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1. They exercise their will: They try to become better each day, avoiding the trap of habit or cynicism.
Unfortunately over the past century, many religious communities have fallen away from some of these basic characteristics. For the saints, this is a great tragedy, for it is better for a soul never to have entered religious life, than to spend one's life in a lukewarm community. In fact, the saints use strong words for such communities, even calling them an "apostasy." It is thus all the more important for us to be equipped to make an informed decision about which community to enter, so as to avoid choosing a bad one. This is especially poignant in our modern society, when for the first time in history, religious life is so deeply afflicted from within. In 1938, Our Lord revealed to Saint Faustina the deplorable state of religious communities, and warned us about their fate should they persist in their ways (emphasis added);
And so it happened, just as Our Lord predicted in 1938. In the United Sates alone, the number of religious sisters dropped by 120,000 members in just forty years--a blink of an eye in world history--from 1965 to 2005. Thousands of convents and monasteries were abandoned, and those that remained arrested in spirit and fervor.
Our Lady of Fatima also predicted great trials for the world as well. Even though the consecration to Russia was made, it nonetheless occurred late, and thus the consequences have been tempered. Although nation have not been annihilated, and the "errors" of Russia (such as Marxism and socialism) have died away, nonetheless, these errors rippled out in variant forms, under the guise of Freudian psychology in the 1940's, and the "sexual revolution" of the 1960's. .
We mention this not to discrouage our readers, but only to underscore the point that religious life as we know it today is in a wounded state. However, in the same breadth, Our Lady has also been applying the ointment with Her most tender hand, raising up new communities devoted to Her and faithful to the Church. In 1995, Pope John Paul II stated that the Church is on the verge of a new springtime. The authentic renewal of religious life that Vatican II called for is now beginning to bud forth, fifty years later.
We see now the importance of visiting communities first hand, given the wide variance between them, in order to observe their way of life. As a general guideline, we recommend reviewing the information listed on the pages; "8 Tips for Choosing a Community" and also "7 Practical Tips for Discernment". We hope that with these guidelines will serve this purpose, that is; to better equip the reader to make an informed decision about which community Our Lord may be calling him to.