This guide serves as an accompaniment to two previously published Guides: Finding An Active Community and Finding A Contemplative Community. One of the biggest things a discerner has to discern is where they fit in terms of spirituality to find a community. There are just so many different spiritualities in the Church that it can be daunting. So this guide aims to help you figure that out. This guide is a work-in-progress, as I discover and add more. But, for now, this is the starting point to help and guide you.
Part 1: The Spiritualities
There are many different expressions of the religious life in the Church, which is one of the things that makes it so beautiful! All are consecrated to Christ, but express their consecration in different ways. The Church is made up of people who have different expressions of their love of Christ so those come through in the religious life as well. There is truly a spirituality for everyone. While some may consider this more relevant than for contemplative life than active life, it is just as important for both. The spirituality of an active community is just as important as the apostolate.
Here at The Vocation Operation we have a page dedicated to resources on different spiritualities (Spiritualities Information) so if you want to find more on a specific spirituality, then that is a good place to start. Of course I cannot possibly include every spirituality in that list, but it is a starting point. Our tag Order, Order also has posts about various spiritualities, aimed at discussing them briefly. We also have tags for various spiritualities so if you want to investigate all we have on a particular spiritality you can do so easily.
Part 2: The Saints
The simplest place to look first is at the saints. They can provide us with a concrete example of how a certain spirituality is lived and expressed. By looking at the saints we can see what it is that draws us about them.
- I recommend first thinking about your favourite saints. Make a short list, keeping to those you particularly admire or have a special devotion to. Think about what is it you admire about them. Look for similarities. If your favourite saints are St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, you might just be a Carmelite at heart. Look at what specifically inspires you about those saints. Again, look for a pattern. If you are inspired by their poverty, then perhaps you are a Franciscan. Here you are looking for anything in particular that inspires you about a particular religious way of life.
- I have created a document giving examples of saints from different spiritualities, you can access that document online here. Again, I cannot possibly include saints from every spirituality there is but looking at the major orders first and then narrowing down can be helpful. I have included many saints from I will continue to update it, so it is not complete (and maybe never will be!)
Part 3: You
Another thing to think about it your own personal devotions and practices. Here are some things to think about:
- Rosary - do you say a daily Rosary? What about praying the Rosary in community vs praying alone?
- Chaplets - do you say the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily? Again, praying in community vs praying alone.
- Eucharistic Adoration - perpetual Adoration, Eucharistic Holy Hours, in community vs alone.
- Any particular strong devotions you may have that you feel are an important part of your spiritual life.