Part of our series of “Vocation Letters” to a fictional young woman discerning religious life, the following letter considers the appropriate time to enter religious life, and the difference between preparation and delay.
Ave + Maria
Joyful greetings from Marbury on this feast of the Queenship of Our Lady! It was such a delight to visit with you this past week; Our Lady certainly obtained a great grace for you during your stay, so soon after your Total Consecration to her! How many more she has in store as well. We know you are preparing to return to college soon but we wanted to get this note out as soon as possible.
When is the best time to enter religious life? Without delay. Usually a time of preparation is required, at least to complete the application and settle one’s affairs; for some, this may also mean finishing high school or college, depending on the requirements of the community, or working to pay off a certain amount of debt. Preparation is different from delay. As soon as you have decided to respond to Our Lord’s invitation to religious life, and are morally certain which community you should enter, don’t delay. Remember Peter and Andrew’s response to Our Lord in the Gospel? “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
One of our Sisters hoped to enter a convent after high school, but when she received a scholarship for university studies she went off to college instead. During her freshman year, however, Our Lord gave her the grace to realize that the excitement of college social life and studies was distracting her from her vocation. “No,” she said to herself, “This won’t do. If I keep on like this, I will lose my vocation. Go now.” After the spring semester ended she prepared to enter the monastery—but her brother was being discharged from the army! Should she wait to visit with him? This time our Mother Foundress was the instrument of God’s grace. “Come now,” she wrote. One delay leads to another. Jesus’ invitation is not to dawdle with the goods of the world, but to leave everything and follow Him. Sister did.
After talking with Mother, we think that it would be best for you finish your last year of college while you complete the entrance application and prepare to enter. Your idea of bringing a group of girls down from your school sounds good as well—one of our Sisters managed to bring two different groups to visit during the nine months before she entered!
Be assured of all of our prayers for you. Please keep us and the other young women discerning with us in your prayers as well.
In Our Lady,
“Sister Mary Magistra”