Speaker gives practical tips for active discernment about the next step in life


A Catholic speaker and campus minister said in a talk to students Wednesday in the Gentile Gallery that there is a process to discernment and that students should take the time to reflect on that process in order to discover God’s plan. 

Co-author of the book “Pray, Decide, and Don’t Worry,” Bobby Angel encouraged students to follow the five-step plan that the book lays out, offering stories of his own journey to his marriage with Catholic speaker Jackie Francois-Angel.  

What I learned about discerning is that one of the literal translations is to agonize,” Bobby Angel said. “It can feel like agony if you’re in the midst of a big decision and there’s multiple good options here, but we have to choose.” 

The five steps  seek, search, silence, sort and decide — allow those discerning a decision, whether it be a religious vocation or a career, to feel at peace about God’s plan.  

The first step in particular deals with finding an identity and a direction in life, which Angel said is fundamental for discernment.  

“The first question out of Jesus’s mouth in the Gospel of John is ‘What are you looking for?’” Angel said. “Really, we’re looking for God … So do you know that? Are you content with resting with that?” 

After the first step, the rest of the steps follow a progression involving research, prayer and support from friends and family that ends in making a concrete decision and sticking to it despite what others might think.  

“(God) delights when we take action even if we don’t know the whole way,” Angel said. “Sometimes we think, ‘I’m only going to take a step if I see it’s going to be an easy way or I see it to the end.’ There are very, very few things that I can see (in) life all the way to the end. It’s a tremendous act of really showing respect to the father.” 

Angel also said that students should not despair in periods of spiritual dryness. 

It’s OK to be in a waiting period,” Angel said. “God’s answer may be ‘not yet.’ If I would have met Jackie when I was 20, I would have screwed it all up.” 

Jared Johnson, freshman, said that he will definitely put Angel’s words into action. 

It was super helpful and insightful,” Johnson said. “I loved how grounded his advice was in the traditions of the Church plus his own experience to strengthen it.” 

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