Paths of Love

Catholic Vocation Discernment

Love alone gives meaning to life and vocation

The soul must grow and expand, so as to be capable of God. And its largeness is its love, as the Apostle says, "Widen yourselves in love" (2 Cor 6:13). It grows and extends spiritually, not in substance, but in virtue. The greatness of each soul is judged by the measure of love that it has: he who has great love is great, he who has little love is little, while he who has no love at all is nothing.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Writings on love by the saints and doctors of the Church (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John of the Cross).

Seven Principles of the Spiritual Life, by Fr. Thomas Bolin, O.S.B. A succinct presentation of the basic elements in nourishing one's spiritual life, and growing in holiness, based especially upon St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Thomas Aquinas.

General reading and discussion of vocation

Here you will find many books, articles and texts on vocation and discernment as understood in the Catholic Church, and on priesthood, marriage, and religious life as Catholic and Christian vocations. If you would like to comment or ask a question, contact us by e-mail or post a comment on our blog.

Books and articles on vocation - living and discerning one's vocation
Vocation Blog - reflection and discussion on the universal vocation to love, on Christian life, on the discernment of particular vocations, and more. More academic reflections are also presented on this blog.
Resources for teaching children about vocation
Prayers for vocations - prayers for increase of vocations and for discernment of vocations

For those discerning a vocation to religious life, we provide a list of Catholic Religious Orders and Communities.

Paths of Love: The Discernment of Vocation According to Aquinas, Ignatius and Pope John Paul II

"At last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love!"

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The Catholic Church teaches that the primary vocation of every person is the vocation to holiness, to the perfection of love. This notion of love as the essential form of every Christian vocation provides the key to understanding vocation to particular states of life, such as marriage, religious life, or the priesthood. We speak about different vocations such as a "religious vocation", a "priestly vocation," and so on. But all these different vocations come from love, from God's love for us, and aim at leading us in our turn to love him and all our brothers and sisters in Christ. "Discerning a vocation" needs always to be always understood in light of this fundamental vocation, the vocation to love.

This book takes up this trail. The first chapter begins with reflections on the radical call to give ourselves in love, whether in marriage, in religious life, or in another state of life. The following chapters then look at how the desire to give oneself totally in love may lead to a commitment to one or another path--that is, the "discernment of vocation."

Aquinas and Ignatius represent two approaches that at first glance seem to be completely different from each other, but which are actually quite compatible and even complementary. Pope John Paul II represents a kind of middle approach which lies between those of the two saints. The book closes with a summary of practical considerations in choosing a vocation. "Catholic vocations" are vocations to love, realized in one or another state of life.

More information and reviews of Paths of Love  -  Brief summary of the book

Authors cited in Paths of Love. Here you can read the texts quoted in this book in their original context, and other related texts from these saints and doctors of the Church.

About this website

This website is dedicated to information and discussion about vocation to states of life in the Catholic tradition, drawing upon the Fathers of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and the popes, particularly Pope John Paul II. Many texts on vocation discernment may be found here, as well as information about the book "Paths of Love", which takes as its starting point the universal call to holiness and to love. We are all called to love and to holiness, whether we are married persons, priests or religious, in another state of life, or are still on the way to a final commitment. Moreover, a loving heart is the strongest basis for vocational discernment. For these reasons we also offer here general texts on holiness and the Christian states of life.

Please contact us with any suggestions for additions to this website.

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