Three simple actions to do on discernment journey

Messages From Brother David
Vocations News

Three simple actions to do on discernment journey

It is easy to get lost on the journey if we try to do it on our own

Discernment is a journey, and there are 3 important steps to take on the way. Prayer, spiritual direction and vocation visits. (Photo by Jack Cohen)

Discerning your call is a process of trying to understand God’s will in your life, not just a decision because something sounds cool or looks like fun. Reading about Glenmary on our website is a good initial step of the discernment journey but in order to truly discern we need turn to God and ask, “Why did you make me, or where are you calling me?”

Our discernment, listening to God’s will and not our will, is how you learn where you are being called. God may be inviting you to a vocation as a Glenmary priest or brother. Or maybe God is calling you to live a married life or to live a single lifestyle. It is your choice to accept the invitation and by accepting it you will find the greatest joy. Pope Francis said, “To discern, from among all the voices we hear, which is the Lord’s voice, which is the voice of Him who guides us to the Resurrection, to Life, and the voice that frees us from falling into the ‘culture of death.’”

God’s call is an authentic invitation to grow closer to him through our living out our vocation. We can recognize which is God’s voice by recognizing what is bringing us joy and peace, not what leaves us feeling of fear, doubt or confusion. Discernment is a journey and three simple and necessary actions while we are on that journey are: pray, meet with a spiritual director and make a vocation visit.

First and foremost to discern where God is calling us we need to pray about it. It can be dangerous to be looking at your GPS while you are driving along the highway. It may not seem faster but it is safer if we pull off the highway, study the map and then continue on our route, knowing that we have a general idea where we are going. Likewise with prayer, we need to stop what we are doing and pray.

Taking time out of our busy life to pray is a challenge for many of the guys I talk with about discernment. They have to leave early in the morning for work or school. After school activities, homework, meals, social media can easily suck up the rest of the evening. In order to find the time and space to listen to God’s voice we have to pull off the busy highway of life and make the time to pray. God is our map! Commit to waking up 15 minutes earlier and to turn off your phone and screen fifteen minutes earlier at night. Dedicate that time to spend it with God in prayer.

Driving through a city for the first time can be difficult if you don’t know the streets or are stuck in traffic. Having a copilot to help navigate the way to your destination can make the travel a lot easier, especially if it is a copilot who has a map or knows the roads.

I think it is impossible to do a proper discernment alone. As a matter of fact, if someone is starting the application process to Glenmary, one requirement is that they are receiving spiritual direction. Meeting with a spiritual director in person on a regular basis is like having a copilot; they are traveling on the spiritual journey with you, helping you to reach your vocation. Spiritual directors do not pressure anyone to become a priest or a brother but are there to help you lay out a spiritual plan, hold you accountable, listen, advise and encourage. A spiritual director is there to help you reach your destination wherever you are called.


On many of my road trips I have longed to reach my destination quicker but I know that I have to drive the speed limit. Still it is a good feeling when I reach my destination and I know I can finally get off the busy highway and enjoy my time there. My body breathes a sigh of relief as I unbuckle the seatbelt and open the car door.

If you live close enough to Glenmary, you could arrange a time to make a visit to a Glenmary mission and meet Glenmary missioners. Throughout the year Glenmary hosts vocation discernment Come and See retreats. These are retreats are specifically for men who are at different stages of the discernment process. You don’t need to be ready to apply when you come to visit, but can just be at the stage of wanting to know what it is like to be a Glenmarian and desire to see what a mission looks like. The weekend visit can help to affirm what you have been feeling in your prayer and discussing with your spiritual director. (During the pandemic we are offering virtual online Zoom and See retreats, contact us for more information)

Prayer, spiritual direction and vocation visits are three simple actions to take along the discernment journey. Each one is essential for our discernment in discovering what is God’s will in our life and where we are called. The journey is full of joy and surprises; it leads to peace a deeper love of God and an answer to the question, “why did God make me?”

Continue reading the next article, How Glenmarians are Making a Difference in the World. If you have a question about this article or would like more information, contact Brother David at or call him at 513-881-7411.