The best first step in this sometimes difficult process is to follow the words most spoken in Holy Scripture, “Be not afraid!” Whether it was an angel announcing good news, or Christ speaking to His disciples, setting aside your fear is the first step. Once you are open to hearing the Lord speak to your heart, a message that will most likely come as a quiet whisper, you will be able to truly discern, figure out, "Lord, where are You calling me to serve You in this life?"
Discernment must involve prayer, the willingness to seek out quiet in an otherwise noisy world, a desire to know God’s will for your life, and a love for the Church and all her members. Discernment is the first step in coming to know if the Lord is calling you to serve Him as a Roman Catholic priest.
While there are several methods of discerning God’s calling in your life, the following steps will hopefully assist you with this process:
STAY CLOSE TO THE SACRAMENTS
Participate in Mass every Sunday, on holy days of obligation, and daily when your schedule permits. Go to confession frequently, once a month or even more often. Not yet confirmed? Do it!
Unlike other food, the more you receive the Eucharist, the more you become like that which you consume. The sacrament of Reconciliation reminds you that we are all sinners and always in need of God’s merciful forgiveness. The more we receive forgiveness for our sins, the better we can configure our lives to Christ.
GET A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR
Ask a priest to meet with you once a month for 30 to 60 minutes to discuss your spiritual life and for confession. Tell him you’re considering priesthood.
While many people are well-equipped to assist you in your discernment of a priestly vocation, there is no substitute for a priest. Whether it is one of your parish priests, a spiritual director, or a friend, the advice and direction received from a priest will be extremely beneficial in your discernment of a calling to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
PRAY EVERY DAY
Develop a daily prayer routine with your spiritual director. Pray for God to give you not only knowledge of what He wants you to do, but the courage to do it.
The Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the ‘source and summit’ of our Catholic faith. What better place to spend time in quiet reflection and adoration than in the presence of our living God? Seek out a parish that has an adoration chapel and enjoy your time of grace in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has stated, “The seminarian experiences the beauty of God’s call in a moment of grace which could be defined as ‘falling in love’….It is only when a young man has had a personal experience of Christ that he can truly understand the Lord’s will and consequently his own vocation.” Have you fallen ‘in love’ with Christ?
Read a bit of the Scriptures, especially the Gospels, each day, and read a bit of some spiritual classic. Many good books can be found in the list of resources on this website.
DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Ask Our Lady to accompany you on your journey of vocational discernment. If you are not in the habit of praying the Rosary, begin today, even if it's only a decade. Pray three Hail Marys before going to bed, asking her for the virtue of holy purity and to help you know your vocation.
SERVE YOUR PARISH
Seek opportunities to get involved in parish life. Choose one parish and register – don’t float from parish to parish.
God has blessed each of us with many gifts and talents, distinct to every person. Have you considered that the gifts you have received from God might be used to serve the Church in a more pronounced way?
If you do these things and still think you might have a priest’s heart, if you are feeling an attraction to the priesthood at some level, it’s probably time to contact the Vocation Director, Fr. Mark Ivany, and to attend vocation events that will help you in your discernment.