I have always been fascinated by the Transfiguration; I find it to be one of the most overtly mystical feasts of the year. As a resurrection appearance before the Resurrection, the Transfiguration reveals that in the Resurrection we are not talking about a historical event per se, but a manifestation of eternity become history. And when Eternity Himself becomes human history, He is revealed as utter Belovedness.
The Transfiguration has also been important to me in my own journey; I count this day as the anniversary of receiving my vocation to religious life. Imagine, then, my wonder when I later calculated that I was born on the second Sunday of Lent, when the Transfiguration is always proclaimed!
It's worth dwelling on for a moment, this idea of 'receiving a vocation,' and why I associate it with a particular day. People often ask questions about these spiritual moments, about how one knows that he has a vocation, or how one is sure about it.
So what do I mean by the moment of 'receiving my vocation?' All I mean is a consent to an internal invitation, a finding of the willingness to risk exploring an attraction and the courage to let other options begin to close in pursuit of it.
The invitation from God, when examined on the natural level, is a sort of attraction. The attraction to religious life can be made up of many parts, some natural and some supernatural, some wholesome and some immature. But in whole mess of 'weeds and wheat,' one experiences something inside that invites a look. On the feast of the Transfiguration in 1993, circumstances--Providence!--had set me up to help me consent to the invitation. I was about to begin my senior year of college, and needed a plan for after graduation. I had spent the summer praying and volunteering with a religious community. On the natural level it was easy for me to consent; I had nothing to lose and needed something to do anyway.
To consent to an attraction to religious life does not mean consenting to the whole vocation of being a religious; this has to be tested and explored. One may discover with delight--on the day of perpetual profession--that this original consent was indeed a consent to a religious vocation, but at the first moments this is not yet known. Many are called to explore religious life for a time without arriving at a final commitment; typically these are not failures or detours, but fruitful moments in particular journeys to other destinations. Religious life is like any relationship of the heart; it proceeds through deepening stages of intimacy according to mounting consent and vulnerability. These moments are institutionalized in the classic stages of religious formation: aspirancy, postulancy, novitiate, temporary profession, perpetual profession.
So if anyone discerning a religious vocation makes her way to this post, all I can say is let go of any interior urges to look for 'signs' or 'certainty.' These are what the flesh seeks because it doesn't want to risk anything for love.