Questions on Discernment
What is a vocation?
First, all are called to holiness, rejecting sin and loving God with our entire heart, body, and soul. Within this universal call to holiness, God creates each person for a specific purpose, reason or mission. This is our vocation; a vocation is a gift from God, a plan or “calling” from our heavenly Father. A vocation is God’s invitation or calling to each individual to love and serve Him and His Church in a particular state or way of life.
Do I have to do what God is calling me to do?
Remember, God loves you better than you love yourself. He created you and formed you with your unique gifts, talents, and abilities. God knows what will make you truly happy. In embracing and generously responding to your vocation, you will find a greater happiness, peace, and joy than you can find on your own. Your happiness depends on answering His call.
What about what I want to be or do with my life?
In God’s infinite love for you, He has given you the gift of freedom. True freedom is doing what we ought, meaning what is right and according to God’s will. The world gets things mixed up sometimes, teaching us that freedom is doing whatever we can or want to do. This misguided understanding of freedom actually enslaves us making us prisoners of our own selfishness. God wants us to discover real joy by using our freedom to respond to God with courageous and generous lives. He made us and knows what will make us happy.
Can I be happy in my life if I don’t follow the vocation Jesus invites me to embrace?
If someone does not follow the vocation our Father created for him to fulfill, they can attain a certain degree of happiness in this world and still attain salvation. However, they will not be as happy or blessed as they might have been had they followed their proper vocation. Rejecting our vocation affects others also (What if your parents never said yes to each other? What if the priest who has had a great impact on your life said no to Jesus?). This is why it is so important that everyone discern his or her particular vocation prayerfully and responsibly. Of course, there are trials and tribulations in every vocation. To become a priest or consecrated religious does not take away all suffering. But there is great joy in laying down one’s life for Christ. Your vocation is Christ’s gift to you; how you respond is your gift to Him and yourself.
How do I know what my vocation is?
Jesus tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). Pray every day, asking God to reveal or show you his plan for you, your vocation. Make sure you pray correctly. Do not ask yourself, “What do I want to do with my life?” That is using our freedom selfishly. Rather, we should pray as Jesus taught us in the perfect prayer “The Our Father” – Thy will be done! May God’s will be done in my life!; this is the prayer we must pray. You should be thinking and asking: “Jesus what have I been created for? How have I been created to love You?” Pray and listen for the answer! Listen with your heart, not just your head. Seek guidance from the Church, the Bride of Christ, to help you hear and respond to God’s voice. We need the wisdom and guidance of Holy Mother Church to assist us. This process is called discernment.
What are the possible vocations through which I might be called to follow Christ?
Many people are called to the married state of life while others are chosen to be priests, consecrated religious men and women, or deacons. Some people are committed to remain single, yet still living a life of generous self-giving to the Church. Remember: It is normal to desire marriage and family. Just because you have this desire does not exclude the possibility that you have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. For a priest, the desire for a spouse is fulfilled as he marries his Bride, the Church. His desire for fatherhood is abundantly fulfilled, as he becomes a spiritual father of God’s holy people.