Steps for Discernment

Discernment is grounded and nourished by an intentional and passionate relationship with the Lord Jesus. The signs of that relationship are also the best steps for discerning the Lord’s call.

Sacraments:

Participation in Mass every Sunday, on Holy Days of Obligation, and daily when your schedule permits. Go to Confession frequently, once a month or even more often.

The more you receive the Eucharist, the more you become like the Lord Jesus. The sacrament of Reconciliation is a reminder of our sinfulness and our great need for God’s pardon and peace. The more we receive the graces of the sacrament of Reconciliation, the more we are configured to the Lord Jesus.

Prayer:

Develop a habit of prayer in your daily routine. Pray for God’s guidance and direction in your life and in your discernment.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the formal prayer of the Church throughout the day, and it could be an immense help in developing a habit of prayer. The praying of Morning Prayer (Lauds), Evening Prayer (Vespers), and/or Night Prayer (Compline) is a great start to learning and praying the universal prayer of Christ and the Church.

Praying before the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is a particularly blessed place for prayer. If possible, a parish with Adoration could be sought out and visited for reflection and prayer.

Different devotions of the Church can help in developing a habit of prayer, ie, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Stations of the Cross, etc.

Devotion to Mary and the Saints:

The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints are a “cloud of witnesses” to us in our relationship with the Lord Jesus. Ask our Lady and the Saints to accompany you on your journey of discernment. Look into devotional consecrations to Mary, and for special patrons among the saints who have similar stories or discernment as yourself.

The Church is a household of faith, and Mary and the Saints are an important part of our relationship with God and our discernment of his will. Be sure to include them in your discernment.

Virtue:

Seek ways in which to exercise the natural and supernatural virtues. Recognize areas of your life that need the help of grace, and allow vice to be removed and virtue fostered. Do not allow pride to blind you in your pursuit of virtue and holiness. Be honest, and develop concrete ways to grow daily in virtue and in your relationship with God.

Spiritual Direction:

Ask a priest, deacon, or Religious Sister to meet with you once a month to discuss your spiritual life. Let your director know that you’re in vocational discernment.

Spiritual Reading:

Read the Scriptures, especially the sacred stories relating to discernment and God’s call. In particular, read a portion of the Gospels every day in order to encounter Jesus Christ, and learn of his life and teachings.

Selfless Service:

Look for opportunities to selflessly serve others in your family, place of employment, in your neighborhood, and in the other areas of your daily life.

In particular, look for ways in which to serve in your parish. Be sure you’re registered in a parish, and actively participate in that community. Try to avoid floating from parish to parish.

Additional Help:

For additional information on discernment, please visit the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. On their website, they have some great resources which can be found here for men and here for women.