A saint by God's design

I’m not entirely sure how to ask this. If Joan of Arc can be a saint as well as St. Francis, then there is obviously some allowable variety as to what sainthood means. I believe that Fr. Merton suggested that we are to become uniquely saintly based on God’s plan for us.

How do we know what God’s plan is for us? I am a father and a husband yet I feel so strongly drawn to a monastic life at times that I feel tempted. How do I discern what type of sainthood I am called to?

I realize this is not a black and white question. But any insight would be appreciated.


Hi Lawrence,

We can all be saints, saints with a small ‘s’, this means that we submit ourselves to God’s plan for us, seeking it through prayer, and living our lives according to his Divine words. Praying is important for knowing what God wants for us. God wants to see us asking Him “God let me know what you want me to do for you.” He will show us, via people, circumstances that happen during the day, through the Holy Spirit giving us a conscience type feeling.

You state that you are a husband and father. It’s amazing that you feel drawn to the monastic life… Keep praying and asking God to how you can serve Him from the position you are in. There’s a lot you can do for Him and the Church even when you have a family!

I can understand the position you are in. Although I am not married, but still young, I’ve been praying and asking God how I can serve Him, and He has been answering my prayers. Everytime i think it’s only a co-incidence, i get the same message again via people and circumstances throughout my day!! God hears us when we pray fervently with perseverance! :slight_smile:

God bless. Good luck!

I don’t know if one can discern sainthood. I believe it is the result of living one’s life in complete union with God. I’m also not certain that all saints in heaven have been recognized. We will know one day at the end of the world when all is revealed to us. But I think I understand what you’re saying. Your vocation is as a father and husband but sometimes you feel called to a monastic life. I’m sure it happens in opposite fashion to monks. You want to live your life as God intends, because you believe he intends all of us to be saints. I think without knowing it, in your willingness to do anything for him you have already won the battle. Even the saints, up until the moments of their death, struggled with indecision and doubt and temptation. They are no different than any other Catholic who desires to give of themselves completely, whether married or single/religious. My best advice would be to take it to prayer. Take it to the source and humbly ask for the grace to know His will for you. The Divine Heart of our Lord will guide you. He waits for us to come to him with these things, because he wants to show us how to love. I have found this the best way to remain close to the communion of saints and our Lord himself, to ask for that intimacy and grace.:slight_smile:

Your desire for the monastic life is the call within to devote yourself to prayer and meditation where you can, but as father and husband, your sanctity lies in being as charitable and wise father and husband as you can.

In my earlier years I longed to be a Carmelite nun. I am wife and mother to three lovely sons.
One of my dearest friends is a Carmelite nun. Her love and prayer for mine and me is of great joy to me. Once I spoke to her regretfully of that now impossible dream and the dear dear holy Carmelite said to me, “But you are a Carmelite though!” I have no vows or connections with a Carmelite Order, but she said that to me because she recognized that dream is fulfilled in my spirit and prayers.

If you or I were to focus exclusively and primarily on the vocation to pray, the vocation to worship God as a monastic, to find holiness in a life that is not ours, then we would fail in our actual vocation of parent and spouse. We will find our ‘monastic vocation’ in the midst of our actual vocation. We can do both if we trust in God’s leading and fully and honestly live our vocation as spouse and parent.

God bless you.

Yes, you have a great insight to sainthood. From Joan of Arc to Saint Francis, Saint Benedict to St. Padre Pio, from contemplatives to married persons, God calls every single one of us to be saints in a unique way.

There are many ways of life one can be called to in order to achieve sainthood. Your vocation is to be a husband and father, that is your path to sainthood. God may be asking you to spend all your time, whether working or taking care of the kids or being with your wife, as a prayer. Offer everything you do to God for your salvation, the salvation of your family, etc. And see what practical steps you can take within married life to become a better disciple of Christ. Find a priest to serve as your spiritual director, meet with him once or twice a month, and open up about this desire for sainthood. Spiritual direction is not reserved for priests, religious and seminarians. It can be so fruitful for any devoted Catholic.

Also, you have expressed an interest in monasticism. Obviously, God is not calling you to be a monk, as you are a married, family man. Maybe this attraction is present for a reason, though. Are there any monasteries nearby? Perhaps God is calling you to become an Oblate, or calling you to be a third order religious of some sort. The oblate/secular/third orders of different religious charisms are a wonderful way to live out the deep spirituality of the religious life while living in the world.

May God bless you in your quest for sainthood. Make sure to pray that more lay Catholics have this same desire to become saints. What a blessing for the Church to have such holy, zealous parents and spouses :slight_smile:

In Christ and Mary,

Hi Militantsparrow (what a super name!),

Do you know of Blesseds Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi, the first married couple to be beatified together by the Church? As a husband and father searching for your way to sainthood, you may find something in their story to inspire you!

Here’s a link to the homily that Pope John Paul II gave at their beatification ceremony: vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/2001/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20011021_beltrame-quattrocchi_en.html

Wow! So much excellent advice. I only wish it were easy. I wish Christ would just tell me which direction to head. But it’s obviously not meant to be that easy. I will continue to pray and I welcome any prayers.

Just last night I had a small lightbulb go off. For the moment, I believe I need to be a better version of who I am right now and maybe not worry too much about where I need to head. As many of you have said, God will show me the way if I live a prayerful and good life as a husband and a father.

Thank you for the compliment and the advice. I wasn’t aware of the Quattrocchi family but I am definitely going to look into them now.

I would appreciate your thoughts on some of these more specific quandaries.

1). I have agnostic, homosexual, racist, Wiccan and alcoholic friends. They know what my beliefs are. Yet they enjoy my company and visa versa. Part of me feels tempted by them in that they all want to see me for who I used to be (basically a quasi-new age Christian hippy). The other part of me feels I am the only one bringing them the message of the Gospels (though very imperfectly).

How can we be in the world without being of the world? I could easily live as a monastic, but I obviously cannot. I could go to daily mass but that puts toommuch strain on my family (long story). I enjoy having drinks with my friends, but I don’t want to be “tainted” or to cause them scandal about the Church. I feel drawn to pacifism but I am moved by the crusade to the point I would take up a sword for the Church if need arose.

Sorry. That’s a lot and I could go on even further. Hopefully I’ve explained my struggle enough that at least someone can relate.

Hi again!

I can again relate to you. I have grown up going to public schools/government run schools which are secular (i’m from Australia), and most of my friends had no faith at all. In my situation I kept at being what God wanted me to be, that is, His friend and an example to them, even if it means we don’t discuss the Gospels. Actions speak louder than words, and what I truly believe is that being an example has a great impact in the long run. Imagine if your friends were to convert later because of your example, that would be great. And if they don’t, then at least you were a great friend and kept God’s will (to love all). Just remember, Jesus sat with sinners, but He always kept the Father in His heart. We musn’t let ourselves be influenced by the wrong actions of others.

Lately I have been praying that God show me His will and path for me, because like you, I have been feeling like i wish to be passive. I’m caught between two worlds: I want Heaven and to be there, but I’m here, on Earth, where I see the consequences of sin and bad choices. I also just wish we would all just love God with all our hearts, how beautiful life would be. As you say you can’t attain the monastic life, and since you enjoy the company of your friends and they do also, maybe that’s God calling you and showing you that He wants you to be an example to your friends, and most importantly to your family. See sometimes we pray and pray for something to happen, for God to speak to us through new ways, but have we come to think that maybe He is already! Where we are here, in our lives right now, He wants us to live a great Christian life for Him now. Tomorrow has it’s own worries, tomorrow will come.

God Bless :slight_smile:

Christ is love,
You are a very good writer. Thank younger your thoughts and sharing a bit of your story. Our stories sound very similar. The Only difference I see is that you are wise enough to see God’s hand and to hear his call. I think that’s what I need to work on.

Sorry. My iPhone auto corrected that. It should have said thank you for your thoughts (not thank younger :)).

You’re welcome! And thank you. :slight_smile:

God bless.

Jesus said “I came that you may have life, life in the fullest.” The one thing that we find in the lives of the saints is this living life to the fullest, whether as a monastic or in the midst of the world. In the midst of this life, they glorify God, praying incessantly for his guidance and thanking him for all that they receive through him.
The gospel passage that often strikes home is the one that calls for us to use our talents, whatever they may be. We do need to keep in mind our life situation, and not neglect our duty to lives entrusted to us (our children). I would love to find a plaque with the kitchen prayer that graced my mother’s kitchen. “…I may have Martha hands, but I have a Mary heart.”
Especially when I was in high school, we talked about her/my desire to become nuns. She had wanted to be a missionary nun while I saw myself as a teaching nun. I am one of nine children. It dawned on me a few years ago that while my mother, married to the same man for 49 years, never did become a nun, she was a missionary in her own right. With my father in the military, we lived overseas. My parents sponsored several people who entered the Church based on the example of Christian living they observed.
Until his public ministry, the life of Christ was hidden. The home is the “domestic church.” If the monastic life is hidden, and the life of Christ under Mary and Joseph was also hidden, perhaps your family life can also be a form of “monastic” life.

Well stated, DebCbris.

I too am asking myself the question of “how do we know God’s plan for us?”

I am currently discerning the Priesthood, but in it all I have a love for a girl that drives me completely crazy. I search in prayer asking what I need to do and looking unto God. I’m in college, I pray about 3 hrs a day and meditate on the word for probably longer than that. One thing that I learned from St. Ignatius of Loyola is that contemplation is one of the keys to hearing God’s voice and fully understanding. I would agree with just about everyone here in that God calls you to something greater, to become a role model, just like your parish priest, you become a role model for your family and friends.

As a college student, I have been to some interesting places, one of the best places is Morocco, where I influenced several young Muslim teenagers to question their faith and ask the question of “who is Christ?” Living that life of monasticism may not be available, but what you are called to be is to be the Christ, the Head of your family. For as Christ is the Head of the Church, you are the head of your family. You, along with your wife, are the spiritual guides of the family, showing your children the beautiful joy of God, the love of Christ and a hope that can never be truly imagined through the blood of our Lord Jesus. As such, he calls you to prayer, to contemplation and to meditation on the scriptures and on what he has to tell you.

Christ has taught me well, for years I never stepped foot in a church, I never did a single thing but listen to what God told me through the scriptures and through the Holy Spirit. When I entered back into the protestant church I found myself uneasy with their doctrines, I felt outcast and alone. God showed me the Catholic church and ever since then I have never been more at home. It is my family, I spent this Christmas, a way from my family in quiet prayer and contemplation of what God has in store for me. Although I have been given no guidance on my priesthood or about this girl I’ve fallen for. I know that Christ leaves nothing unanswered and I understand that he is going to tell me when I am ready. Until then, I play my part in my circle of friends, I preach with such ferocity that I have seen some of my friends relationships with God become great. Its not about what we say though its what we don’t say.

Your calling, seems to be great, a true vocation of Marriage, where you are the Head of your family, teaching and giving guidance to your wife and your children. You may never obtain a monastic life, but that availability of Prayer, Meditation and Contemplation is available for all, not only those who are apart of the Monastery.

God Bless you Brother, My prayers stand with you.

Adam, Thank you for the wonderful words of encouragement. I will pray for your discernment.

God bless you.

“Preach always and if necessary use words.” Actions definitely do speak louder than words. Not all of us see the results of our actions. I think I am more the person who is called to sow the seed somebody else will harvest.
I shared the dream I had with my spiritual director, a variation of Peter walking on the water. I was reaching back to those in the boat and pulling them unto the water.
As much as I might like to spend time on retreat, in prayer and contemplation, God points to the valley and the need for me to come down from the mountain top. Life itself, our everyday actions become prayer. Ora et Laboris.

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