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Discernment is the process of discovery through which an individual discovers how God calls him or her to love and serve him through prayer, reflection, and discussion.

Thank you for taking the time to discern, discover through prayer and time, your vocation. God only wants your ultimate happiness, so make sure to take the time to find out which vocation will bring you that kind of joy. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother’s powerful intercession, you will receive the grace needed to continue this journey.


What is My Vocation?

A short video that discusses the three vocations, how to discern them, and some words of wisdom from Bishop Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington!


Steps of Discernment

1 Prayer/Sacraments: 

  • Spend time in prayer daily, at least 10-15 minutes and at regular times each day. Begin by praying the Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
  • Visit your closest adoration chapel often, asking God to bring clarity to your vocation call.
  • Lean on our Blessed Mother Mary, asking her for her powerful intercession. Consider consecrating yourself to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Frequent the sacraments as you conform your heart to look more like Christ’s. Everyone’s circumstances are different, so adopt going to daily Mass if your schedule allows.
  • Go to confession regularly (at least once a month).

 

Here are some prayers for you during this time, and hope you will pray it often.

 

“Prayer to Know One’s Vocation”

A group of people praying at mass.

Lord, my God and my loving Father, you have made me to know you, to love you, to serve you, and thereby to find and to fulfill my deepest longings. I know that you are in all things, and that every path can lead me to you.

But of them all, there is one especially by which you want me to come to you. Since I will do what you want of me, I pray you, send your Holy Spirit to me: into my mind, to show me what you want of me; into my heart, to give me the determination to do it, and to do it with all my love, with all my mind, and with all of my strength right to the end. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen. (www.usccb.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb.)

 

Vocation Prayer for Discernment

God, I know you love me and have great plans for me. But sometimes I am overwhelmed by the thought of my future. Show me how to walk forward one day at a time.

May I take heart while I search openly, learn about all the choices, listen to others for advice, and pay attention to my own feelings. By doing these things, may I hear your call to my vocation that will let me love as only I can, and let me serve others with the special gifts that You have given me. Amen.

 

Vocational Discernment Rosary

The Holy Rosary is a precious gift in our vocational journey. In meditating upon and contemplating its mysteries, we can grow closer to Mary, our mother, intercessor and model of every vocation. We can delve deeper into the heart of the Trinity, which is the final end of all devotions. In light of the mysteries we penetrate, we can grow in knowledge of ourselves and begin to see where God might be leading us next in our vocations.

The Insitute of Religious Life is making available a free e-book devotional, Vocational Discernment Rosary: Discovering God’s Purpose and Plan for Your Life. This small booklet will help you find, follow and fulfill God’s calling for your life by meditating upon the mysteries of the Rosary. To obtain a copy: Click Here

2 Participate Fully in the Life of the Church

  • If you are not already, register at a parish.
  • Volunteer at your parish: Server, EMHC, Usher, Lector, Greeter, Youth Ministry Leader, etc.
  • Help serve the community, such as at a homeless shelter, visiting nursing homes or helping religious organizations.
  • Invite your priest to a family dinner to see how he interacts with families.
  • Contact a priest and ask to follow along during his hospital or nursing home rounds to see what that’s like.
  • If you are in college or young adult- Lead a Young Adult’s group. Check out YoungAdultMinistryInABox.com

3 Research

Use the following books and resources to help you discern fully God’s will in your life.

For Men:

Learn more about Diocesan Priesthood from www.DiocesanPriest.com. This website has a wealth of knowledge including:

  • Helping you discover “Am I Being Called”
  • What does it look like?
  • Who do I talk to?
  • What can I read?
  • What do the saints say?
  • What do the Popes say?

Video: Discernment 101

Fr. Mike Schmitz explains ​that it is best to focus on one thing at a time when discerning a vocation. Not only is it most prudent to discern ​​just one vocation at a time;​ ​it is​​​ also important to take discernment ​one step at​ ​a time. When we discern with this kind of care and commitment, the path God desires for us should become clear.

Video: Do you want to be a Religious Brother?

Video: What is Your Vocation Story?

Books:

To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood by Fr. Brett Brannen

Father Brett A. Brannen’s book is the definitive guide for men discerning their vocation, explaining the priesthood, where they are in the discernment process, and the next step in the process.

Find a free copy of Saving Thousands of Souls: A Guide to Discerning the Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood here: http://www.gopriest.com/

Buy online at amazon.com:

To read it in Spanish, find it here: https://www.vianneyvocations.com.


The Priest Is Not His Own by Fulton J. Sheen

The beloved Archbishop Sheen, whose cause for canonization is open in Rome, presents a profound and deeply spiritual look at the meaning of the priesthood and relationship of the priest with Christ as an “alter Christus”.

Buy online at amazon.com


Christ: The Ideal of the Priest by Columba Marmion

The great spiritual writer, Fr. Columba Marmion, wrote this classic work on the priesthood to show the holiness that priests are called to, and how that holiness can only be attained through close union with, and imitation of, Jesus Christ.

Buy online at amazon.com


The Lord by Romano Guardini’s

The only true and unedited telling of the life of Christ—his life and times, in historical context, but not lacking the psychology behind his physical being and spirit.

Buy online at amazon.com

 


A Living Sacrifice: Guidance for Men Discerning Religious Life by Fr. Benedict Croell, O.P., and Fr. Andrew Hofer. O.P.

A Living Sacrifice is a comprehensive guide for men who are discerning God’s call. It serves as both an introduction to religious life as well as a guide for discerning vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Buy online at amazon.com


Is Jesus Calling You to Be a Catholic Priest? by Reverend Thomas J. Richter

In this booklet, Msgr. Richter leads you through 10 spiritual lessons of discerning your vocation to the priesthood.

Buy online at vianneyvocations.com

 


Radical Surrender, Letters to Seminarians by Fr. Michael Najim

We live in a culture of distraction, making it very difficult to hear God’s voice and respond with courage.

Buy online at amazon.com

 


Podcast:

Discern with Fr. Brett Brannen, author of To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide to Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood, as he walks you through the discernment process from the first questions, to seminary, and all the way to ordination.

Listen to the podcast: https://www.melchizedekproject.com/podcasts/


Website Resources:


Support Group:

Over the last few years, discerners have contacted me to say that they need more support and a place to discuss their discernment. So, Men’s Discernment Group: The Collar was born. Hundreds of men are part of this group from all over the world. They are discerning priesthood and/or consecrated life in all its forms. Be part of this amazing group of men!

Join Group

For Women:

To find out more about other religious orders, you can order a free directory from the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious:

 

CMSWR Vocation Directory

Request information such as pamphlets about different orders:

Free Information about Various Religious Orders

If you would like to learn more about Cloistered Life as a contemplative nun, visit:

Cloistered Life Website


Video:

Sr. Catherine Marie from the Sisters of Life talks about answering the call to Religious Life.

Books:

And Mary’s ‘Yes’ Continues; Religious Vocations in the New Millennium by Mother of the Eucharist Dominican Sisters of Mary 

It finally fulfills a longing by many hearts for an intimate resource and generous sharing of the journey into a beautiful vocation.

Buy online at sistersofmary.org

When John Cardinal O’Connor first met Mother Teresa, she looked into his eyes and said, “Give God permission.” Isn’t that each Christian’s desire? That God allows us to be part of His plan of salvation is astounding. We are invited by St. Paul to “make up what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings,” and in the great mystery of the Church, Christ invites each of us to a unique role in the Mystical Body of Christ. Some bring Christ’s love in a radical way through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, to a world where many have been ravaged by the culture of death. God invites these souls to live a spousal union with Him on this side of Heaven. Pouring out His love as balm, they prolong His Incarnation as His hands and feet, ears and eyes. If God calls you to live out this love; if this is how He has created your heart, be not afraid to “give God permission.” Love with freedom, joy, and reckless abandon.

—Mother Agnes Mary, S.V., Superior General of the Sisters of Life


And You Are Christ’s: The Charism of Virginity and the Celibate Life by Father Thomas Dubay, S.M.

Father Thomas Dubay, one of the foremost authorities on the religious life, discusses one of the most important but not fully appreciated or understood charisms of the consecrated life, the charism of virginity.

Buy online at amazon.com


Discerning Religious Life by Mother Clare Matthiass, CFR

A comprehensive guide to help women discern Religious Life with clarity, confidence, and joy. Foreword by Cardinal Dolan.

Buy online at Vianney Vocations

 


Called by God: Discernment and Preparation for Religious Life by Rachael Marie Collins

Rachael Marie Collins provides an overview of the spiritual life—both its joys and its challenges—and guides women as they discern whether they are called to be religious sisters or nuns.

Buy online at amazon.com



Additional Resources:

Great article: What it’s Really Like to be Married to Jesus by Sr. Helena Burns, FSP


Website References:

  • Vocationquest.org   – Website for women discerning a call to become a Sister. Take an online retreat that will help you discern more fully if you have a call to be a religious sister.
  • usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/discerning-women/prayer-and-discernment-resources.cfm -USCCB recommendations for women as they discern
  • Take a Vocation Retreat:
    • religiouslife.com – You might want to start with one of our Vocation Online Retreats. Each retreat consists of eight emailed meditations, one sent each day. The emails consist of meditations and reflections that help you find your vocation in life.
    • A discernment retreat is a prayerful visit with a religious community, perhaps for a weekend or even a week. Such a retreat is a good way to test your vocation. You can get to know the community, its charism, and find whether God may be calling you to its way of life. Many communities hold retreats for groups for just this purpose. Or you may be able to visit them as an individual. See Upcoming Women’s Retreats

Support Group:

Over the last few years, discerners have contacted me to say that they need more support and a place to discuss their discernment. So, Women’s Discernment Group: The Veil was born. Hundreds of women are part of this group from all over the world. They are discerning consecrated life in all its forms. Sisters and Consecrated Women are the moderators of this group. Don’t miss being part of this amazing group of women!

Join Group

For Men and Women:

How does someone discern married life well? What are the practical steps to take to discern? What are some of the challenges to discerning? Regardless of your state in life, you can begin preparing for marriage right now. Whether you are single, dating, seriously dating, engaged, on a break, or grieving a breakup, you can make use of this time for fruitful growth toward becoming a healthy and holy spouse. Find out how to intentionally discern marriage at https://www.discerningmarriage.com/


Video:

Fr. Mike Schmitz explains ​that it is best to focus on one thing at a time when discerning a vocation. Not only is it most prudent to discern ​​just one vocation at a time;​ ​it is​​​ also important to take discernment ​one step at​ ​a time. When we discern with this kind of care and commitment, the path God desires for us should become clear.


Resources:

Here is a former seminarian’s answer to the question of “Should I date while I discern?”


Discernment, Courtship, Engagement, and Marriage/Parenting Advice

Daniel O’Connor recently went through all of this: He and his wife have been married for just over two years now, having an 18-month-old son (with child #2 on the way). Before they dated, Daniel was in seminary, and immediately before that, he was discerning his very vocational calling itself. Therefore, within the past few years, he has gone through each stage of discernment. He gives great advice here!

https://dsdoconnor.com/vocations/


Franciscan University has put together a collection of videos that you will find inspiring and instructional:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdz_hBU5BmFSEyDwhGfsmbA

If none of these looks interesting, check out this comprehensive list of vocation resources at Paths of Love.


Books:

Tuning In to God’s Call by Father Andrew Carl Wisdom and Sister Christine Kiley

“Have you ever considered that so many of us go through this world as though asleep at the wheel of our lives?” authors Father Andrew Carl Wisdom and Sister Christine Kiley ask in their book, Tuning In to God’s Call. In every moment, God accompanies us and calls us to live a life for Christ through discovering our personal vocation.

Buy it online at amazon.com


Ebook: How to Discern God’s Will for Your Life by Bishop Robert Barron

As a priest, and now a bishop, Bishop Robert Barren hears often from many people searching for God’s direction in their lives. They wonder, what does God want me to do with my life? How can I be faithful to God in my day-to-day decisions? How can I hear God and be sensitive to his promptings?

Download the Ebook from wordonfire.org

For those of you not ready to read a whole book yet, here is a great article to help you discern if God is calling you to serve Him as a priest or consecrated man or woman.


True North: A Roadmap for Discernment by Joel Stepanek

Follow God’s will. Just discern it. Ask God to help you with that big decision.

This book is written to help you discern God’s will for your life in a way that is transformative, rather than stressful. Not only will it take the fear out of discernment, it will allow the process to become a part of most of the decisions you make.

Buy online at amazon.com


God, Help Me: How to Grow in Prayer by Jim Beckman

Jim Beckman will not only introduce you to the wisdom and teaching of the Church regarding prayer, but he will also provide tools that will help you achieve real intimacy with God.

Buy online at amazon.com


Vocations Anonymous: A Handbook for Adults Discerning Priesthood and Religious Life by Sr. Kathleen Bryant, RSC, D. Min.

Vocations Anonymous is a complete guide, concise and practical, for the discernment of vocations. Its merit lies in its straightforward and clear language. It speaks of God’s call and tells you how you can understand and follow it.

Buy online at amazon.com


When God Asks for an Undivided Heart by Andrew Apostoli, CFR

Celibacy is one of God s greatest gifts to the world … and also one of the most misunderstood. With clear, insightful reflections, Fr. Apostoli provides a penetrating look at this valuable discipline based on his 40 years as a priest, spiritual director, and seminary teacher.

Buy online at amazon.com

Website References:

Check out resources online that are specifically geared to help you find your way. Your diocesan office of vocations may have excellent resources on their own website, too.

  • vocationministry.com/discerning- list of resources such as books and videos for both men and women
  • http://www.vocationnetwork.org/match – Check out your Vocation Profile. Whether you are interested in becoming a sister, brother, priest from a religious order, diocesan priest, or secular institute/consecrated life this quick online survey will consider where you are spiritually and your gifts and match you with a possible community or order with which you might have a match.
  • www.vocationnetwork.org also has great resources, such as a free discernment magazine called VISION and many articles to guide you in this process.
  • https://www.melchizedekproject.com/podcast/ – Listen to a series of discernment podcasts given by Fr. Brett Brannen.
  • Vocational discernment can be difficult and confusing, especially if it is done alone. Utilizing content created by Franciscan University, Vocations Outreach has created a mentorship program that connects young adults with professed religious to help them discern God’s will. Read about the main components of the program https://vocationsoutreach.org/about-us/religious-orders/mentor/
  • VISION Vocation Guide and its VISION VocationNetwork.org are the most comprehensive resources available in print and online for those seeking information on Catholic religious vocations and men’s and women’s religious communities. Order copies of their vocation guide in print at no cost: https://vocationnetwork.org/en/orders For more information on the content, see their article index or read the current digital edition.
  • Take a Vocation Retreat:
    • religiouslife.com – You might want to start with one of our Vocation Online Retreats. Each retreat consists of eight emailed meditations, one sent each day. The emails consist of meditations and reflections that help you find your vocation in life.

For Parents:

I have heard it said many times all over the country that there is not enough support for parents of discerners, seminarians, sisters, priests, brothers, and consecrated virgins.

The vast majority of dioceses, let alone parishes, do NOT have a group dedicated to the parents! They need to know they are not alone. We need to celebrate them and encourage them as their children grow in their vocation, which is why Vocation Ministry created a new Facebook group entitled Vocation Ministry: Seedbed.

Why name it Seedbed? St. John Paul II said that “The family is the Seedbed of Vocations”. With that in mind, Seedbed is a group designed to support and encourage parents of men and women who are discerning their supernatural vocation or who have already said YES to the priesthood or consecrated life (in all its forms). If you are a parent of a discerner, seminarian, priest, sister, etc., or know someone who is, tell them to type in Vocation Ministry: Seedbed into the search feature of Facebook and ask to join. They will answer a few short questions, and then be accepted into the group.

 

Click Here to Visit Vocation Ministry Seedbed

 

trio of images - nun, seed planting, older adults hugging a priest.

 

How to Encourage Your Child’s Religious Vocation? 8 Essential Tips

Click to read full article

4 Speak to Your Pastor or Trusted Priest/Sister

After praying, reading, and researching, if you still feel called to the priesthood or religious life, reach out to a trusted priest or religious sister

to ask for their guidance through the process. Having a spiritual director can aid your process tremendously. If you both think that you are on the path to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, contact your diocesan office of vocation to discuss your possible vocation further. They want to help you along this journey to being what God wants you to be.

Find your Diocesan Vocation Director here: http://ncdvd.org/find-a-local-vocation-director/

5 Find a Spiritual Director

Speak with your priest about finding a suitable spiritual director who can guide you through this process more deeply. Go to www.spiritualdirection.com for blogs, podcasts, videos, and articles about finding, selecting, and initiating a spiritual direction relationship. You will also find a collection of articles about the process and expectations.

6 Contact Vocation Director or Religious Order

7 Participate in Diocesan Vocation Programs

Speak with your Vocation Director to see what programs are offered. Many dioceses host summer camps for middle school students and retreats for high school students. Participate in any discernment groups they may offer, as well. If you are seriously discerning a call to diocesan priesthood, most dioceses offer Come and See weekends to stay at a seminary and see a day in the life of a seminarian in person.

8 Extended Stay with Order/Community

To fully know whether an order is right for you, consider attending a discernment retreat with them, perhaps for a weekend or even a week. Such a retreat is a good way to test your vocation. You can get to know the order/community, its charism, and discover whether God may be calling you to its way of life. Many communities hold retreats for groups for just this purpose, or you may be able to visit them as an individual.

9 Apply to Seminary/Religious Order

If you and your spiritual director both think that you are on the path to a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life, contact your diocesan office of vocation or the order to discuss your possible vocation further. They want to help you along this journey to being what God wants you to be and will walk you through every step of the application process.

 

Thank you for taking the time to discern, discover through prayer and time, your vocation. God only wants your ultimate happiness, so make sure to take the time to find out which vocation will bring you that kind of joy. With the help of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother’s powerful intercession, you will receive the grace needed to continue this journey.