Honest Dialogue with the Church
One of the most serious misunderstandings about any call to religious vocations is that it is merely one’s personal decision. While one may have an inner inclination toward a vocation, discernment cannot happen on one’s own. Rather, discernment requires potential candidates to be in prayerful dialogue with God and with the Church. This dialogue is especially important because today “there is …a certain tendency to view the bond between human beings and God in an individualistic and self-centered way, as if God’s call reached the individual by a direct route, without in any way passing through the community?“(Pastores dabo vobis, no. 37). In his discernment, a man does not begin by applying to the seminary. He would first work with a vocation director to help him seek personal clarity through a number of conversations, reflections and experiences offered to him. The director and the discerner may embark on this path for several months or even years. As the man addresses significant questions and concerns for himself, the vocation director assists him by equipping him with healthy tools for discernment. The director would also serve him by identifying traits and qualities that suggest the possibility of priesthood or may raise significant concerns that suggest otherwise. The relationship between the man and the director is built on trust and openness to God’s divine will.
What is Discernment?
When making a decision about a vocation, you enter a process of discernment. Discernment is a process by which you discover the calling God has in your life. It helps us distinguish between the main types of lifestyles: single life, married life, religious life, and ordained life.
Discernment is best completed when several factors are involved: prayer to God, honest questioning about one’s life, and sincere conversation with respected friends in our life about our own gifts and talents.
How is Discernment Accomplished?
Discernment is primarily done through three acts: critical thinking, reflection, and prayer. Some may say that a material, visible, distinct sign from God is needed to give you direction. Although these signs do happen to some people, they are not the benchmark for discovering God’s will nor are they a definitive answer in anyone’s life. One of the very best ways to discern is to spend some time specifically set aside for that and that alone.
Vocation Awareness Programs are given throughout the year to help one discover God’s calling. This would be a perfect opportunity for anyone to spend some time with a community actively pursuing God’s call in their life.