If you were about to make one decision that would dramatically impact the rest of your life, how would you go about it?
If you were contemplating a cross-country move, you’d probably learn everything you could about the new city. If you were choosing a career, you’d visit the career counseling office at your college. Heck, even if you were buying an expensive new TV, you’d do some serious research.
But there’s one decision that’s far more important than any of these. In fact, it’s so important that it can’t properly be called a decision.
We’re talking about your vocation—your God-given mission in life. God etches our vocations into our very souls, and thus a vocation is not just a matter of choice, like choosing a career, but rather more like a discovery. Finding your vocation is like realizing something about yourself that has been there all along.
But God plants your vocation so deep in your soul, sometimes it’s hard to see. In fact, many people—even Catholics—never even consider looking for it at all. Sometimes marriage is assumed to be the “default” vocation. But God calls some people to a different life—a life committed solely to serving God’s people as a priest.
Discovering your true vocation takes careful deliberation—a process the Church calls “discernment,” which is derived from the Latin word meaning to “sift through.” All vocations—marriage, priesthood, or the religious life—require a diligent discernment.
Here are 10 tried-and-true ways to discern God’s calling for you:
- Pray and Listen asking the Lord daily to show you His will.
- Pray the Rosary asking for the intercession of Mary, Mother of priests.
- Pray a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament regularly.
- Attend Mass frequently (daily if possible) and receive Communion.
- Go to Confession on a consistent basis.
- Read Scripture and meditate on God’s Word.
- Talk to a priest you find approachable and ask for spiritual advice.
- Contact the Vocation Director.
- Talk to seminarians when they come home for the holidays.
- Become involved in your parish.
These are practical ideas that really work. You’ll notice that by doing these things, not only will you hear God’s voice more clearly, you’ll begin to grow in holiness—which is everyone’s primary vocation.
But the best thing you can do to discover your vocation is to simply be open to the will of God. Stop asking what you want out of life, and start asking what God wants. Remember that Jesus wants you to be happy even more than you do. And if He calls you to priesthood, trust that He will bring you fulfillment.
Discerning your vocation—the state of life that God is calling you to for the rest of your life—is truly the most important discovery you’ll ever make.