The Lord Jesus is always speaking to His people, calling each one by name. He spoke to St. Francis in the words of the Gospel and from the wood of the Cross, and in many other ways besides. He also speaks to you. It may be in the silence of prayer, in the words of Scripture, in the person of your fellow-Christians, in the disguise of the poor – but He is always speaking. And He calls you to a particular and unique way of life.
Although everyone's calling or vocation is unique, there are common patterns. Marriage is the most common vocation, and the vocation of the priesthood is also well-known. Jesus also calls many people to a shared life of prayer and service in community.
800 years ago, a young man called Francesco (or 'Francis' in English) was called in a very special way by God. He had once held ambitions to be a knight; but an experience of imprisonment and subsequent illness had served to set his life on a different course. For one thing, he had started ministering to the lepers – the most rejected members of medieval society.
Passing by the run-down church of San Damiano, he felt impelled to go in and pray. Kneeling before an image of Christ Crucified, he was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit, and heard a voice coming from the cross: "Francis, go and repair My house, which is all being destroyed." Not yet understanding the deeper meaning of this command, Francis at once set about repairing that wayside church, giving up his earthly property and the favour of his earthly father in the process.
The Lord spoke to Francis a second time, through the words of the Gospel. For as he was attending Mass one day, the Gospel was read in which Jesus sends out His disciples to preach. Upon hearing that they were not to have money, not to carry a wallet, nor have two tunics, nor shoes, nor staff, Francis said, "This is what I want, this is what I desire with all my heart." He dispensed with his shoes, his staff, and his little money, and even replaced his leather belt with a simple cord. Then in accordance with Christ's words he went out to preach peace and repentance.
It's not always easy to recognize the voice of God. If you think the Lord might be calling you to the Capuchin way of life, we are ready to help you find out. After all, each one of us friars has been through that process of discernment, albeit in different ways.
The first way is to meet you. Secondly, it's also very helpful to visit our friaries, to taste a little of our life. These visits normally take place as 'Discernment Weekends', when several men considering the Capuchin vocation come together for a couple of days in a friary. At a later stage of discernment, you might well stay with us for a week or so.
The vocations director, will happily talk and correspond with you during this process, and give you advice and pointers to help your discernment. We do recommend, however, that you have someone independent as your own spiritual director as well.
After some time, you may feel ready to apply for entry to the postulancy, the first stage of Capuchin life. The application is also part of the discernment process, and the Provincial Minister will decide whether or not you will be accepted. If you are accepted, there begins five years of 'initial formation', in which you will have ample opportunity to listen to the voice of God before making your final commitment – known as 'perpetual profession’.
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