A little background: I have suffered from anxiety disorder and OCD since I was about 9 years old. From the beginning my OCD manifested as intrusive thoughts telling me I was going to hell, etc. I was raised a “protestant” Catholic. We went to Mass but never confession and I wasn’t taught many teachings of the Church. One of my recurring thoughts was “You have to become a priest”.
For a while, I drifted away from the Church entirely. While I was away, these thoughts faded. This last July, I made a full sacramental return to the Church. Since then, I have been having a worsening obsession that I “have to become a priest” with “or else you’re going to hell” implied. This is not a gentle pull but an urgent, terrifying feeling.
Recently, I’ve been dating a girl who has helped me grow closer to God. We attend daily mass as often as possible and hold each other accountable in prayer and life. I sincerely think that we may be able to do more good as a married couple than I could on my own. Still, the obsessive feeling has remained. Since January however, when I’ve been at my most desperate, I’ve had 2 distinct moments in prayer when I felt like the burden of “you have to become a priest” has been lifted and replaced with a feeling of joy - “you may love and serve one of my precious daughters”. I’ve had peace for a couple of weeks each time. However, the obsessive thoughts and torment have returned.
I don’t desire to be a priest, though I’m trying to pray that I will try to be open to it if that is truely what God really wants me to do, but it’s very very hard to discern where conscience ends and obsessive thoughts begin. I don’t think I feel called to administer the sacraments. I know that I’m theoretically not even able to go to a seminary for at least another 1 to 4 years. However, more than anything, I don’t want to disobey God. It’s so hard to think and pray when I’m in this torment.
I’ve been having panic attacks and I can’t think about anything else lately. I feel like I am under attack which makes me think this is not coming from God. But could this be a genuine call to the priesthood? Sometimes I think that if I’m this miserable now, I might as well just become a priest because it can’t be any worse. But I also doubt the Church wants priests who only want to be priests to satisfy obsessive thoughts.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.