DIOCESE OF WILMINGTON
"Each of you has a special mission in life, and you are each called to be a disciple of Christ. Many of you will serve God
in the vocation of Christian married life; some of you will serve him as dedicated single persons; some as priests and
religious. But all of you must be the light of the world. To those of you who think that Christ may be inviting you to
follow him in the priesthood or the consecrated life I make this personal appeal: I ask you to open your hearts
generously to him; do not delay your response. The Lord will help you to know his will; he will help you to follow your
-Pope John Paul II Youth Gathering, St. Louis, 1999
Questions for the Discernment Process
(Adapted from Father Michael Scanlan, What Does God Want?)
Does the proposal I’m considering conform to God’s
- does it seem to go against any of the Commandments?
- does it seem to be supported by Church teaching?
- will it prevent me from fulfilling legitimate commitments?
- does it go against any other “call” that I've already
- does it hinder a spirit of submission and obedience to God and His Church?
Does it encourage conversion?
- will it lead me to a closer union with God?
- will it lead to a more faithful discharge of my primary responsibilities?
- does it involve any unnecessary occasion of sin?
- does it foster a spirit that says “Go for holiness”?
Is it consistent?
How is the choice being confirmed?
- is it consistent with God’s earlier calls in my life?
- are people involved who have helped me find God’s will before?
- has the call felt stronger at times when I might expect it (times of prayer,
retreat, after receiving the sacraments)?
- is the cost of making this choice (including possible negative effects)
consistent with my established priority of values?
- is it being confirmed by people who are involved in the proposal?
- are there any signs being given which seem miraculous or spiritual?
- is it being confirmed by people who know you and are in a position to give
any kind of spiritual guidance?
- is it being confirmed by either extraordinary or ordinary circumstances which
are making the decision possible?
- are there any other signs that seem to confirm or deny that this is from God?
What is my heart telling me?
- do you sense a very high degree of probability that this decision is right,
even if you can’t demonstrate it as a certainty?
- do you believe in your heart that this is the right thing to do?
- do you feel paralyzed with difficulties or uncertainties and therefore have to
appeal to other principles or guidance from others?
Who does God want me to be?
When discerning a vocation there is always confusion and uncertainty.
The decision-making process is a complicated matter as there are many
"layers" of decisions that must be looked at. However, God does give us some
clues or "signs" along the way:
- Finding one's place
- Being fulfilled
- Understanding the deeper meaning
- Having a peaceful heart
Are these things you long for? These are all a part of good discernment in life. When you are truly
fulfilled and are at peace with your place in life, you can be rather certain that you are doing God's
work. Peace and fulfillment are God's way of letting us know that we are on the right road.
Discernment is not just about deciding what to do with your life. Discernment is about making
decisions and choosing a path in life that God calls us to.
"Who does God want me to be?" and not "What do I want to do with my life?" is the basic question in
discernment. In answering that basic question you need to address: the activities and work of life, the
values and attitudes you hold in your heart, and the choice to love that you make.
Christian discernment implies a life of faith and a sense of one's relationship with God in Christ.
Discernment requires a heart ready to listen and respond in prayer and reflection. Discernment also
requires a head prepared to learn about options and carefully select those choices which will bring
greater joy to God, self, and world.
There is often uncertainty in the discernment process. At any one point in time we only see partial
glimpses, not the whole picture; therefore uncertainty exists. In discernment, your decision will always
meet a certain amount of inner resistance. Resistance is a good sign. There is always risk when a person
makes significant decisions in his life. A person must have sufficient love in his heart to take a
When discerning your vocation, the road ahead will always remain a bit foggy. You probably will not
know with absolute certainty what lies ahead. The future will always remain a bit hidden. Mystery and
the unknown are part of everyone's future.
If you are being called by the Lord, may God give you a courageous spirit and generous heart to Answer
"He...summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him" - Mark 3:13