“What you are is God’s gift to you; what you become is your gift to God.”
“Discernment” is the process of discovering God’s will for you with the help of the Holy Spirit. This process will strengthen the relationship you have with yourself and with God. Ultimately, the goal is to work with God in order to make a decision about your life that will bring you true happiness.
- Is to set out on a journey with God with confidence that He will provide all that we need but perhaps not all that we want
- Is to spend time listening
- Is to admit that we are powerless without God and that we do not have absolute control or all the answers
- Is to actively cooperate with God in creating a future full of hope and purpose
- Is to be open to the miracles God can perform
- Take the Time Despite our busy daily routines, schedule a time for prayer. Note it down in your calendar and honour the appointment as a time to meet with someone very important.
- Find a quiet place Find a place where you can be alone and free of visual and audio distractions. Remember that you are entering a conversation with a very special friend, someone who loves you as a treasure that is infinitely precious. Dwell on that thought; no words are necessary.
- Listen It may be difficult to settle down to pray. Begin with 5mins of silence, sitting or kneeling in a comfortable position. Listen to all the sounds surrounding you. Calm your mind and heart.
Experiencing God The Catholic Church provides many avenues for prayer. Choose the spiritual exercise that best fits your needs and personality. This may involve: scrip¬ture from the Bible, mantras, vari¬ous forms of prayer (the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Novenas), etc.
Some people experience God’s presence in the beauty of nature. A walk through a forest or a stroll along the ocean may make your prayers more alive. Enjoying or creating music and art can also provide intimate encounters with God.
Finally, don’t forget that God speaks to us through other people. Some of the deepest experiences with God may come through encounters with people we have a relationship with.
DISCERNMENT – 4 STEPS
The following is a 4-step template to guide your process of discernment.
STEP 1 : BE IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF
To begin, we need to be aware of how God acts in our life. He asks us to use the unique personality and talents He has given to us to fulfill our call. Ask yourself the following questions to learn more about yourself, your relationship with other people and God. Accept, and perhaps, write down what you learn. By re-reading your previous thoughts, you will see how your ideas and feelings are changing. This reflects your growing process.
My Relationship with Myself
- List two things that I like about myself and two things that I do not like about myself
- What is one word that describes myself? What is one word that God would use to describe myself?
- What are my interests? Things that I am good at?
- What are my dreams and hopes? What are my fears and worries?
- What are my regrets in life? How do I feel about them?
My Relationship with Others
- How would I describe my relationship with my family/friends?
- Do I like interacting with others?
- What do others see as my strengths and my weaknesses?
- How do others view me when I am in a time of trial?
- What is the biggest conflict I have had with my family/friends? What lead to it, and where has it led me?
My Relationship with God
- What is my most memorable experience with God?
- Imagine myself standing at the door of the Church and the Tabernacle is 100 paces in front of me. Where do I stand in terms of my relationship with God? Where would I like to stand?
- I am an invaluable member of God’s family. What responsibilities should I take in the near future to fulfill this role?
- Who does God say that I am?
- How do I view God?
My Relationship with my Parish Community
Church groups are the foundation and basic units of the Church. The groups are to be self-directing, self motivating in living out the faith. Church groups are to function independently, with but not under the priests’ supervision. They learn to self-govern, self-nurture, self-teach, self-learn, self-provide, and self-support the lay people in responding and taking actions to God’s calling and invitations.
- What are my opinions on the above statements?
- Where do I fit in? In the church group community, it needs every lay people’s participation. Decisions are made together and responsibilities are carried out together. Everyone in the community has a strong sense of belonging, a strong sense of “I AM THE CHURCH”, a strong sense of unity in harmony.
- Can I see this in my vision of my young adult ministry?
- How can I bring about this to the WCCCLC community?
STEP 2 : BE IN TOUCH WITH THE LORD
Develop a strong prayer life, one that is constantly active. It is important to listen as well as to respond. You have to spend time with Him, listen to Him, be honest with Him, and occasionally be willing to wait on Him. Prayer is a highly personal response to a personal love that God has for you individually. Because you are unique, your prayer response is going to be unique. Don’t hesitate to experiment with various forms of prayer until you find those which best express your relationship with the Lord.
STEP 3 : THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS ITSELF
As you become more in touch with yourself and with the Lord, prayerfully gather the fact about your decision. Consider these steps:
- Clearly define the choices that lie before you
- Make a list of the pros and cons of each choice
- Take some quiet time and pray with this list
- What motives are drawing you to choose one choice over another?
- Are these motives in line with your value system?
- Are you now experiencing peace with the choice you made?
- If not, share your experience with a trusted friend and ask for some input
- Take some additional time to pray asking the Spirit for guidance
- When the right decision comes, peace and joy can be signs that this choice is right for you
As you gather the facts about the alternative life choices open for you, be particularly at¬tentive to your feelings. If you have been open and honest with yourself in Step 1 and with the Lord in Step 2, you can trust your feelings. Choose what appears to be the best for you and what appears to be God’s will.
STEP 4 : CONFIRM YOUR DECISIONS
After you have made your decision, spend time in prayer for an extended period to see if the decision still seems right. If it is, there should be a continuation of inner peace and satisfaction. You can also be confirmed in your decision by sharing it with your spiritual director or someone else with whom you have
worked with throughout the process.
“Be attentive to my voice. Then I will be your God, and you will be my people.” – Jeremiah 7:23
© Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia (Discernment: 4 Steps)
© Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters (Discernment Aids)
© NCCV (A Handbook for Adults Discerning Priesthood and Religious Life, By Sr. Kathy Bryant, RSC)