This morning I had the chance to catch-up with a friend who has been working with some women religious in the last month or so. In a conversation with one sister, there was a concern raised that those entering the religious life these days often want to know – above all else – what they have to do to reach final vows or solemn profession. There is a sense that this goal – the culmination, as it were, of postulancy and the noviciate – must be achieved, and that a plan to reach that goal needs to be laid out clearly from day one.
Nobody can blame an enthusiastic discerner, either of the Religious Life or the Priesthood (or Marriage, for that matter), for wanting to know the path that leads to solemn profession, final vows, holy orders, or matrimony. It is entirely natural and good to want and desire to fulfil the vocation that is being discerned, and to want to see how God and the Church expect one to be prepared for that call. What is wrong, though, is when this attitude becomes influenced, as my friend wisely pointed out, by a culture of ‘project management’, as if the process of discernment and formation is less a journey through life to be travelled, and more a process to be undergone.