Presented below is some helpful information for you as you strive to figure out how God is inviting you to service in His Church. If you would like more discernment help, please feel free to contact us at the Vocation Office; we would be delighted to help you discern God's will in your life.
Who We Are...
The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament was founded in Paris, France, in 1856 by a French priest, St. Peter Julian Eymard. Since that time, we have continued the mission begun by St. Eymard, the Apostle of the Eucharist. Like St. Peter Julian Eymard, we want the Mystery of the Eucharist to be loved and lived in its fullness.
As Blessed Sacrament Priests and Brothers, we believe that Christ in the Eucharist has the power to effect a radical transformation in our society and in all people. The power of the Eucharist motivates and strengthens us to work for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
Everyone who is baptized in Christ Jesus has a vocation as a disciple of the Lord. The Vocation Office is here to help you discern if you are called to religious life as either a Blessed Sacrament priest or brother.
Learn more about the vision of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (SSS).
What We Do...
As Blessed Sacrament Priests and Brothers, we share a common mission: to allow the mystery of the Eucharist to take hold of our lives so completely that we will live this mystery fully and proclaim its meaning through many diverse apostolates.
We proclaim the reality of God’s love in the Eucharist by our “gift of self” to Him and His Church. By our prayer of adoration and celebration of the Eucharist, and an active apostolic life, we strive to make Christ in the Eucharist better known and loved.
Our Eucharistic evangelizing includes celebrating the sacraments in parishes across the country, writing, teaching, preaching, counseling, and working for justice. We publish Emmanuel, an award winning magazine for eucharistic spirituality, and other liturgical and devotional materials related to the Eucharist.
We promote a program of Eucharistic evangelization called Life in the Eucharist (LITE). We are active in the ecumenical movement and focus on having the Eucharist be a sacrament of unity. We bring Holy Communion to the sick and shut-ins, especially in hospital ministry and chaplaincy. We offer hospitality and minister to other priests and religious. In all that we do, Christ in the Eucharist is our inspiration and the center of our personal and community life.
Sorting Out God's Will in Your Life...
The process of making a decision about your life with the help of the Holy Spirit is called discernment. In this process you and God are in a dialogue of getting to know your future and to be happy.
There are four basic yet not so simple steps to discernment:
Be in touch with yourself:
Look at your dreams, fears, what causes you stress, what makes you happy, who makes you happy. Keep a journal of feelings and events to be able to look back and discover patterns.
Be in touch with God:
How is your prayer life? How do you spend time with God? Do you express all your desires, feelings, hurts and joys to God? Where do you see God? How do the people you meet show you God?
Prayerfully Act, Gathering Data:
Get all the facts and check with different sources and people. Look at different aspects of your life. If you do not know other aspects or information, contact someone who does. Read about others who have made serious life decisions for God, like St. Augustine. Talk to priests, religious, campus minsters, and to people in various careers. Visit your parish rectory or a local monastery.
Confirm your thoughts:
After the first three steps, how does it feel? If you are not at peace, that is okay. It just means you need more time and need to reflect more with others.
Consider contacting a spiritual director; he will be able to help you discover how God is inviting you to holiness. What should you do with your one and only life?
Reflect with the Sacred Scriptures...
The Bible is always a good place to discover God's Word. The Servant of God John Paul II placed the Gospel event of the Transfiguration as the scriptural icon of consecrated life.
Here are some Scripture passages that have proven helpful for people discerning their vocation:
From the Old Testament...
From the New Testament...
Reflect with the Church...
There are a number of foundational documents from the Church on the consecrated life and priesthood, which might be of some assistance to you in your discernment. Just like reflecting with Sacred Scripture, so too reflect with the Tradition of the Church. Below are a few select paragraphs from some recent texts, and links to the full documents.
From Vita Consecrata: On the Consecrated Life and its Mission in the World by Pope John Paul II, March 25, 1996:
"The Consecrated Life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to his Church through the Holy Spirit. By the profession of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus - the chaste, poor and obedient one - are made constantly "visible" in the midst of the world and the eyes of the faithful are directed towards the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven," (no. 1).
"In every age consecrated men and women must continue to be images of Christ the Lord, fostering through prayer a profound communion of mind with him (cf. Philippians 2:5-11), so that their whole lives may be penetrated by an apostolic spirit and their apostolic work with contemplation," (no. 9).
"In the unity of the Christian life, the various vocations are like so many rays of the one light of Christ, whose radiance "brightens the countenance of the Church..." (no. 16).
From Starting Afresh From Christ -
"In imitation of Jesus, those whom God calls to follow him are consecrated and invited to continue his mission in the world. Indeed, consecrated life itself, guided by the action of the Holy Spirit, becomes a mission.... Open to the needs of the world as seen through the eyes of God, [religious] point to a future with the hope of resurrection, ready to follow the example of Christ who came among us that we 'might have life and have it to the full' (John 10:10)," (no. 9).
"Young people need to be challenged to meet the high ideals of a radical following of Christ and the profound demands of holiness, when discerning a vocation which is beyond them and which perhaps goes beyond the initial ideas which attracted them to enter a particular Institute," (no. 18).
"In the Eucharist all forms of prayer come together, the Word of God is proclaimed and received, relationships with God, with brothers and sisters, with all men and women are challenged. It is the Sacrament of filiation, of communion and of mission. The Eucharist, the Sacrament of unity with Christ, is at the same time the Sacrament of Church unity and community unity for the consecrated person," (no. 26).
From Pastores Dabo Vobis: On the Formation of Priests
"Priests are a sacramental representation of Jesus Christ -- the head and shepherd -- authoritatively proclaiming his word, repeating his acts of forgiveness and his offer of salvation -- particularly in baptism, penance and the Eucharist, showing his loving concern to the point of a total gift of self for the flock, which they gather into unity and lead to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit. In a word, priests exist and act in order to proclaim the Gospel to the world and to build up the Church in the name and person of Christ the head and shepherd," (no. 15).
"Precisely because within the Church's life the priest is a man of communion, in his relations with all people he must be a man of mission and dialogue. Deeply rooted in the truth and charity of Christ, and impelled by the desire and imperative to proclaim Christ's salvation to all, the priest is called to witness in all his relationships to fraternity, service and a common quest for the truth, as well as a concern for the promotion of justice and peace," (no. 18).
From the U.S. Bishops' Program of Priestly Formation
"The primary context of religious priesthood ordinarily comes from the nature of religious life itself. Religious who are called to priesthood exercise that ministry within the context of their religious charism. The exercise of priesthood takes on a distinctive quality for a religious, depending on the rule of life of a particular institute or society," (n. 28).
From the Second Vatican Council's Perfectae Caritatis: on the Renewal of Religious Life,
"Indeed from the very beginning of the Church men and women have set about following Christ with greater freedom and imitating Him more closely through the practice of the evangelical counsels [chastity, poverty, obedience], each in his own way leading a life dedicated to God," (no. 1).
"Members of each institute should recall first of all that by professing the evangelical counsels they responded to a divine call so that by being not only dead to sin (cf. Romans 6:11) but also renouncing the world they may live for God alone. They have dedicated their entire lives to His service. This constitutes a special consecration, which is deeply rooted in that of baptism..." (no. 5).
"Religious should strive during the whole course of their lives to perfect the culture they have received in matters spiritual and in arts and sciences," (no. 18).
Pope Benedict XVI on Vocations...
From a Letter on Consecrated Life:
"...Consecrated persons continue the great work of evangelization and witness on all the continents, even on the front lines of the faith, with generosity and often with the sacrifice of their lives, even to the point of martyrdom.
"Many of them are totally dedicated to catechesis, education, teaching, the advancement of culture and the ministry of communications. They are close to young people and their families, the poor, the elderly, the sick and lonely people.
"There is no human or ecclesial context where they are not present, frequently silent but always effective and creative, a continuation as it were of the presence of Jesus who went about doing good works to all (cf. Acts 10: 38).
"The Church is grateful for the witness of fidelity and holiness borne by so many of the members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life, for the ceaseless prayers of praise and intercession raised by their communities, and for their life spent at the service of the People of God."
"In order to answer the call of God and start on our journey, it is not necessary to be already perfect. We know that the awareness of his own sin allowed the prodigal son to start on his return journey and thus feel the joy of reconciliation with the Father. Weaknesses and human limits do not present obstacles, as long as they help us to make us more aware of the fact that we need the redeeming grace of Christ," (Message, 2006).