Pray About It

Brother David Henley, vocation director

May 2016

"Pray about it" is a phase we use often in the Glenmary vocation office.

Telling a young man who is discerning a vocation to religious life and considering joining Glenmary to "pray about it" is not only the best advice we can give but really the only advice. By raising our hearts and minds to God in prayer, we offer up our thoughts, apprehensions and desires, asking God to lead us to where we are being called. A true discernment implies that we do not enter into our prayer with an answer already in mind, but that we humbly give up what we want and ask God to help us follow his will. We ask, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

Scripture reminds us as well of the importance of prayer. In the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament, Eli the priest advises Samuel: "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" (1 Sam 3:9) In the New Testament, St. Paul reminds his readers to "persevere in prayer" and to "pray without ceasing."

Glenmary Vocation Novena book

In order to assist discerners with their prayer, our vocation office recently updated our Glenmary Vocation Novena book. This book is an exceptional way for someone to commit to praying for nine days about his vocation. Praying a novena is a time-tested tradition in the Catholic Church. And this particular vocation novena allows one to meditate on the Scriptures, ponder the life of St. Isaac Jogues, reflect on the charism of Glenmary and contemplate where God is calling him at this stage of his life.

Prayer is as essential for those discerning a vocation as it is for those of us who have already entered into religious life. Glenmary founder Father Bishop wrote in a letter to all the Glenmary priests and brothers: "If our interior life is not kept on a high plane, our work in the various fields of activity can have only an apparent success and not that for very long. The fundamental requirement for true success is that we all strive daily to be saints." Father Bishop's reminders to keep our "interior life on a high plane" and to strive daily toward sainthood are essential not only for members but also for Glenmary vocation discerners.

Prayer is so necessary that the commitment to prayer is one of the four promises a Glenmary priest or brother makes in his Glenmary Oath. The Glenmary Constitution reminds all Glenmarians that "our need for prayer is as fundamental as the need for God. Without prayer, faith soon dries up and dies. Without prayer, charity grows cold or becomes routine, and hope becomes a utopian dream. We need prayer to express our openness to God and judge our lives before God and man." While discerning a vocation to religious life, prayer is fundamental. It is the first and only place we can find the answers to where we are being called.

The Glenmary Constitution also states that "our prayer needs to be multiple in its forms: from a silent pleading deep within us to the singing of the praises of God; from listening in peace and quiet to proclaiming our response to God; from reflecting on some great truth to working for some great cause. So our prayer will take many different forms and have many different purposes." The Glenmary Vocation Novena is one form that a discerner can use to help him ask, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

The Glenmary Vocation Novena is available now for those discerning their call to religious life. It can also be adapted for use by individuals who would like to pray for those who are discerning. If you would like to "pray about it" using this novena book or know someone who would benefit by using it, you can contact our office to receive a free copy.

Read previous columns by Brother David.