The new year is only a few hours away and with it comes the setting of goals and resolution lists. Whether it’s switching jobs, choosing what colleges you want to apply to, deciding if you’re ready to have another baby, or going back to school (among other things) the decision-making process can be daunting.
To make this undertaking a bit easier we’ve gathered a few tips from the Daughters of Saint Paul, Scripture and a prayer for discernment from the Sisters of Mount Carmel. Before you begin the process of discernment, you should know two things:
God always wants us to be happy because He loves us. He also knows that only that which helps us grow in holiness will lead us to true happiness.
Discernment of God’s will and plan usually involves a decision between two good choices. To discern between two goods is to choose the best option of the two.
Keeping these things in mind will help you narrow down your choices to the greatest good. Once you decide what to place in God’s hands for discernment- pray.
Invite the Holy Spirit to direct your prayer through the following scriptures:
“Be glad and exult with all your heart, daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, Zion, do not be discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, Who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days. I will remove disaster from among you, so that no one may recount your disgrace. At that time I will deal with all who oppress you; I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts; I will give them praise and renown in every land where they were shamed. At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; For I will give you renown and Praise, among all the peoples of the earth, When I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the LORD.”
Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” But the LORD answered me, Do not say, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you—oracle of the LORD. Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me, See, I place my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, To uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”
“While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets. ”When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. ”For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything* and followed him.”
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“When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to him, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be.10He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that ‘they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.’ This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved.Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.”
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because “the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil. May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.”
Remember, there’s no need to rush. Choose a quiet place to listen to God through His Word to help you discover where he is leading you. Discernment takes time and a lot of listening. Be patient and trust that the Lord only wants what’s best for you.
Loving and gracious God, you have led me to desire your will, which often seems beyond my knowing. Yet I know that you, who love me unconditionally, will continue to place in my heart a desire to follow in the footsteps of your Son Jesus, who asks me to be His hands and feet, eyes and heart, in the midst of Your daughters and sons. I want so much to love as Jesus loves and to serve in whichever way You desire for me. Grant me the desire to be still in Your presence so that Your Spirit can speak to my heart. May I respond with open hands and heart to Your calling, wherever You may lead. Grant the courage to say with Mary “yes” to You in all things, and may I have the passionate zeal of Your prophet Elijah. In gratitude, with Your grace, all of my life will be lived for the bringing about of Your reign on earth and for Your honor and glory.