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Should I look into this possibility of a vocation now or wait until I get out of school?

Tamara asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I need some advice. This may seem to be a strange question (and a lot of ramblings to get to my actual question!) I am a senior in college, and I'm not Catholic, but I plan on entering RCIA this fall (from a family full of Protestants and atheists!) Over the last few years, I keep getting this strange, reoccuring feeling that I'm supposed to become a nun.

I also feel called to marriage, but I've never dated in my life. Could this be some kind of sign that marriage is not what I am called to do? I think that I could be very happy in religious life, I volunteer at a local parish with the Hispanic ministry and feel that I should be doing something like that with my whole life. Should I look into this possibility of a vocation now, or wait until I get out of school? I don't want to put it off if I should act now.

Dear Tamara,

Congratulations on your finding the Church! Faith is certainly a special gift from God that he gives us out of sheer generosity. However, he doesn't give it to us to keep for ourselves, but to spread it to everyone we meet our whole life long.

You have to give proper importance to the the call you feel to consecrated life, even from now before your entry into the Church; for it could well be a sign of an authentic vocation. A few things will have to happen in order to find out if it really is what God wants you to do, but in the meantime the most prudent thing to do is to act as if it might be.

In itself, the fact that you have never dated is not a sign of a call to be a nun. It depends on the reasons, which can be many and varied; maybe you just felt you were too young, maybe you were wary of what you saw happen to your friends, maybe you are naturally shy, maybe there was a bad experience, or maybe there were other things stirring in your soul and without knowing why, you avoided it.

You will have to wait about a year and a half after entering the Church before entering religious life, but there is nothing wrong with looking into orders now, visiting them, and giving God a chance to speak more clearly to your soul. Even from now, and especially after being received into the Church, center your life more and more on Jesus in the Eucharist: Mass, Eucharistic visits, and once you can, Communion. There is where you will find him in Person, and he will speak to your soul. Another very important action to take is to get a spiritual director, you will find this very helpful.

God bless.

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