Challenges for those with a religious/priestly vocation

What kind of challenges do we face? It can be any kind of challenge, but generally I want to look at the spiritual challenge. The spiritual battle, as it were. I have my own thoughts, and have read a lot of the saints and vocation literature, but I am interested in others’ opinions. You can be discerning, in a seminary, ordained or at any stage to answer - and the answer can also be for any stage (i.e. those who have been religious for 20 years suffer from xyz or those who are about to enter a seminary suffer from abc). It can be general or personal.

If the thread gets some responses I’ll share some of my own personal challenges :slight_smile:

I think a big challenge is for one to deny himself and submit his will to the will of God. It could probably be both ways - either you don’t want to be a religious/priest (at the moment) but you feel that God is calling you, or you want to be a religious/priest but God is not calling you to do that.

Overall, I think what is challenging for me is that I (nor anyone else) just cannot know what God has in mind for me until I actually get married, get ordained, make vows, etc, so I am just finding it tough to not worry about things and letting God lead me to wherever He wants me and whenever He wants.

In other words, trust in God can be a challenge, and can really only be increased by prayer.

For me, being in my final year of high school is a big distraction/obstacle in my discernment process. I’m so busy with my studies and with normal everyday life that I don’t have much time for spiritual growth. Worldly desires is also another thing that I’m struggling to overcome in my journey for union with God

Wow, your high school education must be somewhat hard core…I never knew much about studying until I came to college 13 months ago. :smiley: Anyway, I can relate to that. I’m a sophomore in college now, with an extremely busy schedule, and I don’t have much time set aside for prayer, which isn’t good. I’m still working on that, 4 weeks into the school year. I’m also with you on the worldly desires. Satan especially likes to tempt anyone discerning any type of religious vocation in that way! It kind of goes along with my previous comment of not exactly wanting (or surely knowing of) a priestly vocation even when you are feeling called. Worldly desires, such as having a wife/children, come flooding in your thoughts.

I think that bobballen has said it for me. Trusting that God will guide me, and at the right time, has been very difficult sometimes. It’s also been very rewarding. It’s silly when I think about it, but sometimes I would get sick of discerning and just assume that this or that was what God had in store for me. No need to discern what you already know, right?
But God can be trusted. A few people at my parish suggested I look into the monastery nearby. Sometimes I felt great about it, and sometimes it was the last thing I wanted. In the end I knew that God could be trusted so I decided to go visit. I wish I could say that I went and here I am today a monk, but that didn’t happen. I never visited. I tried, I just couldn’t. It’s an hour away, and I can’t drive, which means I have to plan it out a good ways ahead of time. Every time it falls through. Maybe it’s not for me, or not yet atleast.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always felt somewhat of an attraction to the priesthood. I fell away in my teens, and came back a few years ago. I was in and out of the Church for months at a time here and there, but all the while it persisted. I came back for good last December and told my priest about it. He told me to wait a year, stay and be active in the Church, and see if it will pass or persist. About a month ago, I had the chance to move to the center of our diocese where I would be able to talk with our Vocations Director more often and be with my family. I really didn’t know which was the better choice, stay or go, so I prayed and made it to the best of my ability. I decided to move, and was excited about possibly moving closer to my vocation. A few days before I was supposed to move everything started to fall apart. I had no peace about it at all, so I prayed that if He wants me to go I’ll go and if He wants me to stay I’ll stay. In short, after a crazy bit of circumstances, I believe that God moved the peices to His liking. Much more so than I could have possibly imagined. My family moved where I am, I had the chance to meet and talk with my bishop two weeks ago, and last Sunday, my priest, after months of weekly confessions and spiritual direction, told me he thinks it’s time to apply for seminary
It’s not like I don’t think about marriage, I do, and that makes me anxious. Somedays I want to be married more than anything else, and other days it’s the priesthood, or the monastery. But when that happens I just need to step back, thank God, and get back to work.

If I may…

Back when I was fresh out of college, I really wanted to be a Jesuit. At that time, the challenges that I faced were:

  1. The difficulty of aligning my will with God’s. Sure. I felt I was called to be Jesuit, but I would later realize that that was only my own desire. I had to learn to let go of my own desires and discern God’s will. Well, now here I am… happily married.

  2. Fear. Fear was always a serious challenge for me at that time, particularly fear of the unknown and fear of my incapacity to answer God’s call. Later I found out that fear is detrimental to any kind of commitment.

No, you may not!!! Oh shoot, it’s too late for that… :wink:

So both of these come down submitting one’s own will to God and to trusting God again…I think we’re beginning to see a pattern after three different people responding.

Lassitude, uncertainty.

The biggest challenge for me has been not trusting my feelings, realizing that there is joy and God to be found in celibate, married, priestly, or religious life, just as there is sorrow and God. Any decision made in spite or intense joy should be suspect. Its that limbo period where you don’t know that is the biggest challenge in the discernment process.

Are you discerning the Transalpine Redemptorists by the way?

I am indeed; I’ll be taking my retreat with them in January.

I will pray for you and for them!

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