We live in a world where day-to-day life consists in making choices from a wide range of choices, which only a few decades ago seemed unimaginable. Technology, particularly the internet and social media, offers seemingly endless options to even the most mundane of choices we need to make. We search in Google for restaurants in a particular location and all of a sudden we can’t make up our minds on where to eat. Gone were the days when people would take a single route to a particular location. With the availability of applications like Google Maps and Waze, one is offered several options based on traffic flow and the nearest public transportation available.
That life is about making choices is a fact that can’t be argued. Even the decision not to act on something is still a choice. Everything is a choice. What defines us is how we make choices and the kind of choices we make.
This is the world and reality of many of our formands as they enter religious formation. They enter religious life after sifting through the many choices available to them, or sometimes given the very limited choices they have in their current life circumstances. Still they make a choice to enter. But making choices does not end as they become postulants. In fact, religious formation, in its truest sense, prepares the ground in which a more in-depth decision-making, through what we know as discernment process, will take place. Through human and spiritual formation programs that help them explore their psychological needs and their deeply held values and aspirations, we help them to move into a Christ-oriented discernment process as they move from stage to stage. Rather than staying on because of the expectations of others, or because of the perceived lack of better options outside of religious life, or because of the social status that religious life affords them, they are accompanied in the formation program so that they are able to listen to the movements of the Spirit in their life. The goal of religious formation should be able to help them to follow the models offered in the Scripture in making decisions based on the will of God rather than their own personal comfort and wants. When they can truly say, “Be it done unto me according to Your Word,” no matter the decision they make, I think we can say that we have done our work well in initial religious formation.