Editor’s Note: Our weeklong focus on vocations continues in conjunction with National Vocations Awareness Week. Today we feature our friend Mary Pometto who shares a little of her personal discernment testimony. We first met Mary when she worked for our local Catholic radio apostolate, and we are honored that she provided this piece for us. Her joyful witness is really resting on my heart today! – Lisa
Discernment, though not the longest word in the dictionary, carries the most weight. There can be a healthy sense of fear that proceeds adopting the word into your vocabulary and into your life.
The good news is that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Comforting words, especially for my feminine heart. A monk said once that every vocation is a vocation to love whether it’s to marriage or religious life. The truth behind discernment is love.
What does it mean to love? Moreover, what does it mean for you to love? Unfortunately I can’t give answers in this short reflection on what it is to discern, but the journey of discernment is discovering the answer.
Entering religious life is to live the fullness of life. It is an expression of your authentic femininity. For so many the idea of religious life is debilitating, in that it seems that you would have to “give up” so much to live it. Women are nurturing and life-giving warmth to society as wives and mothers. It is the same in community life. A sister’s role is to support and build up the Church.
For me, I graduated from Franciscan University in 2008 and spent a year in the workforce. I’d felt the inclination to religious life when I was 18, but always the accompanying fear. It bothered me to be afraid of such a noble vocation. So after working for a time, I took a year and gave it to the Lord to discern with the Community of St. John through the Eagle Eye Institute. It was there that I discovered who I am and what I am called to. I spent the year in community with seven wonderful women, all of them from different walks in life and different stages of the journey.
From my year I found that the beauty of community life is encountering each of your brothers and sisters and loving them as they are. It’s a hard task when you don’t pick those you live with. The awe-striking power of choice, is that Christ chose us (John 15:16). It took a great reliance on God’s love and mercy on my own poor soul to live in community. To agree to humble myself so that God’s love might shine more clearly to my brothers and sisters is not something that comes easily or naturally. That’s why the saints are said to possess heroic virtue. Each religious community is different, and each has their own charism that enables them to be thrust more deeply into the heart of Christ.
The beauty of love is self-gift to the other. I say “the other” because each person brings light to the world and must be taken independently of anyone else. It’s wasn’t always easy to offer myself to the seven women I now call my sisters. Now I would do just about anything for all of them. In order to truly be given, in marriage or religious life, one must first know who they are. There is no truth in love without that gift. In our relativistic society, it is increasingly hard for people to discover who they are or what it is they want in life. To discern is to abandon yourself into love itself, trusting that through the hard and difficult road that God’s will is for your good.
I’m still on my journey, as are we all, in this call to constant conversion we receive from our Church. One lesson I learned last year, which I will carry with me is the beauty of time away from the world in Christ’s heart. In community we had one “desert day” a week. Allowing yourself time apart from the world with Christ, so that He may help you rediscover what it means to love. The desert is sometimes a hard place to live, but there is always hope in the cross. Christ chose you for this time and he will give you the wisdom to discover your vocation. It is there that the desert may become glad (Isaiah 35).
Giving Christ the chance to claim your heart, gives him the chance to give you your heart’s desire. What is there to be afraid of?