Discernment Ideas

Fr Matt looks simply at the subject of ‘discernment’ :When talking about “discovering your vocation”, discernment means the process of that discovery through prayer, reflection and discussion as to how God calls each person to love Him, whether as a priest, a consecrated religious man or woman, a married person or a consecrated single person.Before we look more specifically at how that ‘discernment’ might look, or what might assist us, perhaps we need to look at exactly what ‘vocation’ means.What does vocation mean?Within the Church ‘vocation’ is used in various ways so let’s clarify those different meanings as they apply to Christian living. Everybody has a vocation and discovering that vocation is a key step on the journey of faith.The fundamental vocation is the call to be baptized or, for somebody baptised as a child, the call to affirm that baptism personally. To be baptised is to accept Christ’s call to follow him in a new way of life. This is the way of holiness; it involves loving attention to the needs of others and to Christ, strengthened by the Holy Spirit and living as an active member of the Body of Christ, the Church. As a congress of church leaders put it: “Holiness is the universal vocation of every person. It is the main road onto which converge all the little paths that are particular vocations.” The root meaning of vocation is calling and the first calling shared by all Christians is holiness as a member of the Church.Once a person takes seriously their personal call to holiness, then the other dimensions of Christian vocation are opened up. Another dimension is the state of life to which Christ calls people. There are four basic states of life within the Catholic Church:Marriage, religious life, priesthood, and the single state as a lay person

Each of these is demanding and people need help to discern which of these Christ is calling them to.

The final dimension of Christian vocation is the work that people do, whether that work is being a farm worker, a chief executive or a home maker. Vocation as applied to certain jobs is still in common use but for the Christian, any work that conforms to the law of God can be vocational not just work in the public sector of education or health: a married woman working in a factory or a layman committed to celibacy who works in the media. The work is vocational if it is carried out as an expression of the person’s quest for holiness and in a way that is compatible with their state of life.

How do I discern my vocation?

It’s all about prayer; openness to the Holy Spirit; keeping close to the person of Jesus Christ through the sacramental life of the Church; and recognizing that God speaks to us in many and varied ways – often through the circumstances of our lives and the people we know, love and trust. Sound straightforward? How about putting it this way! It’s all about STOP, LOOK and LISTEN


Take time out to pray. Slow down. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your heart and mind. Recognise that the busyness of our lives is not always conducive to a close ‘conversation with God’. Imagine Jesus looking lovely at you, just as he did with the rich young man in Mark’s gospel (Mark 10:17-27). Be at peace in the presence of God.


When you get the chance to slow down and taste a bit of the desert, assess, and try to name those things that make you feel happiest and closest to God. Name your gifts and ask whether you are using these well. Reflect on different vocations and ask the question, how can I best serve the Church? Recognise that when we regularly ‘stop’, then our ‘looking’ or our ‘awareness’ of God’s presence extends into all areas of our life.


God speaks to us through many and varied situations. God speaks to us through those we love and through chance encounters. Open your ears!

Yes, there’s much more we could say about discernment, but for the moment it’s good to keep it simple!

Keep your eyes peeled for more info coming on to the website and new link to other sites too.

In the next few months, we will be producing some more detailed discernment materials.

Vocations Director: Fr Matt Anscombe


Tel: 01275 833 699