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Catholic Dating: The Truth About Discernment

December 4, 2011

catholic dating - discerning our vocation in lifeLet’s face it. At one time or another, we have all been asked the same question: “Have you discerned your vocation?” And I think it would be accurate to say that most of us hesitantly respond with a half-hearted “yes”, without truly understanding the gravity of that question. Many devout Catholics today seem to think that the word “vocation” is reserved exclusively for the religious and does not apply to them. So what exactly does it mean to discern one’s “vocation”?

Discerning One’s Vocation

Discernment refers to the ability to grasp, comprehend, and evaluate clearly. It is an insight into God’s will for us, allowing us to distinguish between what is real and what is mere imitation. When we understand discernment in this way, we see that it is more than a rite of passage that every Catholic must go through before they either get married or join the religious life. Although discernment would be intensified as a precursor to any major decision, it is not finished after the decision has been made. Rather, true discernment is a continuous process, extending throughout the whole of one’s life. It involves a persistent openness and requires an actively humble disposition, subordinating our will to His.

As Catholics, we have all become familiar with our Lord’s trials in the desert as well as His Agony in the Garden. Both of these instances serve as examples of how one properly discerns. In both cases, the Lord was on the eve of making a profound decision that would not only affect His own soul, but also the souls of many others. As you may recall, after his forty days in the desert, the Lord began His earthly ministry, and after spending hours in agony, He ended it on the cross.

Overcoming Temptation

A very common misconception regarding discernment is that it is simply “taking a break.” For those of you who consider the process of discernment a low-grade vacation, I would like to refer you to the two passages I referenced above. If Jesus’ example illustrates anything to us, it is that discernment is a time of trial. If we remember, in both cases, Satan was tempting the Lord. As such, Christ’s prayer of discernment became an active fight against Evil. In fact, in the latter example, the battle was so severe that He sweat His own blood. How, then, can any of us not recognize the profound gravity of the true discernment?

When it comes to our vocation, we must all take a page from our Lord’s book, asking our family and friends to pray for us as we discern His will for our lives. Whether we are called to the single, Catholic dating, or religious life, we must take time to allow the Lord to speak to our hearts before making a decision. This means unplugging ourselves from the television, phone, ipod, and whatever other electronic devices are consuming the place of silence in our lives. In a culture where the media is constantly bombarding our minds with advertisements, music, and billboards, we must make the extra effort to silence our hearts. How else will we be sure that what we are feeling is real and not simply an imitation? The world offers only an imitation of the real; so, if we don’t remove the world’s messages, there will be no silence left to hear God’s.

As we embark on this mission, let us not expect it to be easy. If we are truly open to the Lord’s will, we will surely encounter many trials and tribulations, just as He did. In fact, we should expect nothing less. After all, anything worth having is worth fighting for. This is especially why we must intensify our prayer efforts during this time, relying wholly on the Lord’s graces for help and guidance.

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