Approaching discernment

Hello (and sorry if this is a repetition of other threads).

Like many who come to this forum, the “thought” (as I don’t know what to call it) about exploring the priesthood has been with me for a number of years. The past five years it has been repeatedly present and each time I’ve turned away from the idea and focused on professional work without entertaining it.

In recent months I’ve attempt to “turn and face it” and engage with my faith. However, I am confused and think I am an unlikely candidate to be called by God: I have a strong faith, been Catholic since birth, but have not been engaged with the established Church for some time. I guess you could call me semi-lapsed as I pray in my own space but have avoided much of the established Church (like Mass, the Sacraments, Confession) outside of Easter and Christmas.

I have always prayed, though without a established routine. In recent months I’ve corrected that and in facing this thought/feeling I have returned to Mass and regular prayer which has helped me in my daily life. However the feeling/thought/call to do more is still there very strongly to the point where focusing on my professional job has become difficult.

I have since ordered To Save a Thousand Souls by Fr. Brett Brannan, who it seems is regarded worldwide as an expert on vocational discernment, including in my country. I am thinking of discussing the situation with a priest (but I do not know any of them well) or the Diocese Vocations Director.

What do you guys recommend and as I’m a little anxious, does anyone know what a typical first meeting with the Vocations Director would be like?

Welcome to CAF @DiscerningCall 023_tiphat
Great that you have returned to mass. A wise call and a wise step in your rational discernment journey. To think your desire and wonder about the priesthood has already led you in the right direction by going back to the sacraments. The embracing your baptismal gift of having God within you, and the faithfulness of living your baptismal commitment and growth in manhood is stupendous.
You might start or already are praying the rosary at least a decade each day. May Mary our blessed Mother be your guiding star and may you continue to have the courage to just check this all out. Once you speak to a priest and take that step, you will be being true to the discernment steps and I promise you — you will not regret it. Prayers to you and prayers for your discernment – Welcome back!

Thank you so much for your kindness. I have been planning to pray the rosary again though it has been many years since I’ve been acquainted, thank you for reminding me.

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The scripture rosary is a great way to start and you can find it on line for your phone or whatever. Also can buy a little book with scripture in it. Small steps are usually the most faithful way to bigger horizons.

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I highly recommend praying the Rosary daily. Devotion to Mary has changed my life.

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Thank you for sharing your experiences. I will undertake to get back to the Rosary daily alongside my daily prayers.

Since writing this thread, I found a video by Fr. Mark Schmitz on Discernment 101. I think I’m getting near the action stage, as he notes everyone loves talking about discernment, praying, etc. but discernment requires action and a leap of faith of a kind in terms of putting yourself out there.

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“I think I’m getting near the action stage, as he notes everyone loves talking about discernment, praying, etc. but discernment requires action and a leap of faith of a kind in terms of putting yourself out there.”

Just to bump this, in practical terms has anyone any experience of what happens in the first meeting with the Vocation’s Director?

Is it a polite chat or is it more intricate sort of like a secular interview?

I can give you a general answer though the first interview can vary between different diocese. From my personal experience and hearing from others that are discerning as well as many seminarians the first interview is usually a loosely structured conversation more than a typical interview.

The vocations director will ask several questions to determine if you have any impediments to entering the seminary and eventual ordination. These may include; if you’ve ever been married, if you have children, if you’ve ever participated in or enabled an abortion, if you’ve ever taken another life, if you’ve committed self mutilation, etc.

He most likely will ask you more general questions about your background. How long you’ve been Catholic, religious practices throughout your life, family and friends, past relationships, how you interact with others, your experiences serving others and the Church, whether you’ve talked to your pastor yet, educational background, etc.

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I was a good friend of our diocese’s long-time Vicar for Priests, who interviewed and counseled dozens–maybe hundreds–of people in discernment for the priesthood over the years. His first question was always about the person’s prayer life. He wasn’t looking for specifics (do you pray the Rosary; do you go to daily Mass, do you meditate), but whether people had a rich and personal prayer life and how central it was to their lives. He also wanted to make it clear that prayer was at the center of priesthood–or, indeed, any religious vocation. And he lived that in his own life, for sure.

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Thank you all for sharing your knowledge.

I was fearful that I might have to explain Church teaching or I should be reading up on the Cathecism as I’ve never had much opportunity to read or study beyond the basics. Like many I studied for and focused on professional life but now feel empty and unfulfilled.

It sounds the key is the person and how they try and live their faith. I think I can be Ok at that as I’ve kept up my personal faith and make every effort to follow the teachings that are currently known to me.

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