How will you know if a vocation to religious life is a call for you?
Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for openness and courage to follow your inspirations, to be free from undue influence and fear of change. Pray for the wisdom to seek and know the way that will best enhance your own gifts and talents and use them to serve God and the church. Identify your greatest fears and what you want to hold onto most.
Look at your own history and feelings surrounding your past expectations. Gather facts. Consider the pros and cons, losses and gains in the situation. Share your findings and get feedback from a friend, advisor, or spiritual director. Ask yourself why this would be good for you, and explore good reasons for or against your choice.
As you make a decision, take care to ensure it is life-giving to you, so that it can be life-giving to the world. It may not always be the easiest choice, but there will be some confirmation in the form of God's peace. When it comes, you may feel it unmistakably or just have a quiet sense that the choice is right. The correct choice should bring you peace and should be in harmony with your gifts and personality.
Seven Discernment Guideposts
1. Listen to God in your life.
2. Know your heart's desire.
3. Pray for freedom and guidance.
4. Search out data.
5. Talk with someone you trust.
6. Make a decision.
7. Experience peace with that decision.
Sustaining the Spirit: Callings, Commitments, and Vocational Challenges, Catherine Cronin Carotta, Michael Carotta
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Parker J. Palmer
Discern: Mission and Ministry, Sr. Kathleen Bryant, RSC
Vocation, A Reflection, Fr. Franco Cagnasso
The Discerning Heart: Discovering a Personal God, Sr. Maureen Conroy, RSM
Discernment: Seeking God in Every Situation, Christopher Aridas
Paying Attention to God, Fr. William A. Barry, SJ