The Discernment Process

The main problem is not in being able to see what God wants, but in not being willing to do it.
by Father Anthony Bannon, LC | Source:

Dear Father Anthony,

How does one go about discerning what God’s plan for him is?

– Didymus

A. Dear Didymus,

The shortest questions sometimes need the longest answers, but at the risk of being sketchy I will try to zero in on the important points that can get you started.

The first thing to do is to live the present moment, in a good sense and not the “carpe diem” mode. God will always make himself present to you where he expects to find you. You are baptized, so he will expect to find you working to develop your life of grace, overcoming sin; he plans to meet you in the sacraments (confession, Eucharist), and in prayer; he has given you his mother as yours and so will look for you close to her. As well as being baptized you have other duties and obligations (student, family, whatever…); if you live up to what is expected of you, you are more likely to be able to hear his voice. He has given you human qualities and abilities: he expects you to be working on them.

The second thing is to trust God. He will not play games with you. Seek with absolute trust.

The next crucial thing is to be ready to say “yes” to whatever God wants of you. As far as I can see, this is the major part of discernment. The main problem is not in being able to see what God wants, but in not being willing to do it. Then try to take it a step further: tell Christ to use you whatever way he wants, offer yourself to do the most difficult work for him. Don’t worry, it is not easy to do this so don’t be alarmed if at first you cannot say the words.

The next steps build on the above. Look around. See what God has done for you. See where he has led you. See the thoughts he has put in your heart. As well as the many attractive things you can do with your life, are there other desires in your heart such as the desire to serve him, to save souls, etc.? Follow up on those. Look specifically into the vocation by doing a retreat, visiting places you are interested in, getting a spiritual director. Finally, look at the practical side: if you have debts to take care of, studies to make up, etc.

And all the time continue to pray and offer yourself.

Hope this helps. God bless.

– Father Anthony

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