If you visit a website like Vocation Network, you could be led to believe that anyone can discern at any time. All you have to do is, “go for it,” “follow your heart’s desire,” and “have experienced.” This myth has been passed down from one generation to the next of people who simply don’t understand the spiritual journey.
The truth here is that God’s call is found in your desires, in what’s going to make you happy. The lie is that His call is in your deepest desires, in what’s going to make you deeply happy. The nice thing about this myth is it allows adults to invite young people to “think about where God is calling you” without doing any of the tough work up-front of helping you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ and get rid of any obstacles in your path. Don’t you think there’s probably a reason why some young people take years of bouncing around from one thing to the next when the spiritual masters say the “discernment” process should be over in two weeks?
The problem is not you. The problem is your strategy, your process. The problem is you’re trying to discern when you’re not ready yet. What does it take to be ready? Two things: prayer and interior freedom. What does that mean concretely? Mental prayer (also called meditation) with Scripture or another spiritual book for at least 20 minutes a day
- Mass at least every Sunday
- Confession at least once a month
- Freedom from family wounds and pressure
- Freedom from friends’ opinions
- Freedom from romantic relationships
- Freedom from sins and attachments
- Freedom from your plans
- Living a life of simplicity without too much noise, distractions, business
- Living a life of virtue, in particular, chastity/purity
- Living a life of balance
- Trust in whatever God’s plan is for your life: “whatever you want God, I’ll do it.”
- Knowing yourself and the purpose for which you were created
- Knowing what marriage and consecration are and what they’re not
- Some people probably think that a spiritual director is necessary. That’s certainly a nice help but not necessary according to the masters.
What is necessary is that you go through a 3-step process:
Like laying a foundation of a house, here is where you clear out the trees and brush and pour in the concrete of God’s love in His word and the sacraments
Before you jump into a commitment, check to see if you show any signs of having a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life.
Once you know whether marriage or consecration is your path, begin pursuing the “prospects” that most align with the deepest desires of your heart.So now that you know what it takes to get to work laying the foundation for your discernment. God bless. Live from your heart.