Discerning a Vocation
(Vocation: Latin root “vocare” meaning “to call”)
Who am I? Why was I created? What is my purpose?
For some of us, discerning a vocation is easy. We feel a clear call, see the path in front of us, and strive ahead with joy. Others of us, however, are stuck at a cross roads, not sure which vocation path we should take. We want to do God’s Will, but we don’t know what He wants us to do. We’re left standing still waiting for an answer: unsure, fearful, and full of doubt.
So, what are we supposed to do? How can we hear God’s call and know what His Will is for our lives?
1. Begin with God.
Grow your relationship with the Lord through prayer. The deeper your relationship is with God, the clearer His Will will be for your life. For example, imagine an old married couple. Husband and wife can sit next to each other without talking, yet somehow know what the other is thinking or anticipate the desires of the other before they arise. The closer we are to God, the easier it will be to know His desires.
2. Work on Virtue.
Whenever you are trying to make a certain decision in your life, no matter how small, ask yourself: “Does this make me more holy or less holy?” Our time of searching and discerning is a perfect time for us to grow in holiness and virtue, and in fact, we might need to grow in virtue in order to be properly suited for the vocation to which we are called. First and foremost, we are all called to be saints. Trust that God is on your side. If we cooperate with His grace, He will begin to perfect us and purify our souls.
3. Consider Desire.
What are you passionate about? How God makes us is a blueprint for how He will save us, and He places true and good desires into each of our hearts. It is true that our passions are inherently disordered because of original sin, but if we thoroughly examine what things we are drawn to and what things ignite our soul with excitement, our passions will help direct us towards our vocation.
Discernment also requires action. Interested in dating someone? Ask them out. If they say no, the discernment process for that particular person is finished. That door is closed. But if they say yes, the process continues until the point of marriage. Similarly, if you are drawn to a particular religious order, visit them. You might discover your new home, or you might realize that while the members of the order seem joyful, it just isn’t the right fit for you.
Again, the discernment process continues until the profession of final vows. Action helps narrow the field of possibilities and will give you feedback on what actions and decisions you need to make next.
Two other good tips to Discern Your Vocation are:
1. Pray to the Holy Spirit for a deepening of the Gift of Counsel, and
2. Talk to those who are Wise, Older, and have Suffered.
No matter what vocation we choose, God will give us the necessary graces for that state in life. The time of discernment is a time of growth, development, and preparation—it is very important! Don’t wait to be joyful until you have discerned your vocation. Be joyful now! Become aware of where God’s grace is in your life each day, and how you participated or failed to participate with it.
Allow your vocation to develop naturally over time. Remember, God’s timing is not our timing. God will continue to draw us closer to Him until we are both ready and willing to go down our destined path.
Theology of Vocation according to St. Thomas Aquinas (Part I) w/ Fr. Gregory Pine OP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjSlsDVfrxI
Theology of Vocation according to St. Thomas Aquinas (Part II) w/ Fr. Gregory Pine OP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAHM0TqqTgs&t=0s
5 Common Discernment Traps and How to Avoid Them w/ Fr. Mark-Mark & Fr. Gregory Pine | Ascension Presents
For Those Without a Clear Vocation w/ Fr. Mike Schmitz
4 Helpful Rules for Discernment w/ Fr. Mike Schmitz
How Satan Tries to Derail Vocations w/ Sr. Natalia | Pints with Aquinas
No Need to be Nervous in Your Discernment w/ Fr. Dominic Legge OP
Excellent Resource to Virtually Tour Religious Orders and listen to Vocation Stories St. John Cantius and the Canons are featured!
Institute on Religious Life Explore Various Religious Orders and Go on a Discernment Retreat