Recently, three of our postulant brothers from New York came to visit St. Pio Friary in Bradford. We were all curious to hear their story of discernment. As the vocation director in Europe, I was particularly interested in knowing what they found most helpful during the process of discernment. I was surprised by the simplicity of what they said. For many of them it wasn’t the web-site or an interesting blog—except maybe for this one—it was something more basic. While one of them was discerning they got a phone call from the New York vocation office…but it wasn’t the familiar voice of Fr. John Paul, the vocation director at the time. It was Fr. Isaac. Noticing that the visitor was from Minnesota he wanted to be the one to call him. Fr. Isaac was also from the great state of Minnesota (“great” of course for its relative proximity to Canada). When the postulant was discerning the “idea” of religious life and making inquiries, what helped him along the journey to take the next step was the awareness that Fr. Isaac took a personal interest in him.
Brothers, I don’t say this to compliment the work of the vocation team but to highlight something very important in discerning your call. As simple and as basic as it may sound, discerning your religious vocation is about the Lord’s personal interest in you. It is not about trying to “figure it out”—although that can be part of it at an earlier stage. Discernment is not like solving a math equation. Discernment is about a relationship. One makes progress through the stages of discernment as one becomes more and more convinced and heartened by the Lord’s love and providential care for them. When the postulant sensed that the one who was guiding him was personally interested and invested in them, he was encouraged because the one guiding him proved more trustworthy. This is the same way brothers that the Lord wants to relate to us. He wants us to experience more and more that he is trustworthy.
Brothers, may this Lent be a time for more prayer so that you can let the Lord reveal to you more and more that he is indeed trustworthy. May there be many signs of his personal interest in you as you ask him for guidance and so come to trust him more. Brothers, he cares about you and is personally invested in your discernment. As you approach Easter may you know the joy, more and more, of following someone who is indeed trustworthy: Jesus the risen Lord!
With a pledge of prayers brothers for a blessed Lent,
Vocation Director, Europe.