I cannot think of any better way to discern a Franciscan call, than to listen to Jesus through praying the Gospels. Francis of Assisi followed Christ, by knowing him through the Gospels. The Gospels were to be the “rule” of the new religious order he founded, often referred to as the Evangelical Life. For St. Francis, the Gospels came alive, and spoke to him. But they can be alive and speak to us too!
About thirty years ago, Fr. Alexander Lewis OFM Conv., as my spiritual director, taught me to “Pray the Gospels” by imagining yourself in the scene. You can be Jesus, or one of the disciples, or another figure in the passage. Pray one passage for many days at a time. Be one person one day, and another on another day. Use all your senses; hear the sounds, smell the smells, see the colors, touch and feel; especially feel with your heart the different feelings the scene invokes. Feel the tension, the fear, amazement, and all the emotions the passage evokes. Try to understand with your mind and heart why Jesus does and says what he does. Do the same with the other characters. Be sure to ask the Holy Spirit to be with you as you pray, that you may truly experience Jesus in the passage, and that you may hear His voice. Ask Jesus to teach you, as he taught the disciples. Ask yourself in prayer, what does this passage say to me? What times or areas of my life come to mind as I read? What teaching does this passage have for those situations? Finally, it helps to journal what you have discerned. I find that as I write down what happened during my mental prayer, more insights continue to come. Set aside one hour every day to pray this way! You will be amazed at how the Gospel will come to life, and Jesus become a close friend. As you go through your day, Gospel passages will come to mind that give insight into your life. The Gospel truly is “Living and Effective” and Jesus truly is our Good Shepherd, walking with us, on the Way. I pray that you will learn to hear his voice, and respond to his call.