On Oct. 27 I will make my profession into the third order of Secular Franciscans. I often get asked the question: Why did you choose this path?
Here are my final answers.
- It was a calling that was suggested by two prominent people in my life.
- It was confirmed over and over again...in prayer, service and formation.
- It stretches me to live the Gospel life more fully.
- It challenges me outside of my comfort zone.
- It fits me.
Several weeks ago I was sitting down with an older friend talking about discernment and he said to me, “You are called to religious life in another way.” That spoke deeply. Because not only have I felt that way, but the third order has felt that way for me.
I knew that was God saying, yes Katie, this is the way for you. Like He has done throughout my discernment and formation.
I live very much a religious life in the secular world. I’m bound to daily Mass, frequent penance, daily prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, devotion to the Eucharist, acts of mercy, and service/witness in the secular world. I’m bound to live the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis --- actively, vibrantly, and lovingly.
I’m bound to growing and living the tenants of the rule I profess. Simplicity, mercy, poverty of spirit, detachment, penance, care for creation, and devotion to the love of God and neighbor are some of the biggest ones. These are not easy to live day in and day out, but I find that as I grow in living them, they really are the “crux” of the Gospel and help me live a deeper Christian life that is closer to God and others.
Although I felt a stirring to religious life and a deeper commitment to the Church, religious life in the regular order sense never quite fit me. It never felt like me. I never felt comfortable in it or at home with any order I discerned. It always felt like my gifts and talents which are so perfectly fit to the secular world would go underutilized. I was even rejected a few times.
But the third order secular life has been a vast richness of opportunities to live my faith in a myriad of ways in the Church and in the secular world. It's expanded me outward and within -- and those fruits are signs of a vocational call.
As I approach profession, of course I am nervous about committing to this for the rest of my life, but I also feel ready. I feel formed. I feel confirmed. I feel that this is what God chose for me. That it’s a perfect fit for me. It’s part of God’s ever unfolding plan for my vocation, and the community members accept me with open arms.
This is my call to religious life...in another way.