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Archives Discerning your vocation

April 10, 2019

By Sister Mary Gregory Munger
Vocation Director
Sisters of St. Joseph

In an atmosphere where we are bombarded with noise from everywhere, where TV, Facebook, Twitter, tablets, cellphones and computers have become the social partner for so many people, silence and stillness have practically disappeared resulting in many people loosing touch with their inner spirit and their ability to discern what God is asking of them. Jesus said, “Be still and know that I am God.” Living in the midst of all this noise tends to block out the inspiration of the Spirit.

Merriam Webster defines discernment as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.” Another definition speaks of discernment as “one’s ability to decide between truth and error, between right and wrong.”

Spiritual discernment, however, is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide one’s life decision, whether to religious, married, priestly or single life. It relies on the Holy Spirit to give direction for one’s state in life.

Through discernment, those making difficult decisions strive to know what God is calling them to do. It leads a person to know deep in his or her heart that a particular course of action is the right choice. This assurance is often the sign that the person should move ahead with the decision.

In reality, discernment that involves prayer and the Holy Spirit, turns out to be a life-long relationship with the Holy Spirit and builds a foundation from which all important decisions are made. Although we think of discernment as a process, it is more than a process. It is a gift from God that enables a person to make decisions with the help of the Holy Spirit.

It is through the Holy Spirit that we receive meaning and direction for our lives. Including the Holy Spirit in decision-making assures us that our discernment is God-centered rather than self-centered.

Discernment takes time and patience and above all, prayer. Sometimes we say, “I’m praying but God is not listening.” We often speak of a vocation as a call from God. But, does that mean we actually HEAR God’s voice telling us what to do? Not really! He guides us through the deepest desires of our hearts. He calls us from WITHIN – the seed He planted in us at our Baptism. And, He also calls us from WITHOUT through the persons, events and the circumstances of our life. Spiritual discernment leads to the vocation God has planned for each person from all eternity.

God ‘speaks’ to us in many different ways. Life is not like a crossword or a Sudoku puzzle, where we have to analyze every clue and complete every answer in order to come to the end and reach a tidy conclusion. We simply get on with life, doing the best we can – beginning with prayer, listening to God, paying attention to all the different experiences we encounter, seeing if there is a pattern, stopping to think when something strikes us with a new force or clarity and getting advice from spiritual guides. Usually, but gradually, we find that we are being pulled in a certain direction, or we have enough clarity to help us make an informed decision. Then we take the next step.

True discernment is like opening a door to see what is on the other side before deciding whether to pass through it or not. Once through the door we will experience a “sense of peace” from within our heart. Such peace and security comes and grows with prayer. Peace is a gift God is more than happy to give to those who take the time to discern His will for them.

Pope Francis in speaking to young people said, “One must be ready and willing to listen and welcome God’s voice; . . .it is an authentic process of leaving ourselves behind in order to approach the mystery of God, who helps us to carry out the mission to which He has called us, for the good of our brothers and sisters.”

Discernment leads us to see how things are from within God’s own heart to our heart.


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