It’s not because I’ve given up on finding a man, am secretly lesbian, or need to escape regular life. Promise.
I’m discerning because religious life aligns so well with my deepest desires—and I have a lot of desires.
I want to forward the mission of the Church, particularly its good news for the poor. I want to be like Tabitha in the Acts of the Apostles, a woman “completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving.” I want to be totally available to the Church, its needs, and its ministries.
In marriage and family life, you love a few people fiercely and are called to belong to them, and that is beautiful and good. But I want to love broadly. I want to love friends and family, but also the people who fly under the radar. I want to be in kinship with the ones who go unnoticed by society. I want my world, and my love, to be big.
I want to live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy not only to my immediate family but to those who might otherwise go without food, shelter, comfort, counsel, and prayer.
I want to live and work with the poor, and both those things become exponentially more difficult if I’m directly responsible for other people’s financial and emotional well-being.
Jesus has become a person I want to know more, be with more, and follow wholeheartedly as my friend, Lord, and God. While I do not see religious life as “marrying Jesus,” I think it’s possible that there may not be space for anyone else in this particular love story.
I want to drink deeply from the well of liturgy and sacraments, and to embrace the demands made by a life of ora et labora, prayer and work.
I’m captivated by the idea of living in community with other women in love with God and the Church. I want the challenges and joys of community life centered on a shared love and experience of God and a shared commitment to mission.
Pope Francis said this to a gathering of religious superiors this winter:
“Evangelical radicalness is not only for religious; it is demanded of all. But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way…. Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.”
I want to wake the world up. I want to live a prophetic life. I want to be wholeheartedly in love with God.
Maybe marriage and family life will yet prove to be a different but equally true way for me to live out those deepest desires, as is the case for most people. We’ll see.
But I might choose religious life anyway—it might be too exciting to resist. In fact, I kind of hope it will be.