Bf with issues, wants to be a priest


#1

Hello all,
First off, I’m new here, so please pardon me if this thread has been covered before. My boyfriend and I have been together very seriously for three years. We only recently broke up because he wants to go to seminary to be a priest. I am trying my best to be supportive of his decision; however, it is obviously difficult. In order to get the advice I am soliciting, I will tell the story from the beginning. I apologize for the length.

First off, a bit about him. He’s 23 years old. Went to college and received degrees in Theology and Philosophy. He’s always been actively involved in his faith and has a job as a youth minister.

As I said, we’ve been together for three years. About 1.5 years ago, my boyfriend broke up with me out of the blue. He then quickly began a decent into a downward spiral of self destruction - smoking, excessive drinking, partying with the wrong people, drunk driving. This period of my life was one of the most challenging I have ever experienced. I talked to counselors, my friends, his friends, etc to try to get him to stop, but he would not. I ended up calling his parents (they live in another state) to tell them about his behavior, and it was only then that he began to come back. Luckily, near the end of this tumultuous time, I was able to convince him to go to counseling and we began dating again. He started attended weekly counseling sessions, and he slowly got better. During the time he was in counseling, he would not tell me the reasons for his behavior, but I did not pressure him to tell me - I wanted him to do it on his own. Then came the day that he felt he could tell me the reason for his breaking up with me and the ensuing behavior.

Since he was young (12/13), he has been addicted to pornography and masturbation. He also has depressive tendencies that run in his family. The counseling was to try to address these issues. I also learned that, over the course of the 2 years we had been dating, he cheated on me twice (kissing) with two different women at the catholic summer camp where he worked. This was obviously troubling, and it took me quite a while to get over this. There was mistrust and hurt. However, I stayed with him - I wanted to be by his side and support him through his counseling. He left counseling about a year ago after being in it for about 6 months - he did not finish the counseling as his therapist had prescribed due to monetary issues.

Fast forward to now. Up until a few days ago, our relationship had been stronger than ever before. He was growing into the man I knew he could be. He was responsible, loving, and had a job that he enjoyed as a youth minister. We were starting to plan our future together. A couple of weeks ago, he informed me that he had started discerning for the priesthood. Once again, I stayed by his side and tried to be supportive of the process he was going through. I remained hopeful that he would choose me (selfishly). A few days ago, he informed me that he would be applying for seminary and that our relationship was over. Again, I was hurt. I felt like the way he said it was so odd. He told me that in his discernment he felt that his “heart was on fire” with the love he had for me and that he had never loved nor felt love from another as he did from me. He then said that he has the same fire in his heart for God and that he must at least try seminary.

This is where the solicitation for advice comes in. I am scared that he will go through this process only to be rejected due to his prior psychological issues. I know the application/interview process is intense and that his issues will come up. Do any of you have any thoughts on this? What I should or should not do? Part of me thinks that, at this point, I can no longer help him. I have sacrificed so much for him to heal. Should I suggest to him that he first finish his counseling as prescribed? Any and all advice (and prayers) are welcome.

Peace.


#2

You are not supposed to do anything, other than pray for him.

This is his journey, not yours. Minimally suggesting he finishes his counseling is fine, if he chooses not to then that is his choice.


#3

if he can control his sexuality he could be a priest


#4

Hello MUD,

Just my thoughts on the matter; continue to be supportive of him and his decision. Pray the rosary together with him daily. Don’t worry about whether or not he gets rejected based on earlier issues in his life. My oldest brother went to the seminary and was told there that his heart was in the right place but the priesthood was not his calling in life, he humbly accepted this and as he said, “Hey, they should know”. So previous psychological issues are not the only reason why seminarians are advised that the priesthood is not their calling (besides, psychologists love to label all of us with “psychological issues” whether they truly exist or not :slight_smile: )

So it boils down to this in my mind:
1) He goes to the seminary and becomes a priest. While I can understand that this may not be what you want as you are in a relationship with him and love him; look at it from the perspective of Christian love and rejoice that he is even closer to God now in this honorable vocation. I’m not saying this is easy to do, just as we all have a hard time losing our loved ones when God calls them home; we tend to look at it from our perspective of loss and not from their perspective of being in the presence of God.
2) He goes to the seminary and doesn’t become a priest/he decides not to go to the seminary. Specifically the first part tho where let’s say he goes to the seminary and doesn’t become a priest, continue to be supportive and don’t let him fall into despair. If this is the case, I would recommend he look into becoming a deacon in the church. Maybe God is calling him to a different vocation, maybe he was meant to take the Sacrament of Marriage and not the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Only God knows his true plan for any of us, it is our responsibility to pray often, attend Mass, and trust in the Lord in all things. Personally, I am still trying to figure out what God wants me to do (specifically that is).

Hope this helps.

pax vobiscum


#5

Allow God and him to make the decision. He needs to pursue this in order to find out. If this is what God wants and he cooperates, his past problems will not be a barrier.

I am sure that this hurts, pray for the Lord's strength.


#6

I would advise you to focus on building your own life independent of him. He sounds like someone who doesn't know himself well and is trying to figure out his life, and honestly, it sounds like you are trying to mold him into the person you want. You sound like a strong, determined person (good qualities!), but the way you describe your relationship, it seems one-sided. You have your act together and drive the relationship; he is a bit of a screwup, and so goes along with your direction. Regardless of whether he stays in the seminary or ends up leaving, he has broken up with you twice. Breakups are painful; one has to let go of the love and hopes of the future. But holding out a secret hope that he will be rejected from the seminary so that he will return to you - you deserve someone is with you because there's nowhere else he'd rather be! It sounds like this guy knows you are not the one for him, but he is too weak to just be honest with you.


#7

He needs space to discern God’s call for his life. You need to take a step back from this relationship so he can have a go at the seminary. Allow him to have space so he can truly discern what his vocation is. God has a plan for you too. Spend lots of time in prayer, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and consider if finding a spiritual director is a good idea for yourself.

As for his psychological issues. I know someone very well who is a seminarian and a sex addict. I highly suggest you learn about sexual addiction and the implications it will have on your married life, if you end up marrying him. Would you marry a raging alcoholic? Would you marry a drug addict? Probably not. Sexual addiction is just as destructive, if not more, than substance abuse. If his issue is truly an addiction, you will be resigning yourself to a life of being objectified. This may sound harsh, but it is the reality of sexual addiction. Not to mention the tendency for addictions to escalate, and it seems his SA has. He went from habitual masturbation/pornography to cheating on you. Other steps down the road that he may or may not fall into are hiring prostitutes, full fledged affairs, lying and deceit. There are 12 step programs for sex addicts, perhaps he can look into them. There are also groups for the family of sex addicts. There are groups online. Please please please search for these groups and forums online and educate yourself about the realities of sexual addiction. This is not like a broken arm that will get better after some time with a doctor. With my friend who is a SA, i’ve come to not trust him when things seem all hunky dory, because it’s at these times that he’s in the throws of a binge and is lying like a pro to hide it. I won’t suggest you don’t marry him, but please learn what you’re getting yourself into.


#8

:thumbsup:


#9

Whether he comes back to you or not, I agree with Caroline that you need to allow yourself to recover and experience independence for a while.

You have spent a lot of time enabling this man, but how much time have you given to yourself in discerning whether you need a healthy equal relationship in life, with someone not so changeable?

God may be allowing you a chance to become fully yourself, and to really look at all the unjust and unhealthy issues this relationship has put on your kind shoulders.
If you marry you have a responsibility to yourself and your children.

My mother used to say, "Don't imagine you can change a man", (I believe you can influence, but you can't change him.)

In marriage, with time and routine, people often become more the person they were, and less the person we want them to be. That's the risk, anyway. I'm inclined to fear that this young man hasn't shown a lot of consideration towards you dumping you twice (for whatever reason, and even cheating on you) and not a lot of moral strength...but that's something you may need time to personally discern.

God bless you both,
Trish


#10

[quote="Caroline723, post:6, topic:322981"]
I would advise you to focus on building your own life independent of him. He sounds like someone who doesn't know himself well and is trying to figure out his life, and honestly, it sounds like you are trying to mold him into the person you want. You sound like a strong, determined person (good qualities!), but the way you describe your relationship, it seems one-sided. You have your act together and drive the relationship; he is a bit of a screwup, and so goes along with your direction. Regardless of whether he stays in the seminary or ends up leaving, he has broken up with you twice. Breakups are painful; one has to let go of the love and hopes of the future. But holding out a secret hope that he will be rejected from the seminary so that he will return to you - you deserve someone is with you because there's nowhere else he'd rather be! It sounds like this guy knows you are not the one for him, but he is too weak to just be honest with you.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#11

I agree that you need to be independent of this man and focus on your own spiritual growth and mental health.

If he does enter the seminary (and even while he’s discerning) he needs space from you. You would not date a man already in the seminary, so don’t date one who wants to be there.

If he doesn’t enter, I suggest that he may not be quite ready to settle down anyway. You should guard your heart with a man who has the issues he has. He needs to get his addictions in order and he needs to do it on his own initiative. You should not get into a parental position where you monitor his behavior and his relationship with his drs and therapists. It sounds like you know this though.

Give him space. Learn to think of him not as your potential husband, but as a friend who is moving to a new stage in life. Pray for him, that his discerns God’s will and fiollows it. The same for yourself.

I’ll pray for you both.


#12

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers. I appreciate the advice from everyone, and I will take it to heart. More than anything, I just want him to be happy and in a good place. If this is what does that for him, then I am grateful that he has found a spiritual place of peace.


#13

God bless your kind and generous heart.
May God heal your pain, grant your prayers according to His holy will,and lead you to happiness and peace, now and for eternity.
God grant this also for your friend.


#14

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