Everyone has a vocation
Every vocation is a gift of God’s love. God loves each of us; He knows us; He knows what is best for us. He knows how your talents and gifts can best be used for the well-being of society, for the world and for the Church. God has a special, unique plan for you.
How do I know my vocation?
Some people know at quite a young age that they really want to marry and have a family, or they want, more than anything, to care for the sick or for the poor or marginalized. God may show us our vocation through our interests: a person who loves sport can be a great guide and example to young people through his/her dedication and commitment, self-discipline and sporting spirit – it’s a great gift to play fairly, to play a clean game, to respect the referee and to be able to lose graciously! All of this can be part of one’s vocation.
God will use circumstances too to help you to know your vocation/calling. An aunt who is a nurse may inspire you to do nursing, or you may be influenced by a good teacher to make that your choice in life. God’s providential care is at work all the time.
The Priestly/Religious vocation
In the midst of decisions and career choices, some people will sense an inspiration in their hearts that God may be calling them to devote their lives totally to Him in the priesthood or religious life, in an outgoing and active ministry or in a more contemplative or monastic way of life. There are very many different ways of giving one’s life to God, different forms of priestly and religious life.
A priest was asked about discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life and he said: if the thought of a vocation arises in one’s mind and if it persists, then it may well be a genuine call from God.
God’s call is mysterious and it can seem to defy human logic! St. John Mary Vianney, the famous Parish Priest of Ars, France, because he was not fluent in Latin, had enormous difficulties in passing the required examinations to be a priest. St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) had very serious health problems before ordination that might have indicated that he shouldn’t be ordained. One of our own Poor Clare Saints, St. Colette of Corbie, France, had to try different places before she found her true vocation. God may not make it easy, but whatever He asks of us He will give us the grace to accomplish. So many times in the Gospels Jesus says to His followers – and to us - : “Do not be afraid, I am with you” and, in the words of St. Paul: “There is nothing I cannot do with the help of the One Who gives me strength.” (Phil.4:13)
What should I do if I think God is calling me?
† The first and most important thing to do is to pray. There is no substitute for prayer, as one can only discover God’s will by communicating with Him; asking Him for light and guidance in order to know His will and for grace and strength to carry out what we believe He wants. The simple prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit” is very powerful.
†One would need also to read or listen to the Word of God, at Mass and when alone with God. He may reveal His will quite clearly through a line from Sacred Scripture.
†It is very important too to talk to someone who is experienced in the ways of God and who loves Him. This may be a priest, a parent or teacher, a religious or a committed Catholic in your parish.
†At some point one has to make contact with the religious order/ congregation etc. to which one feels drawn. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and to learn more about the priesthood/religious life. The person you meet will be discerning with you, whether or not this particular way of life seems to be for you.
How will I know if I have a Poor Clare vocation?
The Poor Clare way of life is open to single women who have good general health, who love the Church and her teachings, who feel called to a life of union with God in prayer. It is important for the candidate to be open to God’s will, to desire to do what He asks.
A vocation is a call to follow Jesus, Whom we meet in the Gospels and indeed in the Sacraments of the Church, so a real relationship with Jesus is at the heart of every genuine vocation. Love for Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother ideally accompanies love of Jesus. A young woman who feels God may be calling her to the life of a Poor Clare Sister, would do well to entrust herself to Our Lady’s guidance. As she is our mother, she knows us and she knows how God wishes us to cooperate with Him, for the good of others.
After prayer and discernment, ultimately one has to make an act of faith and give it a try! One can rarely be absolutely certain of God’s call, but there comes a time when one takes the plunge! God will reward a sincere desire to know and fulfil His will.
If a young woman believes God is calling her to the enclosed, contemplative life of a Poor Clare, we would encourage her to begin praying regularly, attending Sunday Mass, availing of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and striving sincerely to live a good Christian life. Such qualities as a love of Eucharistic Adoration and an appreciation of the value of praying for others are also important. An aptitude to live in community is essential, as well as a love of such Franciscan qualities as simplicity, poverty and joy. A sense of humour is a great asset too!
Yes, everyone has a vocation i.e. a calling. Our first calling is the call to life itself! Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.
What should I do if I think God is calling me to be a Poor Clare?
We will be happy to help you as you seek to discern God’s will for you. If it seems that God is calling you, we can arrange for you to visit and meet a sister. If, in due course, you and we feel that it would be beneficial, a live-in at the Monastery may be organised. There is a year of discernment, called aspirancy, before a candidate enters the monastery.
The stages in the life of a new Poor Clare Sister
When a young woman enters the Monastery after the initial period of discernment, she is called a postulant. This stage generally lasts for one year. It is the first phase of formation and allows her time to adjust to her new way of life and to settle in. She lives the enclosed life of the Sisters, learns to pray the Divine Office and continues to seek God’s will, which becomes clearer over time. At this time there is no formal commitment and the young lady is free to leave at any stage.
After this first year, she may request to be received as a novice: this is her formal entrance into the Poor Clare Order. At this time she receives the brown habit of the Franciscan/Poor Clare religious family and a white veil and her new religious name. She will spend at least two years as a novice, continuing her formation, studying Sacred Scripture, Franciscan writings, Church documents etc.
Having completed her time as a novice, she may ask to make temporary vows. If she and the community all feel that it is the will of God for her, after approximately nine years in initial formation, she may take final/solemn vows for life.