What is a vocation?
The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare which means to call. We share, together, the one Vocation to Holiness, which is the most fundamental vocation, and which begins at baptism. In this vocation, or call, to holiness, we are called to live a life of friendship with God through Jesus Christ, recognizing our dignity as beloved sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. We live this Universal Call to Holiness in a specific way (Particular Vocation) in Marriage, Religious Life, Priesthood, or in the Single State. A Vocation if not created, but it is discovered. It is a gift from God.
How do I know my vocation?
A person knows their vocation ultimately by knowing God, who calls them, and themselves, who are called. This process involves many things, but in general includes living a life of prayer (which is a dialogue with God), living a moral life (which is the fruit of a life close to God), living a life of generosity with the gifts God has given us, and figuring it all out in the community of the Church.
Knowing one's vocation is a process of discovery. We discover our vocation as we come to know God, ourselves and others. We come to know God through prayer, the sacraments and our living of our Christian life, and we come to hear his call. We can hear His voice through others also. Like when someone tells us that they think we might be a good priest or religious. As we come to know ourselves, discovering our gifts and talents, our likes and dislikes, we also know the needs of the Church and the world. But God often calls us to something that at first glance doesn’t seem to match up with all our own desires or gifts, so it is important to be aware of how God speaks to us in a variety of ways.
What is discernment?
The word discernment comes from two Latin words: ‘dis’ (apart) and ‘cenere’ (to separate). To discern means ‘to separate apart’. Any time we choose between two or more options, we discern. The object of vocational discernment is to come to know what God desires of us, and to choose that with full freedom. Discernment of the Priesthood involves asking God for the grace to be called and asking oneself the question: “What is it that God desires me to do with this life He has given me?”
St. Francis of Assisi's Vocation Prayer
Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind. Give me right faith, firm hope and a perfect charity, wisdom and understanding, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command.