Saints and Discernment

November 5, 2023

Above: Detail from The Annunciation by Nicolas Poussin (1657, National Gallery, London).

By Fr. David Gaines

One of the most incredible gifts given to us, the Church Militant, is the Church Triumphant: the saints and angels in Heaven. They are constantly beholding the face of God in Heaven and, at the same time, they are ready and willing to assist us in our needs here on Earth. What a great joy and mystery! The saints and angels want to be our holy companions as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, as St. Paul exhorts us (Phil 2:12).

Especially for discerning your vocation, as well as for moments where you feel lost or unsure, the saints and angels can help guide your steps and bring you closer to Christ and His active will for your life.

There are myriad ways the saints and angels can help, especially for discernment, but suffice to say we first have to ask. “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). Seek out saints whom you have things in common with. Pray to your Guardian Angel and to the Archangels asking them for assistance, everyday! Seek out saints and angels whom you don’t relate to at all – they might surprise you! Regardless of how we may or may not relate to them, all of the saints give us a wonderful opportunity to glimpse Christ in their virtues, to learn to love Christ and His Church more deeply as they did, and to imitate Christ in imitating their magnanimity.

With there being so many wonderful saints, I want to give you (especially young people) just a few ideas for how the saints can help you in the discernment of your vocation.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit
Vocational discernment requires an openness to the Holy Spirit. Who better to turn to than Our Lady, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, when you are in need of help when it comes to discernment.

St. Louis Marie de Montfort wrote in his work, True Devotion: “When the Holy Spirit, her spouse, finds Mary in a soul, He hastens there and enters fully into it.”

Turn to Mary and ask her to teach you how to open your heart up to the movement of the Holy Spirit and how to give your “fiat” to whatever He calls you to do. Pray the Rosary daily to answer the call from our Lord.

St. Joseph
As the earthly father of Jesus, the Most Chaste Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor for his spiritual children. He also demonstrated great trust in the will of God during his life, moving forward in faith even when God’s plan wasn’t entirely clear.

Even when St. Joseph’s plans for his future seemed abruptly upended when the woman to whom he was betrothed was found with child, he remained open to hearing what God had in store for him. When an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take Mary as his wife, he was obedient.

If you are struggling with trust in or obedience to God, pray to St. Joseph for help. Perhaps consider wearing the cord of St. Joseph as a further help and growth in discernment and holiness.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is often called “the Man of the Beatitudes” because in his 24 years on earth, he lived a life of love and service.

Many people related to Blessed Pier Giorgio because he was an ordinary guy. He became a saint by living his ordinary Christian life well. Like so many of us, he did not have it all figured out. He did not wait for the “big decisions” to be made to begin living a life of heroic virtue and love of the poor.

Ask Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati to help you pursue holiness and excellence in this season of life. If you have access to Formed.org, listen to this great podcast about the life of this noble man.

St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower, was a French Carmelite whose writings on the “Little Way” of holiness led her to be named a Doctor of the Church. St. Therese’s teaching on the Little Way is meant to help souls reach eternal life through small sacrifices each day for love of God and love of others. We should all memorize her great sentiment and repeat it daily as an aspiration to the Lord (especially those who are discerning): “My vocation is Love!”

While St. Therese had confidence in her call to the convent from a very young age, many people ask St. Therese for help with discerning their vocations and have found their prayers are answered with a rose. Let us pray: “Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning who You want me to be and becoming that person.” – St. Therese of Lisieux.

Fr. David Gaines was a ordained a priest of the Diocese of Spokane in 2014. He is the parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes and chaplain of Spokane’s chapter of Courage. He also contributes especially to fostering vocations for the diocese as a member of the Diocesan Vocations Commission and as part of the Office of Vocations Leadership Team.