Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Hung Pham, S.J.


Young Vietnamese women seeking to discern a religious vocation often confuse their own unconscious motivations and desires with what they perceive as the “will of God” for their lives. This study argues that a clearer understanding of the “will of God” will lead young women to a more mature decision-making process when discerning a vocation to religious life. The thesis investigates how the “will of God” has been interpreted and understood in the Christian tradition and uses these insights to develop a systematic structure aiming to assist young Vietnamese women in their life discernment.

It first examines how the will of God has been variously interpreted in the Scriptures and the lives of several distinguished spiritual figures in the Church. Second, it analyzes this concept in the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, whose writings and spiritual practices have been considered one of the most important tools for discernment in the Christian tradition—for detecting the language of God. Notably, the study will consider how the practice of active listening (by both director and directee) supports candidates in understanding their own inner motions and authentic desires, and through these movements, to hear the voice of God. Finally, it demonstrates how contextualizing these insights for the Vietnamese context will enlighten and empower young Vietnamese women in discerning their life vocation.

The study makes a contribution to the academic discipline of Christian Spirituality concerning the concept of the “will of God,” proposing that a clearer understanding of this concept can lead to a richer and more effective discernment process. The discussion also seeks to assist spiritual directors of religious communities who are accompanying candidates in their spiritual journeys. It is my hope that it may also prove beneficial to all those who are interested in their own discernment process or in directing others in their spiritual journey.

Included in

Religion Commons