A religious vocation is not a feeling you have; it is a choice you make. It is a choice that God invites some to, both for the good of the Church and their own good. And the decision is this: to accompany Jesus during life, and to love and to suffer with Him for the salvation of souls. What would lead someone to make this choice, you ask? Simply the love of Jesus and the desire to be like Him – even to the point of sacrificing oneself for sinners.
As one might expect, the cross is an unpleasant feeling. But religious life is a pilgrimage of dedicated, loving service that leads to a deep union with God. For as Jesus Himself said, “Those who lose their life for My sake will find it” (cf. Matt. 16:24-27). Yes, they will find their life in Him, in His Heart, where there is a special place for those consecrated to the imitation and service of Christ. Consecrated persons are called to accompany Jesus in His mission. And one day, the pilgrimage of religious life will bring them to the most desirable of destinations – to Heaven. There, when God wipes away their last tear, they’ll recognize His wounded hand.
But first, there is work to be done, prayers to be offered, Jesus and the Saints to be imitated. For as Pope John Paul II wrote in Vita Consecrata, his apostolic exhortation on the consecrated life:
“Consecrated persons make visible, in their consecration and total dedication, the loving and saving presence of Christ, the One consecrated by the Father, sent in mission. Allowing themselves to be won over by Him, they prepare to become, in a certain way, a prolongation of His humanity. The consecrated life eloquently shows that the more one lives in Christ, the better one can serve Him in others….” (Vita Consecrata, No. 76) By Br. Bernard Mary, MFVA