1. Take your time – There is no rush in finding your vocation. It is best to be patient and allow yourself to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord.
2. Pray. In an interview, Pope Francis stated that “Discernment is always done in the presence of the Lord, looking at the signs, listening to the things that happen...” In this quote, we find a solid foundation for discernment. You must take time in the presence of the Lord to listen. Take time each day in prayer (preferably before the Blessed Sacrament), entering into silence with the Lord and His Word, allowing Him to guide the conversation. If you find yourself talking too much, just be still and listen. Check out our guide to Lectio Divina (Divine Reading).
3. Frequent the Sacraments. Be sure to attend Mass on a regular basis, daily if possible. Frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month.
4. Seek Spiritual Direction with a priest whom you look up to and trust. Meet with him every few weeks to discuss how your prayer is going and what you think the Lord is whispering to your heart.
5. Read about the priesthood. It is a great way to hear the Lord’s call, as it will open your eyes to the wonder and beauty of this supernatural vocation. Reading the lives of the Saints can also be beneficial. Take a few moments each day to devote to good spiritual reading. Check out our list of recommended books and documents to get you started.
6. Get Involved with your parish. Ask about the different ministries and volunteer programs they offer. Some great ways to get involved include volunteering as a lector or Eucharistic Minister to help serve around the Lord’s altar; teaching RCIA or Religious Education to help share and pass on the faith to others; helping with visits to soup kitchens, prisons, and nursing homes. All of these will help paint a picture of parish ministry.
7. Contact Your Local Vocation Director – The first contact should be your parish priest, as each priest is responsible for vocations within his parish. Tell him of your desire to become a priest and the previous steps you have been taking. After doing that, he will point you to the Vocations Director. If, however, you do not feel comfortable speaking with your parish priest, you can contact the Vocations Office directly at 973-313-6190 or NewpriestNJ@gmail.com.
Lectio Divina is a centuries old tradition within the Church where we open ourselves to God's Word and allow Him to speak to our hearts. As in any relationship, our prayer life must include both speaking and listening. Here is a quick guide that can help you listen to God's Word as you discern. (adapted from The Better Part by John Bartunek)
1. CONCENTRATE. Take time out of each day to spend with the Lord, preferably before the Blessed Sacrament. Enter into the quiet with the Lord, acknowledging that He is present and He made the appointment to meet with you. He has something to say to you!
2. CONSIDER. Read through the Scripture passage slowly.(Start with one of the Gospels-the Gospel of the day perhaps) If nothing strikes you or stands out to you. Wait a minute and read it again slowly. Allow yourself to enter the scene. Find what strikes you and consider why, what does that mean? What does it have to do with my vocation?
3. CONVERSE. From those questions, begin to have a conversation with the Lord. Ask Him to guide your thoughts and respond to what He is saying to you. Your response will usually be praise (for the good things He blesses you with), contrition (for the wrong you have done), thanksgiving (for your gifts and talents), adoration (reaffirming your willingness to follow him).
4. COMMIT. As things naturally quiet down, make a commitment to the Lord based on the conversation. Thank the Lord for your time in prayer and close with a concluding prayer such as the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
If during your time in prayer you become distracted, start at step 1 - Concentrate. If nothing strikes you during the reading, do not worry; take your time and slowly move through the Scriptures. This is not a time for reading as much of the Bible as you can, but allowing the Lord to speak to your heart. Through this relationship, and the guidance of a Spiritual Director, you will come to know His will in your life.
Archdiocese of Newark
Office of Priestly Vocations
400 South Orange Ave.
South Orange, NJ 07079