Jump-Start Your Discernment

Posted: 9/12/2016

Wilmar Zabala, vocation counselor

I can tell there's something new and different in the air: The sounds of kids playing in the parking lot in the morning while waiting for their school bus; the flashing yellow light in the school zone on Dixie Highway reminding me to slow down on my way to work; the highlights of high school football games on the evening news; the Glenmary novices being blessed and sent off to their mission assignments. Summer is coming to an end and fall is beginning to arrive!

For me, these sights and sounds are like a new beginning. They make me feel uplifted because they point me toward God's redeeming mercy, which renews us. I realize that I can experience a new beginning as I jump-start what's dying in my life. I am more aware that God loves me and gives me an opportunity to repent, to come back to God and start anew. 

In discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life, it's very important to have a healthy awareness of this redeeming mercy of God. I often hear discerners say that they haven't been spending enough time in prayer, they haven't been consistently going to Mass, they could have been more understanding and forgiving towards family members and friends. Our personal shortcomings—whatever they may be—can weigh us down and make us question everything, including our own suitability and worthiness to answer and follow God's call. Being mindful of God's mercy that renews and uplifts us is an antidote. 

This change of season can be a perfect opportunity to jump-start your discernment, which may have been stalled. Recognizing God's mercy leads us to a change of heart, so I offer these simple suggestions to guide you: 

1. Participate in the sacrament of reconciliation and bask in God's mercy.
2. Commit to praying at least 10 minutes a day.
3. Schedule a "date" with God every Sunday, and meet God at Mass in your parish.
4. Seek a spiritual director to challenge you and make you accountable.
5. Get involved in works of charity that help those in need.
6. Consider attending a Glenmary Come & See mission trip.

As you go about your daily life activities, pay attention to what seems to be new and different around you. Those sights and sounds are God's invitation to keep renewing our lives!

This article appears in the September 2016 Vocation Office E-News.