The late Pope John Paul II said: 'Take courage: Christ is calling you and the whole world awaits you! Remember that the Kingdom of God has need of your generous and total dedication. Do not be like the rich young man who, when invited by Christ, was unable to accept but remained with his possessions and sadness, even though Jesus glanced at him with love. Be like the fishermen who, when they were called by Jesus, left everything promptly to become fishers of men.'
There is no doubt that the words of John Paul inspire and challenge everyone to discern God's unique call. Most of us know, however, that this is never as easy as it seems. Discerning your vocation has few, if any, absolutes. If you are waiting for a burning bush or a tongue of fire or a sms message on your mobile telephone, then you're in for a long wait. God speaks in the quiet of our heart and in the people around us. His call, no matter how it is heard, requires only one thing from you: a commitment to respond and a desire to honestly examine your life.
Whenever you seek to discover God's call in your lives you enter a period of discernment. The common definition of discernment is to separate, sort out and sift through. Discernment, then, is a time of sorting out and sifting. Religious and vocational discernment is also a time to see with the eyes of your heart so that you can choose a life in God. It is a time when you allow yourself to be open to God's will, and it is an opportunity to allow your heart to guide your mind more than only trusting your own reasoning.
A vocations director will know that it is perfectly natural to feel some sense of uncertainty at this stage. You may not know a lot about the Dominican Order. You may not know how to begin the discernment process. That is natural - and you will not be the first! The ministry of any vocations director centres specifically on helping you discern God's call.
There are some other hints on discernment in other contributions to this blog. But it is important to know too that you will have access to many resources including being sent information material. You will be sent books on vocation related topics. You will be sent relevant articles about discernment and vocation. Arrangements will be made for you to visit our priories for prayer and sharing in our common life. You will be invited, if deemed appropriate, to attend vocations weekends at various times through the year. You will be invited to meet regularly with the vocations director (at least once a month).
It takes courage to take first steps, but be assured that you will be helped through every step of the discernment process.