Discernment seems to be almost exclusive to my Catholic friends. I’ve never heard that word used in conversation with any group other than Catholic folks or in any circumstance other than vocational talks. But I’ve found it to be essential for living the faith correctly and it is how long term goals and trips should be approached. Let me define it before moving on to anything else. Discernment is the process of trying to understand where God is calling you to go both in the short term and in the long run. It’s something I’ve been working on in various ways for my time so far in college. And I’ve actually had the most productive time for discernment this past summer. Great! Wait, how? Do you have to be going out of your way to directly ask God? Well, no. That might actually be the worst way to discern. The more you sit down and ask God where you should go, the more you just sit and ask and look for an answer when you can and should get up, live, and let God give you His answers as they come. I’m guilty of doing that over and over again… especially this semester. I spent a lot of time on my own, thinking, praying, and looking for God’s answers instead of actually working to find the best uses of my time and energy. Needless to say, this resulted in a bad semester for me.
So what did I do this summer? Not a whole lot of sitting and thinking, and a whole lot of going, doing, and living. My findings? Well let’s just say there’s a bunch of productive stuff. First, a big thank you to the Cape League and Cape Cod Sea Camps for helping me know for certain what I want to do for a living: not food service. Ok more specifically, I want to do sports writing and coverage for a living. I had an amazing time covering the Whitecaps this season, writing the game stories, and doing all the social media work for the team. I loved it. I felt like that’s what I want to do for a living after doing it for a summer. What made it clearer for me is that I enjoyed it while being exhausted from my paying job to the point of literally falling asleep in my seat at some of the games. I’m going to the Cape League championship game today even though I am so tired from work. Yep, I’ve found something I like enough to do even when my reserve energy tanks are empty. Sweet.
The work discernment also helped me determine another important piece of the process: Vocational discernment. Before this summer I spent a good amount of time thinking if I was to be a priest or to be working and having a family. Around Holy Week, I racked my mind with this question and could not get a good answer. I decided that I would use the summer to help figure out that part of my journey. With the summer close to being over, I can say pretty definitively that I’m not called to enter the seminary. As I stated above, I don’t feel called to the work in the seminary. I feel called to the press box or press row and to tell the beauty of he stories I see, especially the sports stories that I might be able to provide some insight into. I admire the work of the Priest and know that it is essential to have great Priests to make the Church work in any capacity. I also don’t feel like that’s where I’m supposed to be. This hit me yesterday when a friend announced via a Facebook post that he will enroll in the seminary to become a priest. I was thrilled to hear that he will do that and I’m excited for him! He’ll do an incredible job! There’s just one disconnect for me, I don’t feel like I can follow him. I’ve had other friends who’ve entered and when they announced their plans I thought that I could join up be a priest too. I guess that was my mindset at the time or where I was in my faith journey that told me I could do that as a viable option. But yesterday when I heard the news, no. I was happy for my friend but nothing more than that. I’ll always be a Catholic, but that doesn’t mean I have to join the seminary to be a good Catholic male.
Having the seminary off my list opens up one huge thing that I do feel called to, but in the long term: having a family. I know I have to have a girlfriend whom I marry then have kids with in order to have a family of my own and currently I don’t have that chance now. It’ll be a while before I have that, from what I can tell. And I have no issue with this. I can be patient and find my chances and take them when needed. I feel comfortable looking for them because I am quite sure that I’m called to have a family and kids. I feel comfortable working with and serving them at my camp job, I love making the campers smile, I loved entertaining the kids at the Whitecaps games whenever I could, and I feel comfortable doing the needed parent-roles. I’ll be patient and look for my chances to make that sort of life happen, but I do feel called to that life.
It’s oddly comforting to have these sorts of details sorted out before I begin my senior year at BU. now to act on it and make it actually happen! I hope people reading this understand an important piece of discernment advice: Live and Learn! That’s the best way to find God’s call. It worked wonderfully well for me! Hope it helps you a bit.