How does one understand the concept of discernment?
discernment means to “separate apart” so we might distinguish something in
order for it to be perceived clearly. It is the way in which we identify
God’s will within the context in which we live. Most of us do know God’s will
because it has been revealed through the teachings and life of Jesus Christ.
However, there are times when God’s will is not so clear and we realize that
we need to search for what God is asking of us.
Discernment is an art and it is learned by doing, not just reading about
it. It is a function of an individual’s personal relationship with the Lord.
When we desire to do God’s will, are willing to be open to God and have a
solid knowledge of God, then discernment is possible. Therefore, prayer is an
essential component to the process of discernment. To be a truly discerning
person, we need to be humble, charitable and courageous. As we become more
familiar with the Lord in prayer, we will come to know that the “small still
voice” speaks in peace never in turmoil, anxiety or restlessness.
Some practical suggestions which will help a young man discern a call to
- Daily Mass - one who is discerning a call to priesthood is encouraged
to participate in the daily celebration of Mass so that he can grow in his
relationship with the Lord.
- Sacrament of Penance – The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is
the way in which a man attempts to live a holy life - through the frequent
confession of sins and by the grace of God.
- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – this is a powerful way to grow in
love with the Eucharistic Lord and to grow in the spiritual life.
- Daily Prayer – this is time set aside for God alone, usually in a quite
place at a specific time each day. This prayer time might consist of
talking to the Lord in one’s own words or praying the Sacred Scriptures,
especially the Gospels. Developing a daily habit and pattern of prayer will
help the young man to hear more clearly the call of the Lord.
- Spiritual Direction – speaking with a priest or qualified individual
trained in direction about one’s prayer life and seeking advice from this
person on a regular basis is very helpful as one discerns a vocation to the
- Discernment Programs – attending a weekend retreat at a seminary,
vocation evenings or joining a discussion group of other young men
discerning a vocation are invaluable in helping one to come to greater
clarity about God’s call to priesthood.
- Devotion to the Blessed Mother - praying the rosary daily and seeking
the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother is especially recommended
in the discernment process.
- Get involved in some form of service with the Church. For example,
outreach to the poor, teaching religious education, lecturing at Mass,
taking Holy Communion to the sick, working with the young of a parish, etc.
are ways to give one a taste of “ministry” and may also increase one’s
desire for ministry and service.
- Talk to a Vocation Director – in order to obtain further information
about seminary and priestly life. The vocation director may also help
through regular meetings so as to help in discerning with the young man the
authenticity of the call.
An Understanding of "Discernment" - usccb.org