Vocation - Discernment

Discernment in the context of a God-centered life

What is it?

Discernment is the effort to determine, in the light of God’s will, what is the best for me now, in the concrete circumstances in which I find myself. How can I best respond to the Lord? Which of the choices before me will bring me to the fullness of life?

What assumptions precede discernment?

  • I assume that God loves me and desires my love in return. God calls me to this love. God really cares about me.
  • The Holy Spirit speaks to me in my life through Scripture, the Church, the individual, the community, the concrete circumstances of my life. I can hear and respond.
  • I live in the midst of many voices. I need to discern which of these are God’s will for me now.
  • My discernment is not a choice between good and evil since evil is not God’s will for me. It is a choice between two or more actions, all of them good. Which one is right for me in the here and now?
  • My opinion is not enough. I live in an attitude of listening to God; I am willing to change when change is called for.

Discernment is an attitude.

Discernment is an ongoing attitude of surrender to God’s will and openness to what God asks of me. It is much more a way of life than a matter of problem solving. I must ALWAYS look for God’s will in my life.

Download discernment (pdf) to see additional reflections.


Prayer for Discernment

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself.
And the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please
you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all
that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart
from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you
will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death, I will
not fear, for you are ever with me
and you will never leave me
to face my struggles alone.

(Thomas Merton)