Some Tips for Successful Discernment

Monday, August 20, 2007

As the summer draws to a close, and I prepare for my third year of studies at the University of St. Thomas, I look back on the changes that have happened over the past year spiritually, academically, and the challenges I faced trying to incorporate spiritual practices into my hectic life as a college student outside of a college seminary. It was challenging, but I was able to succeed in doing so this past spring. I have received several e-mails and questions in these past weeks regarding suggestions if someone thinks he/she may be called to a religious vocation.
While I am by no means an expert on this subject, I can give you a few tips that were helpful to me.

1. Don't rush into discernment- let your vocations director and spiritual director determine the pace at which you should approach discernment. They've likely been through it themselves, and guided other young men and women through discernment, so they know what they're doing.

2. Find a spiritual director- Talk to a priest, monk, nun, or deacon that you know very well and ask if they're willing to serve as your spiritual director. If they're not able to do so, they will likely know someone who would. If you don't know a priest, nun, monk, or deacon, ask one of your Catholic friends for recommendations for spiritual directors, or ask a priest at a nearby parish to be your spiritual director.

3. Attend mass as often as you can: We receive grace from the Blessed Sacrament that is vital in the discernment process. Plus, if you feel called to the priesthood, helping the priest out who presides over daily mass helps you decide whether or not God is calling you to serve in this way.

4. Vist Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration: Eucharistic Adoration is a good way to strengthen your prayer life, which in turn aids in the discernment process.

5.Try some of the spiritual practices that priests and religious utilize in their vocations: Some of the simplest are the rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours (I'd recommend the one-volume edition. Most Catholic bookstores carry it, otherwise, you can order it from here:
Your spiritual director or a priest, monk, nun, seminarian, or deacon can show you how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

If your schedule only allows you to do one or a few of these suggestions, I'd say finding a spiritual director is most important, followed by daily mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. If anyone has any further questions, I'd recommend talking to a priest, seminarian, monk, nun, or deacon, or a trusted Catholic friend about your situation. But, if you don't have any of the above to talk to, you can e-mail me and I'll do my best to help you.
May God bless you with the means you need to follow His will.
In Christ,

+ Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam +


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