The Sisterhood on Lifetime: Learning About Discernment

The reality show called “The Sisterhood” that is airing now on Lifetime is raising awareness that young women can and do go through a process of discovery, of discernment:  What is God’s plan for my life? 

The show follows five young women as they visit three different communities and try to discern if they are called to religious life.  The show strives to depict something real and authentic about religious life, which is a refreshing change from what has typically come from TV and movies in which sisters or nuns have often been little better than caricatures. 

It is wonderful that the world can see actual sisters living the religious life, going about their regular prayer, work and ministries and welcoming these young women (and through the show the whole world) into what they normally do.
It is not clear how much these women were told about their experience of being on this show or how they were or were not prepared for what they might encounter or experience.  These five young women almost seem to have been plucked out of their ordinary life with very little, if any, preparation or explanation.  If that was the case, that is where this reality show has failed to show reality.
Ordinarily, when a woman is thinking about the possibility of a call to the religious life, the journey begins with prayer.  

The idea of religious life may get triggered in her mind by any number of life experiences (ie. talking to a priest or sister, hearing a moving homily or retreat talk, reading a saint’s story, being taught by nuns in school, etc.).  She may also be asked by friends or total strangers if she has ever thought about religious life. 

If she has even the slightest inclination to think about it as a real possibility she is wise to go to prayer with the idea and talk to the One who can answer all her questions.
Very often, though not always, a woman will have a sense of call to the religious life through prayer even before she visits any convents.  This is where, I think, there is a difference in the way men and women typically discern their vocations. 

Men often need to go to visit, check things out, maybe even try it for a while in order to know whether they are called or not and where.  

Women, on the other hand—similar to what happens in the dating and courtship process—are typically more comfortable with letting the Lord pursue their hearts and possibly even propose to them before they go to check things out.  A woman might even keep secret and private the fact that she is discerning until she is more certain that she has or could have a true call to the religious life.

If a woman has never encountered religious sisters before in her life and yet senses she may have a call to a life of loving service in the Church, her journey may look different, because she may have to visit a convent just so she knows what she is discerning.  Yet very often, she will not have any inner clarity unless she brings her experience of the visit back to her private prayer where the Lord can speak to her heart in silence. 
While it is true that many vocational journeys involve struggles, letting go, wrestling with God, and joys and sorrows, most are not as packed with emotional drama as the journeys depicted on “The Sisterhood”.  

I pray that young women who feel the tug to discern God’s will for their lives will not be frightened by the dramatic experiences of Christie, Francesca, Claire, Eseni and Stacey.  Our God loves us and respects the readiness of each person each step of our journey.  

He is much more patient than producers of a TV show and He prepares us carefully and lovingly for each next step of our unique and beautiful journey.

-Sr. Mary Catherine Kasuboski, TOR

You may also like

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.