What Discernment Really Means

How do you explain discernment? Maybe for you, it’s praying and pondering God’s will for your life. It could be seeking God’s help in making decisions about your vocation or future endeavors.

But is it possible that you’re doing discernment wrong?

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, Dominican friar and host of the Godsplaining podcast, joined The Cale Clarke Show to share his own vocation story and offered some advice for those who are discerning the religious life or any other vocation.

“One thing that I think is very important is to recognize the natural desires that you have, because God speaks to us through those attractions insofar as they’re good for us. We might have things that we’re drawn to on a kind of natural level that are not good for us and those are inclinations that we shouldn’t feed. But insofar as something is good for us, that’s a desire of the heart that we have the confidence that God put there. So if it’s a reasonable thing for you to pursue, pursue it!” encouraged Fr. Patrick.

He warned against getting caught up in the idea of discernment as waiting around for God to set a very clear, undeniably obvious path for our lives. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll probably be waiting around forever!

“That’s not the way the Lord works. The Lord is not confusing, He wants to call us to clarity and He will confirm the movements and plans He has for you, insofar as you respond to them,” Fr. Patrick explained.

He continued, “People sometimes get trapped and consider their vocational discernment as a kind of internal thought experiment, and that’s not really true. You have to go to a religious community and meet its members and see how you respond to the charism by interacting with it.”

Cale agreed wholeheartedly, saying that you can’t figure this stuff out in the abstract by imagining what your life would be like as a cloistered nun or Dominican friar or parish priest. He encouraged those who are discerning their vocation to reach out to those who are living it and visit their communities.

It’s important to make action a part of your discernment, taking things step by step and allowing the Lord to illuminate your path as you walk it. “The Lord doesn’t always reveal fifteen steps down the road, but enough light usually to take the next step,” said Cale.

Listen to Fr. Patrick’s vocation story:


Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5-6pm CT only on Relevant Radio®.

Lindsey Kettner serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a wife, mother, and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied journalism and advertising. She writes daily at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.