A vocation to the consecrated life is a specific call from God to a specific person. It is real. It is compelling. It is an invitation from God. What invitation? The same invitation that was given to the apostles – “Come, follow Me.” How did they respond? “They left their nets and followed Him.”
Like the apostles, our life of consecration is also a deeply personal response to His profoundly compelling call. Many people simply refer to it as “a calling to the consecrated life.” Do we “hear” this call? No, not with our physical ears; rather, we just know. It is an interior knowledge. That is why it is so hard to explain to people.
This invitation to follow Jesus as the apostles did is not given to everyone. Those who are called by Christ in this way also often find it hard to explain, because it is certainly a radically different way of life.
Of course, each baptized Christian is consecrated to Christ and His Church. The sacrament of Confirmation bestows the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon all of us and marks us as spiritual soldiers of Christ.
Somehow, in the call to the consecrated life, God places within the heart of a person a desire for something more – a more loving and deeper relationship with God, a total commitment with profoundly deep bonds, a life of giving and sacrificing and receiving. In a word, it is desire for a total gift of self to Christ.
Our lives of consecration are mirrored on the life of Jesus Christ who was chaste, poor, and obedient. Thus, we profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These are called the evangelical counsels:
- Chastity: the total gift of one’s heart, affections, desires to the God who is Love
- Poverty: the gift of letting go of all possessions to posses Him who is All-in-All
- Obedience: the union of one’s will with that of Jesus who continues to speak and act through His Church’s representatives
If this resonates in your own heart and soul, our Lord is inviting you to be open to the possibility of a life of intimate relationship with Him. Seek out the advice of a trusted priest, sister, dedicated lay-person as you begin your journey of religious vocation discernment.
Dear young people, do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him we receive a hundred-fold in return. Yes, open wide the doors to Christ and you will find true life.
Pope Benedict XVI