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Discernment 101


The Lord calls in as many ways are there are people! Sometimes the call is very obvious, often it is curiously subtle. The call can take on many forms, such as:

  • Sudden interest in religious life
  • A desire to be closer to Christ
  • Through the Mass
  • Thoughts of religious life just keep cropping up
  • A new sense of wanting something more in life

How do you know that religious life is truly God’s will for you? Discernment is prayerfully seeking God’s will in your life. It takes time, patience and a willing heart, humility and trust that God does indeed wants what is best for you.

What are some practical steps in discernment?

  • Spend time each day in silence with the Lord, open your heart to Him
  • Attend Mass as often as you can (even daily).
  • Spend time in Eucharistic Adoration.
  • Pray the Rosary, asking the Virgin Mary to help you.
  • Read the Bible! Here are some great texts to start with, all focusing on God’s call: Abraham (Gen. 12:1-4); Moses (Ex. 3:10-12, 4:1 10-12); Amos (Amos 7:14-15); Isaiah (Is 6:8); Jeremiah (Jer 1:4-8); Ezekiel (Ez 3:1-4) Kings (1 Kings 10); Rich Young Man (Lk 18:15-30); The Cross (Mt 16:25-28) Few Chosen (Mt 22:1-14) Temptation (Lk 4:1-13); Martha & Mary (Lk 10:38-42) Seek First (Lk 12:22-31); What Matters (Phil 1:9-10); All Things (Rom 8:26-31).
  • Talk to a priest, sister or brother about religious life.
  • Seek a holy spiritual director.
  • Read about the religious life! There are many beautiful Church Documents and books about the religious life that can help you.
  • Learn about communities that interest you.
  • Talk to a vocation director.
  • Visit communities!
  • Above all, place yourself in the hands of God and ask for His help to lead you on this journey.
  • Do not be afraid . . . nobody discerns a vocation in the Church alone! Talk to a priest, seek the assistance of a good spiritual director, and as you move forward on your journey, a vocation director from the community/ies you visit will also be able to assist you in uncovering God’s will for you.

“A holy priest once told me that “spending time with sisters is never a bad thing,” and I think this is especially helpful when we get too caught up in the mystery of God’s will which can seem utterly mysterious at times. Don’t be afraid to go and see what religious life is about!” – Molly, Candidate with the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R.

“We must be interiorly free from all fears and from our own plans in order to feel in which way God is moving us to serve Him. If you’re afraid of something, anything, you aren’t free to choose, which means you can’t respond to God’s invitation to love. The hardest part isn’t saying ‘yes’ but having interior freedom.” -Alex, Seminarian with the Apostle of the Interior Life

“The things that helped me that most were: finding a spiritual director, connecting with other discerners, and cultivating silence in my life. Surrendering all of your desires and expectations to God is a huge part of discernment. When you truly surrender everything, you’ll be amazed at how He works in your life. If religious life is on your heart, just get out there and visit communities!” -Victoria, Preparing for entrance in August 2013

“In a nutshell: Ask the real questions! Our hearts are burning with desire to be at peace and union with God. However, sometimes we forget to ask ourselves what God is asking of us or how our lives can best serve God’s Kingdom. It is the unfortunate case that the world encourages us to focus our lives solely upon what we want or like to do rather than what we’re called to do. God knows us better than we know ourselves, it is important to be in constant dialogue with God and spiritual guides along the way and with brutal honesty and prayer ask how our gifts and talents can best be used; in that we can find peace and direction.” – Father Ed Suszynski