A diligent discernment must involve prayer, but it cannot stop there. The more we grow in intimacy with God in prayer, the more we will begin to feel the desire to do something to respond to the grace God is giving us. We have to take active steps to allow God to confirm the direction we feel He’s leading us in… or to lead us in a different direction. One of those steps is learning about the different vocations you may be called to: you’ll find that information on the men’s and women’s pages of this site. Below are several other important ways to put your discernment into action.
Every Christian vocation is a call to serve. We are each called from our baptism to give ourselves away in love, to learn to live for others, not for ourselves. St. John puts it this way: “The way we came to know love was that he [Jesus] laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 Jn 3:16). Thus, when we are discerning our vocation, it’s important to find some way to serve. A liturgical ministry like lectoring or being an altar server can be an obvious choice for someone discerning priesthood or religious life, but there is also a great need for catechists and volunteers to work with youth. Ministries in our Diocese that serve the homeless (like Mobile Loaves and Fishes or Feed My People) are always looking for more volunteers. Visiting the elderly and homebound is another way to bring the compassion of Christ to those on the margins. Prison ministry requires a longer screening and training process, but it is so important for the inmates. Talk to your pastor to find out what’s going on in your parish, or check out one of the links above.
God speaks not only to the individual’s heart, but also through the community of the Church. One of the most important ways to seek clarity of God’s call in your life is to talk to someone about it. A trusted friend, someone whose faith you admire, your parish priest: all of these can help you to understand the call you are feeling and respond to the way God is calling you to serve.
A spiritual director can also be a valuable resource in discernment. Spiritual direction is a relationship of trust in which the director helps the directee to notice, understand, and respond to what God is doing in his or her life. The spiritual director is not a counselor, a mentor, a life coach, or one who tells you what to do. His or her job is to listen to what is happening in your prayer and your sense of how God is active in your life, and to help you to see where God is at work. Spiritual direction will only be helpful for those who are committed to daily prayer. The director may be a priest or religious, but there are many trained laypeople in our Diocese who serve as directors as well. For help in finding a spiritual director, contact Fr. Jonathan.