Since discernment became fashionable, no one has made a decision since – the late Fr. Bob Bedard, CC
Since I’m a young Catholic man who takes his faith seriously, ever since I became Catholic (a story for another time), people have thrown the words “discernment” and “vocation” to me quite often. We’ve been told to discern God’s will for us, His vocation for us.
This is where the problem lies in most young adult Catholics
It’s not that we don’t know the beauty of each vocation but we’ve been conditioned to believe that before we do anything, we must discern. This isn’t a false idea, but we’ve taken it to a point where we’re discerning about discerning. It is plaguing our generation and preventing us from truly following God’s will for our lives. We’re so worried about not following God’s will, that we have to think about deciding, to think about deciding to do something.
It’s a spirit of passivity disguised as “discernment”.
I work for NET Ministries of Canada as the Recruiter, along with my co-recruiter Emma Fradd. Our job is to recruit and assist the young adults who want to do missionary work with NET through the application process. My job is to help young adults discern God’s calling for them to give a year of their life to evangelizing youth all across Canada. I talk to a lot of people and one of the most common things I hear from people who are hesitant about applying to NET is, “I think NET is something that I want to do but I think I need to discern about applying”. GAHHHH!!!
Young Catholic adults are missing the point about discerning (I know because I am one!). In this particular case, they’re discerning about applying to NET when the real discernment happens with ACTUALLY applying to NET. As an applicant you don’t even know if NET is actually going to accept you or not, so how can you properly discern a path when you haven’t even taken the first step? It’s the same of discerning Priesthood or Religious Life: the actual discernment happens once you’re in the seminary (or convent). It’s no surprise that there is a decline of vocation to the Priesthood in Canada, and we have an increase of priests from overseas (God bless them for saying yes to His will!) leading our congregations.
For the vocation of marriage, dating is supposed to be the discernment process but how many of us Catholics take such a long time to discern about dating someone (I plead guilty) that our end goal becomes dating and not marriage? If you’re dating someone, marriage should never be a “possibility” it should be definite. It should be the pinnacle of the journey that the couple takes when they start dating. The finish line to the dating “race” that leads to the marathon of marriage.
So what should we do?
We need to be more bold. There’s a difference between being rash and being bold. I don’t mean that we should be spontaneously taking every opportunity presented to us at face value. We need to discern if the action that we want to take is truly God’s will, but be bold enough to know when to take action.
We also need to place our trust in Christ. We need to trust that if we take a path that is not what God wanted for us, He will (because He IS omnipotent) redirect us back to His will.
A priest that I know once told me that discernment doesn’t start when you take the first step on a path but when you take the second step. It is at that moment when God will allow us to keep going or turn us around to lead us on to His path.
Do you feel a calling to the Priesthood so you have been discerning about entering the seminary for years? ENTER THE SEMINARY. Is He calling you to Religious Life and so you’ve been spending 3 nights a week volunteering at the soup kitchen that the Missionaries of Charity work at just to see what it’d be like to be a Sister? GO TO A CONVENT. Have you felt called to marriage and so you’ve been discerning about dating Suzy down the street, who you’ve pictured walking down the aisle towards you for the last 4 years? DATE HER. Is the desire to do mission work tugging at your heart so you’ve been looking on the NET Canada (or insert any other Catholic missionary organizations here) website and following every Instagram, Facebook and Twitter update? APPLY TO NET (or of course other organizations such as CCO, Scarboro Missions or Crossroads).
Friends, let us be bold enough to take action, prudent enough to make the right decision, and trusting enough to know that Christ can do all things.
P.S. If you discern about listening to what I said or not, I will flip a table.