The word ‘vocation’, coming from the Latin verb ‘vocare’, to call, highlights our need to listen for God’s guidance. It requires us to learn to become aware of God’s presence in all that we are and do. We are all called through our baptism to grow close to Jesus and to live our lives in response to his life, death and resurrection. For each of us that involves becoming a particular kind of person: someone who reflects something of the life and love of Christ. That is our primary calling: to represent Christ in the world.
There are numerous forms of ministry and service within the Church of England, such as working with children and young people, evangelism, ordained ministry, overseas mission work, pastoral ministry and readership. For those who feel drawn to community, exploring the Religious Life may be a way to follow.
The Religious Life is about a life of prayer and humble service lived under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. That means seeking to put oneself at God’s disposal. The purpose of being called into Community in CSMV is to live together with and for Christ on behalf of our neighbour, both within the Church and within our wide ranging culture. By giving everything to God, we trust that we will in turn be enriched and upheld by God’s presence.
How will you know the call? It might be a feeling of being nudged that will not go away. It might come as a bolt from the blue that this is what God is longing for you. However you experience the call of God, it is likely to be persistent. Initially, it matters little whether you have a theological or academic background or very little Christian knowledge. What matters is that you want to respond with all the faith and love with which God has blessed you; then to let the Holy Spirit guide you in the process of discernment as you seek God’s purpose for your life.
A contemporary Religious has expressed the call to dedicate one’s life to God’s service in Community in the following way: “Even if your vocation seems to come unexpectedly, you can recognise it because it makes the many fragments of your life come together in a pattern which makes sense. You may hear and recognise this pattern as coming home” .
If you feel a sense of call to the Religious Life, you may wish to visit or stay at the Convent to have a glimpse of what a day in our Community might involve. If you would like an initial discussion with one of the Sisters, please make contact while you are here for your enquiry to be passed on in a sensitive and totally confidential manner. Alternatively, please write directly to: the Sister in Charge, St Mary’s Convent, Denchworth Road, Wantage, Oxfordshire OX12 9AU.
‘Lord Jesus Christ, in your great love you draw all people to yourself and in your wisdom you call us to your service. We pray at this time you will kindle in the hearts of men and women the desire to follow you in the Religious life. Give to those whom you call grace to accept their vocation readily and thankfully, to make the whole-hearted surrender which you ask of them and, for love of you, to persevere to the end. This we ask in your name. Amen.’
Photo of some of those professed in First Vows from different Anglican Communities during this year’s annual gathering on the Guest Wing.