Franciscan Students gathered Feb. 22 in the Gentile Gallery to hear director of Priestly Discernment Program talk on discerning your vocation.
Mary, Spouse of the Spirit household hosted the night for anyone discerning a path in their life. The Rev, Gregory Plow, director of the Priestly Discernment Program (PDP), spoke from his own experience discerning the priesthood, and from the book “What Does God Want?” by the Rev. Michael Scanlan, TOR.
Plow focused on difficulties during discernment, including unrest in spirit, conflicting signs and indecision. He said anxiety and fear are not from God, so one should look for times God gives peace about a decision.
Plow said it’s also good to ask, “Is this legitimate anxiety or is it a deeper peace that also includes the Cross?”
“In order to make a decision, you have to have courage,” said Plow. “The best courage in the world is the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit.”
Plow said that a good way to start is “to take small steps, leaps of faith to increase the testing.” This could include asking someone on a date if you are discerning married life, or going on “Come and See” visits to religious orders.
Scanlan’s book offers five tests to discern big and small decisions: conformity to God’s will, yielding conversion, consistency with how God has communicated in the past, confirmation by other parties involved, especially the Church, and personal conviction. Plow encouraged anyone discerning to read the book and pray through each test.
Students Isaiah Schick and Miara Cash also shared their testimonies about discernment with the crowd.
Schick, coordinator of Koinonia household and member of the PDP, said he pictured discernment as an image of a staircase covered in clouds.
Schick said at first he was worried about having all the future steps planned out, but he realized “discernment isn’t about knowing every step of the staircase before you take that step.”
“Those little discernments, those little conversions, trusting Him with those small decisions helps you to get to the big decisions,” said Schick.
Cash, coordinator of Mary, Spouse of the Spirit household, shared her experience of having enthusiasm for religious life from a young age but needing to pay attention to feelings of anxiety or peace as she discerned.
“I need to know how the Lord speaks to me… and to realize that no matter where God calls me, it’s going to be to the Cross,” said Cash.
Cash said listening to Plow’s talk helped her “to clarify the peace that still comes when the Cross is mine, and to know that I can go forward with confidence even if there’s suffering involved.”