The Discernment is a time of listening, talking, praying and acting on the stirrings of God and the Holy Spirit. The time it takes to come to understand or discern what God is calling you to cannot be defined in days, weeks, months or years; it is a process and that process can take longer for some to fully grasp what God is asking.
The Process begins with:
Discernment begins with listening, not only with our ears but with our hearts. You listen to what God and others are saying to you, and you need to listen in the silent moments of your life. You need to listen to what you are saying to yourself, both through your actions and through your emotions.
What is your reaction when you are asked or think about being a Religious / or a Priest? How do you feel when you think about living a celibate lifestyle, living in community, following the call to live the Gospel?
LISTEN to yourself! God tries to call us in ways that we can understand even when we are unaware.
Discernment cannot be done alone or in isolation. You need to talk about the stirring of God in your life, just as you talk about your hopes and dreams for the future. To some this can become a hard part in the discernment process. But you want to understand, to what it is you are being called.
Whom should you talk to? Talk to your friends, parents, teachers, a Priest or Brother, a Vocation Director or a Spiritual Director; Anyone you trust and respect; Anyone with whom you can share your inner thoughts and desires and fears concerning entering a religious community or the Priesthood. As you enter into these conversations listen to your concerns and questions. Are they getting deeper? Are you getting a greater sense of ease, clarity, understanding of the movement of God and the Spirit in your life? Where do these conversations take you and what questions begin to surface?
Talking and listening to God is the heart of prayer. When we pray we are actively inviting God into communication with us in a more profound way. In praying it is important to let God know what is truly in your heart and mind, but also remembering to allow for some time for him to answer. God often answers through our thoughts and feeling as we pray as well as through other people and situations around us. For St. Francis it was an encounter with a leper on the road that caught his attention to God moving through him. When we pray we become open to God’s presence in us and around us. Are you open to the moving of the Spirit in your life in a more profound way through prayer?
The last step, but not necessarily the end, of the discernment process is acting on the result of your listening, talking and praying. Taking the next step in the conversation by meeting with a Brother or contacting the Vocation Director. Explore opportunities to encounter and/or be a part of community activities, or schedule a Come and See with the Vocation director. Open a conversation with a religious Brother, to learn more deeply the experience of their life and yours.
One of the big parts of the discernment process is finding a Congregation that best fits your experience of God in your life. This can take time. You need to take the step to open conversation with various religious communities to find the one that fits your experience. Be open and listen and pray.
For more information about the Franciscan Brothers, contact us at email@example.com or browse through our website.