by Sr. Marie Paul Curley, FSP
Tip #1: Nurture Your Vocation with Learning about the Saints
I vividly remember how miserable I was one day when I had to stay home from school because I was sick. It was fun until the bus picked up my brothers and sisters and I was left home alone with my mom, restricted to bed. Usually I’d read a good book, but I didn’t have anything new from the library.
On the shelf was a thick book of short stories I hadn't read yet. The title was 57 Saints for Boys and Girls.* I don’t like short stories, and I really wasn’t interested in a boring book about the saints. But there was nothing else to read and I needed something to take my mind off how truly miserable I felt, so I picked it up and started reading out of sheer desperation.
Several hours later, I sighed deeply as I turned the last page. I had sped-read the entire book—not because it was boring but because I couldn’t wait to see what happened. The author**—whom I later came to know—had written so irresistibly about the childhood and struggles of these 57 men and women that I had been captivated. I was intrigued how each saint had such a close friendship with God. The stories helped me realize that saints are real people, who struggle with real problems, just like I do. They are strong and weak; they have dreams and failures. The saints—or at least the saints in this book—are just like me!
After reading 57 Saints, my life was never quite the same. This riveting read started me on the path of holiness because the saints were so appealing: I was drawn to their goodness, their often-quiet heroism, and their authenticity. And I wanted those things for myself. This early-planted desire for holiness would bear even more fruit in my life, eventually influencing my decision to discern and follow my vocation to the religious life and become a Daughter of Saint Paul.
Tip #2: Pray to the Blessed Mother for Your Vocation
Pope Francis encourages the valued tradition of praying three Hail Mary's every night for the grace to know and follow one's vocation. I've taken that lovely tradition a step further and pray the Angelus daily (you can pray it with the music of our sisters here) for the grace of holiness: to live my vocation in all its fullness. And whenever I am struggling with something that seems insurmountable, I ask the Blessed Mother to open me to the work of the Holy Spirit in me.
After my first visit to the convent of the Daughters of Saint Paul, I entrusted my entire discernment journey to Mary, under her title of Queen of the Apostles. It was still an exciting journey, but I believe Our Lady really smoothed the way for me to enter.
Tip #3: Read & pray the stories of God's calls in the Bible
This is a very encouraging way to pray because we see:
- How God often calls the littlest and humblest
- That some things about God's call are the same for everyone, but every call of God is unique to the individual
- Each person in the Bible responds to God's call differently
- How unique and special each of us is to God, because God calls each one of us
Some passages to pray with include:
- Exodus 3:1-15 "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?" God calls Moses from the burning bush
- 1 Samuel 3:1-10 "Here I am, for you called me." God calls the boy Samuel to become his prophet, but Samuel doesn't know it is God
- Isaiah 6:1-9 "Whom shall I send?" In the midst of revealing his glory, God calls the prophet Isaiah
- Jeremiah 1:4-9 "Before you were born, I consecrated you." God calls the prophet Jeremiah, who protests that he is too young
- Luke 1:26-38 "I am the handmaid of the Lord." God calls Mary to be the Mother of Jesus
- Luke 5:1-11 "Put out into the deep!" Jesus calls his first disciples, and Peter's response is so human
- Acts 9:1-22 "Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?" Jesus appears to Saul and, while inviting him to change his life, entrusts his new mission to him
*The current edition—revised with a few new stories—has the title: 57 Stories of Saints.
** Author Sr. Anne Eileen Heffernan is a member of my community, the Daughters of Saint Paul.