Though it doesn’t happen as often as it used to anymore, I still get one or two people who er… doubt my discernment when I tell them I don’t have a calling to either priestly vocations or religious life.
So with that, I decided to review some testimonies by people who reached the same decision as I have and found that they some of them did something along the lines of having a private retreat (they go alone some place in the mountains or something). Another person, a Charismatic preacher, said he went to visit I believe monastery or something.
Is an experience like this mandatory before you can say you have discerned? I’ll be honest and say I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that.
I just thought you just had to spend a good deal of your time thinking about it. >:\
I don’t see why it should be - many who have a calling to the priesthood or religious life have said that they ‘knew’ (in other words had discerned and were sure of their calling) well before they did anything formal like going on a retreat or whatnot.
Did you do your discernment with a spiritual director or did you do it all on your own?
If you did it with a spiritual director then I would have to say that you have done everything and it is really no one’s business about how you came to your conclusion.
If you did it alone then I would say that, while you may have come to the correct conclusion you did not do it the way that I would view as correctly. But again, it is really no one’s business but your own.
I’ve tried some serious contemplation of religious vocations on my own. I have also discussed this with a few priests. At this point in my life I think my calling is to get married and have a family, but I am considering going on a retreat, entering a discernment house, or maybe doing volunteer work with a monastery. I am considering this not necessarily to make sure I follow the right vocation, but simply to find direction and focus myself after I graduate college. I think the “retreat” activities are not necessary for finding discernment, but they can be invaluable in preparing you for your future life, without all the other distraction that our lives include.
Does having career counseling count? I’m sure it may not but in my case, I’ve attended a Catholic highschool with its own programs of religious formation. I’m also currently attending a Catholic college run by the same order (Jesuits) who ran my highschool so I also get a few calls from their Guidance Counseling office on what I basically want to do with my life after I graduate. :shrug:
To be honest, I just get a little tired sometimes when I make an opinion about the priesthood/religious vocations and then some people (who are often the types discerning a calling to those vocations) come in and question my discernment. I keep getting the impression that they think I’m just being self-centered. >:\
Just to be clear… are you saying you were previously discerning specifically a call to the priesthood?
I’m of the opinion that we’re still at least in some stage of discernment right up until we make the commitment. Of course, we can certainly be very confident that God is calling us one way or the other, but I think it is appropriate at least to maintain a spirit of total openness to whatever God calls us to.
I’m not saying that you should be constantly praying something like, “God, are you maybe still wanting me to be a priest??” because I think that there is a stage (and it sounds like you’ve reached it) where you can have a conviction that it is not your calling in life. That is absolutely normal and you don’t necessarily have to have had a spiritual director to have known that.
Of course, at least if you entered into a very serious discernment of priesthood, it may have been wise to contact a vocations director… I’m not very familiar with your background.
Anyway, please be assured that there is no “experience” or set “milestone” you have to have reached for you to have “legitimately” discerned. Your discernment is truly between you and God, and it may be that you two are the only ones who understand it.