When one hears the word “discernment,” one automatically thinks it is for those who only want to be priests or religious or, that discernment is about decision making about one’s vocation. That’s wrong.
Discernment is for everybody and it’s an invitation to truly listen to the Lord speaking and understand Him. It is not so much about “getting to” the destination or the final decision, but rather about inviting God into our lives and not only allowing Him to lead, but also allowing Him to be with you.
Discernment is about journeying with the Lord and seeking His will in the choices of life, such as choosing between different career paths, choice of study, involvement in parish life, as well as vocational decisions in life.
So, why does discernment matter? It only matters if there is a true awareness in our hearts for God. Meaning that we love God, but have we accepted or surrendered ourselves to God’s love in our lives? Can we truly allow God to love us as we are? If so, then we have the disposition of heart to truly “want” to seek or journey God’s will in our lives.
Adoration of Blessed Sacrament
There are many different ways or means of discernment. The most common means of discernment is before the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord Jesus Christ is
substantially present in the Holy Eucharist. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a powerful way to grow in love with the Eucharistic Lord and grow in the spiritual life.
Many churches in our diocese have regular times each week when the Holy Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has encouraged people to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration. This will help people who want to encourage vocations to receive the spiritual help they need and the encouragement necessary to invite others or themselves to consider a priestly or religious vocation.
Even if you cannot find or attend exposition, you can still pray before the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is kept. When you speak and listen to the Lord, you are developing a relationship with Him, and it is through that relationship you begin to fully understand His will for you.
The language God speaks is silence and quite often we miss out on His whisper in our hearts because we are not silent. Our hearts are restless. In discernment, we need to create appreciation and desire for interior silence. We need to cut out the noise or the business in our lives and simply learn to be, to rest in the stillness of our lives and allow God to do the work. Silent retreat weekend or finding spaces of silence in our daily lives is crucially important.
Discernment should never be done alone. We need someone to speak with and accompany us along this journey. In discernment, there will be times where we are unsure or unaware of the movements of God in our life and don’t know how to proceed without clear direction. Therefore, having a spiritual director can assist us in highlighting things we can’t see ourselves.
The Vocation Office offers many different discernment programs for young men who might be open to the idea of priesthood. To find out more information about this program, visit our website, www.brooklynpriests.org.
Father Suckiel is the vocation director for the Diocese of Brooklyn.