In fact, the Church and most religious communities have all sorts of conditions that would make sure that there’s a significant time for waiting. This waiting includes matters concerning: insufficient age or time after entrance into the Catholic Church; working off debt or dealing with other college or employment matters; psychological, social, or spiritual immaturity; or simply a long application process. The Rule of St. Benedict, one of the ancient rules of religious life, says, “Let easy admission not be given to one who newly comes to change his life” (chap. 58). Traditionally, then, a religious community should not be too eager to welcome someone into their company.
So, if you want to enter religious life, but have to wait, what do you do? The Psalmist says, “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). When we pray that, we can realize why we’re waiting. We wait for the Lord. How do we wait? The Lord wants us to wait with courage, to be stouthearted. It’s a matter of perseverance, to be strong and steadfast in the heart.
If you’ve been told that you can’t enter religious life for another year, for example, the worst thing to do is simply to ignore that holy desire and concentrate on something else. Waiting does not mean putting the expected out of your mind. It means, actually, to concentrate in your heart on the expected, the One expected.
Ask your Vocation Director what you should do, and not do, to feed your holy desire. If you’re waiting to enter the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, the Vocation Director has aspirancy guidelines to help enflame your soul in desire through a detailed list of such things as reading, prayer, and service. When the Lord comes on the day of your entrance, He will then find one stouthearted with courage, waiting for Him alone.
Fr. Andrew Hofer OP is the Student Master for the Province of St. Joseph at theDominican House of Studies in Washington DC.