What is Discernment?

God has given a special vocation, a unique mission, to each person.

It lies within the soul, waiting to be discovered. The realization of one’s vocation can occur at different stages in one’s life. For some, it is an easy and almost effortless discovery. For others, it can be a long and arduous search.

The word “discernment” comes from the Latin “discernere” which means “to separate.” When one is “discerning”, it means she is taking time apart in order to pray, think, reflect, and discover the unique plan God has for his or her life.

The vocation to the holy orders or consecrated life is a special call from God. To begin the discernment process, it is important to follow a program of spiritual growth.

Some points to include are daily personal prayer, increased attendance at Mass, reception of the Eucharist, more frequent confessions, involvement in some parish or other religious-sponsored activity, practicing the virtues, and speaking with a trusted Confessor or spiritual mentor who will guide you in the process.

From Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

Signs of a Call

Text courtesy of Diocese of Lansing

Wondering if you have a call to Religious or some form of Consecrated life in which you are set apart for the Lord?

Here are a few possible indications that you may have a call to consecrated life.  This is not an exhaustive list, but some thoughts to meditate on in prayer.

  • Strong attraction or desire to radically give your life to God and his Church.
  • Strong attraction or desire to prayer.
  • A sense that mere earthly existence is insufficient, and you are drawn to something more.
  • Persistent prodding of the Holy Spirit to give undivided attention to the Lord, first, foremost, and above all.
  • Feeling that there is something more that you seek beyond the call of marriage as though marriage won’t be enough for you.  Not feeling the desire to give yourself exclusively to one but to many people.
  • A strong feeling of being called to a radical mission of God in service to His people. Desiring to give your life for the salvation of others especially because you love them in, through and with your Beloved.
  • An attraction to the celibate vocations and a draw to associate with people in the priesthood, religious life, or in other forms of consecrated life.
  • A growing knowledge of the capacity to live the gift from God of life-long celibacy.
  • The thought of becoming a priest, religious, or consecrated person may come to mind again and again.

Do you feel a sense of joy, peace, and purpose when you imagine living one of these callings?  Although fears may come and go at times, a greater pattern of peace will prevail with the desire to be a priest, religious, or consecrated person if it is your calling. If it is the Lord calling you to a vocation to consecrated life, I share the words repeated by John Paul II from Christ in the Scriptures, “Do not be afraid!”

“…Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well”  Mt 6:33

If you have questions about discernment or would just like to speak to someone about practical tips and receive help regarding your own journey in discernment, give us a call or email us at the Vocation office.

Next: 7 Stages of a Diligent Discernment