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Discerning Your Vocation
Discerning Your Vocation

Discerning one’s vocation is not just about making good choices, like what to wear today, what to name a pet fish, or what to study in college. Discernment is about developing a relationship with God so that we can come to:

  • —see our life as God sees it, and
  • —desire for our life what God wants for us.

girl praying

Discernment helps us become more attentive to what’s going on in our daily life, to our deeper desires and hopes, as well as our reactions or responses to the world around us. Our unique gifts and personalities, our own distinctive personal histories and backgrounds shape the way we see the world and what we can offer it. God doesn’t call us to become someone we are not. Instead God lovingly calls us to be the best version of ourselves, living our giftedness in the world in the same way that Jesus did.


Discerning our vocation, then, means discovering how God invites us to live out the gift of who we are in the world. Another way of looking at it is to ask: How might God be calling us to put ourselves, with all our uniqueness and giftedness, at the service of others?


Our relationship with God is the context of our discernment, or the foundation of our vocation. So, as we begin discerning, it’s important to be living a full Christian life.

How can we do this?

light in hands
  • • We embrace our own life and the lives of others as beautiful gifts of God, taking the time to mediate on the giftedness of our lives and focusing on gratitude in our prayer.

  • • We grow in our relationship with Jesus and his Church through prayer and the sacraments. We take time to pray every day, especially praying with the Word of God. We participate fully at Mass at least weekly, and we seek to imitate Jesus more closely in our daily life, living in daily conversion and going regularly to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

  • • We live as disciples of Christ by growing in our knowledge and love of the Catholic faith, and our desire to share our faith with others through the New Evangelization. We study our faith and seek to live it by serving in our parish or in another ministry that appeals to us.

When we are living a full Christian life, it is easier for us to recognize God’s invitation for our lives.



5 Helpful Tips for Making a Good Vocational Discernment:

Give yourself time to make a good discernment.

Think of your discernment as a journey in which you will grow personally and closer to God. The best discernments aren’t rushed, but lived in openness and surrender to God.

What kind of a timeframe should you set? On the one hand, you don’t want to be stuck in indecision, waffling back and forth endlessly; but rushing isn’t helpful either. A reasonable timeline is a year to two years, although there are reasons for a discernment to last longer. Why so long? To put it briefly, you will need time to research, to pray, to benefit from spiritual direction, to grow in your relationship with God, to test your vocational choice. This is a lifetime decision you’re making!

Use the resources you have to learn more. God wants you to use your head as well as your heart.

Gather information and knowledge about what you are discerning. Talk to the real experts. If you are discerning religious life, gather information about several communities that appeal to you. Visit their websites and learn about how the sisters live, their prayer life and mission. Call a sister and ask for more information. Visit their community or make a retreat with them. Can you picture yourself living this life?

If it’s helpful, make a list of pros and cons. The length of the list doesn’t matter, but try to choose which pros and cons are most important to you, and spend time praying about them.

Pay attention to what’s going on in your heart.

Even after you’ve weighed the pros and cons intellectually, you might need space and time to understand how your heart was moved. Did something particularly attract you, repulse you? Why? Did you feel at peace with one thing more than another?

Bring your experiences to prayer. You may want to keep a discernment journal. Does what you see in the religious community fit with what you know about yourself, or hope for yourself? How do you feel when you are with the community? At peace? Energized? Joyful? How do you feel about the community after you have returned to every day life?

Ask for guidance and insight by seeking a spiritual director or vocation director.

Directors are trained in the ways of discernment and can help you to recognize the ways God is working in your life. A good director will be understanding and help you to discover a sense of freedom in your discernment. The decision you make is yours, not your director’s. Ideally, a director will encourage you to examine the many options you have, to become more aware of your own motivations, and to bring your experiences to prayer.

You may find it helpful to talk over your discernment with other people your trust. A parent, mentor, and wise friends can help us to see things about ourselves that we may not.

Pray!

Ask Jesus the Divine Master for the grace of listening to God in his Word and in the Eucharist. Ask Mary, Queen of Apostles, to inflame your heart with the desire to say a “Yes” as big as hers at the Annunciation. (You might even wish to pray with Luke 1: 26-38, asking Mary to teach you to recognize God’s invitation in your life, and to respond generously.)

Remember that your vocation is not just God’s invitation, but your response. Without your “yes,” there is no vocation.
Prayer for Discerning One’s Vocation
 
Lord,
I believe you created me out of love
and that you have a plan
for my life.
I offer you all that I am at this moment…
all my joys,
talents, concerns,
and sufferings.
Help me to see a little more today
just how you are calling me
and give me the courage and strength
to follow you
wherever you go.
Amen.



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