Discernment is a gift from God. It is the ability to perceive the path of holiness and the course of virtue that Divine Providence has in store for every person. It depends not only on one’s personal experiences but also, and most importantly, on the revelation God has given to the Church community and the individual discerner. In the case of a religious vocation, discernment is not a private matter but a gift which both the individual and the Order receive together from the Holy Spirit. This gift sheds light on the discerner’s search for that vocation which will lead to their true flourishing and authentic happiness as a child of God. Once the person comes to know the way God has set for them since the foundation of the world, the grace of divine charity floods the heart and impels the young person to make the leap of faith: They left their nets and followed Him (Mk 1:18).
In the following of Christ, the disciple can discern two callings or vocations. First, there is the vocation to holiness, which belongs equally to all. Before his Ascension, Christ commanded his disciples to teach all nations what he first taught them and to baptise in the name of the Holy Trinity. By faith and baptism, a person is brought from the darkness of sin and error to the light of Truth in Christ. This transformation is what the universal call to holiness is all about: a conversion which entails the illumination of a human soul by heavenly wisdom; the Trinity’s joyful drawing of a soul towards eternal life.
There is also the particular vocation of each person, and this vocation is the object of discernment. This vocation arises from the first vocation and normally entails some sort of life-long commitment. As this commitment is an act of dedication or consecration to God, it may be expressed through a sacrament - such as priestly ordination or the exchange of marriage vows - or through some other ritual, such as religious profession.