How are Catholics taught to determine what their vocation is?


How are Catholics taught to determine what their vocation is?


Because the Religious Life is the highest and most perfect life, which presents the most sure path to heaven with the least temptations and the most graces and Spiritual support, Catholics have an obligation to first discern whether they have a calling there, to be a Monk, Friar, Sister, or Nun. This is discerned through prayer, frequent Mass, daily Rosary, a Spiritual director, and also by researching and visiting the different orders (Franciscan, Dominican, etc).

If one does not discern a calling to the Religious Life, and if one is male, then one would discern the Diocesan/Secular Priesthood, as this would present the next most sure path to Heaven after the Religious life, though not as sure because it does include more temptations and less support. One would discern this through the same method as they discerned the Religious Life, except substituting a relationship with the Director of Vocations in your Diocese for the visits to the different orders.

If one does not discern a vocation to one of those, then one would discern Marriage. Again, the method would be the same as above, except instead of meeting with different orders or the Director of Vocations, you would meet with potential spouses, go out for lunch, and try out dating to see if you find a God-ordained match. :slight_smile:

If one goes through all of that and still have not discerned a vocation, it is possible God may be calling them to life as a consecrated virgin.


I’ve not seen nor heard anything from the pulpit about vocations. If so, only rarely.

Everyone should remember that with vocations, “No news is good news.” If we don’t hear about it, there’s not a problem/shortage/crisis. Seems the only place we hear about crises are from investigative reporters who do their homework, and find that a particular archdiocese is in a vocational desert where seminarians are concerned.

The author of “The Buried Life” was a former IHM sister out of California. She described her discernment as being response from fear. She and her boyfriend both didn’t want to lose their souls for lack of response. She had a tug to the convent, and had to investigate. Then the meeting with the superior was very one-sided. The author was essentially congratulated for taking an interest, received the paperwork, then was shown the door.

If someone is truly interested in a vocation of any kind, in addition to sacraments, sacramental, and adoration, I would also suggest the Mass in Extraordinary Form/TLM. This Mass forces you to be contemplative interiorly.

There also needs to be a concerted effort on the part of the parish, and the home, to make communities known.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


Not necessarily. We have a clear shortage in my diocese, and you never hear about vocations. Trying to find a vocations director is like playing Where’s Waldo, and there isn’t a vocations director for women discerning religious life (we have a few orders that are willing to help, but it’s to discern membership to that order specifically, and no resources for women considering consecrated virginity).

In our case, no news is just “let’s stick our head in the sand and forget about how we’re lucky if we get one ordination a year…”


There is a definite and clear shortage in my diocese as well. Of course, part of the problem is of the bishop’s own making by not accepting certain candidates because they are “too rigid” or would be willing to say a Latin Mass. (Yes, he actually asks them this question and tells them there is no room for someone who says the Latin Mass because it causes division.) There is not one single order of religious sisters or nuns in our diocese, and only one for men. But the bishop can’t be to blame for all of it.

However, in our little Latin Mass community, we have had 7 people enter religious life or the seminary in the last 6 years. We have 3 more slated to enter this Fall. This brings us back to the original question. These people mostly grew up in large families where they are not only given the freedom to discern a vocation, they are encouraged to discern one. Parents teach their children to pray about this every day from the time they are itty bitty. We assume they have vocations to the priesthood/religious life rather than married. Then, they “discern out” rather than “discern in”, which is a whole lot easier process. By the time they grow into young adulthood, most of them have a very clear and solid desire for one vocation over another.

The prayer we teach our children, written by St. Alphonsus Liguori, “My Lord Jesus Christ, who has died for my salvation, I implore Thee, through the merits of Thy Passion, to give me the light and strength to choose that state of life which is best for my salvation. And do thou, O my Mother, Mary, obtain this grace for me by thy powerful intercession. Amen.”


Do you know of any other books similar to this, of someone discerning and adjusting to religious life?



There were two books printed by ex-nuns in the 1980s – “Through the Narrow Gate” by Karen Armstrong, and “Nun: A Memoir” by Mary Gilligan Wong. The latter was turned into the movie “Shattered Vows.”

“The Divine Intruder” was written by a former Religious Teacher Venerini.

“Amata Means Beloved” is by Sr. Mary Catharine Perry, OP, of the Summit Dominicans.

“A Right to be Merry” is online at “Merry” was authored by the late Mother Mary Francis, PCC. She also wrote “Walled-In Light” which is about St. Colette of Corbie. I really like that book because it describes St. Colette’s time in the anchorhold attached to the Corbie church.


Thank you for the suggestions! I will have to check them out.


Men can’t be consecrated Virgins.


Actually, they can in a secular institute, as per Provida Mater. The Gabrielites of the Pauline Family is a secular institute for men, but I don’t know their policy on virginity. If there are any male Virgins in that SI, then they are consecrated male Virgins. They’re not independent like the Order of Virgins.


Taylor, I have never heard this and if this is church thinking I have some adjusting to do. Least temptation! I don’t think so. Also, I have been taught that marriage and Holy Orders are on an equal plain.


I agree with @Don_Ruggero on this matter.


He’s talking about c604 which deals with the Order of Virgins. I’m not talking about that.

Provida Mater is the papal document which gave us Secular Institutes. If the form of commitment is consecration according to the Formulary of the particular Institute, and the members are male virgins, then they become consecrated male Virgins.

Of necessity, I am withdrawing from this thread. I have a medical procedure tomorrow, and I’m not sure when I will return to the Forum.


praying for your successful procedure:

Our Father
Hail Mary
Glory Be


A call to a vocation, no matter which one, is like a “tug of war” in the heart. God offers it, and we may or may not consider it, but that offer doesn’t go away until it’s accepted. That’s what the heart says to do.


The hierarchy is Holy Orders - Religious Life/Consecrated - Marriage - Single. A lot of people didn’t learn this, so you’re not alone. The big question is, “What is best for my salvation?”


Praying a Divine Mercy chaplet for you and your surgery.


This is a fictional book but seems very true to life: In This House of Brede by Ruth Godden. I have read it several times over the years and learned a lot from it. It’s nice because unlike a lot of saints’ lives, the reader sees the struggles she goes through.

Not that I’m against saints’ lives, but they are so far ahead of me…


Praying for you!

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