How do I really listen to God's voice?

The word vocation denotes the mission in life to which people are called by God, but its meaning goes well beyond what they are called to do. More important it describes what they are called to be. One can say that a Christian Vocation is a call from God to each baptised person to live life as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. We must remember that vocational choice starts when we are very young. Parents and teachers often ask the child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A child thinks about and pretends to be many things. That is what children do. It’s fun. As the young person gets older he or she begins to focus more seriously on the possibilities that experience, education, and personal preferences bring. Discovering one’s call is a very natural but deliberate process. Choosing a vocation in life is really about listening to God’s voice and making a number of choices. The question is – How do I really listen to God’s voice? How will I know what God wants me to be and do in life? This process is vocational discernment! As a baptised Christian I have the following choices! Will I get married, shall I remain single or could God be calling me to vow my life to Him as a priest, brother, sister or maybe a consecrated person?

But is God calling?

YES! God calls each of us to life. God calls us to wholeness, and to service. The task of the young adult is to discern what path God wants him or her to follow. The Lord calls most people to marriage and family. For the Christian young adult this is a very important decision. Choosing to marry is not just a romantic response, but also a very specific process that includes prayer, inquiry, accompaniment, involvement, and experience. God calls some people to religious life as a Sister, Brother, or Priest. A religious vocation follows the same process. We call this the discernment process.

The Discernment Process

The Discernment Process is discovering God’s direction and guidance in the concrete reality of our day to day lives.

1. Stop and reflect!
Reflect on the ordinary events of our life: Indeed discernment demands sensitivity to our inner world and an ability to reflect on what we experience.

2. Don’t go alone! Inquire and take interest.
Talk to people whose opinion you respect. Read. If you are thinking of a religious vocation, talk to a Brother, Sister or Priest.

3. Get involved.
A great way to understand how you would enjoy ministry is to get involved in ministry by volunteering. The church needs young people like you.

4. Why not try the experience?
Visit religious communities, your parish, or the seminary. See how they live and work. Seminaries and religious communities are always ready to host people interested in spending a few days with the community to see first hand the life and ministry of a Sister, Brother or Priest.

5. Have a habit of personal prayer.
Spend a few moments each day in thoughtful conversation with the Lord. Ask the Lord, “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” In doing so we remain open to God’s direction.

6. Decide
The Church needs dedicated Sisters, Brothers and Priests to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can answer that call. After prayer, reflection, involvement and experience go with your heart. The bottom line question is, “Can I see myself as a religious, a church minister?” If the answer is yes, it is time to act. It is time to talk to a vocation director.

The Salesian Formation Process

During this phase, the aspirants live in a Salesian formation community and discern the option to be a Salesian priest (clerical) or brother (Coadjutor). The program consists of prayer, an apostolate (pastoral work), and are typically encouraged to continue their university or other tertiary education in their field of interest.
This year focuses on the integration of the human dimension of understanding self to aid the pre-novice to follow Christ in religious life. In addition, apostolic works and personal accompaniment prepare pre-novices for the novitiate.
This is a formal year of following Christ in the Salesian religious experience. Novices come to understand the Salesian identity of their vocation by making the Salesian constitutions their own and by living fraternal life in community. This phase, characterized by discernment and prayer, prepares the novice for their first profession (taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience), a lived response to give themselves totally as signs and bearers of God’s love for the young.
Post-novices, called religious brothers, complete or expand university education, continue fraternal life in community, and are assigned to an apostolic work. This program prepares them to be sent out to a Salesian site.
The religious brothers are assigned to a two-year placement in a Salesian school, parish, or youth center. They are given ample responsibilities to carry out Salesian education and evangelization, while continuing the formative process of integrating prayer, work, and fraternal living in community.
The religious brothers that have opted for “Coadjutor” status continue additional education or are assigned to a Salesian site. Those religious brothers who opt for priesthood study theology for a four-year period. Final profession for both options occurs six years after first profession.