Becoming a Religious Brother
The Choice of Vocation: A Gift and A Challenge
One of the most difficult decisions we make in our lives is that of making personal vocational choices. The alternatives to choose from are many, and they are all good and holy. These life choices, however, are uniquely personal. That means to say, that not everybody is called to be a religious. Therefore, it is necessary that we carefully discern the varied vocational opportunities that are open to us as individuals.
The call to Religious life starts like any vocational calling, whether to married life, or to single celibacy. We are seized by the spirit, we are imbued with God's grace and we are moved by God to action. Ultimately, our God experiences draw us closer to God and to God's people, The call to embrace religious life, however, comes differently in its life context. One hears God's calling more intensely and is drawn by God's grace to follow Christ more drastically in their lives. One is drawn to make the radical decisions and commitments that are asked of a religious. That is why there is a need for a vocation discerner to listen more attentively to God's call through contemplation and prayer, personal reflection, consultation with close friends, spiritual directors, and spiritual companions. There is also a need to make personal explorations of religious communities, to truly discern what God’s will is for an individual based on his gifts, strengths, and talents.
Religious Life has been defined by the way of life that was lived by the early century Christians. It has continued to this day as religious make deliberate choices to live the values of the Christian Gospel and to accept the demands of professing the apostolic vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. These men and women who chose this way of life have prayer life, community living and service as the major thrust of their lives, in the service of Christ's Mission, i.e., the unfolding of the reign of God in our world. For the last few decades, much of this mission has evolved into working for peace and justice for our broken world.
Religious life has challenges and rewards as does any other vocation. Life always has its own moments of joys and of sorrows. We recognize that we are only human beings with flaws, weaknesses and frailties. We rejoice, however, in our human realities. This is because it is in our weakness that Christ- who-is-with-us - always graces us with the necessary gifts to live out our lives as religious. We are humbled to know that it was not us who chose religious life. Rather, it was religious life that chose us. So in faith, we are filled with hope that God, who called us into this life, will always sustain us, most especially during our most trying and difficult times. In "knowing deeply, loving dearly and following closely Christ and Christ's example" in our lives we will grow closer to our journey of life-long personal conversion and transformation to become more loving and caring for God, for others, for ourselves and for the world.
God's Spirit is amazing! We cannot contain God in our lives, we can only mirror it. We only grow in our openness to God's Spirit by being more willing to be attuned to and to cooperate with God's movements in our lives. Let us all, then, be in awe as we come to acknowledge our total dependence on God's grace. Let us echo Thomas Merton's prayer as he narrates his mystical experience in "Thoughts in Solitude":
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I can not know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and that fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you, does in fact, please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."