For the Salesian Sisters, discerning God's will in your life is the most important part of our work. Our constitutions say, "The goal towards which all our pastoral work is directed is to educate the girls to discern God's plan for them in their lives and to accept this as their mission." (Art. 72). With that in mind, it is of utmost importance to us to assist you as much as we can in discerning God's call. Since discernment is the aim of all our educational work, you can say, we are like professional vocation directors by virtue of being a Salesian Sister.
If you are beginning a journey of discovery regarding your vocation, we have some words of hope and encouragement for you.
First, remember you are not alone. Our mailing list is over 1,000 young women from the Eastern part of the United States who are considering religious life, so though you may be the only woman in your parish who is discerning, you are by no means the only young person in the country who is feeling some sort of "tug" at your heart to delve deeper into what the Lord is asking of you.
Three very critical elements to know what it is God is calling you to are Listening, obedience, and response. These can be practiced through prayer, study, and experience. God will use these three methods to help you know His will and to be able to clearly begin a journey of answering His call.
Chances are, you are already praying. Continue to cultivate this life of prayer. St. John Damascene said that prayer is, "lifting the mind and heart to God," and sincere prayer is the first step to good discernment. (How can you know God's will for you if you are not in communication with God Himself?) Below, you will find a prayer for discernment, as well as a number of resources on prayer:
Prayers for Discernment:
Prayer to Do God’s Will (Thomas Merton)
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust You always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me to face my struggles alone. Amen.
Prayer for Discernment
Lord I know that You love me and that
You have great plans for me.
But sometimes I am overwhelmed
by the thought of my future.
Show me how to walk forward one day at a time.
As I explore the various options which lie before me, help me to listen openly to others,
and to pay attention
to what is in the depth of my own heart.
In this way, may I hear Your call to a way of life
which will allow me to love as only I can,
and allow me to serve others
with the special gifts You have given me. Amen.
The Church has many rich experiences of prayer and meditation. Two of these may be especially helpful to you:
Liturgy of the Hours
Lectio Divina on the Meaning of a Call
Other helpful methods include making a holy hour, reading Scripture, examining your conscience daily, praying the Rosary, celebrating the Eucharist, offering service to the poor, participating in the Catholic community, entrusting yourself to Mary and the Saints, fasting, joining a discernment group, and spiritual direction.
Study is essential to knowing God's will. Below is a list (which is not exhaustive) of potential resources for you to read and study:
Sacred Scripture (especially Today's Readings)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
On the Dignity and Vocation of Women (Pope JP II)
The Church's Teaching on Religious Life
Redemptionis Donum (Pope JP II)
Vita Consecrata (Pope JP II)
Perfectatae Caritatis (Vatican II)
Institute on Religious Life
Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious
VISION Vocation Match
Why not come and visit us or another community? If "seeing is believing," then an experience of religious life may be the thing that sets all the confusion straight! Be sure to check out our dates for Come and See Events!