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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Do You Discern a Vocation?

This is National Vocations Awareness week, and perhaps a few of you are shocked that I haven't actually, until this point, mentioned it.

On Sunday, I heard a beautiful homily about God's call; what is required to hear Him, and how one must respond when His sweet voice speaks. For the last few days I've been pondering his words as well as my own experiences over the last several years in my discernment struggles. I've also considered some of the questions I've received via email from others out there who perhaps have had the same struggles, the same questions, similar experiences and feelings.

For that reason, I have decided to start a series, and perhaps let it be driven by demand. You, my faithful readers, or perhaps you who are just passing by..have you any questions about Vocational Discernment? (To define: recognizing to which state in life God may be calling you - marriage, priesthood, religious life, consecrated single, etc.).  If you already know your Call, can you recall any of the questions you pondered or asked that you'd like to see answered here?

For now, I will begin with a very basic question:

How does one discern a Vocation?

This is an important question. Some of you out there may be asking that very thing. Perhaps you have heard God's voice, or just have a little inkling that perhaps there's something missing in your life. The first thing, then, is to cultivate your relationship with Our Lord. He is waiting for you. He may be calling, or perhaps He, too, is biding His time...waiting for you. 

He is a perfect gentleman; He will not force His will upon you, but only waits for you to be open to the gentle invitation to sit at His feet, to spend time with Him in prayer, or simply...just in His presence. You see, Jesus delights in you, He loves it when you come to the chapel to spend time with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. He awaits your presence, He welcomes your questions and He is ready to speak as soon as you are ready to listen.

This is all discernment; it is necessary first to know God, to fall in love with Him over and over again, and this can only be done through developing, constantly, your relationship with Him.

Knowing God and allowing Him to love you are fundamental to anything else;  you cannot fully love what and whom you do not know. You cannot hear a Call unless you have somehow learned to listen, and you cannot know which steps to take and when to take them if you are not in a dialogue with the one who has placed an invitation in your soul.

This is true for all Vocations; many a married person has come to know God had called them to marriage through prayer, and I even have a friend who learned in Adoration WHOM she was called to marry. (And just this year they had their first child, a beautiful son!)

How does one discern? Spend time with God. Go to Mass frequently, receive the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession frequently, and never let a day pass where you do not take time to pray. This is the first step. Know God, love God...and learn to allow Him to love you.

And this...this is the foundation and somthing that must never stop, for relationship with God is something that will continue to grow and deepen throughout your life, regardless of your Vocation.


Harbor Star said...

Thank you so much for this insightful post! Really looking forward to this series.

Adoro said...

Harbor Star ~ Thanks, but I don't know how much of a series it can possibly be: half a day after I posted it, you're my first commenter. And you didn't post a question to further the mission! ;-)

I have, however, since posted a paper from my grad years - maybe one or both of these posts will prompt some random questions or at least inspiration to continue something!

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

Oh my gosh! I usually type things out in a word document and then paste them online, because I often accidentally click on things and lose what I was typing - and I accidentally just posted my whole to-do list and a list of haikus someone sent me along with my comment!!! Whoops, that was embarassing!!

I just wanted to say thanks for this post!! I'm really being active about discerning this year - I felt something missing over the past year, but didn't really seek out my vocation. I've gotten advice from a lot of people and they all say the same thing - Adoration, simply spending time with the Lord, is the best thing. Thanks!! :)

One question I do have is about different orders... the only one I've contacted is a Dominican sisterhood - I don't know much about the difference between orders or even how to find information about ones in my area. I think I recall in previous posts you have talked about sending letters to different places - how did you decide who you wanted to contact?

Adoro said...

Rachel ~ The advice you've gotten is solid...yes..Adoration. Prayer. Mass. Sacraments! How can you possibly know the will of your Beloved if you don't spend any time with him? That would be like a woman with a crush trying to guess what her crush likes...even though she hasn't spent enough time with him to even know if she CARES!

On Orders/Congregations/Communities:

Well...Adoration. But also, learn about the different types of spiritualities: Benedictine, Dominican, Carmelite, Franciscan, Passionist, etc.

What are your gifts, talents, and interests?

When you look at a community, WHAT are you looking FOR? There must be something in's not like you're looking for fashion sense!

It's wonderful you've contacted a Dominican community but question yourself: what drew you to them? Some people only NEED to contact one community, and that one ends up being home.

My advice to you: listen to the Holy Spirit; where is He drawing you? You don't have to be a genius and know all things; you only need to know how to listen to Our Lord. He will guide you. Follow when and where it's right to go, and you'll know by the sense of peace you'll have.

In the beginning I also contacted a Dominican community, but I was never able to go on their retreats, and I had a LOT of anxiety about going. Others tried to PUSH me to go and even beg for the $$ as that was one of the obstacles. But I found they wouldn't answer some fundamental questions I had, some very important "how to" things, rather pushing them aside as unimportant. Yes...maybe unimportant for a 20 year old, but as someone who was 30, it was a big deal. That was a red flag.

In looking back, I'm glad I never went; it would have been a disaster. I wasn't ready for the experience and I'm no longer interested in that community. They are faithful and wonderful, but they are not for me nor am I for them.

It's hard to describe a "sense of peace". I think you have to experience it in order to understand it..and you have to pass through a bit of fire before you know tranquility.

Listen to God and let HIM lead in all things!

Do you know the different Vocations websites? That may or may not help. I won't post them until you respond. :-)

Rachel said...

Thanks for your insight!

I considered going to a retreat last year, but it didn't feel right at the time... It feels right now, though :)

In terms of gifts, talents, and interests, well, part of my problem is that EVERYTHING interests me :) I've always liked every class and subject I've taken, and I've always been pretty successful in school. I love music and I play a few instruments, and I have a good mind for math and science. I was an undecided major, and I felt pretty lost about it, but recently I've started taking more math classes, and feel some peace about a mathematics major, so I've been thinking about teaching. It's funny, because in the past I've never thought I would make a good teacher, but I'm definitely thinking about it now!

I don't know the different Vocations websites - it would be interesting to read them. :)

Adoro said...

Rachel ~ Ah, ok, you're dealing with "option overload". Do you have a spiritual director? Have you spoken with the Vocations Director in your diocese? If not, I'd recommend starting there - he'll have some resources for you and perhaps might be able to help you find an SD to assist you in your discernment. It seems to me, from what you said, that you need a bit more focus. But what you describe was pretty much how I started, too...endless possiblities. patient! :-)

On websites, try:

If you feel overwhelmed, just take a step back. Remember this isn't like looking for a job or a college, but rather, it's about who you are called to be in Christ.

Let me know if you have any other questions. You can also feel free to email me at:
adorotedevoteblog @ gmail (dot) com

(it's linked on my profile) :-)