Am I at the parting of ways?

Hey there!

It’s been a couple of years since I last posted on here about vocations.
To give a slight understanding of who I am… I am a male from New Zealand who will be 19 this year.

For the past 6 years I have stressed out a lot about vocations. I love both priesthood and marriage. The last 2 years I have become more peaceful, but have also swayed much further towards the married state. I haven’t ever dated anyone as I want to wait some years to have a good amount of savings and pay to support a possible future family.

But I sometimes feel this strong pull towards the priesthood, it feels peaceful… But at the same time it distresses me… I want to serve God in this way, I only get one chance on this Earth to serve Him. But the reason it distresses me is because of marriage that I’ll be missing.

I think about marriage for hours and hours, and when I say that I am not just saying it, it’s incredibly intense and hard, and even when I think it’s reached it’s height, the desire grows stronger.
I’d love to have a family, lots of children, support them and bring them up knowing God, it feels right and peaceful. But at the same time it also distresses me, I think, “am I not capable of priesthood and giving my whole self totally to God?”

I want marriage. But am I wasting my life by not doing something that could offer more to God?

I have had a spiritual director for the last 3 or so years on this, but it doesn’t seem there is an answer.
I have two choices in front of me now. I can join a seminary now, and if I’m right that is great! But if I’m wrong… I’ve wasted a lot of precious time to build up a career etc now which will make things so much easier for a family.
I can start on a career now, but either way, am I just walking in the dark? How can I know what I’m meant to do without God coming down and telling me Himself?

Thanks :blush:

You’re only 18 years old. It’s a bit young to be so stressed over this. We are not in the era when young men planning to be priests would need to be entering seminary while still teenagers or lose the chance to do so. You could certainly pursue an education now while leaving the door open to both priesthood and marriage while you discern further. As for “the desire for marriage”, unless you have actually met a particular girl with whom you’re considering a serious relationship, that’s pretty nebulous for you at this point also. Bottom line is you’re probably not going to reach a definitive answer to your question right now. It will take you a few more years.

I would suggest you speak with the vocations director for your diocese. He’s likely talked to dozens of young men like you and can give practical advice.

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Let me tell you a little story.

There once was a young man pretty similar to you in a lot of ways. Single, trying to discern between priesthood and marriage. Actually was going to the Diocesan vocation director, went on a discernment retreat, and began the very preliminary stages of applying to seminary.

But then stopped.

Why? Well he really started thinking deeply about this question “What’s the next step”, and it kind of froze him where he was. Sure he could probably be a priest, but does he WANT to be a priest.

Eventually it got to the point where asking a girl out on a date seemed less scary then finishing that application. 5 years later, he is engaged, and his fiancé is being confirmed this year, and sure, he could be a priest, but he could also be a husband and father.

The truth is you’re never 100% sure 100% of the time. People aren’t just one thing or the other, but you do have to choose, but right now it’s not “Married” vs “Priest”? The question is “Do I apply for seminary” or “Do I ask that girl out”? God can use you for both.

Neither road is going to be easy, and you’re probably in for a lot of things you weren’t expecting, but just pick the one that feels right that day. You’re still young, so don’t worry about making a mistake right now! Between dating and seminary you will learn more and more about yourself, so don’t view either as wasted time, it could be well spent time if you apply yourself, and then you will know what is probably not 100% right, but simply MORE right.

Hope you took something from that.

Peace

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I find it a bit odd that you speak about choosing between two vocations when you haven’t even dated anyone yet. You don’t need to have your life planned out and paid for before you date someone. Asking someone on a date is not asking them to marry you. It seems to me that you need to date and then see if you are still interested in the priesthood, because yes, you are still very young.

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Also, there are many ways that people serve God. I hope you are not implying that married people do not serve God.

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Our Diocese has a “house of formation” that young men may enter after they graduate high school or at an older age. It’s reason is early discernment.

Are you talking to your Vocations director?

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It’s often said that a good priest would also make a good father because sacrifice and self-giving are at the heart of both vocations. So, in that sense, priesthood is anything but an escape or alternative for those who aren’t capable of marriage. While it would be a lot easier if God would just give each of us a sign of what he wants us to do, unfortunately Damascene moments seem to be in short supply these days! That said, the question isn’t so much what God wants but rather what you want.

As @Tis_Bearself has said, you’re still young and need to take time to explore both vocations in order to be able to properly choose. You’re too young to enter the seminary now - that’s at least another few years away; almost all NZ seminarians have studied and/or worked for several years prior to entering the seminary. So take the time to slow down and pace yourself; discernment is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and is about the journey as well as the destination. Regardless of what you decide to do, the time and life experience you gain over the coming years will serve you well but that obviously won’t happen if you’re rushing.

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It sounds like you struggle with staying in the present moment. We all do especially at some points in our lives. It takes time to arrive at this ability to stay in the present moment but it’s good to start practicing at it while you’re young and praying for the grace to stay in the moment.

It’s good to think about how God might want you to serve Him with your whole life, but it’s also necessary to remember every day to ask the question: “How can I serve Him today, right where I am?” So instead of seeing this as a great conundrum that you have to solve right away, try to see it as an adventure that you are on, one day at a time. I still pray every day, “Lord, help to me stay in the present moment, taking one day at a time.”

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Maybe someday you will be married and become a Deacon!

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Thank you for your reply :blush:

I heard from a priest that because marriage is a natural desire, it is always easier to go to marriage from the seminary than it is to go to the seminary from dating. So I heard that I should probably wait until I know that priesthood isn’t my vocation…

And no, I apologise if you think I am downtalking marriage as being low class! Not at all. Many great saints have been in the married state.

If marriage is what God wants from me, what age would you suggest to be an acceptable dating age?

Thanks :blush:

Thank you for your response :blush:

Yes, indeed I accept that fact. I do struggle to stay in the present moment at many times. But when I need to make that choice to either apply for a seminary or asking someone out, how can I apply that same “How can I serve Him today” there?

Thanks

Thank you, this was helpful :blush:

If you are 18, it is not too early for you to start dating. You need to learn about interacting and spending time with a woman without thinking “she’s the one!” Not every woman you meet is marriage material for you. But you will never know until you start dating someone. And every woman will teach you something. :slightly_smiling_face:

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