I am in the process of trying to discern if my calling to the priesthood or even religious life is viable and/or agreeable to the Church (if you are interested see thread "I have been avoiding this forum, why?). A past romance has appeared and I don’t think I can share with her my calling as she is orthodox Jewish by birth and very sensitive to religious issues. Still, I care for her and love her to a certain degree. I believe she may want more than friendship, possibly even a secular living arrangement with all that implies—since we could not be married in either of our traditions due to conversion issues wholly our own. Since meeting her again I have begun to doubt my calling; have seen another priest for reconciliation, who says that Chastity sins can be a barrier to a vocation (“If you tend towards sins against Chastity then it is probably better to not become a priest.”), but who saw in me a persistent desire to be a priest. Just a few days before this encounter with my past romance, I accidentally found a copy of the book “The Divine Office …for Dodos” a Catholic Press book on sale in Barnes and Noble for 87 cents after discounts. When I found that book I thought it might be a sign, but was quickly relieved of that notion when I met up with her. I’m so confused as to the point of bewilderment. Additionally, I am facing the situation of a very ill mother. This woman is a good person and I can see myself with her on a long term basis; on the other hand, from what I’ve read about celibate life, you often must deal with just these types of situations. Please offer thoughts.
You will never know unless you at least try some time in a Seminary and discern it. The Seminary will discern with you, too.
On the other side, I don’t feel good about what you said about how the woman wants a secular dating arrangement… It’s got to be Catholic courting. It’s also much harder when they aren’t Catholic.
If I were you, I would stay focused on the Priesthood.
Yes, in the celibate life you’re very likely going to have to deal with that kind of situation, and more than once. Becoming a priest is not going to provide you with immunity to sexual attraction. When those instances occur, you will simply have to choose between honouring your vows, or not. It’s all about committing to what you value above all else, no holds barred, one day at a time, one hour at a time, over and over.
I can’t remember from your other thread whether you have a spiritual director, but if you don’t, I encourage you think about making an appointment to see one. Discerning God’s will is a lifelong, ongoing process. And it’s always good to have the help and guidance of someone who understands the stirrings (and concerns!) of the soul.
Hang in there. I’ll be praying for you.
You are concerned whether your calling to the priesthood is agreeable to the Church, but I think an equally important question only you can answer–with the help of G-d, of course–is whether it is agreeable to you, that is, whether becoming a priest is in fact your calling. If it is, I think you must pursue it. One thing I don’t quite understand is your saying that this woman comes from an Orthodox Jewish family but may want a “secular living arrangement.” If she is currently Orthodox, that kind of unmarried relationship would most probably not be acceptable to her. Whatever you may decide, I wish you the best.
Your story about Barnes and Noble reminds me of an experience I had at Adoration before meeting my husband. I had been praying before the Blessed Sacrament very earnestly that God would find me a good spouse. I came out of Adoration and had a very elderly priest strike me up in conversation. He ended with, “you know, you’d make a great sister!”
I was actually very upset for a couple of weeks. I felt like God had given me His final answer and I had nothing to say about it.Then, I went to Confession and the priest said, “Do you want to enter a religious order?” I said no. He then said, “Have you EVER wanted to be in a religious order?” I said no again. My confessor said,“You know, it’s possible the priest was just trying to make conversation…”
For your situation, I’d look at it thus: The priesthood is a vocation. So is marriage. A secular living arrangement with a woman you can never marry is not.
I agree with the other poster who said they’d recommend you try the seminary. If it’s not for you, then you will probably learn that fairly early into the process and can then discern if you are meant to be married or remain as a single man. If you do leave the seminary and your romantic interest is still a part of the picture, then you will have to determine how best to reconcile your involvement with her in terms of your religious differences.
Good luck. I am praying for you.
In reply let me make a couple of things transparent that haven’t been mentioned in this thread. (1) I have not been accepted to seminary yet, nor have I asked the Church for ordination (2) I have struggled with this in the past; in fact, though I have a form of mental illness I never from the priests I knew, worked for and sometimes socialized with did get the feedback that that illness was a barrier–even though it is serious label, I handle it very well mentally, cognitively, and spiritually and it has now been over 20 years since the initial diagnosis–but rather, I also had a bad case of psoriasis which has recently been treated effectively by a new self injected medicine; that psoriasis was then the main reason I was troubled in my calling because it was unsightly and affected my hands, thus making a huge self awareness problem with giving communion to people at mass (so I believed).
Now to your part about the secular life with a woman being a non calling. True, it is far from the ideal of marriage. I would be put in a situation of constant reconciliation and shame if I ever approached the Eucharist, to put it mildly. But I have a keen memory and remember from the priests I have met and known, that the single life for a man is a calling that even God condemned (see the story of the creation of adam and EVE if you doubt that). God said that it is not right for a man to be alone. Period. A priest makes a sacrifice that is consecrated and special in spiritual service to the Church–he has a bride. A man not ordained has no bride and that is condemnation, plain and simple. No one knows of him, no one cares. He is forsaken, and persecuted with all sorts of unholy names. Even the police frown down on this and turn their backs on prostitution because it is seen as so shameful as to warrant decadence preferable to single life. All the troublemakers benefit while the single man is exploited.
I love the Church and would love to serve if I could. But that hasn’t been discerned yet by any means. My dilemma better stated in this post is that I have to weigh the successful failure of a life with a person I have loved but can’t marry in the Church with the possibility of a vocation that may not be approved by God or Church or be possible for my own private reasons. Add to that the shame of being a single man whom the Church has not responded to in that manner (I tried the Catholic dating site and was attempted scammed by a phony profile from England), my options are slim and the decision to accept the lesser of two evils (single with no wife vs. secular living arrangement) is becoming the main part of the choice.
I am very happy that you responded Irish Gal because you made me understand why there are so many people living in that situation in this world. They must weigh their options.
Still, I have more discerning to do and I have not given up on the priesthood. I would love to serve. But yet, this is not easy. Thanks for your prayers. I can feel them working for me. God Bless You.
I apologize if my reasoning has offended anyone. Please correct me if I am in obvious or subtle error.
She is not practicing. Her dad is very sick and does not enforce the high ethics of the Orthodox. He would be happy if she married, period; if with another Jewish person of any community, that would elate him. I met him briefly without words once, and he smiled. Now understand that some people say I look Jewish; but nevertheless, the smile was heartfelt and in joy that his daughter had met someone.
Michael, if I’m understanding correctly, you would not be able to marry her, only to live with her in a “secular living arrangement”. This would be a sin and would go against the Church. Even if you don’t have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, - God would not call you to living in a secular living arrangement,- but marriage… since He would not call you to sin.
Now to your part about the secular life with a woman being a non calling. True, it is far from the ideal of marriage. I would be put in a situation of constant reconciliation and shame if I ever approached the Eucharist, to put it mildly.
In fact, it would be much worse than this…
If you were to live with a woman outside of marriage, - you’d have to go to Confession before every Communion, but your Confessions would not be valid… because - you would not be truly repentant, as long as you continue living with her. The point of Confession is not to just say our sins, but actually to leave them behind, to really repent of them… not to intend to do them again. Otherwise, we do not receive forgiveness even if the absolution was said.
But I have a keen memory and remember from the priests I have met and known, that the single life for a man is a calling that even God condemned (see the story of the creation of adam and EVE if you doubt that). God said that it is not right for a man to be alone. Period.
Then pray to find a good spouse. But living in sin is not the answer.
A priest makes a sacrifice that is consecrated and special in spiritual service to the Church–he has a bride. A man not ordained has no bride and that is condemnation, plain and simple. No one knows of him, no one cares. He is forsaken, and persecuted with all sorts of unholy names. Even the police frown down on this and turn their backs on prostitution because it is seen as so shameful as to warrant decadence preferable to single life. All the troublemakers benefit while the single man is exploited.
I don’t think that is the teaching of the Church… I’ve never, ever heard that it’s a sin to be single, not married or in religious life.
I was more than a bit angry at things in general when I wrote the last part that you quoted, Monica, about it being a sin to live alone. Sorry to have put it in such words.
However, I have prayed alternately for a good wife and/or a good vocation. This is what I have to make do with—this is the reality of my life right now and what it has been for the past 20 years (that’s two decades, Monica).
I appreciate your comment about the validity of confessions. Nothing would hurt me more than to be left out of the sacraments like that. You are quite brave and straightforward to point that out.
The rest is probably best left to a spiritual director.
“Now to your part about the secular life with a woman being a non calling. True, it is far from the ideal of marriage. I would be put in a situation of constant reconciliation and shame if I ever approached the Eucharist, to put it mildly. But I have a keen memory and remember from the priests I have met and known, that the single life for a man is a calling that even God condemned (see the story of the creation of adam and EVE if you doubt that). God said that it is not right for a man to be alone. Period. A priest makes a sacrifice that is consecrated and special in spiritual service to the Church–he has a bride. A man not ordained has no bride and that is condemnation, plain and simple. No one knows of him, no one cares. He is forsaken, and persecuted with all sorts of unholy names. Even the police frown down on this and turn their backs on prostitution because it is seen as so shameful as to warrant decadence preferable to single life. All the troublemakers benefit while the single man is exploited.”
Being single is most definitely NOT bad or wrong. God did not say it is not right for man to be alone, he said it is not good. (This is according to the Douay Rheims Bible version.) This is different. I am by no means an expert, but I would say in this instance God is only referring to the fact that Adam was totally alone with no other humans. If you were alone in this world with no other humans, God would probably create a companion for you too. True, most men end up marrying a woman, but surely you have seen many people called to the single vocation, both men and women, that are good examples of a Catholic lifestyle and perfectly happy.
As for your situation, as everyone else says, continue to pray that God reveals his will for your life. You may not be called to the single life, but the only reason you should eliminate that vocation should be because you do not feel God is calling you to it, not because you think it is wrong or bad. Talking to a priest about it could help too.
You’re in my prayers. Good luck in finding your vocation!
There is nothing wrong with the single life. I know plenty of single, faithful Catholics. There are consecrated virgins, widows, there are people incapable of having children or unable to marry for some reason, people with same-sex attraction that find it wouldn’t be fair to be with the opposite gender if not attracted, etc. etc.
Michael, help me out here. If you love God and the Church enough to consider a priestly vocation, how could you even consider being with a woman you couldn’t marry in the Church?
You seem to think the choice is between a life of holiness or a life of constant mortal sin?
Please do talk to your spiritual director. Even if you are not called to a priestly vocation, you would then be called to a Catholic marriage, not living in sin.
May God Bless you and your vocation abundantly!
Thank You, Bilop. To explain it as best as I can: Though I have had many women friends, I have not, by contrast, had many ‘girlfriends’. I am drawn to a religious vocation particularly when times are difficult because I enjoy my life when I can remain focused on God. Again, the “choice between a life of holiness or a life of constant mortal sin” appears to be a choice of real terms and not ideal ones. The priesthood may or then again may not be an option much less a possibility—a marriage to a Catholic woman with whom I am compatible and can marry likewise may or may not be an option. Ordained priests are relatively rare both statistically and in God’s plan of unique individuality, so I probably could more easily accept a rejection from the Church if they said NO. However, the vocation of marriage is everywhere apparent and the sexuality of affection cannot be avoided either in public or in private thought: therefore marriage is a vocation which cannot be avoided in thought. Women, maybe, but I do not know any celibate, happy and content single men who do not suffer at least some shame from their life style—not unless they receive much psychological help or perhaps had a different upbringing than I did and as result have different mindsets.
I other words: I see no middle ground. There is no life of half sin; holiness is either complete and total or it is nothing, sinful.
If you’re so pulled off track from a vocation by just meeting an old flame, and from that meeting refusing to tell her about your faith, contemplating sexual activity and also no idea of her salvation through the Church, maybe the priesthood is not for you. I am not saying one way or the other, how can I judge? But based on the facts you’ve outlined here, you don’t seem too serious about the tremendous difficulty of the priesthood. Women throw themselves at priests all the time. You can’t be weak in that area. I would stay away from this girl for a short time, maybe a month, to let your head clear. And I would immediately tell her you are thinking about becoming a priest and that’s why you need a little time. If you don’t even have the guts for that, well…
Better to face such struggles with an open mind. The same temptation is always there, priest or married. I can tell you that when I had the same situation as married (15 yrs), it helped me to understand the mechanism at work. As the OP said, love in a way, it is amazing how much of our memories of old love is stored in our brain chemistry. The feelings come forth are simply unavoidable and can overwhelm. What I did was study up on what happened and faced it mentally. It faded almost as if I had scheduled it. Maybe this will work for some, maybe not. Either way, it is a challenge many of us face from time to time.
For the second time my romantic relationship with this woman has ended. I am relieved; it was also very tearful. Thanks for all your prayers.
Let’s say you not discerning a calling. You think you can have a long-term intimate relationship with someone you can’t share your feelings and passions with because she is “sensitive to religious issues?” I get strong having attractions, I really do.
Walk away now. For both your sakes.
Take care of your mom and then maybe on a retreat or something. Balance your life, keep praying and decide you won’t be afraid of the answers.
And if want a relationship with a woman, find one who’s your best friend, the one you can tell everything to and want to hear everything from.
Sounds like good opportunities to move forward and bring closure to those relationships. When i was in seminary, I encountered two of my ex-girlfriends. One was surprises, and she eventually came into the church. The other expected it of me. But I’m close friends with both, and even more so now. They both support my vocation. And they know me as well as anyone ever has.
So you can look at this as a good thing that God is bringing them into your life
Not only is it a non calling, as God can not call a person to live in sin, but you would not be able to approach the Eucharist or even Confession. Part of Confession is repentance, part of repentance is the resolve not to place yourself in the near occasion of sin as well as promising not to sin again. That your living arrangements would be a near occasion of sin and would negate any promise not to sin, you would actually be planning to sin again. How could you truly be repentant when you plan on committing the same sin over and over again.
Any good confessor would refuse you absolution.
Even if you do not pursue the priesthood/religious life, you should not pursue a relationship with this woman if it requires that you sin. That is a very unhealthy relationship.