This week we're highlighting vocations to the religious life to celebrate World Day of Consecrated Life, which was on Tuesday.
Fr Simon Willis (31) from Stirling, was the first Scottish priest to be ordained into the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) in 2018. He is rector of the Junior Seminary at Montefiascone in Italy. We asked him about his experience of religious life and advice for those considering a vocation to it. Check out all our Q&As this week on our Facebook.
Describe the religious life in three words.
Commitment, freedom, hundredfold.
Favourite thing about the religious life?
St John Berchmans once said that community life was his greatest penance. Obviously living in community is an essential element of being a religious and of course it implies a bit of sacrifice, yet for me the pros far outweigh the cons. It is only through community life that I have been able to witness and be inspired by firsthand examples of great virtue and love for Our Lord. It is only through community life that I have been able to receive such invaluable guidance from superiors, spiritual directors etc. It is only through community life that I have been able to make such great and lasting friendships. There is a reason why the psalmist says, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
Following World Day of Consecrated Life, we're highlighting vocations to the religious life. Fr Simon Willis, from Stirling, is a priest with the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) in Italy. pic.twitter.com/IBkCnnmDOM
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) February 5, 2021
Most challenging aspect?
From a merely human perspective the religious life is an enormous challenge because it implies an obvious renouncing of oneself. I obviously miss certain home comforts: not being able to see my family when I want and for how long I want, my country, the golf course, fry-ups and fish suppers, my free time etc.
Advice for someone considering a religious vocation?
In the religious life one truly experiences what Jesus promises to Peter who asks him “We have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” Jesus makes him this great promise: “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time.”
The call to the religious life may seem like the Lord is asking us too much, that we are going to lose out somehow if we answer him, to leave everything behind that we hold dear is too great a sacrifice.
Yet, we must be sure that Jesus never takes, he only gives. If you are generous with him then he will be abundantly generous with you as he is always faithful to his promises. Leaving all like Peter did to follow Christ means gaining all. So my advice to anyone considering the religious life is to be generous with Jesus, because by being generous you will be abundantly happy in this life and “in the age to come eternal life.” What more could you ask for?
See all Q&As on our Facebook. If you want to chat about the religious life, please contact our Religious Vocations Director Sr Mirjam Hugens firstname.lastname@example.org; 0131 623 8902. To find out more about the Institute of the Incarnate Word, visit ive.org.