Discernment

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Sr. Stephanie professes First Vows.

“Come, Follow me (Matt 4:19)!”

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Each person is called by God to make a gift of him/herself for God’s glory and the salvation of souls. Finding your vocation is about discovering how God is calling you to love in a specific state of life–marriage, priesthood, consecrated life (including religious life) or the single life. Open your heart to what God desires for you, and strive to unite your will to the will of our Heavenly Father.  Remember, your vocation is your path to holiness. God has your best interest in mind, trust Him! If you feel Him tugging your heart toward religious life, don’t be afraid!

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Fr. Bob leads the Prayer before the Crucifix after Mass.

The first and most important step in discernment is prayer. The prophet Elijah described God as a “still, small voice” (1 Kgs 19:12). Prayer is a conversation: talking to God and listening for his gentle voice. Growth in prayer is lifelong . . . it is really a journey of deepening love between you and the Lord.

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The Lord speaks in the silence of our hearts

Silence is so key for growth in prayer. In an environment of silence, prayer helps us to clear all the distractions out of our minds and hearts, and uncover what God is working deep within us, to hear that “still, small voice.” He plants desires in the deepest parts of our hearts which lead us to our vocation. Often, surface noises (the distractions around us and within us) drown out God’s voice. Make a commitment to set aside quiet time each day for prayer to help move away from the distractions. Trust that God will lead you to a place of peace, joy and freedom where you will discover if indeed He is inviting you to religious life!

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Spiritual Direction is key

A spiritual director is invaluable when discerning your vocation. This is a holy person–priest, religious sister/brother, or trained lay person–with whom you meet regularly to talk about your prayer life and to trace the movements within your heart. They guide you in your journey and pray for you, too! Spiritual directors can often see things in us which we don’t recognize, and will encourage us in this quest to do God’s will. When seeking spiritual direction, ask people you trust, like your parish priest, for recommendations so you can find an experienced spiritual director to accompany you in this journey.

Sr. Jaime cheers on Team OLA runners at the Chicago Marathon.

Sr. Jaime cheers on Team OLA runners at the Chicago Marathon.

If the Lord is inviting you to religious life, you will be attracted to a specific style of religious life and specific works. As you go visit the pages on our Franciscans of the Eucharist website, be attentive to how you respond to what you read and see . . . and if the Lord is tugging at your heart in this, don’t be afraid! Keep exploring, and please contact us to learn more about our life and discerning with our community.

All saints have a past—consider the story of St. Augustine, who fathered a child out of wedlock before he became one of the Church’s greatest theologians or St. Margaret of Cortona who lived with her lover for years before she became a Franciscan, noted for her life of penance and intercession for miraculous healings. God never rejects a truly repentant heart; rather, He runs to it and fills it with grace!

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Sr. Alicia plays soccer with some if our neighborhood kids.

Many young men and women today are very confused about their identity and what love truly is. They may feel ashamed of past choices–especially sexual choices–and feel unworthy of a call to the religious life or priesthood. Don’t let your past prevent you from saying yes to God today! Because of God’s love and mercy there is no ‘unforgivable’ sin. If you are struggling with past choices, take it to prayer, talk to a priest and if you haven’t already, go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and allow the power of this sacrament to heal and restore you.