The Lost Art of Vocation Discernment

God calls each of us to a vocation. Granted, not all levels of vocation are on the same level of importance. For example, discerning whether or not you are called to a consecrated single life is significantly more important than discerning whether or not you are called to a particular career.

Today many toss off discerning their vocation as they find it only applicable to those considering their calling (or lack thereof) to religious life or ordained ministry. But we would do well to realize that ALL people have a vocation, and therefore discerning one's call is EQUALLY important to all people.

Unfortunately, many people don’t seem to have the first clue about how to go about discerning their vocations. Careers are typically chosen on the basis of, “What can make me the most money in the easiest way, in order that I might be happy?” To complicate things, many in our society fail to have consistent and substantial experiences with anyone who is in ordained or religious life.  This results in most people not giving any serious consideration to discerning a vocation to the religious life for themselves.

If you don't know or meet with anyone who is successfully and happily following God's call to this lifestyle, it's just not something that comes up on the radar of possible life choices. With the eradication of secular discernment in general has come a generation of people who stay in a transitional single life longer than ever before in our history, which leads them to eventually feel a longing for companionship. Many then turn to marriage as the answer to their loneliness, and for too many that marriage unfortunately fails. This is an unhappy cycle.

Sadly, according to many polls and studies, our generation is one of the unhappiest and loneliest generations to have ever lived—despite an increase in technology, resources, and entertainment. Everything that we thought would bring happiness has proved unsuccessful thus far. I think one of the biggest problems is that people haven’t carefully discerned their vocations, and have sadly ended up working in a profession they don’t enjoy in order to buy things they can’t find happiness in.

Where do we go from here?

We must seek to recapture what it means to discern a vocation. We must remember again what it means to pray and search ourselves in a specific way for that which the Lord is calling us to be. This might seem like a daunting task, but Catholic books on discernment and vocations are readily available. Furthermore, one should pray to God specifically for direction to their vocation according to His will. One way to do this is through using the rosary, asking Our Blessed Mother for help. We could also seek out and learn from the religious and ordained people in our society who are clearly familiar with discernment of a vocation.

If you think you have a vocation to religious life or ordained ministry, then I urge you to check out which is a great resource for those discerning or simply wanting to learn more. Hopefully, the generations of the 21st century will be able to learn from the mistakes of their elders and actively and carefully discern their vocations before plunging into something and realizing that the door they wish was opened is now closed for good.

Copyright 2012 Gretchen Filz