This Advent season has been instrumental in my discernment of a vocation to religious life with the Franciscan Friars. For the first time ever, I realized the significance of Advent as a preparation for the coming Feast of the Incarnation, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. No longer distracted with Christmas shopping, or the dreaded the year-end crunch at work, I have been free to take advantage of the four week preparation period that precedes Christmas. These last seven days of Advent, in particular, have been spiritually enriching to my discernment process and spiritual journey.
Below is a recording of the sublime Jessye Norman singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, which I found out is a musical setting of the Antiphons recited at Vespers during the last seven days of Advent.
To make my discernment all the more thorough, tomorrow, I will leave the friary to visit my family and friends, and my old life, for approximately two weeks. While I am very happy and excited to see my loved ones for Christmas and New Year (and to return to the hustle and bustle of New York City), I cannot help but be a little anxious about this break from friar life. What if I really miss my old life? What if I don’t want to return to the Postulancy? What if I do want to return to the Postulancy?
I suppose this is what discernment is all about. To question, to probe, to reflect, and to listen. To listen to God’s voice within us, which we are told is not in the strong winds, or fires, or earthquakes. Rather, His voice is in the quiet stillness of our hearts. And so it is following St. Francis’s example, that during this Advent and Christmastide I will pray:
Most High, Glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith,
certain hope and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out Your holy and true command.