So ... about a month ago I was teaching a friend how to make knot rosaries while having dinner and great conversation. We were updating each other on our lives since the last time we talked. She is always eager to hear about my discernment and always has some intriguing questions. One of these questions was, "Do you think it is possible that part of the vocation shortage is because many have never discerned their vocation to married, single, or religious life because they never even thought to do so because of the circumstances of their lives (hurts, wrong doings, of self and of the world, or just ignorance of vocation)?" She then said, "You know I've come to the conclusion that I'm not single and 40 because I've discerned that I am called to single life, I'm single and 40 because I've never discerned to which vocation God has called me." I replied by saying, "I think you have hit one of the key issues as to why we have a vocation shortage! I think I can name 5 other friends I have that fit the same discription. We are not presenting the different vocations to our youth, especially the vocation to religious life. Religious are not seen today! And many have become so jaded in their view of themselves, the Church, and the world that they never even think to discern their vocation. Whether it's because there are so few religious, or because they are not in our schools and hospitals anymore, or because many do not wear the habit, etc. ... Whatever the reason, they are not seen and the youth and secular society wonder if they even exist!" I had someone ask me when I told them I wanted to be a nun, "Are they really still around?!?!" This conversation and others like it have continued to plant the seed of the desire to renew and change, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the world, community, family, and relationships that I am in, in order to plant the seed of vocation and discernment in others. If we do not have solid relationships with these people and the people around us the seed will never be planted.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to have lunch with this friend again. This time she said that, "For the first time in my life I'm ready to discern my vocation. And for the first time, it's ok if I never marry." At the end of August we are planning on going on a "Road Trip" to visit a community together so that she can, for the first time, look into a religious vocation ... while having me as a buffer! Please pray for my friend and her vocation, whatever it may be. And please pray for her family and friends that have no clue that she is in the beginning stages of discernment, and who may or may not support her.
Keep the Faith,