Entering into a time of discernment is about discovering how best to live out our common vocation to love, which is a task we are all called to—not just those discerning a vocation to religious life. It's a time to reflect on our gifts, talents, desires, and passions, and how best to use them to love God and one another. If you discern a calling to religious life, your discernment was successful. And if you discern a calling to married or single life, your discernment was also successful.
Suggestions to get you started:
The Church traditionally uses the word “discernment” for the process of making decisions in light of the Gospel. When a man feels moved by the Spirit to discern our way of life, he is invited to a one year period of discernment.
Get Involved with God
To know God's will is to know God. Deep personal prayer is where discernment begins. We form a space within our lives to be in His presence. We allow God to search us out, to desire us, to be one with us, to loves us with passionate longing. In that space we come to know God. Cherished places of Franciscan discernment are solitude, nature, Eucharist, liturgy of the hours, scripture, and retreats.
Get Involved with Oneself
Find a good spiritual director who is versed in helping others discern a call to religious life. They will help you get in touch with your desires, passions, and how God is moving within your life. Contact our vocation director for help in locating a good spiritual director in your area. You can also visit the website: Spiritual Directors International for a list of trained and certified spiritual directors.
Consider purchasing the book "Ten Evenings with God." This book is written by Franciscan Sister, Ilia Delio, OSF. She is a professor and chair of Spirituality Studies at the Washington Theological Union, and has written a simple book that takes the frustration and panic out of life's decisions and shows us that to seek God's will means to know God. This would be a great resource to use with your spiritual director.
Get Involved with Others
When in discernment, it's important to be involved with the Church's mission. In relating to others, we discover our unique way of giving and receiving love in the midst of ministry. Volunteer with an outreach to the poor. Get involved with a peace and justice movement. Become aware and practice "Care of Creation." Reflect on these experiences with your spiritual director and other discerners to religious life. It's important to know discernment takes place in the context of community. Discernment is not, "God and Me," but "God and Us."