Every moment of every day we should be discerning the will of God. Why? Because God wants us to continually know, love, and serve Him in everything that we do. Often times though this isn't easy. We get distracted. We fall in to sin. Which is why we have the Holy Sacraments there as God's gifts to us to help us strive continuously for holiness.
Every day our blessed Lord is waiting, pleading, and asking us to turn to Him and accept His will for our lives. And sometimes this can be very confusing. I remember back to when I was discerning the Priesthood and for a time was studying with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. It seemed that when I left to join my brothers in St. Louis the whole Church was just waiting for me to become ordained. As a young seminarian this feeling of anticipation that your prayers are yielding a Vocation to the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ can be very emotional and overwhelming.
While my discernment went on, I discovered through ora et labora (prayer and work) and living the life that God was not calling me to be a Priest. Rather, I discovered that God had made me for something else all together... to be a father, but not a spiritual one. Venerable Fulton Sheen writes in The Priest Is Not His Own that a man is called to be either (paraphrased) a spiritual father or a biological father. For me this meant that while I was called to discern and to be with the Institute, I was not chosen to be a Priest which at first was very difficult to accept.
Returning home and preparing prayerfully for the next chapter in my life was difficult. I was met with some opposition, and even a few individuals who enjoyed the idea of me as a Priest, but for me to be a layperson was too much for them to handle. In all of this I had to pray. I had to pray for the people I encounter that God would fill their hearts with understanding. Most of all I had to pray that God fill my heart with Divine Charity and patience.
One important thing to note is that in Part IV of the Introduction to the Devout Life, written by Saint Francis de Sales, he writes to us saying that in living a devout life we cannot expect to be treated in any other way than how Christ promised we would be.
So in discerning the will of God, yes some of us may have a Vocation to the Religious Life, but perhaps most of us will be called not to spiritual but biological parenthood. To those who have the awesome Vocation to the Religious Life and to the Holy Priesthood, will do well to ignore the opinions of this present world we live in and give your focus and our attentive prayers to Christ and the Sacraments. To those who thus have a Vocation to Holy Matrimony in the same way it will do well to focus your prayers and attention to our blessed Lord and His Sacraments that He has given to His Church.
Discerning the will of God is not easy. It's hard. But our blessed Lord commanded us to take up our crosses and follow Him and that we who should accept His Yoke will find the burden light. This is a daily trial that we all must do. Keep discerning and growing in the faith and remember that God desires us to discern His will always because He has a plan for each and every one of us. God love each of you!
Author's Note: Kevin Wilkins is currently a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart (the lay society of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) and a Meteorology student at Northern Illinois University.