The next step then is to respond to Christ’s love with all that we are. We seek to give ourselves entirely to Jesus through a deep, personal relationship. In order to understand the meaning of your life and what you are supposed to do with it, this personal relationship is necessary. Another way of putting it is to ask yourself, “Do I know Jesus, or do I only know about Him?” It is in this relationship with Him as Lord and Redeemer and as His intimate friend where we can hear His call to us.
Loving Jesus means striving after holiness. Our first vocation, the demand for holiness was placed upon us at our Baptism. Holiness means living the life of God here and now. Within this call to holiness emerges the more specific call to a state of life for women in the Church: consecrated religious life, marriage or dedicated single life. The life of holiness involves prayer (loving conversation with God), virtue (living God’s life) and asceticism (opening up oneself to God’s life).
Prayer is our vital, daily and intimate contact with the Lord. It entails the lifting of our hearts and minds to Him who is with us throughout the day. Prayer is more about listening than speaking to Him, but it involves both. A woman who desires to know her vocation must be a woman of committed, daily prayer.
A personal relationship is built upon personal prayer. Therefore you must make time in your day to be with Him exclusively and not just when it is convenient. We make time for friends and important people, and there is no better friend or more important person in the life of a Christian than Jesus Christ Himself.
Virtue is a habit of doing that which is good. It comes from the Latin “vir” meaning “man” and conveys true determination and strength. Virtue is a habit, that is, not something we do now and again, but regularly and without thought. Living a virtuous life means striving to be in accord with God’s commandments. Our personal relationship with Jesus relies heavily upon our desire to be virtuous women, for he told us, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
Asceticism, the practice of making sacrifices for God, makes us more willing receptors of His life within us. Asceticism also sharpens our spiritual senses, which aids in resisting temptation to sin. True love means true sacrifice for another. When a woman loves a man she is less concerned with her personal desires and wants more to fulfill his. So too, as we grow in our love of God, we should seek more to fulfill His desires than our own selfish ones. Sacrifices are not made just for the sake of giving up something out of obedience, but are gifts of self that stem from love. In its most basic sense asceticism means checking one’s own will in order to embrace the Lord’s will - to curb our earthly desires, such as comfort, attention and material goods, so we are free to desire the will of God.
In addition to giving up something, resisting temptation and doing that which we do not desire because it is the will of God is an ascetic act. We do not do ascetical works to earn Jesus’ love or grace; we do them to accept more deeply His love and grace that is already offered. Asceticism will help to sharpen our sensitivity to Him and His voice.