Here’s a question from a reader who is looking for ways to dedicate herself wholly to God …

I am a 39 year old woman, single mother to 3 beautiful children. I am also in the process of confirming my Catholic faith. I was not raised Catholic, nor have I lived the early part of my adult life in a Christian way. However, God has been drawing me deeper and deeper over the past 3+ years. I know I can’t be a nun, even though I am so very drawn to a religious life. I cannot and would not leave my children, now or when they grow up, but do you think there is a way I can truly dedicate my whole self to God? That is what fascinates me about being a nun. I want to live for Him alone–I do wish I could “marry” Him. Does that sound silly? Anyway-do you have any advice for me for ways to be closer to God? What do nuns study other than the Bible and the Catechism? Thank you.

Dear Nancy, Thank you for writing to me and sharing a bit of your story with me. God bless you and your beautiful children.

All Christians are to live their life for God — married, single, clergy and religious. It’s just that we each do it in a different kind of way. As a mom, you have an important vocation of helping your children to grow into God’s amazing dream for them, to love God, others, and all of God’s creation, and to learn how to reach out to the poorest and most abandoned of society. How you do this and how you make your own way through life is a gift to others as well for they can see another person like themselves who is prayerful, faithful, and compassionate. This is an extraordinary way to live for God.

I also hear in your words a desire to draw close to God personally, in a kind of solitude and intimacy. “Marrying” God doesn’t sound silly — it’s a great metaphor for communicating that deep desire to unite wholly with God. Each of us has to find the way that God is calling us to do that. Having regular times for prayer, celebrating the Eucharist, reaching out in service to others — these are very good ways of living into this union with God. You might also consider getting to know a religious community more deeply. Many communities like mine have associates who share in our prayer, ministry and community.

Nuns read quite a variety of things. I’d first recommend reading about the saints. Their lives are filled with insight into what it means to live wholly for God. Saint Teresa of Avila is one of my favorites. She wrote a lot about contemplative prayer and being united with God. “Interior Castle” and “Way of Perfection” are two good places to start. (I’ve written about Teresa a number of times on this blog — see posts tagged Teresa of Avila.) Find saints that resonate with you. You might, for example, look into the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints like Saint Anne and Saint Monica who were moms.

I’ve got tons of suggestions as I’m sure others do. Let me know how you are doing. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

And for others reading this, do you have similar questions? What have you found helpful?