Partners in Our Discernment

By Photographes du National Geographic ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Photographes du National Geographic Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

We may begin our vocational discernments on our own. But at some point, hopefully early on in our discernment, we start discerning with our partners in our discernment.

Discerning with others who share our call is important because we do not have a right to any vocation: a vocation is a gift, a call from God, a gift. Those who share our calling discern with us if God is calling us to this particular vocation.

If we are discerning marriage, we can only discern on our own up to a certain point. Even if we are pretty sure that we are called to marriage, we cannot truly discern our vocation to marriage until we meet a possible future spouse, with whom we discern our marriage together. Marriage is a vocation undertaken together with our spouse, and that spouse has an equal voice in the discernment. The other person, too, needs to discern if God is calling him or her to marriage with this particular person. The Sacrament of Matrimony is a covenant made with a spouse before God and the Church. The spouse, therefore, has the duty and privilege to discern their call from God as well. And the Church has a responsibility to bless, confirm, and witness to that covenant, ensuring that both spouses are freely entering into this covenant with full understanding of what it means.

If we are discerning priesthood or religious life, the Church is our co-discerner, with equal say in our discernment. At first, this may surprise us. Aren’t we supposed to follow God’s call no matter what? Yes, but priesthood and consecrated life are calls from God to a specific ministry or mission within the Church. The Church helps us to discern if God is indeed truly calling us to this vocation, and entrusts this task to certain people: the bishop and director of the seminary in the case of diocesan priesthood, the superior and vocation director of the community in the case of consecrated life.

Priesthood and consecrated life are gifts, just as marriage is a gift. Having the Church as our partner or co-discerner is a great source of strength and support in our vocation. When the Church, through the vocation director, confirms our understanding of God’s call, this confirmation can help anchor us in God’s will during times of darkness, doubt, and struggle.

When we are concerned about “making a mistake” in our vocational discernment, our partners in discernment offer necessary reassurance. Our vocational discernment is something we are responsible for, and we need to take it seriously, but it’s not all up to us. Our vocation is a call from God, and God will give us every help in discovering and following our vocation, including the support of the Church—through our potential spouse, the bishop or superior, our vocation director, and our spiritual director.

The best discernment partner ever!

Due to our internet going down, I haven’t been able to post here or on Twitter since Thursday. Happily, we are up and running this morning!

Also, it’s my understanding that Lifetime will run the last two episodes of The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns from 10 PM-Midnight EST tomorrow night. As before, the #RealPostulants and #MediaNuns will be tweeting about it, using the hashtag #TheSisterhood. I’ll also try to put my commentary up Wednesday morning. (Although I’m definitely going to be short on sleep!)

REQUEST FOR YOUR HELP: If you are watching The Sisterhood, feel free to tweet questions about discernment to me @SisterMPaul, and I will answer them on this blog! (Or you can simply email me anytime or put a question in the comments on any post.) God bless you!

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Photo by Sr. M. Emmanuel Alves, fsp. © Daughters of St. Paul.

© Daughters of St. Paul. Photo: Sr. M. Emmanuel Alves, fsp

We do not discern alone.

Does it surprise you to discover that you have a partner ready to help you sort out your life? A partner who wants the best for you, who understands you better than you do yourself, who knows what will bring you the greatest happiness and fulfillment, who can bring to life your deepest dreams, who respects your freedom, who waits for you to ask for guidance?

This perfect partner is the God who created you out of love and for love, who died to save you and bring you greater freedom, and who now not only sustains your every breath but desires to walk with you and enliven your daily journey with joy, peace, and fulfillment.

The God who knows you better than you know yourself created you with a specific mission in mind. Yes, God has a dream for each of us, and shares with us our deepest dreams for ourselves—dreams of being our best selves, of living lives of purpose, meaning, and love.

God is with you on every step of your journey: previous, present, and future. When we remember that we have the perfect Partner to discern with, a Partner who shares our deepest dreams, we no longer need to fear the uncertainty of sorting through our lives on our own. Because we are not alone. God’s dreams—God’s story for you—are beyond all your cherished hopes and dreams.

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Daily Discernment Tip

Today, pray this simple prayer of trust several times: Lord, I trust in Your dream for me.