How do you know?

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Women discerning religious life always ask, “How did you know you found the right community? How did you know you were being called to this life choice?”

Well, goodness. It’s hard to explain in words, because it’s about feelings. That is, feelings are God’s grace working inside us, to guide us along the right path. They feel so subjective … but when they don’t go away, it means something.

I often say the call felt like a part of me was missing. I felt there must be something more to life. It was a feeling that wouldn’t go away, not permanently. It kept coming back.

As for my choice of community, I tried several places. I lived with an apostolic group in Dubuque. They lived alone or with roommates away from the Mother house. They didn’t enjoy communal prayer. That didn’t feel right.

I lived with a group in Nebraska that was almost cloistered. I couldn’t have visited my family more than once a year. That didn’t feel right.

When I visited this part-contemplative, part-apostolic monastery that I now call “home,” I felt comfortable and at peace. Their prayer spoke to my soul in a way the others didn’t. Their community life was enriching. Their love of family meant my own birth family had gained a large and loving spiritual family.

My feelings are expressed by Mary DeTurris Poust in her wonderful book, Walking Together. To paraphrase it, I felt “a sense of peace and balance and joyful spirituality” being “lived out” here in this monastery “day by day.”

And there’s nothing better than coming home after work to a monastic family who cares I’m here.

Give me a shout at and let’s discuss!!!

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