Are You Called to Life in a Traditional Community?
Feeling God calling you to make a life commitment to Him can be a very scary feeling. You may be feeling overwhelmed, alarmed, excited, daunted. These feelings are perfectly normal - God may be asking you to do a momentous thing!
It often begins with the heart, a desire, an inner nudge and growing attraction and longing to respond to God's love. A growing yearning for prayer and service within the context of a life lived with others, a seeking after the deep adventure of community, prayer and commitment.
How do I know if God is calling me to a life in Community?
What kind of Community could I be called to and how do I know which one?
Part of the process of discernment is to collect facts and information. Sometimes circumstances and encounters lead to a particular Community or the desire to find out more.
Many Communities have a website with more information. If you go to the "Contact Us" page on this site you will find all the Communities in the UK listed. There are many publications available that may offer help and guidance, some of which are listed on the Useful Publications page.
It is a good idea to visit one or more Communities to get a feel for what it is all about and spending some time in retreat can help to clarify your mind and heart.
If you are thinking of joining a particular Community you need to contact the Community and arrange to stay as a guest at first then perhaps arranging to spend some time 'living alongside' with the Community. This will give you an idea of what life is like in a Community.
If you think this might be the right place for you then you need to speak with the Novice Guardian who is responsible for all those exploring and discerning their vocation. You need to be in sound health, both physically and psychologically, unmarried with no dependent children and either Anglican or a member of a Church which is in communion with the Anglican Church. Some Communities have upper age limits. At this point you will be known as an aspirant.
When admitted to the Community you will spend a short period of time as a postulant. This period allows you time to settle into the rhythms of Community life (and also discover some of the peculiarities too!)
What is the process for admission to a Community?
After a time you will be invited to become a novice and put on the habit of the Community. This is a visible sign of your willingness to continue to explore your vocation. As a Novice you would continue to discern, alongside the Novice Guardian your calling and explore what it means to be a Religious. This period in your journey will last at least one year or longer depending on the Community.
If you continue to feel that it is the right place for your you will then take vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, committing your life to the Community, to the church and to God. This is called First or Simple Vows and is usually for a set period of time. A small number of Communities omit this stage in the process. Again it is a public acknowledgement by you that you feel drawn to this life.
You will then come to the final commitment of taking Life or Solemn vows. These final vows commit you to spend the rest of your life living as a religious, serving God and his people.