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Vocations and Discernment FAQ

Got Questions?

These are common questions about vocations and discernment.

Q: What is a vocation?

A: First, all are called to holiness, rejecting sin and loving God with our entire heart, body and soul. Within this universal call to holiness, God creates each person for a specific purpose, reason or mission. This is our vocation; a vocation is a gift from God, a plan or “calling” from our heavenly Father. A vocation is God’s invitation to each individual to love and serve Him and His Church in a particular state or way of life.

Q: Do I have to do what God is calling me to do?

A: Remember, God loves you better than you love yourself. He created you and formed you with your unique gifts, talents and abilities. God knows what will make you truly happy. In embracing and generously responding to your vocation, you will find a greater happiness, peace and joy than you can find on your own. Your happiness depends on answering His call.

Q: What about what I want to be or do with my life?

A: Many people are called to the married state of life while others are chosen to be priests, consecrated religious men and women, or deacons. Some people are committed to remain single, yet still living a life of generous self-giving to the Church. Remember: It is normal to desire marriage and family. Just because you have this desire does not exclude the possibility that you have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. For a priest, the desire for a spouse is fulfilled as he marries his Bride, the Church. His desire for fatherhood is abundantly fulfilled, as he becomes a spiritual father of God’s holy people.

Q: Can I be happy in my life if I don’t follow the vocation Jesus invites me to embrace?

A: If someone does not follow the vocation our Father created him or her to fulfill, they can attain a certain degree of happiness in this world and still attain salvation. However, they will not be as happy or blessed as they might have been had they followed their proper vocation. Rejecting our vocation affects others also (What if your parents never said yes to each other? What if the priest who has had a great impact on your life said no to Jesus?). This is why it is so important that everyone discern his or her particular vocation prayerfully and responsibly. Of course, there are trials and tribulations in every vocation. To become a priest or consecrated religious does not take away all suffering. But there is great joy in laying down one’s life for Christ. Your vocation is Christ’s gift to you; how you respond is your gift to Him and yourself.

Q: How do I know what my vocation is?

A: Jesus tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). Pray every day, asking God to reveal or show you his plan for you, your vocation. Make sure you pray correctly. Do not ask yourself, “What do I want to do with my life?” That is using our freedom selfishly. Rather, we should pray as Jesus taught us in the perfect prayer the Our Father – Thy will be done! May God’s will be done in my life! You should be thinking and asking: “Jesus what have I been created for? How have I been created to love You?” Pray and listen for the answer! Listen with your heart, not just your head. Seek guidance from the Church, the Bride of Christ, to help you hear and respond to God’s voice. We need the wisdom and guidance of Holy Mother Church to assist us. This process is called discernment.

Q: What are the possible vocations through which I might be called to follow Christ?

A: Many people are called to the married state of life while others are chosen to be priests, consecrated religious men and women, or deacons. Some people are committed to remain single, yet still living a life of generous self-giving to the Church. Remember: It is normal to desire marriage and family. Just because you have this desire does not exclude the possibility that you have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. For a priest, the desire for a spouse is fulfilled as he marries his Bride, the Church. His desire for fatherhood is abundantly fulfilled, as he becomes a spiritual father of God’s holy people.

Q: If I decide to enter the seminary or convent to “give it a try” am I committed for life?

A: Certainly not! The seminary and convent are where real discernment, trying to hear God’s voice revealing our vocation, begins. Sometimes, the only way to really know if you have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life is to actually enter the seminary or convent. During that time of formation, God’s will for you becomes clearer. The goal of the seminary or convent is to help you discern God’s will. A seminary rejoices when a man discerns that he is not called to priesthood and leaves to serve the Church in another vocation. Those precious years spent in formation are a benefit to you spiritually even if you discover that you are not called to be a priest or consecrated religious. That time will definitely help you hear God’ voice and find your vocation.

Q: Priests and consecrated religious are very holy; I’m not. Should I enter seminary or the covenant?

A: There is one mission all people have in common; we are all called to be holy. Holiness, becoming more like Jesus, is a lifetime endeavor for every person in every vocation. Give God a chance to work on you. With God all things are possible, even you becoming holy! Jesus’ first words in his public life give us the formula for holiness; “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). Christ is calling you to holiness right now. Reject sin by frequenting the Sacrament of Penance monthly, receive our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament by making visits to Church outside of Mass and pray daily, especially meditating on Holy Scripture. You will be amazed at the good things Jesus can do in and through you.

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