This week we're highlighting vocations to the religious life to celebrate World Day of Consecrated Life, which was on Tuesday.
Joseph Tortolano (19) from Stirling, is a novice with the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE), based at Segni near Rome. We asked him about his experience in the religious life so far. Check out all our Q&As this week on our Facebook.
Decribe the religious life in three words.
Self-denial – Joy - Sacrifice.
Favourite thing about the religious life?
Religious life is first of all a life of heroism, because when one joins a religious order, he no longer belongs to himself, as Ven. Fulton J. Sheen says “the priest is not his own”, he has given his life entirely to God without any exceptions or attachments.
The result of this daily self-donation is an immense joy and happiness because one, through the religious life, lives the same way as Christ lived on earth, professing vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Through the imitation of the Word made Flesh we strive for perfection every day and we try to move closer towards such an ideal.
This is the element that makes us authentically happy, submitting ourselves and our will to that of God’s and freely choosing to do every single act with the acknowledgment that we are doing the will of God, from rising in the morning until we rest at night, that’s what true freedom consists in, dying to ourselves every day, and giving our lives for the most noble of ideals,the King of Kings. There is no happier life than the religious.
Most challenging aspect of religious life?
To live the glory that Christ has prepared for us we have to be ready to suffer and to take up our crosses, because that’s the true road to holiness. A challenging aspect of religious life is to live with a martyrial spirit, preparing ourselves, each day, each hour, and each second to create a fertile terrain to receive the immense grace of martyrdom.
This is an everydaytask that requires sacrifice and consistency, but the important thing is to not escape from the occasions of self-denial, instead to prepare ourselves to be true soldiers of Christ. Every day we must clothe ourselves in his armour and fight by His side with full disposition and generosity, this is what it means to be religious.
We therefore have to be ready to give our full selves, until the last drop of blood, if necessary. During the roman Empire the true martyrs where those who stayed in the Empire and became martyrs, nowadays the true martyrs are those who leave the world and empty themselves, fighting against their defects and inclinations through little daily acts, but doing them with maximum generosity and doing so, giving the same glory to Christ as the martyrs did.
Advice for someone considering a religious vocation?
There are different types of vocations in life; one of these is to the religious life. God calls, and it is up to us to say yes or no, this call is usually interior, God inspires the soul to follow such a noble road. Those who have heard the call to religious life have no need to doubt but trust in God.
When one is not sure which religious congregation to enter or has a difficulty in joining the religious life it is necessary to ask for advice. One has to respond with readiness, doing straight away the will of God, and not postponing to tomorrow what can be done today, generosity, leaving everything, total donation, heroism, with full disposition.
God has chosen a vocation for each of us from all of eternity and He will grant us the necessary graces to persevere in that vocation since he does not ask the impossible of us.Following such a vocation we can reach to holiness, we must only cooperate willingly with such a plan.No one can be authentically happy if he doesn’t follow God’s plan.
We have to know that God chose the best thing for us even if at the time we don’t fully understand, but one day we will. Be willing to renounce everything and do big sacrifices. I strongly encourage those who feel the desire to donate themselves to Jesus Christ, to not be scared and take the leap.
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.