The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, California
Office of Vocations - 2110 Broadway - Sacramento, CA 95818 - considerpriesthood@scd.org

Discernment

What exactly is a “vocation?”

A vocation is a calling. For Catholics it means the state of life God asks us to live. There is one vocation for every baptized person and that is holiness. Holiness is living constantly in the presence of God and having a living relationship with God. This relationship is cultivated by prayer and the Sacraments. Everyone is also called to a particular vocation in life, beyond living a life of holiness.

What in particular are some of the vocations that I might be called to follow?

Each person is called to live out the universal vocation to holiness in particular ways such as: married life, priesthood, religious life, or as a committed single person. A desire for one over the other is not the telltale sign of what your vocation is, although it can sometimes be an indicator.

Marriage is the primary vocation, given by God to His people so that they might share in the Divine Life. Even though Original Sin has altered the original plan of God it still remains a natural desire for people. The desire for a family is a very good thing, as is the desire to raise a holy family. But as the Holy Father and others before him, a desire for marriage is necessary for any other vocation. Remember, the other vocations are centered on God’s family which includes everyone!

How do I know what God is calling me to do?

You must pray often. Every single day! Finding out God’s will is not an easy thing to do. It is a slow process called discernment. Ultimately you have to cultivate a relationship with God and grow deeper in that relationship. Discernment is a process of learning to make your will that of God’s will. This doesn’t mean giving up marriage for the priesthood; it might be just the opposite.

At some point you have to involve the Church in your discernment, the first step consisting of finding a priest you trust and feel comfortable with to be your confessor or spiritual director. If you believe that you may have a vocation to the priesthood, then you must contact a vocations director who will help you continue in your discernment. Together with the Church you will find out if you have a vocation and then when time comes, if it is God’s will, you may be called to Holy Orders. This ultimate decision is gradual and done in the seminary.

Can I be happy in my life if I don’t follow God’s plan for me?

Yes you can. Many people do not follow God’s plan and still have a happy life. It will not even put Heaven at risk. The question is not really, “Can I be happy?” but “Will I be happier?” God gives us our vocation based on who we are and who we are supposed to be. He knows us better than we know ourselves, a great reason to trust Him and not simply our own desires.

If I am attracted to the priesthood and priestly life, does that mean God is calling me to be a priest?

It is a good and strong sign that you MIGHT be called. However that isn’t always the case. It is a sure sign that you are called to discern the priesthood. If you feel this, some practical things are to go to Mass as often as you can, even daily. Make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament seeking to know the will of God, go to Confession and seek the counsel of a good priest.

I’m not that “holy.” Can I still be a priest if I’m not very holy?

The question isn’t really “Can I still be a priest if I’m not very holy?” but “Do I desire to grow in holiness?” Holiness, which is living a life which models the life of our Lord and in beginning in constant communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a process which we begin again every day and accomplish with the grace of God. Nobody ever reaches the point where they can say “Phew I am now holy, time to quit growing in holiness.” As long as you desire to grow in holiness then you can still be a priest. Go to Mass, pray, and seek the sacrament of Confession and, you will be amazed at the changes and how much you like the “new” you. It isn’t really a “new” you, but the person who you are supposed to be in the eyes of God.

 

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