lectio

Discerning your vocation is turning to God to find His dream for your life is. His response is not like a solution to a puzzle or an answer on a game show, as if you were only one word away from knowing God’s entire plan (i.e. “priesthood!”). Discernment is more closer to a journey that God walks with you. Because of this, your relationship with Christ is of the utmost importance, and you cannot truly discern unless you are growing closer to Him.

Prayer is a dialogue with God, but it is also much more. Prayer is an encounter with God, a meeting of your whole self with the one who made you, saved you, and breathes life into you. There is no right or wrong prayer, only the willingness (or not) to humbly approach your God.

In discerning vocations, many men have found great help in focused prayers and devotions. If you are truly serious about discovering what God is asking of you, consider:

  • Spending an hour a week in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Dedicate the time to thinking about, speaking of, and listening to what God desires for your life. Fr. Brett Brannen (To Save A Thousand Souls) recommends this exercise: spend one time daydreaming about your potential life as a priest — the joys of celebrating Mass, the challenges of comforting the sick, the fulfillment of leading others to Christ. Then, spend another time daydreaming about the married life — the joys of having children, the challenges of getting along with your spouse, the fulfillment of providing for your family. Then ask yourself — which can I not live without?
  • Say a rosary for your vocation. To Save a Thousand Souls has a special rosary with discernment in mind (p. 365). If you don’t have a copy of this book, you can get a free one at www.gopriest.com.
  • Put a discernment prayer card on your bedside table or in your car, and say it every day. Discernment can take time, and it’s important not to lose focus. Need a prayer card? Get a free one here and we’ll mail it to you.
  • Spend time reflecting over God’s word in prayer. The monastic process of lectio divina below can yield great fruit.

 

Lectio Divina

Lectio divina, or “Divine Reading”, is an ancient tradition in the Church. It is a way of conversing with God through the written word, especially with the Word of God in Scripture. It was traditionally done in community, but can also be done individually.

The four parts of Lectio Divina are:

Before you begin, you should prepare yourself, removing distractions from your environment. Recall Psalm 46 – “Be still, and know that I am God.” Prepare yourself for listening to what God wants you to understand from the passage.

Begin first with reading a passage. This can be from Scripture, from a book about discernment or the faith, or even from a book about the life of a saint. When first developing this discipline, the passage may be longer, but as you progress, you may read a single sentence or even a single word. Read your selection slowly and attentively. This first time, focus on the words of the passage, and see if any words or phrases stand out to you. Do not try to assign a meaning to it. Allow several minutes of reflection before going to the next step.

During this step, read the passage once more, and see if any thoughts or reflections come to mind. Since lectio divina is as much about listening to God as it is reading, let the Holy Spirit inspire your thoughts, rather than trying to analyze the words. You are not trying to examine the inherent meaning of the passage or the theological implications, but instead letting the Word be present to you in the moment.