What does vocation discernment mean? In simple words, it means to determine the source of one’s feelings, inspirations and the spiritual manifestations that are taking place around the person for the purpose of determining if these result from a Divine calling to the religious life.
To discern if one has a religious calling is a lengthy process. A priest is not ordained until many years of preparation. Anytime prior to the date of ordination, as a candidate to the priesthood who is still searching the Divine Will of God, the seminarian or his spiritual director can come to the conclusion that the individual does not have a calling from God.
Sometime during his Christian life, every Catholic male has to take the first step towards discerning if he has a priestly calling from God or not. He has to ask himself, “Is God calling me?” A basic way to begin the discerning process related to a calling to the priesthood is by answering the following questions:
1. When you hear the Word of God, does it make you want to share it with others?
2. Do you find yourself more uplifted when you speak of spiritual things versus holding a full-time job in the world?
3. Do others enjoy your presence because they feel uplifted when hearing you speak of spiritual things?
4. When you participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass, do you sometimes wish you were the priest celebrating the Holy Mass?
5. Have you always wanted to become a priest but you have kept it as a secret in your heart?
6. Are you afraid to tell your family and friends that you want to become a priest?
7. Do you feel unworthy of serving God as a priest?
8. Do you like to serve others?
9. Have others ever told you that you should become a priest?
10. Do you find that you are different from the others and have been told so?
11. Do you feel that while you are in the world, you are not of the world?
12. Are you detached from the worldly ways of fame, pleasures, wealth, believing that there is more to life then what can be gained?
13. Do you have a natural inclination towards doing charitable works?
14. Do you sometimes wish that Jesus would just appear to you and tell you what He wants from you?
15. Has your mind been preoccupied with the fact that you must now make a major decision regarding your future, either to serve God or not?
16. Do you feel guilt eating away at you because you are not pursuing a calling to the priesthood?
If you have answered “yes” to a few (3 or more) of the above questions, you may have a calling to the priesthood or the religious life. With an increase number of “yes” as an answer (7 of more) to the questions, there is a greater likelihood that God is calling you to the religious life.