Prayer is the key: To developing a vocation to the consecrated life Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

Prayer is not always high on the list of priorities for many young people today, but it should be — especially if they want God’s help in deciding the future direction of their lives.

Prayer was a major influence in the lives of those who professed final vows in religious orders in 2013. Nearly all respondents (94 percent) in a new survey said they regularly prayed before they entered religious life.

The survey was released by the Georgetown-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) prior to the Catholic Church’s celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life to be observed on Sunday, Feb. 2.

Seven in 10 respondents to the survey participated in Eucharistic Adoration or retreats before entering religious life. More than half regularly prayed the Rosary.

Prayer is the key to considering a vocation

Prayer for Consecrated Persons

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as Sisters, Brothers, religious priests, consecrated virgins, and hermits, as well as members of Secular Institutes. Renew their     knowledge and love of you, and send your Holy Spirit to help them respond generously and    courageously to your will. We ask this through  our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations

Prayer is the key to helping young people consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, agreed Abbot Marcel Rooney, former abbot primate of the Benedictine Order who now lives in the Diocese of Madison. The abbot has founded the Orate Pastoral Institute of Sacred Liturgy, Music, and Art, dedicated to helping people understand the theology behind the liturgy and relate what we’re doing in liturgy to the interior life.

“Stimulate prayer in young people every chance you can,” Abbot Rooney told members of the Madison Serra Club in a recent talk on consecrated life. “That is the best preparation to direct a boy to the priesthood or a girl to consecrated life. A person who doesn’t pray will never be drawn to a vocation. Prayer is the key,” he said.

Abbot Rooney emphasized that prayer should go beyond recitation of memorized prayers. It should be a personal conversation with God, in which people open their hearts to Him and talk with God about their lives.

Total dedication to God through consecrated life

All of us who are baptized and confirmed are consecrated to our faith, explained Abbot Rooney. However, there are some who choose total dedication to God through consecrated life, either contemplative or active.

He explained that contemplatives — those who live “behind the grill” in cloistered life — have their work as primarily praying for the whole Church. Those in active consecrated life work in society in such ways as teachers, ministers to the sick, or missionaries.

There are Sisters, nuns (cloistered), Brothers, priests, and monks who consecrate their lives by professing vows and living in community. Single lay people may choose to be consecrated virgins and make private vows to the local bishops. Secular institutes are another form of living the consecrated life for single people.

Encouragement and invitation are important

Abbot Rooney suggested that encouragement and invitation are other ways to plant the seed of a vocation in young people. Taking a young person to visit a religious community is another piece of advice he gave.

The CARA survey bore out the importance of encouragement. Eight in 10 respondents say they were encouraged to consider religious life, including by a member of a religious order, a parish priest, or friend.

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) report that they were discouraged from considering a vocation by one or more persons, including family members, friends, or classmates. This makes it important for those of us who value the priesthood and consecrated life to respond positively to interest shown by those considering a Church vocation.

It is also vital for all of us to pray for those considering consecrated life, as well as to pray for those professed and to thank them for their dedication to God and His people.