Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Discernment: Four Essential Practices

In his video made for World Youth Day, Fr. James Martin, S.J. breaks down four essential practices to discover your vocation, and I quote:

1.      Don’t wait for a flashing neon sign. While slogging through the daily routine of discovering one’s vocation, there may exist the misconception of waiting for a call. While some of our great saints have received direction in the form of visions and voices, waiting for a supernatural calling is neither the typical nor expected way to discern.

2.     You already have a vocation! We are made to be holy, happy, and to serve God. This may or may not mean a vocation to religious life, but we all have a vocation to become the best, holiest version of ourselves. This means we can banish the fear or trepidation that “I may have a vocation!” and instead realize that only by discovering our vocation will we be at peace.

3.     Don’t be hasty to disregard desire. Often, desire is confused with our selfish and shallow wants, but it’s much more than that – it is the key to who we are and what we are meant to become. In Fr. Martin’s own life, it was attraction towards service and the sacraments, which helped him understand his religious vocation. Through the deep desires of the heart, God calls us to a life which glorifies Him. To follow the desires of our heart, one must first set aside the shallow wants which lay on the surface to distract.

4.     Interpretation is needed — so pray for understanding. The path to Christ’s fulfillment is rarely clear-cut. St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “pray to understand your desires.” God speaks through peace and joy, but it can take time for emotions and distractions to settle, so to speak. Ask yourself what really gives you joy. Do not be discouraged if it takes time to recognize what holy desires God has placed on your heart. Learn from St. Augustine who said, “Our hearts are restless O Lord, until they rest in you.”


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