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?
Short video that discusses the three vocations, how to discern them, and some words of wisdom from Bishop Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington!
1 I encourage you to visit your closest adoration chapel often and ask God to bring clarity to your vocation call. Lean on our Blessed Mother Mary, asking her for her powerful intercession. Here is a perfect prayer for you during this time, and I hope you will pray it often.
“Prayer to Know One’s Vocation”
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.
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 IRL 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 I encourage you to use the following books and resources to help you discern fully God’s will in your life.
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: Do you want to be a Priest?
Vocation Ministry partnered with Vianney Vocations and That Catholic Couple for a series of discernment videos. The first one features Fr. Michael McCandless, from the Diocese of Cleveland, who shares his thoughts on discerning the priesthood!
Video: Do you want to be a Religious Brother?
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. Young men affirm that this easy-to-read book answers most of their questions about discerning their vocation, and many seminarians cite its important role in their decision-making process.
To Save A Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood by Fr. Brett Brannen.
This book is written for young men asking the questions:
Does God want me to become a priest? How can I be sure?
How do I know if I have the gifts and abilities to be a priest?
How do I know if I am holy enough?
How do I know that I will be happy and fulfilled?
Find a free copy of Saving Thousands of Souls: A Guide to Discerning the Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood here: http://www.gopriest.com/
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”.
Sheen delves deeply into what he considers the main character of the priesthood, and one not often discussed, that of being, like Christ, a “holy victim”. To be like Christ, Sheen emphasizes that the priest must imitate Christ in His example of sacrifice, offering himself as a victim to make His Incarnation continually present in the world.
Buy online at amazon.com
UK: Buy online at amazon.co.uk
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. While aimed at the clergy, this profound spiritual work will also be of immense inspiration for laity in coming to a deeper understanding of the true nature and calling of the priesthood.
Echoing the thought and writing of St. Paul, Marmion stresses that the priestly life must be dominated by Christ and in constant dependence on His merits, His grace and His activity in the soul of the priest. In all his actions, in the sacred acts of worship, the administration of the sacraments, private prayer and devotions, and serving the various needs of his flock, Marmion says the priest must always see himself as the minister of the Savior, as Alter Christus.
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. Unlike other books seeking to strip Jesus’ story to reveal only the human being, Romano Guardini’s The Lord gives the complete story of Jesus Christ—as man, Holy Ghost, and Creator. Pope Benedict XVI lauds Guardini’s work as providing a full understanding of the Son of God, away from the prejudice that rationality engenders. Put long-held myths aside and discover the entire truth about God’s only begotten Son.
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!
To find out more about other religious orders, you can order a free directory from the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious
Request information such as pamphlets about different orders
How can a woman discern a life dedicated to Christ? Check out the new video interview that That Catholic Couple did with Sr. Chelsea Bethany, Daughters of St. Paul, about discerning sisterhood!
And Mary’s ‘Yes’ Continues; Religious Vocations in the New Millennium
By popular demand comes a beautiful new book written by the Sisters themselves providing a much-needed inside view to vocation discernment entitled And Mary’s ‘Yes’ Continues. It finally fulfills a longing by many hearts for an intimate resource and generous sharing of the journey into a beautiful vocation. Recognizing a need to provide discerning individuals, families and loved one’s accompaniment along the special call to religious life, under the direction of Sr. Joseph Andrew, Co-foundress and Vocations Director, the Sisters created and now offer And Mary’s ‘Yes’ Continues.
Available 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
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. Although the idea of virginity is unpopular and even despised in modern society, Dubay emphasizes that the importance of evangelical virginity is rooted in its Biblical foundation, both in the Old and New Testaments.
Examining in detail what the call to virginity is and how it is integrated into the whole of consecrated life, Dubay presents his study in such a way as to be of importance to men as well. Noting that a woman, because of her feminine nature and traits, can image and live the Church’s wedded relationship to Christ more realistically, Dubay points out that men with the celibate charism are also members of the virgin Church that is wedded to Christ, just as in the Old Testament the People of God was a virgin bride wedded to Yahweh. The common and distinct elements of male and female consecrated love are fully captured in these pages.
Discerning Religious Life
As the Vocation Director for the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, Sister Clare Matthiass has worked with hundreds of young women who felt called to religious life. Discerning Religious Life distills her wisdom into clear advice, especially for women who are struggling to discover their vocations.
Filled with humorous anecdotes and poignant stories of her 20 years as a sister, Discerning Religious Life is easy to read, and contains rock-solid guidance based on the wisdom of the saints. The entire point of the book, as Sr. Clare says, “is to move from discernment to decision.”
Join in this exciting conversation between Father John Paul and Sister Clare Matthiass, CFR, as they discuss Sister Clare’s new book, Discerning Religious Life, and convey the message of living the Gospel in simplicity according to the ideals of Saint Francis and the how viewers can effectively discern a possible call to religious life.
Great article: What it’s Really Like to be Married to Jesus by Sr. Helena Burns, FSP
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!
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? Check out That Catholic Couple’s interview about that topic! It is awesome! Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin, pray for all those discerning married life!
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.
Here is a former seminarian’s answer to the question of “Should I date while I discern?”
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.
Are you wondering where and how you are called to serve Christ? This book will not resolve all your questions about life’s choices, but it does serve as a companion for you as you seek and follow the will of God. When we stop and listen to God’s voice, we open our hearts to the clarity and deep peace that we seek.
Through a series of practical reflections, this book introduces you to five stages of the discernment process. Though our life purpose may not be understood all at once as doubts and fears may still persist, this book will assist you in making time to discern God’s direction. The process of discernment has many facets. If you are wondering what God has in store for you, then this is just the book to help you pray and actively move through your discernment process. It will help you find peace in your prayer and inspire you.
“This comprehensive handbook is an indispensable resource for anyone who is discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life. While treating the common issues and obstacles faced by those who pursue God’s call, Vocations Anonymous offers them reassurance, guidance, and encouragement by offering a treasure trove of practical information on vocation options, theology of vocation, the vows, discernment, and prayer.”
Brother Paul Bednarczyk, CSC
NRVC (National Religious Vocation Conference)
Ebook: How to Discern God’s Will for Your Life
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?
We all ask these questions. They are a normal part of the Christian life. That’s why Brandon Vogt and Bishop Robert Barren recently devoted a whole episode of their podcast, “The Word on Fire Show,” to exploring these questions.
Here you’ll find an edited transcript of the show so you can read it slowly, at your own pace, and reflect on how God is leading you in your life.
In the end, all discernment boils down to one ultimate goal: finding the path of greatest love. Let’s seek that path together.
Is God Calling Me? 7 Tips to Discern If God is Calling You to Consecrated Life
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 women.
True North: A Roadmap for Discernment
Follow God’s will. Just discern it. Ask God to help you with that big decision.
You’ve probably heard those phrases at some point in your life as you were trying to make a decision. Maybe you want to decide the best place to go to college, whether or not to take a new job, if you should stay in a relationship, or maybe you just want to know what God’s will is for your life regarding your vocation.
How exactly do you do that? How do you find out God’s will? “Discernment” can be a confusing and stressful kind of prayer, but it doesn’t need to be. St. Ignatius provided incredible insights that help us direct our prayer toward God’s will while conforming us to that will. They provide us with a compass that points us toward “True North.”
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.
If you are feeling lost, wondering what the next move in life me be, or just want to know and do God’s will, True North is written for you. Let the adventure and journey begin.
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!
If none of these looks interesting, check out this comprehensive list of vocation resources at Paths of Love.
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.
How to Encourage Your Child’s Religious Vocation? 8 Essential Tips
3 Check out resources online that are specifically geared to helping you to find your way. Your diocesan office of vocation may have excellent resources on their own website, too.
- 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 take into account 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.
- www.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.
- 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
- Quick and informative “quiz” to help you find out which vocation you should discern more fully! – What Vocation Are You Called To: Single, Married, or Religious Life?
4 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.