Discernment, Key to Building an Authentic Life

Updated: Sep 14

Vocational Letters – August 2020.

By Fr. Joseph Mbungu-Mutu CMF

Prefect General of Formation

Puedes leer este artículo en español aquí


Life reaches its full meaning when it has a solid orientation. In childhood, this is achieved with the help of parents. During youth and adulthood, many other individuals join with the parents without forgetting that the individual himself is called to play a key role. For we, as Christians, there is also a God who must be constantly called upon to carry out this work. However, this orientation is realized through several paths, one is discernment. This vocational letter is about this path of discernment, which is in fact a sharing of my own experience, even if I don’t say so directly.


For me, discernment is that capacity for appreciation that we must have when faced with the events and situations that arise in our existential and vocational journeys. Precision and lucidity are the virtues that accompany this appreciation. Typically seen at this general level, discernment is not limited to a particular area or certain stage of life. It can probably be called by different names; however, the reality and mechanism remain the same. From a Christian perspective, to discern is to join God's plan for us, for this or that event or situation that we are experiencing.


The importance of the practice of discernment first lies in the world with all its requests and in the crossroad of life choices that we encounter for how to live our life. Without discernment, we are easily lost and at the same time may lead others in the wrong direction.


In this way, the whole question is to find the appropriate way to reach a clear understanding of discernment. In other words, the path that best helps us achieve God's plan. Pope Francis proposes first the "formation of conscience" (CV, 281). This is a level that unites us intimately with God and others. By doing this, we are able to come to that correctness and lucidity in appreciating situations, events, our own life and that of others. In addition, this presents some generative questions that we must ask ourselves. This leads to personal accompaniment, listening, dialogue and most importantly prayer.



As a religious and missionary, personal discernment remains a central point of my life. To exercise it, I can humbly say that I am trying to discover God's will for me. I am able to discern what I must do with the responsibilities entrusted to me. This exercise enables me to walk in this world with its many proposals, and at time, it’s contradictions; that plunges me into difficulties when choices need to be made. Finally, the use of discernment is for me a key in the face of certain problems and solutions.


From the above we can come to the conclusion that, discernment is necessary to succeed in life, to live in a way that is useful to ourselves and to others. It is a safe and inevitable path. Therefore, what Pope Francis proposes in Chapter 9 of Christus Vivit (278-298), is not simply reserved for young people, but for everyone, without distinction for their stage of life or the role they must carry out. Discernment becomes the key to one's success and vocation.


If you are a young man, would you like to be accompanied as you learn more about discernment? Our Vocations Director would love to accompany you. Get in touch with him today! Do you know a young man who needs accompaniment to choose his vocation? Share this article with him!