There are some people who know they have a vocation to the consecrated life from an early age. However for others, as adults, realizing they are being called to serve may begin with asking a fundamental question: “what is the meaning of life?” Does life have a purpose? Or, is it just about satisfying one appetite after another?
Most people instinctively sense that life has a purpose. But by rejecting traditional wisdom and values, they may despair of ever finding the answer.
Still, there is a universal desire for happiness. Many will experience brief moments of contentment. But sadly, few seem to find the consistent, long-lasting, even eternal happiness that is an effect of consistent, long-lasting, eternal love – an active love of God and neighbor.
Yes, happiness can be found in all vocations, especially married family life in which spouses and parents must make sacrifices for the sake of each other and their children. Consecrated life, too, requires self-sacrifice as opposed to self-seeking.
“The secret of lasting happiness is to forget selfish inclinations and enter into the universe that revolves around the Son. Jesus, the Son.”
For consecrated brothers, who are not responsible for administering the sacraments, there may be opportunities to serve in a variety of ways. Religious communities will try to use them according to their aptitudes and training, but it is best not to have an agenda or be intent on doing one’s own will. It’s okay to have goals, but one needs to be part of the community’s apostolate, rather than an independent operator; part of a team, instead of seeking recognition for personal achievements.
Fraternal life in community is not so much a question of “me” and what am I getting out of this. That is more the attitude of a child, whose world revolves around themselves. No, the secret of lasting happiness is to forget selfish inclinations and enter into the universe that revolves around the Son. Jesus, the Son.
Consecrated life, for those called to it, is especially oriented toward union with God (Canon 663), by doing His Will and not our own, with fewer distractions and temptations, and through the observance of the evangelical counsels – poverty, chastity and obedience.
Yet, it is not so much about “doing something” as it is about “being something.”
In the world, one is often defined by what they do. Even last names can reflect one’s profession: Cook, Barber, Gardener, Hunter, Weaver. However, in the consecrated life, it is the other way around – what one is defines what one does, and perhaps more importantly, why one does it. Brother; Sister; Mother; Father. Family was really God’s invention. And the vocation to the consecrated life is a more intimate participation in the family of God, the good Father, Mary, the good mother, and Jesus, Son and Brother. (John 8:35; Galatians 4:7; 1 John 3:1-3)
So, the purpose of life and the way to find true and lasting happiness is really the same. It is to “know, love and serve God in this world, so as to be happy with Him forever in the next.” And the consecrated life is specifically oriented to achieving that end.