- How do I know God calls me to religious life?
- I’m interested in religious life. At the same time, I also find myself very attracted to family life. Does that mean I don’t have a vocation to religious life?
- How do I begin discerning my call?
- What are some of the “true signs” of religious vocation?
- What are some of the “false signs” of religious vocation?
- What is distinct, special about the call to the Lovers of the Holy Cross Sisters?
- What are the stages of formation to become a sister of the Lovers of the Holy Cross? I’m interested.
- What are the requirements to join this Congregation?
- What about education? I haven’t finished college yet. Do I have to give that up? Do I get to pick my own major?
- Family and friends are a big part of my life. How is it going to be different after joining religious life?
- Why do sisters have to wear a habit especially in the 21st century? What does it symbolize?
- What does a day of a sister look like?
1. How do I know God calls me to religious life? No one can answer this question for you except yourself. This question can only be answered in an ongoing process of discernment, in which one needs to be attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A person with a religious call often feels a deep “hunger” for something beyond which this world cannot satisfy—a sense of restlessness of the heart which aches for something beyond grasp. Some of the common testimonies include but not limited to:
- “In the midst of wealth, attractive relationships, worldly pleasures, prestige, power, etc., I still long for something else…something deeper”
- “Family life is very attractive to me but I sense it is not my first choice…God has something else for me.”
- “Prayer life, attending Mass, Adoration, serving God and the Church…attracts me much more than the things of this world. I felt as if I am called to do this not just on Sundays but beyond.”
- “Priests and nuns somehow draw my attention. The way they talk, their passion, their zeal for God, their service, etc. somehow touch me in a very deep way.”
- “Before giving any guy a chance, I’d like to give God a chance first.”
- “I have a tremendous fear when I think of the possibility of God calling me…yet somehow I can’t ignore this invitation.”
- “People keep on encouraging me to give religious life a try…they must see something in me”.
2. I’m interested in religious life. At the same time, I also find myself very attracted to family life. Does that mean I don’t have a vocation to religious life? This is very common. It just means you’re very normal! Having a desire for a family does not exclude the possibility of a religious call. As a religious, we still need the many good qualities of a good wife and mother in our ministry to serve. Choosing religious life does not mean we must forsake our feminism. Rather, we embrace this gift of femininity to be Christ’s hands to touch many lives. To belong to God entirely doesn’t mean to lose any “part” of ourselves but rather to become more wholly of our entire being. We still can become mothers—not by giving natural birth but spiritual birth to our many spiritual children.
3. How do I begin discerning my call? Prayer is key. The world can be noisy and distracting. God speaks loudest in the silence of our hearts. To hear His voice clearly, one needs to lower the volume of this world. It is crucial that you save time to deepen your spiritual life in order to discern your vocation more fruitfully. When you seek God’s will earnestly and wholeheartedly, you will certainly find the answer in your heart. Strive for these spiritual enrichments
- Prayer. Throughout the day, converse with God. Share with Him your desire, vulnerability, strength, weaknesses, fear, plans, dreams, etc. and listen attentively to how He responds back to you through prayers, events, and people around you.
- Sacraments. Regular reception of the Eucharist and Reconciliation will give you the spiritual strength and clarity to discern. If possible, attend Mass daily.
- Adoration. In the midst of your busy schedule, save some time to visit the Blessed Sacrament and spend private time with the Lord at least weekly.
- Spiritual Guidance. If possible, seek for spiritual direction from priests, nuns, etc. to walk with you in your discernment process.
- Spiritual Reading. Read Scriptures, saints’ stories, and other spiritual books which draw you closer to God.
- Retreat. Retreat is a precious time for a soul to be intimately in touch with God. Retreats are great moments for you to listen to God’s plan for your life in silence and prayer.
- Visit. Visit a religious order or convent nearby to learn more about religious life, especially the order you’re interested in.
- Trust. Trust in God’s plan for your life—He desires nothing but the best for you.
4. What are some of the “true signs” of religious vocation?
- A strong “DESIRE” — to grow in a deeper relationship with God, to belong to God in a more special, complete way. God doesn’t draw us to a vocation against our will. He draws us according to our natural inclinations. If we are genuinely and naturally inclined to religious life, that’s a great sign. The one aspect God wants us to be is “free”. Furthermore, He wants us to freely choose our vocation.
- A genuine “MOTIVATION”. For example: “I want…
- to join religious life to love and serve God with all my life”
- to deepen the love and the knowledge of God.”
- to live the Gospel values as fully as possible.”
- to share the gift of faith with others.”
- A “FITNESS” to religious life. For example: “to live cheerfully, and generously the call to religious life; I can be with the community and also can be alone; I fit well in the Charism of this Community (way of living and serving) without excessive burdens.”
- An “APTITUDE” to live religious life. For example: having good health; mental, spiritual and psychological balance; average intellectual capacity; sound judgment; etc.
5. What are some of the “false signs” of religious vocation?
- In search for an “easy” life, security, good reputation, admiration and respect from others, better education, etc.
- To escape from difficult family situations, loneliness, failure in life, failure in love, lack of friendship, low self-esteem, etc.
6. What is distinct, special about the call to the Lovers of the Holy Cross Sisters? We, the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Los Angeles, are a community of Catholic Women Religious, committed to deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ, through a life of contemplation, sacrifice and service. This is the first women religious institute founded in Vietnam that has Asian characteristics. It is an apostolic order. Prayer is at the heart of our apostolic works. We highly value community life. In union with the Church, we respond to the needs of the People of God with respect and love, in the areas of health, education, and social work with a focus on women and children.
7. What are the stages of formation to become a sister of the Lovers of the Holy Cross? I’m interested.
- Aspirancy: 1-4 years At this stage, candidates are beginning to be exposed to prayer life, community life, and continue with their discernment to religious life. They are to learn Christian moral virtues, spirituality The candidates live in the convent with the sisters. They continue going to school or work if their situation requires.
- Pre-Novitiate (Postulancy): 6 months to 1 year. The purpose for candidates at this stage is to confirm their religious vocation and to prepare for entrance into the Novitiate. This period helps the Congregation to know the candidates’ personalities, abilities, and motivations for choosing the religious life.
- Novitiate: 2 years. The purpose is to help candidates further confirm their call with more certainty, to form them according to the spirit of the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross, and for the Congregation to evaluate the candidates’ suitability.
- Temporary Profession: 5 years. After Novitiate program, candidates will profess their vows and continue to renew their vows until their 5th year. At this stage, the purpose is to help the sisters to live a more definite consecration for Christ and to carry out the mission of the Congregation more suitably.
- Perpetual Profession. The final profession is the beginning of the Sister’s permanent commitment to God by the evangelical counsels in the LHC Congregation. However, ongoing formation is to be continued throughout the life ofthe sisters.
8. What are the requirements to join this Congregation?
- To be at least 18 years of age;
- To have equivalent education of High School Diploma;
- To have an average educational ability to comprehend the content of the program;
- To have average physical and psychological health;
- To have a desire to live a prayerful and apostolic life; and
- To have the ability to live community life.
9. What about education? I haven’t finished college yet. Do I have to give that up? Do I get to pick my own major? As an apostolic community, your knowledge and skills are very much needed in order carry out the mission of the Lovers of the Holy Cross. Upon entering, candidates usually continue on with their college degree while living with the sisters at the first stage of religious life. In terms of majors, we often suggest that you would pick something pertaining to the areas related to our mission and to your ability—health care, social work, education, and religious education.
10. Family and friends are a big part of my life. How is it going to be different after joining religious life? At the first stage of religious life, candidates usually can take about 1 month of vacation with family in the summer every year and limited weekend phone calls. As professed sisters, we have two weeks with our family each year. Joining religious life does not mean we totally forsake our family and friends—instead we are ever closer to them in prayers and spiritual support. Certainly, communications should be limited and appropriate to the call of a religious.
11. Why do sisters have to wear a habit especially in the 21st century? What does it symbolize? While it is true that a habit in itself does not “make up” the essence of a religious, it is undoubtedly a powerful sign of a person “madly” in love with Christ who desires nothing but to give “her all” to God. Throughout centuries, the habits help attract many fervent souls to God. It symbolizes one’s total emptying for God. The veil speaks of total obedience to God’s will in a sister’s life. The religious belt symbolizes the beauty of the vow of chastity—an undivided heart totally consecrated to God. The habit expresses sheer simplicity of a life of a religious—who renounces worldly treasures to seek for God alone.
12. What does a day of a sister look like? The nature of our congregation is apostolic. Contemplation is the priority in our daily life. A typical weekday looks like the following:
5:15 am = Arise & morning offering
5:45 am = Morning Prayer with the community
6:30 am = Daily Mass
7:00 am = Morning Meditation and Spiritual Reading
8:00 am = Breakfast
9:00 am (or earlier) = Ministry (nursing, social works, education, etc.) or Going to School
5:30 pm = Evening Prayer with Daily Adoration as the whole community
6:30 pm = Dinner with the community
7:15 pm = Chores; Cleaning up
8:00 pm = Recreation with the community
8:30 pm = Personal Time (examination of consciousness, personal formation, etc.)
10: 30 pm = Retire