Discernment is the process by which one finds his vocation or makes any decision about his life. The process is relatively simple, but takes time and patience. Before one can really begin to discern one’s vocation, there are a few things that need to be happening:
- Prayer: Prayer is the means by which we communicate with God. It is a conversation with God. It is nearly impossible to find God’s will if you are not spending time in prayer every day. Discerning your vocation without prayer would be like trying to find your car keys in a pitch black house. You might get lucky and stumble upon them, but more than likely you will stub your toe and quit looking out of frustration.
So, if you want to follow Christ, then make sure you are conversing with God daily.
- Sacraments: The Eucharist and Confession are the two greatest gifts that Christ gave us.
- In the Eucharist we have direct and immediate physical access to Jesus Himself! What better way to ask Him where He is sending us than by physically going to him at Mass. These things are likewise true of Eucharistic Adoration. Jesus, your Savior, is physically and spiritually present there at adoration. If you want to know His will, go and ask Him in person.
- Christ tells us that those who keep His commandments are the ones that love Him. In the Confessional we have the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins and to tear down any barriers that might block us from union with Him.
So, if you want to follow Christ, then go and be with Him, and tear down any barriers between you.
- Awareness: If you are living a truly Christ centered life, then there can be no doubt that He will reveal His will for you. In order to really begin to hear His voice you have to practice an awareness of Him. Ask yourself on a daily basis,
- Where was God for me today?
- Where did I see His grace working in my life?
- How did I fall short of His grace?
- How can I do better next time?
Spend time each day contemplating these sorts of questions, and then record in a journal the lights and graces that God gave you that day. These lights and graces will provide the content that you need to see God’s will for your life.
I have produced a few documents that you might find helpful in your discernment process:
- The first is a primer on prayer. It explains in more detail the movements of prayer, and gives practical advice on how to pray.
- The second is a document on Lectio Divina. This is an ancient practice that has been used by some of the greatest saints in history of praying with scripture (or any Catholic text).
- The final document is a short document on the Examen. This is a practice of awareness, and goes into more depth on the third step listed above.