One of the blogs that I follow regularly is “Co-Author Your Life With God“.  The author, Sr. Marie Paul Curley, describes the blog’s purpose this way:

…interactive, accessible exploration about discernment as a spiritual art that helps us the everyday Catholic discover and live God’s will.

It’s worth remembering that just as all of us have a vocation, all of us have an obligation to discern God’s will for our lives.  And discernment is an on-going process.  Sr. Marie’s posts give great insight into discernment in general and, at times, into religious discernment specifically.  Her storytelling approach resonates with me and I always look forward to what she has to share.

Today she posted about dealing with disapproval from your family.  The whole piece is worth reading, but I found her conclusion to be particularly powerful.

Our vocation is a sacred calling that is too important to let the resistance or disapproval of family and friends stand in the way. Countless priests, brothers, and sisters had to go against their parents wishes to follow their vocation. (The family of Saint Thomas Aquinas’s family kidnapped and imprisoned him to prevent him from following his vocation in the Dominican Order.) This is not an easy path to walk, but if we possess sufficient maturity and have discerned well, it is more important to follow God’s call than to give in to our family’s opinions. Jesus himself called his disciples to leave their parents and families behind to follow him.

Thinking about this in light of Pam’s recent post from a mom who struggled with her son’s vocation, it occurred to me that the parents of a discerner have a difficult task.  We have to cooperate with God’s grace, without trying to force it one way or another.  We have to create a space within ourselves — and within our relationship with our child — that will permit everyone involved an inner freedom.

This involves an abandonment of self; a great letting-go which allows God to grab the wheel and steer our lives.

Fortunately, we have a great model in Mary.  Her consent to God’s plan, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”, is nothing less than willing assent to abandon herself to God’s will.

May we all have the grace to follow her example.


6 thoughts on “Advice for Discerners — And A Thought for Parents

  1. Thanks for re-posting from my blog, but more than that, thanks for this blog, which must be so helpful for parents whose child is discerning their vocation. My parents gifted me with extraordinary freedom when I was discerning, but only years later did I start to gain an idea of what it cost them. My prayers will be with all of the contributors and readers of this blog in a special way. God bless!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment and prayers, sister. Know that we pray for you, all religious and all those in discernment!

  2. hi, Kevin and Cathy. More and more these days I keep reminding myself that the most fundamental definition of LOVE is to WILL the GOOD of the OTHER. God always WILLS THE GOOD for each and every person. Thus the good for the beloved is not the good I want for them but God’s absolute good in which he or she will thrive. To thrive in God’s World, the Kingdom, is to sustain life’s joys and sorrows equally with grace, to love readily, forgive freely, hope steadily onto eternity.

  3. do you think i might be called to be a priest, im 20 now, when i was 14 is when i first thought about it, 4 years later i told my mom, she told me i should get a degree then discern that, but i just keep having these feelings, one day i was at this art fair and my diocese building was a venue and it has a store that has clerical clothing and vestments (roman collars, cassocks, etc) and i was looking at the them and i could imagine myself wearing them, and i had that priestly feeling again and i went into the cathedral and asked the father to tell me what his will and as i was walking out of the cathedral i heard a voice inside me say “FEED MY SHEEP” and i cant stop thinking about that i want to apply and talk to the vocations director but im afraid ill get rejected because I Have aspergers (high functioning autism) and my biggest defect from that is sometimes i have trouble expressing my wants

    1. Hi Jake,

      Thanks for taking the time to write to us. Let me share a few thoughts.

      Our son, Evan, was 20 when he told us he felt called to the priesthood. He was in the middle of an engineering degree and switched over to a degree in philosophy. He entered formation with the Paulists after he graduated from college. From the moment he told us, though, he was discerning the priesthood — even as he finished his degree in a secular college.

      I would encourage you to contact your Vocations Director. It’s not just a matter of applying. Your Vocations Director is an expert in aiding discerners and will help you find your way in the experience of discernment. Remember, discernment is discovery.

      You might also consider whether you’re being called to an order rather than the diocese. You can read a little about order priests here ( If you feel called to a particular order (or are interested in investigating more than one) you can contact their Vocations Directors.

      Finally, thank you for sharing that you have aspergers. Living somewhere along the spectrum is no impediment to the priesthood.

      If you have further questions (or if your mom would like to talk to one of us) feel free to post another comment or to e-mail us at

      Please know that we’ll keep you in our prayers.

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