So my boyfriend and I are both 17 and will be seniors this fall. We have been dating for almost two years and our relationship has been great. Recently, my boyfriend has been feeling drawn to the priesthood. He has been reading “To Save a Thousand Souls” which is about the calling to be a priest and he feels like he could really make an difference. I know this is a great thing but sometimes it unnerves me. He’s been talking to his parish priest about it too and tomorrow they will be visiting a seminary together. This of course is even harder for me to swallow…
We sat down and had a serious discussion about it a month ago when he let me know that he is having strong feelings about it. I told him that if breaking up with me or taking a break from our relationship would help him with his call then he can do it. I know that it would be hard for is but I want the best for him. He told me he did not want to do that because he isn’t sure if the priesthood is for him so we are still dating.
Despite this I still had a hard time trying to understand what I should do or how I should feel. I stumbled upon a blog about two weeks ago talking about letting things go and to just let God’s will be done. That blog really spoke to me so I told myself that whatever happens happens because it’s God’s will.
That’s definitely easier said than done. Now at night when my mind is most active, I start to worry like I did before and don’t know how to deal with it. I have mixed emotions about wanting to end the relationship but then thinking about all the regret that would come with it.
We both love each other so much and we know that even if our relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend ended we would still be best friends. I know that we are both young and the future is unpredictable but I just need some words of wisdom or advice to make me feel better.
I want to stop stressing so much over this when I don’t need to. What should I do? Any advice would be great (that is worded kindly please).
From what I’ve seen, it’s not recommended (and is very difficult) to discern two vocations at the same time. In other words, if your boyfriend is in some way attracted by the priesthood and wants to explore it seriously, he should not be dating you. Doing so would likely result in improper discernment, and could cause difficulty for both of you.
You sound like you are very open and supportive, which is a real blessing.
I’d advise you to take note of how you are feeling, and to be open with your boyfriend about that. There is not just one person in your relationship, but two, and you both need to pay attention to how the other is feeling.
I’d also recommend you pray. Prayer achieves great things, as does trusting in the Lord. No matter what, He will always provide.
I have the same book that your boyfriend is reading and it is a powerful book. I too am discerning priesthood. Since you mentioned that you both are seniors what you both are doing after high school may affect the relationship too. It is good that you are letting him explore because once a guy begins to feel a call it is very hard to try to forget about that calling. I’d say try to be very supportive. For example try having some time together praying the rosary or going to Eucharistic adoration or Bible reading. This will benefit you both faith wise.
I’ve heard of couples breaking up so one can enter religious life only for them to realise they were called to marriage after all and left religious life to get back together.
Then again, many do break up with their partners if it’s God’s will for one to have a religious vocation.
Pray for him to do what God wills and get him to seek Spiritual Direction.
[First, let me preface this by stating I’ve been on the other end of the situation, although I wasn’t so open about the discernment with my girlfriend (as, like your boyfriend, I wasn’t sure; but I’m a more private person I suppose); and we were far enough along in college that engagement could have been realistic within the year.]
One can date and discern priesthood/religious life (male or female), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one should. For my part, I prayed for God to grant an increase in the feeling of one aspect of my life, and a decrease in the other. Of course, I wanted it to happen immediately, but as anyone will tell you, God works in His own time.
For me, this resulted in a decrease of the attraction to being with my girlfriend… It got to the point that I would often sit there with her, asking myself (quite frankly) whether I really should be there. I think at that point, I knew what needed to be done. Of course, everybody always says they’ll be friends afterward and the such, but honestly it’s much easier for both parties to not talk; especially so if one is really trying to discern priesthood/religious life (again, male or female). I’m now in the seminary.
As for your situation, that’s a bit of a tough one. Personally, I’d be interested to see how he feels about the seminary visit a few days after going there (the first days after any visit you tend to feel very good about something). That being said, if he doesn’t have a better idea either way after that, I really would suggest that you break up , (and I’m talking from personal experience here) as it’s really just going to mess with both of you to the point that the double discerner feels “two loves” (essentially), and the non-discerner wonders what’s wrong, often thinking of worst case scenarios in their head; although, in your case you know what’s going on in his head, but it is still obviously causing similar feelings of confusion without any real answers.
You express a tremendous amount of faith and maturity in your story.
I can imagine your struggles at this moment. Your boyfriend’s discernment has big ramifications for you. Being in a relationship for as long as you two have been not only creates a deep friendship, but also creates an identity, if you will, of being his girlfriend. Add to this the intensity of the high school experience – blossoming independence of thought and movement, the importance of peer groups, discerning life’s future directions… – and it likely feels like your world is starting to make no sense!
Both you and your boyfriend are likely experiencing the stress of this possible change of identity. But as your boyfriend discerns the priesthood, he is in the process of creating his identity further. You are as well, but in a very different way. He’s on the proactive side, while you are on the reactive side.
Regardless of what happens, recognize that this is part of the growing experience. You will find your way through, even if it’s messy and uncomfortable at times.
As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta always told her sisters, “Cleave to Christ!” Deepen your relationship with Him at this time. He is the rock on which to build the foundation of our lives. Turn to Him in all things, make Him your first love; and when life starts to feel out of control, you will still be steady and strengthened by your relationship with Him.
I commend you on being brave and wanting to do what is best.
I know it’s not easy, I would strongly suggest taking a break from dating him while he decides. For two reasons, (1) it will help him know what his calling really is and (2) it will spare your heart.
If he comes back from the tour of the seminary still interested, I would suggest you start the break. If he decides against the priesthood and if it’s meant to be, the you might be together in the end.
As an aside, my personal view on dating is this: the main purpose of dating is to find your future spouse, not to have fun. You should never continue dating someone you have no desire to marrying or if he has no desire to marry you. It’s one thing if you are not yet sure, but if you know you don’t want to marry a person, you should call it off.
In your present situation, your boyfriend is considering a situation where he cannot marry. The best way he can make an informed decision is by being single. By breaking off the relationship, you would be doing him a service AS LONG AS. You don’t start dating someone else. If you start a break, take a break from dating yourself for a while, at least until he (1) decides if he’s becoming a priest or not or (2) you enter college.
Your very brave but very young also to be tied down to a single guy, you need to go out and see what life has to offer ( in a good way) because Stats always point out to early marriages they are the first to break up as they were formed to early and grew apart as the couple got older with nothing in common.
Personally I would tell him a break is the best, because he has to know that dating while discerning is not totally correct as he is playing with your feelings, and you are getting more hurt, just let him go and see where the Lord is calling him to, be open to the Lord’s wishes for you and him.
If you truly love him you will let him go and see what happens. Don’t sit at home moping go out with your friends and enjoy yourself the Lord knows what you are going through.
I know… I know that very well. Once I was dating a girl and then she dumped me. I wasn’t a serious Catholic back then so I was trying all possible tactics to get her back. I was so desperate that I almost wanted to quit studying. It took a charismatic prayer and then a situation in which I really had to choose between chasing her and following Jesus. I chose the latter - and that’s how I started believing for real - when I let her go, and let God’s will be done, He set me free from this desperation, and on the very next day (by coincidence?) I got to know another girl
I still often feel this urge to have control over my life, over what I dream about. But sometimes God comes and turns everything on its head - but trust me, afterwards it always turns out to be better His way Or better yet - trust Him! He’s gonna let you know what to do in His time - whether for your relatioship to be maintained, or not. His plan is more amazing than you expect!
Hi, I just wanted to add my two cents here. My husband also felt he had the calling to become a priest. He was raised strict catholic and it was/is very honorable for a family to have a son become a priest. However after college we met and although I had no idea he had considered becoming a priest when we met, I knew in my heart there was something there for both of us. We married had two kids and one Sunday during mass the announcements were read and when they got to the part where they asked if any men felt the call to the priesthood OR deactican there was a seminar, I knew, right then and there, he would go and explore becoming a deacon. He is now an ordained deacon for 8 years! It’s the best of both worlds if you are called to marriage and feel the call to serve God. I know many people will frown on me suggesting to you to maybe talk to him about maybe considering becoming a deacon rather than a priest but it is truly the best of both worlds. Together my husband and I share in many ministries. I love it. It is something I feel we were both called upon as I felt a calling also from a young age but never felt i wanted to be a nun. Just some food for thought. The call is special and he must act upon what he is called to do. You are very special for understanding and supporting his discernment. God bless and best of luck to you both.
I don’t think this is a good idea. He should decide first if he is called to be a priest. If he decides he’s not called to be a priest, THEN you could talk to him about being a Deacon later on (after marriage, etc)
Also, these two haven’t even started college yet. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. Otherwise, she should allow him to discern and see if he has the Affective Maturity required to be a priest.
Dating while discerning diminishes his ability to judge his Affective Maturity.
FYI - Affective Maturity is the ability to remain chaste and celibate without lots of temptation.
I don’t know if there are any words that can make you feel better. Mary must have been very disappointed to see her son go off to His ministry. She had 30 some years of his life!
You can “know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28-29
If your boyfriend is called to Holy Orders, then it will work out better for you as well, though you may not see it now.
Also, keep in mind that most religious vocation directors will encourage a candidate to complete college before entering seminary. This gives a young adult plenty of time to discern, to see the world and complete basic education that will lay a foundation for seminary studies. It is not likely he is going to run off any time soon!
Sounds like a difficult situation. I would be open to your boyfriends thoughts and keep a positive mind. I would pray very fervently to the the Lord about this, and ask him for his peace and guidance. You can always break up with him, so i wouldn’t pull that card out right away.
I met a sister last year from the Carmelite Order. She told me that before she became a Sister her boyfriend was discerning the call to the priesthood. He gave her the same book " To Save a Thousand Souls". After reading this she started to feel a call to the religious life, and now she is a sister.
Just keep an open mind to the Lord, maybe he is calling you to the religious life.
Iam 17 as well and discerning the call to the priesthood very fervently. I do not have a girlfriend for that very same reason. I think it would make it harder discerning a call to the religious life while having a girlfriend/ boyfriend.
Keep praying about it and listening to the Lord. I will pray for you as well.