The Vocation Operation

Some of you may remember that I used to have a project called The Vocation Operation, aimed at providing resources for those discerning a religious vocation that I ran with a friend. We both ended up busy and the blog fell by the wayside but I’ve decided that I want to start it up again. I’ve moved the blog and am working on developing the resources we had and want to change and add a few things. So if you’re discerning a religous vocation or just interested, please stop by and see what we’ve got – more will be added soon!

The Vocation Operation


Testing Charting Apps

Since I started learning about NFP, I think it’s pretty awesome. Now, I should preface this post by saying if you’re married/getting married then there is no substitute for learning a method from a certified teacher. But that’s not always possible, and so I looked for sources that could help me learn a bit more and start charting. I found five different apps that I started using – Kindara (iOS), Fertility Friend (iOS, Android and web), OvuView (Android), Ovia (iOS and Android) and Clue (iOS and Android).

So these are my entirely uneducated impressions of these apps. I am only using the free options, some of them have additional paid options but I’m not using any of those. I’ve used each app for six cycles. There are some that I haven’t used in a while so features may have been added or changed. I’ve evaluated them on Learning To Chart, Features and Useability and Catholic Perspective. I’ve also added whether I’d consider the paid features if applicable and given my overall impression.

Learning to Chart

Kindara: The tutorial is very quick and easy to understand. There’s a good blog and knowledge base accessible for learning to chart and how to use the app.

Fertility Friend: This has a really excellent FAQ section that covers just about everything. I also like the glossary of abbreviations. There is a good free Introduction to Charting course that.

OvuView: The FAQ section for how to use the app and how to chart is really good. There’s also a good guide for how to understand the cycle wheel.

Ovia Fertility: The tutorial was a little quick but the app is easy to use and it has a great articles section which includes both basics and more detailed information.

Clue: It was easy to set up and the cycle science section made it easy to reference information later on.

Features and Useability

Kindara: You can chart temperature, cervical fluid, cervix position, sexual activity, menstruation and add custom data. There are 3 lines of custom data available for free users, though they are just checkboxes. There is also a journal section for each day. I chose the “Track My Period” goal, and there are also “Get Pregnant” and “Avoid Pregnancy” options. It’s easy to enter data and you can view it either as a calendar or as a chart.

Fertility Friend:  There are no options for what the aim of charting is, since it is aimed at trying to conceive. You get a free 30 day trial of the paid membership when you sign up, without having to give payment details which I like.There are a lot of options for signs and symptoms to chart, which I really like. I mean a lot. You can also choose whether symptoms you add are check boxes, scales, etc. The only thing I don’t like is you can add options but I can’t seem to remove things that aren’t applicable to me. I found it a little clunky to use, both online and on the app.

OvuView: There’s a wide variety of symptoms you can track. It’s not as wide-ranging as Fertility Friend, but it’s pretty comprehensive. I also really like that you can choose which ones show up on your daily calendar, so you’re not fussing with things that don’t apply to you. I selected the “avoid pregnancy” option because the period tracker didn’t show as many options in the wheel and I wanted to see the whole thing. There are calendar, circle and chart view options.

Ovia Fertility: Again, there are no options for the aim of charting since it is aimed at women who are trying to conceive. You can chart period, mood, general medical & health symptoms and medications, intercourse, cervical fluid, ovulation and pregnancy tests, temperature, blood pressure, sleep, nutrition, activity and weight. There is also a note section. There is also an option to share it with your partner, which I think it great.

Clue: There are more tracking options than you would want me to bore you with but it covers period, fluid, various body symptoms, emotions, sleep, medication and allows you to add custom tags. Like Ovia, there is an option to share your cycle with others.

Catholic Perspective

None of these are overtly Catholic or religious so I thought it important to see if they promoted or advertised things I would feel uncomfortable with.

Kindara: On the sexual activity option, you can select either ‘protected’ or ‘unprotected’ and it also has a ‘Supplies’ tab which features condoms. Obviously from a Catholic perspective, the use of contraceptives is not allowed. However, from a non-Catholic source I wouldn’t expect otherwise. It is also implied (but not outright stated) that the company is not pro-life and when reading the blog there was an article aimed to advice lesbian couples on conceiving artificially. Both these things were big concerns for me.

Fertility Friend: Some of the options seemed to be relevant to IVF but other than that I couldn’t find anything (although given the interface I could just be missing it).

OvuView: As with Kindara on the sexual activity option, you can select either ‘protected’ or ‘unprotected’. It also (oddly) gives an option for choosing ‘Pill” in the symptoms, which is obviously not okay for Catholics but again, from a non-Catholic source I’m not surprised. Other than that, I haven’t found anything particularly objectionable.

Ovia Fertility: There isn’t a contraceptive option, since this is aimed at conceiving. There are some mentions in the articles section of fertility treatments like IVF.

Clue: Like some of the others, it can track ‘protected’ or ‘unprotected’ sex and allows for tracking birth control. From the website, they do support birth control and don’t seem to be pro-life.

Would I Pay?

Kindara: Paying adds passcode lock, temperature shift, peak day, unlimited custom data rows, syncing across devices and viewing charts online. It costs a one-time $4.99. I wouldn’t pay for this for several reasons. From a practical perspective the other options simply offer more, even in the free version, so I don’t feel that paying really adds anything and from a Catholic perspective the pro-life issue makes me uncomfortable with paying for this.

Fertility Friend: Paying adds a huge number of features. It seems to be on a subscription basis. I believe for 1 year it is $45 but can be purchased for shorter times and various forums have mentioned a discount making it $25 relating to Facebook. I had to Google to find that out from forums though, the website itself was not upfront about costs. Given the expense, I would probably be unlikely to pay for this one.

OvuView: Paying adds password protection, custom data, method selection, pregnancy and miscarriage support and removing ads. What is added with membership is made very clear. It costs a one-time $5 (about £3). I absolutely would purchase this and have done so already. It cost me $1.99 (about £1.20) because it was on a brief special offer.

Ovia Fertility: This one is free. Yay.

Clue: Also free.


Kindara: This app was the one I used first, and I found it easy to use as I got used to charting. It was let down for me by the Catholic objections and the limited features. However, as an app for learning to chart and understand your body it is useful.

Fertility Friend: The diversity of options is great and the FAQ and glossary are simply amazing. However, it’s somewhat clunky and not as user friendly as the others. The price for VIP features is also quite high. I do think, however, it would be a great option for someone actively trying to conceive or perhaps for someone who is struggling to conceive.

OvuView: I like the format. It’s user-friendly and has a lot of features, which I liked. The cost was reasonable and with the features that were available in the paid version it was good value for money. Overall it was my favourite app, but unfortunately it’s only available for Android.

Ovia Fertility: This is definitely aimed at women who are trying to conceive, and for that purpose this is a fantastic app. There is also an Ovia Pregnancy app which if you’re trying to conceive is a great idea. The ability to share cycles with your partner is also really great.

Clue: This is actually the app I now use, since OvuView is not available for iOS. However, it’s easy to use, easy to understand and has a lot of features. Like Kindara, this was let down by the Catholic objections.


God’s Help

I think some people have this strange idea of God as some sort of divine puppet-master. A while ago I heard someone complaining that they were asking God for help and nothing happened so they were angry at God. But when I asked them what steps they were taking to solve the problems they had, the answer was a resounding “nothing”.

A good parent does not simply do everything for their child. A good parent helps and supports their child, but doesn’t just hand them everything on a platter. People often ask God for help but are unwilling to put in any effort themselves. They expect God to hand them everything on a platter. That is not the way it works. If one falls into a pit, God will help them. His arm is reaching down to pull them out. But they have to reach out and take His hand. He is always there, reaching out to us. He is just waiting for us to accept His help.

We are also thwarted so often by our expectations of what God’s actions are. There is a joke I was once told about a man who was caught in a flood. Two men came by in a boat to rescue him but he waved them away saying “the Lord will save me.” Another boat came along but again the man said “the Lord will save me.” A helicopter arrived but the man once again just said “the Lord will save me.” The man ended up drowning and at the gates of heaven he angrily asked St. Peter “Why didn’t the Lord save me?” St. Peter replied “For crying out loud, He sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more do you want?”

God may not work in the ways we expect Him to, or give us exactly what we are expecting, but He is there. Our heavenly Father does not abandon us. But He also does what it best for us. The Lord is not just going to hand you everything on a platter. He does not carry us: He helps us to walk. He will help you, not do everything for you. We are not passive in the works of God, but active participants and co-operators.


Many years ago, I did something I deeply regretted. I was so upset and ashamed and I went to Confession almost in tears, wondering how I could be forgiven. There was a queue and I was so nervous sitting on the pew waiting. I remember feeling embarrassed as I made my Confession, admitting to my mistakes, almost sure that I would be thoroughly reprimanded for my sins. The first thing the priest said to me was “God forgives you, but you also need to forgive yourself.”

I was completely taken aback. The priest had heard something in my confession that I hadn’t even realised. I was so absorbed by my own shame that I kept berating myself over and over. I was letting a mistake I had made define what I thought of myself, and it had made me lose sight of God’s mercy. After that Confession I went to the chapel to Our Lady and I prayed. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. If God could forgive my sins, then I could forgive myself.

That Confession taught me something beautiful about the sacrament – that it was not a sacrament of shame or fear or judgement, that Confession is a sacrament of joy, of love and of mercy.

I never again felt that shame going to Confession.



I haven’t blogged in a long time. When I started this blog, it was all about what I thought was my journey to the convent. Had I entered when I planned to, and had I then stayed, I’d be looking at temporary profession now. One thing I found difficult is that my life no longer had a plan, a schedule of what would happen and when. In many ways, religious life seemed very certain and deciding not to go down that path left me feeling adrift.

I can’t say that I know everything. I don’t know exactly what will happen in life and that’s okay. Certainty may be comfortable, but there is also comfort in knowing that I am on the path that I am supposed to be on even if I don’t know where that path might be leading me.

I’ve learnt that I musn’t focus on what my destination is and instead focus on the journey. I’ve come back to blogging because I’ve always found it a good way of processing my thoughts.

Finding My Way

A Catholic Girl Trying To Find Her Way.

That is how I describe myself and my blog. I haven’t posted much recently for the simple reason that I’ve lost my way. I have come to terms with not being called to religious life and found an incomparable joy in the life that I am called to. I have lost my way in the sense that I have lost the practice of my faith. I believe, but I struggle to make it real in my life. I am reminded often of that quote from St. Augustine “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” This is part of my struggle – I’ll work on my faith, but not yet. I can make every excuse in the book, but it comes down to I don’t want to. I realise how awful that is. I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to change. I’m missing whatever it was that used to drive my faith but I don’t know what that is anymore.

May the Lord have mercy on my soul. I am in need but in no way deserving.


When I stopped discerning religious life, I said I didn’t believe I was called to religious life. That was a lie. I realise in hindsight that I felt such pain and difficulty because I was trying to convince myself of something I didn’t truly believe. This is not a “I’m discerning religious life again” post, because I’m not. When I stopped discerning religious life, I lost a connection to God and to my faith and I can’t find it again.

I remember a time when I could be transfixed in Adoration and adore Him for hours, when my greatest and most ardent desire was for His will, when felt His presence in my life. I don’t feel any of that anymore. I don’t feel a call to anything, or even that He is present. Nothing has changed in what I believe and know to be true, but I want that devotion back, that deep presence of God in my life.

I need Him.



I remember reading this little book on the vocation to religious life that was in the guest room at St. Cecilia’s. Many parts of the book were excellent, others I found I disagreed with. I shan’t name the book, since I don’t want to scandalise anyone. One of the sections of the book asked why some are called to religious life and others are not. The book basically said that those who are called to religious life are preferred by God (I cannot recall the exact wording, nor do I own the book). At the time I passed such a statement off as ridiculous. However, once I accepted that the religious life was not my vocation that statement was part of my grief. The feeling of being rejected by God, of having lost His favour is something I have struggled with.

I have for a long time though constantly in terms of lack: lack of a religious vocation. A few days ago, I started thinking about the realities of a vocation to marriage and I felt an undeniable joy. I found a joy greater than anything I felt when discerning religious life. It’s knowing that I am doing what God wills me to do and that I am serving Him. I will always have a desire for the religious life I think, but that is something I must sacrifice to do the will of God. My desire for the religious life is a good thing, but I am more than willing to sacrifice it for the greater good – the will of God. I have finally recaptured my joy, and I can see that His will is more glorious than I ever imagined.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. In grassy meadows he lets me lie. By tranquil streams he leads me to restore my spirit. He guides me in paths of saving justice as befits his name. Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death I should fear no danger, for you are at my side. Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me. You prepare a table for me under the eyes of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup brims over. Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life. I make my home in the house of the Lord for all time to come. [Psalm 23]