Tips for discernment

With Vocations Sunday on the horizon, here's some tips for those of you who might be discerning if God is leading you to serve Him in priesthood or religious life.

Twelve Exercises to Discern Your Call
  1. Imagine yourself 5 to 10 years from now. Do you want to continue in life as you are now? Imagine yourself as a priest or religious ten years from now.
  2. Fantasize by going through an entire day in your future as a priest. Visualize yourself being a priest and doing what you imagine a priest does. Notice how your gut reacts to this exercise.
  3. What is usually the most life-giving part of your week? What does that say about you?
  4. Shadow a priest or religious for a day. Accompany them through the various aspects of ministry.
  5. For one week, live as if you decided to enter the seminary or formation program. Notice how you felt. The following week live as if you decided to drop the church vocation question and dismiss it. What feelings are stirred within you?
  6. Imagine Jesus looks you in the eye, calls you by your first name, and says, "What is it you really want?" Spend time with the question. Tell Jesus all you hope for in life. Then spend time listening to his response to your dreams.
  7. What was the last major decision you made about your life? How did you come to that decision? Was it a good one? What can you learn from that experience about your vocation discernment?
  8. Make a list of all the reasons it would be a good idea for you to become a priest or religious. Then make a list of all the reasons not to do so. Bring them before God in prayer and listen.
  9. What advice would you give someone in your shoes regarding a vocation to the priesthood or religious life?
  10. Reflect on priests or religious who have been mentors for you. Which qualities would you like to imitate if you were called?
  11. Search through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John for a story of someone being called by Jesus. Write the words in your own hand, and keep the story in your shirt pocket.
  12. Is your weekly ministry more life-giving than your 40 hour work week?!
Remember before you fall in love with an need to fall in love with the Lord first, and feel the strength of that relationship...! Then, everything else will fall into place! Happy discerning! You're in our prayers.