The discovery of God’s will is not a magical moment, but the result of a story of friendship with God. It is a maturation process, by which I will know Jesus better, his way of life and his project, and myself. This way I learn to read the signs (internal and external) showing me what I really love, what moves me and what challenges me, what provokes me. So that finally, I will be able to join and respond in fidelity to the innermost of myself – there where the Spirit dwells, says St. Augustine – to what in the depths of my heart I know is better for me.
Vocation can only be discovered and understood in relation with God. So, the first way – irreplaceable – is prayer. Through it I can perceive the signs of God (what makes me happier, where I feel more free, what attracts me, my dislikes … etc) I learn to read these signs through discernment. To learn how to read these signs and make a way it is essential to speak with someone more experienced. It is the spiritual accompaniment.
– Deepen the KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS, His way of living and His criteria. For this, the fundamental means is PRAYER.
To pray is to give time to God alone, as one does with a friend. Through prayer I am willing inwardly to know Jesus and to understand how I can be more like Him in my life.
For instance, in the prayer I am faced with a Gospel sentence that “touches me”, or, in the everyday life, I contemplate a landscape, I make contact with a scene of suffering or poverty, I hear a word of somebody … I feel it affects me, that does not leave me indifferent. In prayer I can deepen this “touch of God” and understand why it touched me and to which measure my life can change with this touch: what did God want to tell me with this?
– Grow in self knowledge and INNER FREEDOM, so that I can discover what I really want.
It’s not easy to know what I really want. Most of the time, I need to shed some skins (such as the onion) to find out:
- What I really want, which is different from what I feel like
- What gives me deep joy, which is different from what makes me euphoric
- What I really need, which is different from what I ask for
- What gives me deep pace, which is different from what makes me quiet
- What makes sense for me, which is different from what is easy
- What strengthens me, which is different from what is hard for me
- What is better for me, which is different from what spontaneously attracts me
This pathway to know God and myself, we can do with the help of a spiritual guide, someone more experienced in spiritual life who helps me to give sense to God’s calls in prayer, to distinguish my feelings and thoughts, and also to make me conscious of my “defenses”, of the obstacles that, consciously or unconsciously, I’m putting to those calls that may seem more demanding, more difficult or that may suppose some ruptures or choices that lead me to put aside good things.
In this process of discernment, I also learn to understand the language of God.
Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, teaches us to be attentive to our spiritual movements – what we feel or think – and to where this movement leads us. Thus, he says:
– Consolation: A state of spiritual vitality which manifests itself in an increase of faith, hope in life, love and the desire for commitment to justice. Very often it can be experienced as a strong sense of light, clarity and direction. It is a state of harmony with the Gospel and with the criteria of Jesus, even if it comes together with fears, apprehensions and suffering.
– Desolation: The state contrary to consolation, manifesting itself in feelings of sadness, discouragement, lack of faith and a feeling of being far from God and His love.
With the help of prayer and spiritual guidance, I will learn to discern what is happening to me so that I can discover the will of God and give Him a free answer.