Life and Calling: Teens and Vocational Discernment

Each young person has a unique vocation, and they need help to discover it. Ask yourselves, young people, about the love of Christ. Acknowledge His voice resounding in the temple of your heart. Return His bright and penetrating glance which opens the paths of your life to the horizons of the Church's mission. It is a taxing mission, today more than ever, to teach men the truth about themselves, about their end, their destiny, and to show faithful souls the unspeakable riches of the love of Christ. Do not be afraid of the radicalness of His demands, because Jesus, who loved us first, is prepared to give Himself to you, as well as asking of you. If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much. ~ Pope John Paul II (The Meaning of Vocation)

At Confirmation, the soul of the confirmand is "sealed" with new gifts of the Holy Spirit, completing what was begun at Baptism. This seal imparts the grace needed to serve the Church with a unique purpose they must now begin to discern. They should be prayerfully considering their callings: some to marriage and family life, some to the single life, others to the priesthood or religious vocations.

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body (1 Cor. 12:18-20).

Young people can be inspired by stories from the lives of saints, Eucharistic miracles, apparitions of Christ and Our Lady, and modern-day reports of heroic young people. They should be hearing or reading the testimonies of Catholics who follow Christ with passion and commitment, including conversion stories.

Invite special guests to come into class and witness to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives and in the discernment of their vocations. Bring in a variety of priests, lay and religious, if possible. Make sure you choose guests who are prayerful and joyful in the practice of their faith.

Girls will be interested to hear of the Church's unmatched regard for women, including: The Blessed Mother—model of virtue and holiness for many saints, popes, and priests—and many female saints, including three "doctors" of the Church (St. Teresa of Avila, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Catherine of Siena). The Catholic Church is unparalleled among the world's religions for recognizing the great contributions of women as thinkers, teachers, and writers, and holds in high regard their unique callings and abilities, which Pope John Paul II called, "the feminine genius" (see Mulieris Dignitatem).

Spiritual Direction: In preparation for reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation, your students should be well-schooled in an age-appropriate examination of conscience and encouraged to go to confession regularly. (See here for several options for age-appropriate examinations of conscience.) This process helps clear away spiritual clutter that might be inhibiting the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They should be asking themselves, "Who am I in relationship to Christ?" and evaluating their spiritual lives and goals. Regular Mass attendance should be well understood by now, even though—sadly—many will not be supported in this practice at home.

Youth liturgies should be presented with great reverence, while creatively inviting the joyful participation of your students. Catholic author and youth liturgist, Alexander J. Basile, has some excellent recommendations:

  1. Have students plan the liturgy. When young people are invested, they take ownership of the project. Let them pick the music and the readings (with guidance of course), and create banners for the Mass.
  2. Get as many students involved as possible. Process with candles, flags, etc., so each student can feel a part of the liturgy. Use the offertory to continue this practice.
  3. Use the liturgy to ignite their passion to continue to come to Mass. Gear the homily to the students. Meet them at their level . . . but do not leave them there. Bring them to Christ.

With a little preparation, catechists can inspire young people to a much greater vision of their futures.

Join in the comments and share your tips, favorite resources, and questions!