“What classes should I take to learn more about my faith and to discern a possible religious vocation?” What a refreshing question to receive from a young person; you made my day!
First, let me say that I hope any young person serious about deepening their relationship with God would at some time give some consideration to the thought of vowed life as a religious. It’s a viable option! It’s a great way of life! And if you are seeking a deep relationship with God, religious life can take you right there! That’s the whole focus for our life, our ministry!
As far as courses you can take in college or graduate work, I strongly recommend a good Scripture course or two—especially on the Gospels. We have all HEARD the Gospels read over the years. And we may have prayed the, meditated on them. But something just breaks open when you seriously study the New Testament. Not only do you begin to really understand the culture, the land, the history of the times in which Jesus and his followers live, but you come to understand more of the language—and the meaning of words, expressions, and even numbers!
More than anything, however, is the encounter with Jesus of Nazareth! How can we learn more about him without falling in love more deeply with his message, his compassionate behavior and actions, his very person! We begin to experience awe and wonder—who IS this man? And not just to study the Scriptures but truly meditate on them. The grace pours out of the stories and we are left standing, looking at the Healer, watching His face in each encounter with poor, blind, deaf, misunderstood people...and we know we are that person.
Other theology courses can help you struggle with the moral and social justice issues of our day, and light fires of passion to help respond to the needs of our world. A good Christology course or Sacraments course can stretch your mind and give deeper meaning to your beliefs. But my favorite wish for any young seeker is a rich course on the Gospels.
O Seeker, get to know Jesus Christ better, and your faith will grow deep and rich—you will have a friend for life!