DISCERNING A RELIGIOUS VOCATION - WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Contact the Carmelite Vocations Director Here
The very basics of vocational discernment
The sacramental life
The importance of daily prayer
Obtaining a spiritual director
Learning about the Catholic religious orders
Learn more about the order that attracts you the most
The very basics of vocational discernment:
There are three primary states in life that a young man may be called to: the priesthood, the religious life and the married life. All three of these were created good by God for His glory and the building up of Christian society. All three are very important. The first step in discerning your vocation is to consider the good of each of these vocations. An ordained priest offers Mass, hears confessions, preaches and baptizes. He is with the people teaching them and guiding them as an immediate example of the Christian life. A religious follows Christ through the living of the Evangelical Councils of Obedience, Chastity and Poverty. Through an intimate and profound relationship with God, he becomes a symbol of the Church's holiness, serving in the active life or the hidden life of prayer. Lastly, in the Catholic married life a man loves God through his relationship with his wife, raising children in the faith and the sacraments. If you are at the beginning of your discernment, it is very important to be open to all three vocations and to see the good in each. This will open your soul to proper discernment, so that God can show you clearly which one he has called you to in particular.
The sacramental life:
Every vocation is built upon the basic spiritual life of a Catholic. Therefore it is very important to live the sacramental life of daily or weekly attendance at Mass and at least monthly Sacrament of Confession. The sacraments are the primary channel for grace, and so true discernment cannot begin unless the life of grace is being lived in a real way with real effort. For those who are in the process of becoming Catholic or are returning to the faith after some time away, it is important to begin living the life of the sacraments first, since making good habits as a Catholic is the first step towards discerning your vocation. The Carmelite Monks are happy to speak to those who are preparing to enter the Church. However we will not start real discernment of a vocation to the Carmelite Monks until after you have been a practicing Catholic for two years. We believe this is the healthiest way to proceed so that you can make good habits as a Catholic first, before discerning to do more for the Church. For those who are not yet Catholic nor in the process of becoming Catholic, we invite you to visit your local Catholic parish to learn more about the sacraments and Catholicism.
The importance of daily prayer:
A vocation is from Christ Himself. That is why daily prayer time with Our Lord is very important. Only He can reveal to you your vocation. So we recommend daily personal prayer where you can speak to God in your heart or before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. There in your intimate conversation with Christ, He will begin to foster the desires of your heart to long for the vocation He has prepared for you. Praying the rosary is also very important. Our Lady is very active in fostering our vocations, so praying the rosary helps us to know her life more and to interact with her. Speaking to her in personal prayer is also very important for fostering your vocation. There are many other approved devotions that you can be part of within the Church, and they will help foster a deeper prayer life.
Obtaining a spiritual director:
We can never direct ourselves. It is important to find a good priest who will help you discern the desires of your heart and what vocation will fulfill those desires. Sometimes young men cannot find a priest to be their spiritual director for various reasons. While this is not recommended, God can still lead you in prayer if you are sincere and hoping for a director as soon as God gives you one. In the end though, vocations are confirmed through the discernment of a spiritual father.
Learning about the Catholic religious orders:
There are many different orders and charisms within the Catholic Church. There are active orders of missionaries, preachers, teachers, friars and so many other beautiful expressions of the Church's mission. There are also hermits, monks, canons and many other expressions of the Church's life of prayer. It is important to read at least in a general way about various orders. This will help you to find the charisms that you are most attracted to. There are many vocational websites that list the religious orders of the Church where you can find the official websites of an order. If you have not looked into other communities and orders in the Church before, this is an important step to narrowing down what you feel called to. Our charism as Carmelite Monks is to be hidden within the Church, praying for the salvation of souls and the success of the Church's mission throughout the world in imitation of the Blessed Virgin.
Learn more about the order that attracts you the most:
When you find an order or community you are attracted to, read about their saints, study their spirituality and contact the vocations director. You can learn more about the Carmelite saints and their writings on our Carmelite Writings page listed on the left navigation above.