Daily life today is busy.

Finding out whether God is calling me to a vocation takes time. This is called discernment. It is best done with the help of a priest or guide who has experience in this field.

Discernment is the art of listening to God and gently coming to a decision.

My experiences are revealing, so I learn to notice my thoughts and feelings. I test them to see if they are from God, and then I make choices and decisions trying to follow what God wants of me.

The following is supplementary material you may find useful. Or otherwise, approach a priest to help you as every person is different.

Optional Supplementary Material

People with experience in the spiritual life, give some simple advice to those trying to listen to God: “Be alert to your thoughts.” Our thoughts have the potential to lead us toward God or away from God. Cassian, a Monk who lived in the desert in the 400’s, taught his disciples to watch for this pattern.

First a thought will enter, you will start a conversation with the thought, a suggestion will be made to you, a temptation will follow, a struggle will begin and then ‘victory or consent.’ Hidden within this normal experience is the desire for God, versus what is not of God, trying to work themselves out within us.

Its interesting to note how we sometimes feel sad and confused (or happy and peaceful) and we wonder why. We even use the phrase “what got into me today?”

Spiritual Sleepwalking

Often we don’t notice what is going on within and around us. We become blind to God because we are inattentive to our inner life. Cassian gives some further advice:

Stand guard at the door of your heart, and ask every suggestion that presents itself, “Are you one of ours, or from the opposing camp?”

One young man, after thinking about this, replied with a question, ‘Does this mean I have to examine every single thought that I have?’ Not quite. Those thoughts worth checking are when we are lonely or sad, worried or angry. At these times particular thoughts will begin to play on us. It is at these times that Cassian would urge us to be particularly watchful.

Cassian encourages becoming watchful and self aware, so as to develop an instinctual awareness of what is happening in our spiritual life – to be like a wine-taster sniffing the bouquet of a wine. To “sniff” an experience or thought is to test it.  Is it a good? Could it come from God?  We then ask ourselves a basic question of discernment: How do I know when some of my thoughts and feelings are from God or not from God?

Continue reading: Characteristic Signs of God