What is discernment 180?
- Discernment 180 is a six-month guide to help you discern priesthood or the consecrated life. Somewhat like Exodus 90, Magnify 90, and similar programs, it outlines a rule of life and provides meditations for daily prayer to facilitate vocational discernment through the pursuit of holiness.
- In addition the spiritual practices in the rule of life (prayer, sacraments, study, service, and virtue) Discernment 180 includes committing to a dating fast, visiting a seminary/convent, and making a discernment retreat.
Why do it?
Discernment 180 seeks to facilitate three graces:
Growth in holiness
- The word, “vocation,” comes from the Latin root, vocare, which means, “to call.” The primary vocation that we have is to holiness: “This is the will of God: your holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). By living out our primary call to holiness as we are now, God makes known to us the particular way He wants us to be holy. Priesthood, religious life, and marriage are each particular ways of living out holiness, and the surest way to know which life of holiness God is calling you to embrace is simply to grow in holiness as you are now. That is what this book will help you to do.
Freedom from discernment paralysis
- It is common for men and women to feel stuck in their discernment – unable to move towards marriage because of the tug they feel towards priesthood/religious life and unable to move towards priesthood/religious life because of the tug they feel towards marriage. Discernment 180 gives a concrete step for you to take now that will free you from this paralysis and dispose you to move where God is leading.
Peace about next steps
- Discernment 180 bears fruit both for those called to priesthood/religious life and for those called to marriage. For those called to marriage, it gives peace of mind and heart to move with integrity towards dating because they have already given intentional and serious time and space to discern priesthood/religious life. It also helps those called priesthood/religious life to receive the grace of greater confidence and peace to apply to a diocese/community by giving sufficient time to see the call become sustained and consistent.
Why 180 days?
- Six months gives enough time to experience the normal ups and downs of the spiritual life in your discernment, which allows the decision you make at the end of 180 days to be based on the stable direction that God gives rather than an exceptional experience.
- Six months gives enough time to listen more carefully to the deeper desires of your heart. The thrill of romantic attraction and the potential of a romantic relationship can often prevent us from listening for whether there is a deeper desire.
- Six months allows you to taste the goodness of intentional celibacy, not merely endure the lack of romance. When someone throws a rock into a still pond, the waves caused by the splash take some time to settle before being able to see to the bottom of the pond again. Similarly, the “shock” of starting a dating fast often takes some time to overcome, which makes 180 days an appropriate time.
- Six months is generous, and God is never outdone in generosity.
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