Vocation Discernment Crisis


I won’t go into all the background details of my situation because that would make reading this very tedious. What I need to mention is that I am going though immense anxiety, preoccupation of mind, and dryness in my attempts to discern my vocation in life. All I can say is that I am fairly certain I am not being called to marriage, that leaves single or religious life. Over a year ago I went to a few vocation discernment retreats to try and discern, and initially I was strongly convicted that I was called to religious life but then had doubts. Currently my state of life is paralyzed, so I am all the more trying to discern for my future both short and long term.

Some weeks ago I read a section out of one of St. Alphonsus Liguori’s books, I do not remember the title but I found the book in my parish library, and the section has to do with religious and priestly vocations. In a most grave way, he made it clear that the realization of one’s vocation in life is paramount to the salvation of one’s soul (and others’).

I understand how serious this is. I do not take it lightly but I have so much difficulty in prayer. I try to make holy hours and nothing. I mean, I do not perceive an answer. On the one hand, I am worrying that perhaps I am wasting graces or being inattentive or ignoring the answers because they might be coming to me in a way that I don’t expect, on the other hand I remind myself that God does not operate on our time table, so I have to be patient. On the one hand I tell myself that God gives different natural gifts and talents to different people (which has me thinking that to some extent a person can gain knowledge of his/her vocation by the gifts/talents he possesses), on the other and I think about what I read recently: God does not call the equipped, he equips the called.

and regarding spiritual director : I have one long-distance. I moved a few months ago, and have not been able acquire another director, not because there isn’t an availability of priests but because they don’t seem to meet the criteria of a good spiritual director (not that they aren’t good priests, but trustworty sprititual direction requires things like experience in that field and knowledge of the spiritual life).

It’s been months since my last spiritual direction meeting and recently I talked with him on the phone and we can discuss once a month, probably for about an hour as was the case when we would meet in person.

what I want to emphasize is that I am deeply troubled and not at peace. I hate to say this but I am not experiencing joy, and that worries me terribly. Joy ( I know, not to be confused with pleasure) is essential to the Christians. I would kindly ask for prayers and any advice for this person who feels she isn’t getting anywhere in her discernment.


I don’t know much about this discernment process. Perhaps you could contact some vocations directors at the religious orders you might want to investigate, maybe some that you aren’t terribly interested in, either.

These days, there may be some on-line help in this area, for all I know.

I thought I had a vocation to the priesthood, for most of my life. I was rebuffed every place I went. Some priests were not even nice to me.

There seems to be the idea that the initial discernment should be like what happened in the first chapter of Ruth, where Orpah (is it?) tries to discourage Ruth from following her back to Bethlehem (as I recall).

I became cynical, that the priests wanted a hand-written note from God that I should be accepted as a candidate for the priesthood. Needless to say, that never happened.

It seems that the most ideal candidate is a person from a large family, which I was not. The idea being, that such a person would not have to assume responsibiities for care of the parents later in life. And, that such a person has a better chance of fitting in (or something) to religious life.

The last time I spoke to a priest about this, the priest was one who later became a bishop. So, I have been rebuffed by some important people. He was sparring with me, with every word I spoke. I didn’t go there to duel with words, to say the least. But, that’s what he seemed to want to do with me.


Although I am not exactly in the same situation, I am going through some of the same things you mentioned at this point in my life too. What you said about anxiety and confusion about your vocation is something Im facing, and what you said about not feeling joy, well you might as well be reading my mind. I hope its some consolation to know that other people are going through similar things, so youre not alone.

My advice to you would be to try to be as calm and patient about this process as possible, even though that can be very difficult (believe me, I know how tough it is dealing with anxiety over these things). I know that for me, I easily get caught up in my own anxieties, in my own head and tend to go around in circles. But this is a form of selfishness, we need to focus on God, not ourselves. We need to get out of our own way before we can be docile to Gods will.

I'll pray for you :)


I understand your situation, I myself have gone through the same process. In high school I felt the call very strongly (even visited a seminary) but as time went on my focuses shifted. I feel as though at times it is a roller coaster, but I believe that it is best to give it time and not seek answers quickly. They will come on His time. Though this is very hard try to find the peace in this. Ill will keep you in my intentions best luck.


[quote="McCall1981, post:3, topic:323011"]
I know that for me, I easily get caught up in my own anxieties, in my own head and tend to go around in circles.


This is precisely what I am experiencing. It affects by disposition to pray, because all the worrying in my head makes it so that I am not in the "mood" to pray, and therefore when I pray it is a struggle to focus. My anxiety frightens me because there have been several times where it tempts me to despair because I imagine the anxiety never going away and being with me for the rest of my life making me miserable. I have told myself before, that I need to repeat throughout the day "Jesus, I trust in you!", but alas this resolution is forgotten in the midst of the anxiety.

I particularly look to the Blessed Virgin for help, may she pray for us both in our discernment needs and obtain for us the graces to cooperate with God's will.


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