be it done unto me according to thy word."

The Church as a wise mother gives young women who are considering religious consecration a precious gift: the time of novitiate. Youth are generous, enthusiastic and fervent, but sometimes the initial enthusiasm can wane and it becomes apparent that the road to holiness lies along another path.

In the novitiate, a young woman can test her vocation by living the life day in and day out. She has time to pray and to listen to God's voice. Aside from discernment, this time is also invaluable in filling any gaps in an individual's religious formation, for example, the catechism, Scripture, theology, etc.

At the end of the novitiate, the young woman is free to make vows or return to the secular life. There should be no stigma if a young woman decides to leave the community, if she deems that God has created her for another vocation than religious life. She should be commended for having given it her best effort.

Q: Amid rising secularism in North America, what is it that most attracts women to a religious vocation today?

Mother Assumpta: Young people are unwavering in their desire for truth, real love and authenticity. Amidst all of the glitter, toys and noise the world holds as "must-haves," youth intuitively know that they are merely trifles, and want the real thing -- God.

Women often remark that they seek to join communities that have a communal prayer life, including daily Mass, common recitation of the Divine Office and the rosary.

In our community's experience, our particular emphasis on devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist and to Mary, the Mother of God, often attracts young women who want to make a daily Eucharistic holy hour as we do. We also make the St. Louis de Montfort Marian Consecration, which especially attracted several sisters.

Other elements young women have told me that they look for are fidelity to the Holy Father and the magisterium of the Church, the witness of a religious habit and balanced community life of prayer, study, work and play -- a family in which true fraternal charity is manifest, with all of its joys and challenges.

People often remark that they are extremely attracted by the genuine joy of the sisters. There is a peace and joy that radiates from the core of a woman's being when she is striving to achieve holiness along the path that God has destined for her.

True joy is present even in the midst of difficulty, pain or suffering; it is a grace and gift of God to the soul who is genuinely trying to follow his will for her life, in all of the daily tribulations as well as the high points.

Q: What special challenges do young women face if they want to pursue a religious vocation? Are their families generally still supportive, as in past generations?

Mother Assumpta: Some women are debilitated into indecision by the desire to have a tangible sign that they have a religious vocation, preferably one that is big, neon and flashing the message: "I want YOU to be a religious sister!"

God's invitation is often subtle and merits quiet prayer and contemplation. Remember that the prophet Elijah discerned the Lord's voice in the gentleness of the wind. God speaks to us in ordinary events, persons and situations.

Years of indecision may invariably end up forcing a woman never to act and thus turn her back on her potential vocation. God is patient, but the temptation of waiting "one more year" can turn into endless years, and suddenly, it's too late.

Another difficulty many young women face is debt from college education loans. As a larger number of women are discerning their vocation to religious life after they have attained college or graduate degrees, they have not had sufficient time to completely repay their educational debt. Religious communities may have difficulty in accepting a young woman with student loans.

The Lord is wondrous in his ways, and so we must trust him to help women find means to eliminate their school debt in order to embrace their vocation, whether it is assistance from their families, parish, charitable organizations or generous benefactors.

Family reactions to a woman's vocation are varied and range from viewing a woman's vocation as a blessing all the way to downright opposition. There are sacrifices that both a woman and her family make in embracing a religious vocation.

God is never outdone in generosity, however, and even the most resistant parents often experience an abundance of graces that flow from their daughter's vocation. Once they see their daughter transformed into the woman God intended her to be from all eternity, radiating the joy and love of Christ, they more easily accept the separation.

Many sisters find that they have a deeper, more genuine relationship with their families than they had prior to entering the convent.

Q: What is the best advice you could give to a young woman thinking of a vocation?

Mother Assumpta: Pray, listen and act. If a young woman truly wants to know and do God's will for her life, and if she opens her heart to his answer and listens, he will guide her.

Spending quiet prayer time with the Lord in adoration is one good way. I would suggest that a young woman ask Our Lady to guide her -- she is the perfect exemplar of receptivity to God's will. Having recourse to competent spiritual direction is always helpful.

Once a young woman has a fairly good idea that the Lord may be calling her, she must act on that inspiration. She should begin communicating with religious communities, for the Holy Spirit will guide her through these contacts.

Lastly, a vocation must be tried and lived over a period of time. As I mentioned earlier, a woman who enters religious life and is truly open to the Lord's graces will know if it is her vocation or not.

Q: What is the best advice you could give to families to encourage vocations among their children?

Mother Assumpta: The best gift parents can give their children is to live their married vocation with great love, joy and fidelity; in this domestic school of charity children learn to choose the good and the true, and to embrace their vocations willingly.

Instilling a deep love and reverence for the Church, her sacraments, priests and religious in children gives them a solid foundation of faith, love and fidelity for life. It also helps them to be open and to respond generously to God's will for their lives, whatever it may be. Prayer on behalf of children and their vocations, and teaching them to pray for their own vocations is an investment well made.

Having exposure to priests and religious is also helpful in encouraging vocations. Parents should be supportive and underscore the fact that God creates each person for a purpose, here on earth and in heaven, and gives the soul all the helps and graces necessary to make it to heaven in the particular vocation he has planned.

The great mystery and adventure is discovering what God's will is and doing it with joy.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Woman, Women, Consecrated, Life, Christ

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.