In the evangelical circles, finding God's will for one's life is a very common topic, with a "recipe" that looks like this Christianity.com article: How Do We Know God’s Will for Our Lives?. The motivation why one is "compelled" to find it is: by walking in the "zone" that God has set for you: 1) you will have peace that God is with you, 2) you will be successful because God will provide everything you need for His will to be accomplished, and 3) you live a Godly pattern exemplified by Jesus and the apostles who themselves have dedicated their lives to execute God's specific will for them.

I realize that for Catholics entering vocations (joining a religious order / priesthood), there is an established practice for discernment.

But how about for lay Catholics? What I heard is a general Thomistic guidance of aligning our intellect and will toward true happiness in God by being aware of how our numerous daily choices can potentially sidetrack us toward anything less than God such as honor, riches, power, etc. instead of striving toward the true final end of human nature of beatific vision by living with true love toward those within our circle while working together with the Holy Spirit toward eliminating one's vices and increasing one's virtues.

While that guidance is in some way more specific than the evangelical advice linked above, there are still many choices that a typical 18 year old Catholic can be bewildered, such as: what major to study at the university, who to marry, career path, etc. Is there a practice similar to discerning vocation but for lay Catholics?

A related sub-question: does the answer come in the form of special graces given to lay Catholics toward some particular calling (example: talents for music for those called to be musicians), similar to special graces infused by God for the religious (example: for fulfilling their vows of chastity)?

  • Sadly I know of no standard-practices for finding ones vocation "in the world". I think this topic increasingly comes to an interest of the responsible in the last years, so there are some scattered projects.
    – K-HB
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 9:20
  • I have heard it put this way, "Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and do what you want." In other words if one is truly loving God in their choices and actions no occasion for wandering will be found and that same loving God will be shepherd to them. When walking according to the spirit there is no actual difference between sacred and secular: "To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. - Titus 1:15". Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 13:07
  • Do you want to know what the bishops say about this or what the faithful actually do? Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 14:44
  • This is a very broad question, depending on what you mean by what is the Catholic practice to find God's will for lay Catholics? The faithful have many options.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


I have found the Ignatian way of spiritual discernment to be helpful. It may not be immediately helpful as, like anything else of value, it takes time to learn. Basically, this practice involves meditation on Christ's life as a means to center and ground your own life in Christ. It also involves becoming more aware of your own affections and dispositions so you can evaluate them and change them as necessary with the goal of following Christ more nearly.

As you engage in this process, you come to see more clearly a path for your life. If there is a Jesuit retreat house near you, you could start there. Or you might explore this online resource: Making Good Decisions.

  • @KenGraham Thanks for cleaning up the link.
    – Margolis
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:09

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