Be who God meant you to be,
And you will set the world on fire.
– St. Catherine of Siena
Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first.
His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.
So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.
The content regarding religious life in the Catechism comes in Part 1, under Section 2, in Chapter 3 on ‘I Believe in the Holy Spirit’. In this chapter, it is covered in Article 9, paragraph 4. The easier way is to look at the numbers.
The introduction to this is covered from 914 to 919. This is further divided into the different forms of Consecrated Life, given below:
– Religious Life: The content regarding Religious Life is covered in numbers 925 to 927, which you can find here.
– Secular Institutes: The content regarding Societies of Apostolic Life comes in number 928 to 929, which you can find here.
– Societies of Apostolic Life: The content regarding Societies of Apostolic Life comes in number 930, which you can find here.
– Consecrated Virginity: The content regarding Consecrated Virginity is covered from 922 to 924, which you can find here.
Priesthood (Holy Orders)
The content regarding Priesthood (or the Sacrament of Holy Orders) in the Catechism comes in Part 2, under Section 2, in the Chapter on ‘The Sacraments at the Service of Communion’. In this chapter, it is covered in Article 6. The easier way is to look at the numbers. This content is covered from 1536 to 1600, which you can find here.
There are many books that address this topic from various angles. Only a select few that are verified and have stood the test of time are included here. More will be added as we progress.
- Finding God’s Will for You – St. Francis de Sales
- Discernment Do’s and Don’ts: A Practical Guide to Vocational Discernment – George Elliott
- And You are Christ’s : The Charism of Virginity and the Celibate Life – Fr. Thomas Dubay
- Discerning Religious Life – Sr. Clare Matthiass CFR. There is an accompanying website to this called Avow that provides additional materials to conduct your own small discernment groups. The material is free when you buy the book or you can get it online.
- And Mary’s Yes Continues: Religious Vocations in the New Millennium – Dominican Sisters of Mary
- A Living Sacrifice: Guidance for Men discerning Religious Life – Fr. Benedict Croell OP and Fr. Andrew Hofer OP
- Dignity and Duties of the Priest – St. Alphonsus de Liguori
- From the Depths of our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Robert Cardinal Sarah
- The Priest is not his Own – Fulton J Sheen
- Many are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood – Scott Hahn
- Why Celibacy: Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the Priest – Fr. Carter Griffin
- To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for discerning a Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood – Fr. Brett A Brannen. There is an accompanying website to this called The Melchizedek Project that provides free additional materials to conduct your own small discernment groups.
This is a tiny small sample of what’s available. Any of the Saints’ life stories are good sources for inspiration.
- The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows – Mother Dolores Hart OSB
- Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles – Raymond Arroyo
- My Beloved: The Story of a Carmelite Nun – Sr. Catherine Thomas
- In this House of Brede – Rumer Godden (fiction but a good representation)
- Called by Name: The Inspiring Stories of 12 men who Became Catholic Priests – Dr Christine Anne Mugridge, Jerry Usher
*Almost all of these sites are international, primarily US-based, so they lack the Indian context. However, most of the information is relevant irrespective of location and therefore, can be very helpful in your process of discernment.
- Vocation Network is an excellent site for those who are discerning. They have a survey (Vocation Match) that helps you identify congregations that might be a good fit for you. They have a Community Search feature that helps you find congregations. They also have hundreds of articles and information on all the aspects of a vocation for a man or a woman.
- Vocations Outreach is an initiative of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. They have a section for Discerners that has a lot of resources. They also have a Discernment Mentorship Program that connects discerners with a Sister / Brother / Priest to mentor you through the discernment process. Those outside the US can also apply for this mentorship program.
- Vocation Blog: As per the site, ‘the purpose of Vocation Blog is to provide information and inspiration about the vocational call to consecrated life, whether it is as a religious sister, priest, brother, monk, or other consecrated person’. It has a lot of articles on various aspects of religious life.
- UK Vocation is a site that caters to vocations in the UK. It has a lot of good information about Vocations and Discernment. They even have an App that helps you in the Discernment Process.
- Vocation Center is a vocations based site from Australia. They have information on What is a Vocation and how to Explore your Vocation.
Nuns / Sisters
- A Nun’s Life is a site that talks about everything nun-related. If you are considering a vocation as a Sister, this has sections like ‘How to Become a Nun‘, ‘A day in the life of a Sister‘ and Discernment Resources. It also has a podcast and links to other relevant sites.
- A cloistered life is a site that gives an introduction into the Contemplative Life. It talks about the different types of cloisters, how to discern a call to the cloistered life and a good collection of resources.
- Imagine Sisters was started as an online resource for young women discerning a vocation to religious life. It wants to highlight ‘one special way God uses ordinary women for extraordinary means’ – by becoming a Sister. They have good resources and a regular blog.
- CMIS is the website of the World Conference of Secular Institutes. It was founded in 1972 to foster collaboration among the Secular Institutes. They have a lot of relevant information including ‘What is a Secular Institute‘, relevant Documents and contacts for regional conferences.
- Secular Institutes is the website of the United States Conference of Secular Institutes. It has details about this unique vocation and how to discern for it.
- Consecrated Virgins is the website of the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins. They explain the vocation, have a detailed page on how to become a Consecrated Virgin and a downloadable Information Packet for anyone discerning the vocation.
- This and this are good articles that explain the vocation and real-life stories of those who have chosen it.
- This is a site that gives comprehensive information on the vocation of religious brotherhood. Among other things, it talks about ‘What is a Religious Brother‘, different types of Brothers and how to discern.
- Vocation Boom is a site that promotes vocations to the Priesthood in the US. It includes sections on ‘Who is a Priest‘, ‘The history of the Priesthood‘ and most importantly, radio interviews from 2011 addressing all the possible angles on the priesthood.
- The Foundation for Priests is an ‘…apostolate of intercessory prayer and catechesis instituted to obtain graces for the sanctification of priests and foster vocations to the priesthood’. It has a collection of resources on the Priesthood that would be useful, along with other information.
- What the Saints say about Priests – a few excerpts.
- Some common questions about the Priesthood answered here.
Some real-life stories of Priests / Sisters / Brothers
- A millennial joining the convent
- A glimpse into the life of a Cloistered Nun
- How I got over my awkwardness around Nuns
- Articles from mainstream media on contemplative convents in India are here and here.
- Story of Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble. Her vocation story is shared from the 46th minute onwards.
- Radical vocation stories – one of a beauty queen, a doctor and a famous basketball star.
- An inspiring list of those who followed the call. You will find many more such stories on our social media pages.
These are the basic documents in these areas. They are limited so as not to overwhelm you. If you want to read more and in detail, you can always search the Vatican website or this site or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUMEN GENTIUM: Dogmatic Constitution of the Church : Chapter 6 on Religious (November 21, 1964)
PERFECTAE CARITATIS : Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life by Pope Paul VI (October 28, 1965)
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS In The Church’s Teaching On Religious Life As Applied To Institutes Dedicated To Works Of The Apostolate (May 31, 1983)
VITA CONSECRATA : Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II On The Consecrated Life And Its Mission In The Church And In The World (March 25, 1996)
PROVIDA MATER ECCLESIA: Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII concerning Secular Institutes (February 2, 1947)
PRIMO FELICITER: Motu Proprio by Pope Pius XII on Secular Institutes (March 12, 1948)
SACRA VIRGINITAS : Encyclical Of Pope Pius Xii On Consecrated Virginity (March 25, 1954)
ECCLESIAE SPONSAE IMAGO : Instruction on the Order of Virgins (June 8, 2018)
AD CATHOLICI SACERDOTII : Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on the Catholic Priesthood (December 20, 1935)
PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS : Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests by Pope Paul VI (December 7, 1965)
OPTATUM TOTIUS: Decree on Priestly Training by Pope Paul VI (October 28, 1965)
ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS: Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone (May 22, 1994)
For those of you who prefer videos, a few channels that are focused on Vocations:
- Vision Vocation Guide: This is the Youtube channel of the Vision Vocation Network and Vocation Match. It has videos on religious life, men’s and women’s congregations and consecrated life in general.
- Vocations Outreach: This is the Youtube channel of the Vocations Outreach initiative. It has videos on discernment, A day in the life series’, Vocation Stories, Q&A with various religious etc.
- Ascension Presents: This is a regular video by Fr. Mike Schmitz on various aspects of the Catholic faith. This link will lead you to a lot of excellent videos related to discernment, different vocations, vocation stories etc.
- Breaking in the Habit: This is a Youtube channel by a Franciscan friar that covers various aspects of the Catholic faith and religious life. This link will show you all the videos related to vocations and discernment.
Podcasts / episodes about Vocations are highlighted below:
- Vocations Today by Rhonda Gruenewald: Some of these podcasts are directed towards congregations and parishes but some of them are very useful for those who are discerning.
- Vocation Boom: This primarily focuses on vocations to the priesthood but there are many episodes sharing about discernment, experiences etc. You can see the full list at the Vocation Boom website.
- What’s my Vocation: Fr. Mike Schmitz is an excellent source of all things Catholic. This is a podcast episode where he talks about finding your vocation and the different options available for those discerning.