7 Stages of Discernment - The Fourth Stage
These 7 Stages of Discernment are taken and modified for discerning religious life from the book To Save a Thousand Souls by Fr. Brett A. Brannen.
Stage 4: Discernment Shift
A woman in this stage is moving quickly towards surrender and resignation to the will of God. She has been faithful to prayer, attended retreats, visited some religious communities, and has come to the conclusion that God is probably calling her to be a sister. She feels a sense of peace should this be her God-determined vocation. Others, including religious sisters with whom she is in contact, are telling her that she has the signs of a religious vocation. She still may be hoping that God is only calling her to a monastery for a year or so, but not to vowed religious life.
She has made the decision that she can no longer date men at this time. Some call this a “dating fast.” She is evaluating the pros and cons of religious life and wondering if she has the ability to live a monastic life of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
The essential element of this stage is the knowledge that discernment cannot proceed any further outside of the convent. To keep moving forward in discernment she must shift from discernment in the ordinary world to discernment in a monastic environment. She understands that becoming an aspirant/ postulant in a monastery is not a final decision to become a nun, but only the next step in the process.
She begins to tell her family and close friends that she is thinking of entering the monastery. She certainly has some anxieties and fears, but she also has a much stronger love and trust in God. She has seen the signs, she has felt the call, the call is persistent; she is growing in peace; and those who support her discernment recommend she go to the convent. She is thinking, “I can’t believe it. I might actually become a nun. God might be calling me to be totally His!” Finally she asks the vocation director of the religious community to which she feels drawn if she can begin the process to enter.