Perhaps you’ve had some deeply personal experience of God. Perhaps you’ve served in the Church and found the experience to be fulfilling. Perhaps you’ve observed a priest who appears genuinely happy in his vocation. You’ve begun to wonder, “Is it possible that God is calling ME to the priesthood?” How exactly does one “know?”
Knowing if you have a religious vocation comes from discernment, a process of prayer and probing that gradually uncovers the deepest desires planted by God in a person’s heart. The process of discernment varies by individual, but there are several common elements to all discernment:
- PRAYER. You have to pray faithfully to discern a religious calling. That means setting aside time each day to sit quietly with God and let the Lord slowly reveal the plan for your life. Attending Mass frequently and attending retreats and days of prayer really help.
- EXPLORATION. You have to ask questions, probe, investigate. Tell a priest that you think you might have a call to the priesthood. Ask them how they discerned God’s call in their life and if their vocation is fulfilling. Call the Vocation Centre and learn about opportunities to visit the seminary. Attend vocation retreat weekends. Be proactive as you explore the possibility of a vocation.
- GUIDANCE. You will need guidance as you discern a vocation. You will need someone to assess the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life. Ask a priest to be a spiritual guide. Meet regularly and let the Spirit speak to you through your spiritual guide.
If you do these three things faithfully — PRAY, EXPLORE and SEEK GUIDANCE — one day you will “know” in your heart if you are called to a religious vocation.