The primary goal of those entrusted with the responsibility of admissions to our way of life is discovering the will of God. While we desire to promote vocations and grown in numbers, our vocational work is ultimately the initiative of God and ordered to benefit the whole Church, not just a particular community or religious institution. It is our desire to assist serious and mature men in discovering that particular state in life where God is calling them to become holy and build up the Kingdom of God. These are the essential elements that characterize our way of life, and constitutes the “soil” which supports and nourishes our call to holiness; Catholic, Cistercian, Contemplative, Fraternal, Prophetic, and Apostolic.

7 Steps of Discernment

• And Jesus stopped and called them, saying: “What do you want me to do for you?”

They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened” (Mt 20:33-34).

Discernment of one’s vocation is always a response to knowing ourselves as being loved by the Father and desiring to respond to that love. “Love then consists in this not that we have loved God but that He has loved us” (1 Jn 4:10). We fear His call because we forget that we are loved by Him or we feel overwhelmed like St Joseph by what it could mean. The foundation of all discernment is the grace of being open to the will of God for our lives. Because we know He loves us we can begin to trust Him and His plan for us as it is revealed to us over time. This journey of discernment thus requires patience and trust as we allow the Good Shepherd to lead us. It is a spiritual reality but requires taking practical steps with the accompaniment of someone older and wiser- a guide for the journey.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans… to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:11-13).

1. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10)

Commit to praying daily—carving out time and space to be with the Lord in silence—learning to listen to His voice through the Scriptures and how He speaks to your heart in the midst of your daily life.

2. “In the eyes of a fool the way he goes is right, the wise man listens to advice” (Prv 12:15)

Speak about your questions of discernment with someone you trust. Find a spiritual director—someone who loves the Lord and His Church and whom you are comfortable opening your heart to and being very honest with. He will help you distinguish what is from God and what is not and guide you in moving forward.

3. “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps 34:7).

Discipleship discerns vocations. As you grow in relationship with Jesus, He will reveal Himself to you and also you to yourself! This relationship grows through daily prayer, regular reception of the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confession, growing in friendship with other disciples of Jesus and finding ways to serve and share your faith.

4. “He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice” (Jn 10:4).

Go where you feel led. Take a step and contact communities that seem to interest you and whose life and mission is consistent with what you desire.

Arriving at Kopua.

5. “What do you seek?… Come and see” (Jn 1:38-39).

Begin to visit communities. Listen to the vocation director’s advice. This is often how the Lord speaks to you. Take note of your experience of the visit and speak with your spiritual director about this, listening to your thoughts, feelings and desires.

6. “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105).

God gives us enough light for the next step and no more. Be patient. Good discernment takes time. The Holy Spirit is at work within you preparing your heart to receive what He has for you. This may be a time for growth and healing. Responding to God’s call always involves growing in freedom to be able to say “yes”.

7. “Lord, if it is you tell me to come to you and I will come” (Mt 14:28).

Pray. Seek wise counsel and make a decision to take a step towards applying. Get out of the boat!

“Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of our souls, you who know your sheep and know how to reach man’s heart…, stir the hearts of those who would follow you, but cannot overcome doubts and fears, and who in the end follow other voices and other paths which lead nowhere. You who are the Word of the Father, the Word which creates and saves, the Word which enlightens and sustains hearts, conquer with your Spirit the resistance and delays of indecisive hearts; arouse in those whom you call the courage of love’s answer: Here I am send me! (Isa 6:8).” (St John Paul II)

Suggested reading

The Constitutions & Statutes of the Cistercian Order : online

A practical interpretation of the Rule of Saint Benedict, for living in a monastery today.

Vita Consecrata: online

An Apostolic Exhortation of Saint John Paul II on Consecrated Life

Strangers to the City: Reflections on the Beliefs and Values of the Rule of Saint Benedict

by Michael Casey OCSO

Paraclete Press, New Edition 2013

Personal Prayer

by John Kelly OCSO (former Abbot of Kopua): online

The Catechism of the Catholic Church: online