Reflections on Discernment

How does one discern a genuine call to religious life as a priest or brother? Those considering a vocation to religious life have asked, “How will I know?” It comes with many other important questions such as, “What is God’s will for me?” “How do I find happiness and fulfillment in my life?” “How will I know God is calling me to live religious life?”

An inherent part of life is making difficult and challenging decisions. This requires time, prayer, and discernment. Life today offers a complexity of decisions in ordinary daily life. Discernment is about considering options, balancing advantages with disadvantages, and carefully examining consequences. “How will I know . . . what is good, right, or best? How will I know what God is calling me to?” Now, as in Jesus’ time, God continues to give signs to help us discern what the Lord is asking us. Here are several for your consideration.

Availability and Openness
• Am I open-hearted to whatever God is calling me?
• Am I disposed and free to respond to that call?

Desire
• Do I sense a degree of potential satisfaction, hope, or joy when I consider religious life?
• If it is God’s will, do I trust that it can be fulfilled?

Proper Motivation
• Is my primary motivation a spiritual one; i.e., to serve and love God and God’s people?
• Would I experience adequate happiness and fulfillment?

General Disposition
• Do I have good health, emotional stability, social ease, and spiritual-centeredness?
• In a more specific way, there is a practical spiritual discernment process to guide and help us determine what God is calling us to: reflection, prayer, dialogue, and Scripture.

Vincentian Discernment:
One who discerns entering the Vincentians should become familiar with the spirituality, community, and ministries of the Congregation. This can best be done by visiting local communities, speaking to Vincentians of varied ages and ministries, spending time with men in formation, attending discernment programs, and engaging in spiritual direction.

• Is the Lord Jesus asking me to serve Him through the poor in the way of St. Vincent?
• Can I give myself to love of God and serving neighbor, especially those most in need?
• Am I a person who wishes to live and work in a community for a common Mission?
• Do I seek to know the Lord more deeply as did St. Vincent through the times spent in prayer, with Scripture, the Eucharist, and finding opportunities to serve the poor?

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