In our Catholic tradition, we hold up the lives of the Saints as models whose lives can both resonate with our own and who can offer an example to imitate.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and Patron Saint of Teachers, can be a model for us to learn about discernment.
De La Salle in his life made some profound decisions in choosing to follow God’s will. While trusting God in these moments of his life is part of why we hold him up today, his lived experience and ours are different. Yet, we can learn from elements of the discernment process he followed again and again throughout his life as something we can embrace in seeking to respond to God’s call in our own lives.
Discernment: A Simple Definition
Discernment is the process of discovering God’s will for your life. It is not only at the major crossroads of life (graduation, jobs, relationships) where we discern. And, it’s also not a one-time decision, but a lifelong learning, unfolding, and ultimately listening to God’s voice in our life and following his call.
Discernment helps each of us identify the gifts and talents that God has given us and put them into service for building up our church and the world.
Like most things in life, if it’s worth doing, it’s not necessarily easy. However, the practice of discernment allows each of us to focus on God’s will in our lives and how that can lead to wholeness and holiness for us.
One aspect of De La Salle’s discernment that is a throughline in De La Salle’s life is the communal dimension that discernment takes. While the below offers a glimpse of this, there are numerous examples of how his relationships with his Brothers, community members, family, friends, and spiritual directors had a profound influence on seeing and responding to God’s call in his life.
Elements of De La Salle’s Discernment Process
Trusting in and striving to ultimately do God’s will, regular prayer, and Mass was a foundational part of De La Salle’s discernment process.
How do I make time to talk to God about the decisions I am making in my life?
De La Salle talked to trusted family, friends, and mentors to help him discern God’s will in his life.
Who do I go to for advice? Do they help me find the direction that God is calling me?
De La Salle often took time away to weigh the options in front of him against his priorities and values.
Do I take the time to observe how my heart and mind align over a decision that I am making?
Recalling the presence of God at all times, De La Salle was careful to see how God was acting in each person he met and in every challenge that confronted him.
How do I pay attention, recognizing the events and people in my life as the presence of God? What might God be trying to tell me through them?
For De La Salle, the voice of God spoke to him through his family, as well as trusted advisors, spiritual mentors, and his religious superiors.
How does God speak to me through others?
The elements De La Salle used in his life’s discernment can be put to use in our own lives. The approach invites prayer, paying attention, and purposeful conversation in ways that are both familiar and likely part of our practice already and also invites a deeper reflection and response to God’s will in our life.
Adventure of Being an Educator
Br. Steven shares his call to education, inspiring teachers in his life, and encourages discerners to seek out guidance and mentorship.
How Family and Friends Support My Vocation
Br. Dylan reflects on how his family and friends have played a pivotal role in shaping his vocational journey and discusses how to talk with family members about discerning.
3 Lessons I Learned About My Discernment
Br. Paul offers insights from his own lived experience and his own stumblings, resistance, then acceptance, and how prayer, people, and purposeful discernment impacted his response to God’s call.