God is calling out to us. He always has; it is one of the themes in Scripture that is God calling out to people and people respond to Him. So listening for God’s call is something we do naturally, though we don’t always do it well.
Early in the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read:
The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to Himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for… (CCC 27)
God speaks quietly and slowly over a period of time. It would be easier if a message from God appeared in our common means of communication, but He has never worked that way. So we need to patiently listen in order to hear the message. Being patient and having good listening skills is something that we have to consciously work at every day.
God has an important task for each of us. He offers us the ability to not only to receive His grace, but also participate in the creation process. We have a responsibility to hear what God is asking of us and undertaking that task.
Discernment of God’s call is a process of putting ourselves in the presence of God over a period of time in prayer, so that we can be motivated by Grace, God’s divine assistance.
We cannot take a test to see if we have the skills for priesthood.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you,” Jesus said.
The first responsibility in this is to determine to what state in life that God is calling us: marriage, holy orders, or consecrated/religious life. Once we know the state to which we have been called we must cooperate with God’s grace and Answer God’s Call.
Fulfilling one’s vocation requires grace from God to be able to perform the needed lifestyle. If we do not have grace then we will not be able to be married or be a priest or religious simply by willing ourselves through the actions. At some point we will tire and stop.
So the key in discernment is being able to see if our motivation comes from ourselves or by ourselves imbued with grace. To determine this requires prayer, time, and action.
This is why the setting of the seminary is so important.
It is in the seminary that one can start to take on the habits needed in priesthood. Living in the daily habits of morning and evening prayer, Mass, adoration, academics and recreation joined with working with the staff and faculty will help a man to determine if the man is graced in the life state or if he needs to continue to search God’s call in another state of life.
“He must increase but I must decrease.”