• Are you called?

    Get advice on discernment and learn more about discernment opportunities throughout the year hosted by the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Are you called?

This is the question that brings you here.

This is the question that won’t let you go.

Finding the answer requires you to open your heart and dive into the work of discovering Christ’s call. It is work that is well worth your while. The Congregation of Holy Cross offers resources to assist you in your discernment.

Our Spirituality

Ave Crux, Spes Unica "Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope"

The spirituality of our Congregation is written in the spirit of Jesus Christ. That is the motto that Blessed Basil Moreau gave to the Congregation of Holy Cross. The words come from the ancient hymn Vexilla regis prodeunt written by Fortunatus and traditionally sung on Good Friday. They capture well the life and work of both the Congregation and Fr. Moreau. We are men with hope to bring precisely because we know the true power of Christ’s resurrection. We have witnessed how God can transfigure sin and death – what can seem to be most hopeless – into wellsprings of love and new life.

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DISCERNMENT TIPS

Learn to Hear the Call

In Scripture, we find many stories wherein God’s call was made manifest through some spectacular event, like a burning bush, an angelic messenger, or Christ Himself standing on the seashore. The reality is that our call will likely come in a much more subtle manner. Coming to an understanding of our call is a matter of discernment. It is a prayerful handling of the manifestations of God’s will that come to us through our skills and abilities, our hearts’ desires, the circumstances of our lives, and the encouragement of others. There is no set program that will lead us through discernment to a definitive answer. And yet there are steps that we can take.

Our Spirituality

Ave Crux, Spes Unica "Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope"

The spirituality of our Congregation is written in the spirit of Jesus Christ. That is the motto that Blessed Basil Moreau gave to the Congregation of Holy Cross. The words come from the ancient hymn Vexilla regis prodeunt written by Fortunatus and traditionally sung on Good Friday. They capture well the life and work of both the Congregation and Fr. Moreau. We are men with hope to bring precisely because we know the true power of Christ’s resurrection. We have witnessed how God can transfigure sin and death – what can seem to be most hopeless – into wellsprings of love and new life.

DISCERNMENT AIDS

Prepare to Hear the Call

The work of discernment cannot be broken down into a set program that will guarantee results. But there are tried and true aids to discernment that will draw us closer to God and assist in opening our hearts that we may know and desire God’s will.

Sacraments

The Sacraments are concrete moments where we encounter God’s grace. The more that we enter into these moments, the more this grace permeates our life and can then draw us into closer communion with the Lord. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our life in Christ; thus it is imperative that we attend Mass every Sunday. Frequent participation in daily Mass greatly assists our growth in God’s grace. Also important is regular confession. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we receive the grace that frees us from the sin that becomes an obstacle to hearing and following God’s call.

Prayer

Through time spent in prayer, we encounter God and allow him to work in our hearts and make his will known. Dedicating time every day to the Lord, even a few minutes, is an essential investment in our relationship with him and our ability to know and follow his will. Several forms of prayer that are particularly helpful in discernment are:

If you are drawn to a vocation in Holy Cross, you might also reflect on the Holy Cross Constitutions.

Conversation

Often, those in discernment keep their thoughts to themselves, afraid to let anyone else know they are considering a vocation. Yet this approach isolates them from an important aid to discernment. Often, those who know us well or those who have been through the process of discernment can provide valuable insights that can help. If a vocation to the priesthood or religious life has been on your mind for a while, talk about it with someone you trust. It is also helpful to bring your vocation discernment to a priest, brother, or a vocation director. A good vocation director does not expect everyone he talks with to enter the seminary; rather, he helps you come to a deeper understanding of God’s call.

Service

A reliable indicator as to whether you are called to a religious or priestly vocation is that you find energy and joy in serving others. Seek ways to offer some of your time in service. Through this, you will gain insight into whether you can offer your whole life in such service. Many find it helpful to become involved in liturgical ministries such as lector or altar server; in teaching ministries such as RCIA or Religious Education; and in direct service to the poor. It is also helpful to seek out opportunities for leadership, as a vocation to the priesthood and religious life will require an ability to organize and lead others. Through service and leadership, you can develop your abilities, grow in an understanding of your gifts, and develop a greater understanding of how God is calling you to serve the Church.

Visit

Visiting a seminary program or religious house gives a real and concrete experience of what it is like to take a step in that direction. There is a good bit of discernment that happens in prayer, contemplation, and conversation. Yet this can only take you so far. To know if you are called to enter a seminary or religious community, you have to visit. Visiting a seminary is an opportunity to meet the people and to see what the rhythm of life is like. Often such a visit can dispel misconceptions and give you an idea of whether it is the right next step for you. Opportunities to visit Holy Cross are offered through scheduled retreat programs or by scheduling an individual visit through the Office of Vocations.

Our Spirituality

Ave Crux, Spes Unica "Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope"

“Our thoughts are not easily God’s thoughts, nor our wills His will. But as we listen to Him and converse with Him, our minds will be given to understand Him and His designs. The more we come through prayer to relish what is right, the better we shall work in our mission for the realization of the kingdom.”

Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, 3:21

REFLECTIONS FOR DISCERNMENT

Reflect on the Call

Discerning your vocation is a matter of reflecting on God’s call and considering how you are being led to answer that call. There are several tools for discernment and several ways to attend to it. A helpful method of discernment is to spend some time with questions that lead you deeper into the consideration of your vocation. Often, we know that the Spirit is at work in our hearts, but don’t give it the time it deserves. Or, if we are willing to spend time with it, we are not sure how. Below are several questions to aid your reflection on your life and your calling. Writing out your thoughts on these questions or discussing them with either your spiritual director or a vocation director can be helpful. 

Before you can consider where you are going, it is good to start reflecting on where you are now.

Why are these questions preoccupying me?

What are the resources that can assist me in finding answers to my questions?

Who are some of the people I can turn to and talk with?

Are there pressing matters that I need to attend to before I can get to the deeper questions of my vocation?

As Jesus’ disciple, your vocation is wrapped up in your relationship with Christ.

How would I currently describe my relationship with Jesus?

What are the things that have drawn me closer to Jesus and helped me know him more?

What are the things that have drawn me away from Jesus?

What is my prayer life like, including the celebration of the Sacraments and the reading of Scripture?

How closely is the desire of my heart aligned with Jesus’ desire for me?

What might I do to know Jesus more, grow closer to him, and unite my will and desire with his?

Before asking specific questions about the priesthood and religious life, it is helpful to first consider the bigger picture.

What are some of the options that I am considering?

What do my skills, abilities and interests point to?

What do other people encourage me to do?

Are there any thoughts on my vocation that will not go away?

Do I connect my consideration of my future with God’s call for me?

Do I truly want to know what God has in store for me?  Have I asked him?

Am I willing to follow God’s call if it is made clear to me?

Spend some time specifically focused on a possible call to religious life and priesthood. 

What events/moments have prompted me to think about a vocation to the priesthood and religious life?

When did I first start thinking about a vocation to the priesthood and religious life?

What are the times and places in which these thoughts surface?

How have I reacted to these thoughts?

What attracts me to the vocations of priesthood and religious life?

How have those thoughts or attractions changed over time?

Who are priests and brothers that I look up to?  Why do I admire them?

Before you can move forward in your discernment, it is important to consider the things that may be holding you back.

What are the obstacles external to me (such as debt, familial obligations, etc.) that keep me from being free to hear God’s call?

What anxieties and fears internal to me (such as loneliness, unworthiness, uncertainty) prevent me from freely asking God what his will is for me?

What are the sources of my fears?

How can I begin to address and overcome my fears?

As you consider how to move forward in your vocation, it is helpful to look back at how you have made decisions in the past.

How do I usually make decisions?

What has helped me to move forward and make decisions?

How have I avoided making decisions or delayed making decisions?

How would I characterize my discernment up until today?

In what ways have I sought the Lord’s input, particularly through prayer?

What have I been listening for or waiting for in my prayer?

What input and resources have I sought and utilized in my discernment?

Spend some time reflecting on your understanding of the seminary, what you know and what you don’t know. Consider how you might learn more or explore whether you have a vocation to the priesthood.

What is my understanding of life in the seminary?

How do I know if it is accurate?

How can I gain a better sense of what life will look like in the seminary?

What attracts me to the priesthood?

What indicators have there been that I may have a vocation to the priesthood?

What is my understanding of the priesthood?

Spend some time considering your understanding of religious life in Holy Cross.

What is my understanding of religious life? 

How do I know if it is accurate?

What do I know about the Congregation of Holy Cross?

What questions do I still have about Holy Cross?

What attracts me to religious priesthood vs. diocesan priesthood?

What attracts me to Holy Cross?

What would I envision myself doing as a priest and religious within Holy Cross?

Ready to take the next step in your discernment journey? Reach out to a vocations director today to schedule a visit to Old College Undergraduate Seminary or Moreau Seminary.

Schedule a Visit