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Discernment
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Discerning God's Will

Discerning God's Will in My Life

  1. The process of making a prayerful decision about one's call in life is called "discernment." Each of us has a call to holiness and fuller life in God. We all have an empty space within us that only God can fill, and our restlessness drives us into God's embrace.

    Through baptism we are called to live the Christian life to its fullest. Deciding on which lifestyle to follow in order to live one's Christian call can be difficult. It is often a choice of one lifestyle among several good ways of living one's life.

    While God calls us all to His Kingdom, He is less clear as to whether a particular individual is to get there through marriage, single life, diaconate, priesthood, or religious life.

  2. So, how does a person know what God wants for him or her in particular? Here are a few simple guidelines.

Know Yourself. Where are you now? What makes you happy, sad, confident, and angry? What are your dreams, hopes, frustrations? How do you handle stress, human relationships, loneliness, needing others and being needed? What do you expect to get out of life? What brings the best out of you and gives you life? When you ask yourself these questions in prayer, you can grow in self-knowledge and self-acceptance. One suggestion is to write your reflections in a journal and share with someone you trust such as a spiritual director, a good friend, or a wise person.

Know God. God is the One who calls and who sustains us in every moment of our existence. God loves us and wants our well-being more than anyone else. Draw close to God in prayer, read and pray scripture, be faithful to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. Pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide you. As you become more aware of God's care and presence in everyday life, the call from God to a particular vocation will begin to have a feeling of rightness for you. Ask God to show you how to serve in this life.

Make a Decision. Prayerfully gather facts about the decision you want to make. Look into the future and imagine what it would be like for you in one lifestyle or another? What seems to fit you best? If you have been honest with God and yourself, then your heart will incline you to choose what is best and in keeping with God's will. When it seems "right" to you in your heart, then most probably it is indeed "right" for you. After you have made your decision, talk it over with the person or persons with whom you have been in touch in this process. Let it "set" for a time. If it is right for you, then you should have a continuing feeling of inner peace and satisfaction. If it lasts, then you will know that this peace comes not just from the relief of having made a difficult decision but from the conviction that you are doing God's will for you and that this is what will make you happy.

Discernment is a word not used in ordinary conversation. But it does involve conversation and dialogue. Discernment is based on the belief that God is always at work in our lives. So discernment demands that I be willing to take time to reflect on what is happening in and around me. Discernment is a process of discovering how God wants me to commit my life for God's honor and glory. This process presupposes several things:

  • That I will be willing to pray to the Holy Spirit to help me in making a choice.
  • That I will take time to ponder the available choices that I can make for my life.
  • That in thinking of each possibility I will ask myself "If I do this, will it show I love God, others and myself?" In the deepest part of my being what feelings arise when I ponder this choice?
  • That I will talk over all the possible life choices with persons whom I respect and who can help - parents, spiritual director, friend, confessor, teacher, etc.
  • That doing this process I remain in prayerful conversation with God and choose to do the right and loving thing for God's glory.

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