Common Questions About Religious Life

Common Questions about Religious Life

Often people are curious about religious life and exactly what is entailed. The following list of questions and answers has been compiled to offer you a better understanding of religious life, and specifically contemplative life and the Catholic tradition.

What is the Contemplative Life?

The contemplative life is a life-long journey to God in prayer and worship, turning from all else that could make the journey less direct. Contemplative monks and nuns are concerned less with themselves and more with God and all those whom God loves.

Prayer is essential for all Christians, but contemplatives are called to make their whole lives a prayer, in solitude and silence. For Poor Clare Nuns, this journey is made in community. “Sisters who live in love that intense form of religious family, which is an enclosed community, bear a valuable witness to Christ and are a sign of hope and healing to a torn and fragmented world.” Constitution of the Poor Clares Nuns; Art. 36 (2)

How do I know if I am called?

There is no easy answer to discern a call to the contemplative life. Prayer, visiting the Monastery and learning more about the life are the best ways to begin.

How would I recognize signs of a contemplative call?

Ask yourself if you feel drawn to a more prayer-centered way of life. Sometimes the ardent desire to be a missionary to the whole world could signal your potential contemplative vocation. Here are some possible signs:

  • I want to give myself totally to God.
  • As often as monks and nuns are questioned on why they joined a contemplative Order, total giving of oneself to God is expressed as the primary reason. This seems indispensable.
  • There are many things I could do with my life to help others, but this seems right for me.
  • We all want to give our best to whatever we do. Once we recognize our gifts, we usually set out to use our gifts and to develop our potential for the service and enjoyment of other people.
  • For a person experiencing a contemplative call, no gift or potential (contemplatives are enriched with many) seems sufficient in the measure the person desires to serve their brothers and sisters. Accompanying the total gift to God is the yearning to give everything for all people everywhere.
  • I feel drawn to a simple life where there are other people who have the same Christian values.
  • A joy-filled community following the Gospel is one of the most convincing witnesses to the presence of Christ. Simplicity is rather obvious in a contemplative community with our monasteries having a simple, unpretentious look about them.
  • Actually, monks and nuns are known to have that look as well! Community affirms the person, giving to one another what rank, education, or position cannot – the promise of love and the support to grow.

Would I be a candidate? What are the basic requirements to be accepted into religious life?

If you are thinking about religious life, we encourage you to contact us to talk about your questions. Those interested in learning more about life in our monastery should:

  • Be willing to dedicate some time to visiting the Monastery and learning more about the contemplative life as lived by the Poor Clare Nuns.
  • Be a Catholic woman between the ages of 18 and 35 with good physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or in the process of becoming one.

Now what do I do if that sounds like me?

It is time now to seek out some contemplative communities. Most communities have vocation personnel willing to share with you the spirit of their Order as well as the routine, formation program, requirements for admittance, and answer your questions. Some Orders will hold more personal attraction for you than others, and it is good to follow your prayer-informed natural inclination toward a particular community.

Each monastery has its own particular process for discerning a contemplative call in their candidates. Requirements for health and aptitude will vary. You need to ask yourself if you are willing to follow this process. It takes time and energy.

At times, the process is exhilarating and at times painful. Yet for those God is calling, the process is part of the journey. St. Teresa of Avila wanted her candidates to have “great desires, determined determination, all balanced by sound common sense.”

Pray often. The one who calls also gives the courage to respond. Seek advice from someone who knows you and is familiar with contemplative communities.

As those already called to the contemplative life will confirm, a contemplative vocation is a mystery well worth answering. There is no perfect candidate, and most of us are surprised at who God calls!

If you are thinking about religious life, we encourage you to contact us to talk about your questions

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