Mercy Mondays

Counseling the Doubtful: Learning to Listen to God’s Voice

By Victor Vallejo Garcia | Monday, October 10, 2016

How often are we facing situations where we are not sure what is best for us? I found myself in that situation some years ago. I was discerning between the vocations of marriage and priesthood. I had spent years in the seminary, and I was taking a break from it. I was now in a stable relationship with my girlfriend.

I realized I needed to make a choice. So, I ran to my spiritual director with the anxiety of not knowing what God was calling me to do. My heart was torn: I wanted to go and preach the love of God and to be God's instrument of healing by administering the Sacraments to others; but I also was in love and happy with my girlfriend. I was looking for guidance and I needed an answer that would satisfy my intellect. But, my spiritual director’s advice did not satisfy me: he would say, it is time to pray more. He reminded me to be honest with the Lord in my prayer. Secondly, he recommended for me to create a list and write out the positive and negative aspects of the two vocations before me. I also needed to recall that the two vocations require certain qualities for me to make a real commitment, so I had to read, in detail, what the Catechism of the Church says about the two sacraments.

I asked myself: what kind of advice is this? I already do my prayers. Is there no better way?

I realized I was in a real process of discernment that needed me to be prudent and humble to reach a mature decision. Whatever I decided, this decision would affect my life forever. So I decided not to ignore my spiritual director. I put myself in the Lord's hands completely. The question came to me constantly:  am I marriage material or priestly material? Many times I wanted my girlfriend to make the decision for me. I wanted God to send me a miraculous sign. But this process took time and it was not easy. Gradually I learned that there is no recipe that gives us the right answer, but thanks to the guidance of my spiritual director, I began to see a light. I also saw that my community was critical in this process because everyone prayed for me. I was nervous to understand that my commitment required being free. Am I free to take this step? I learned that the freedom required was not to do whatever I wanted to, but to become the best person that God wanted me to be: to love and to be loved. Gradually my motivation felt right. From the depths of my soul I wanted to give myself faithfully and totally to my girlfriend. Today, we have been married for eight years and we have two daughters and a son. I more clearly understand that Christian Marriage has to mirror Christ’s love to his Church. I am called to love my wife in the same way as Christ loves his church, with self-giving love.

Those who are in a similar situation: do not be afraid of what God is calling you to. Whether it is to marriage or the priesthood, listen to His voice before committing yourself through the sacred vows at the altar. If you listen closely, reflect and pray, and recognize that you have the freedom to choose, you will better understand God’s will for your life.

Mercy Challenge

Reflect on the way you make decisions: do you ask God for help? Do you take time to prayerfully listen to God’s voice in your life? Take time in your prayer life to ask God to help you make better decisions and ask for guidance on how to choose to follow God’s will in your life.

Victor H. Vallejo is the Marriage Programs Coordinator of the Office of Lifelong Formation.