Discernment and Dating?


#1

So as some of you know, I’ve posted a lot of questions about possible priesthood and religious life and I’m still discerning and I finally told my dad today about my vocation discernment after meeting with my new spirtual director (who is helping with my discernment) and just today I told my spiritual director how I’m seriously thinking about joining a religious order. My dad took it a lot better than I thought he would, he just says he wants me to explore life before I make any major decisions and that God always throws curveballs in our life, and I agreed with the stuff he said. But tonight I met this random girl at a middle school youth group that I’m helping out with (don’t worry she’s not one of the middle schoolers. lol) and we just got along really well and I haven’t really felt this way about a girl before and I just can’t stop thinking about her. But the big thing that keeps coming to my mind is my spiritual director. I feel like if I were to start dating or start looking to date he would get mad or simply confused and I would feel really immature and childish having just asked him to be my spiritual director to help me discern my vocation and then I’m suddenly dating some girl. So I guess I just need some advice on this and any ideas.


#2

hmm.. that is interesting.. and also I can see how it's confusing. If you have a vocation to the priesthood, this might be almost like a test or temptation or something, to change your mind and distract you. If you have a vocation to marriage, this could be a chance. Lol. I read people should not date while discerning religious life... because this could be very distracting and they wouldn't be able to discern as well. I don't think it would be bad if you asked your spiritual director, simply what he thinks about avoiding dating while discerning. Many people probably have wondered this too.

I once came across a great pamphlet on discernment... it was actually for guys discerning to be priests, but I still read it cause it had very good points. ;) when you feel very close to God and at peace, do you have peace about your thoughts on being a priest? (even if afterwards, you feel unsure again, or worried, etc). The point is, we discern best when we're calm enough that we can hear God's voice. In this way, avoiding dating could also be good cause then you have more time to simply pray and figure things out. See what your SD says... I think you can still be friends with the girl though, you don't have to cut her out of your life.

God bless


#3

You should talk to your Spiritual Director about this.


#4

[quote="Monica4316, post:2, topic:255886"]
hmm.. that is interesting.. and also I can see how it's confusing. If you have a vocation to the priesthood, this might be almost like a test or temptation or something, to change your mind and distract you. If you have a vocation to marriage, this could be a chance. Lol. I read people should not date while discerning religious life... because this could be very distracting and they wouldn't be able to discern as well. I don't think it would be bad if you asked your spiritual director, simply what he thinks about avoiding dating while discerning. Many people probably have wondered this too.

I once came across a great pamphlet on discernment... it was actually for guys discerning to be priests, but I still read it cause it had very good points. ;) when you feel very close to God and at peace, do you have peace about your thoughts on being a priest? (even if afterwards, you feel unsure again, or worried, etc). The point is, we discern best when we're calm enough that we can hear God's voice. In this way, avoiding dating could also be good cause then you have more time to simply pray and figure things out. See what your SD says... I think you can still be friends with the girl though, you don't have to cut her out of your life.

God bless

[/quote]

Well, something I have noticed and I realized it last night is that whenever I'm praying I feel much calmer and I feel called to celibacy so that I think that's a sure sign of something. Thank you very much for the advice and I think I will hold off on dating for now.

[quote="auderyja, post:3, topic:255886"]
You should talk to your Spiritual Director about this.

[/quote]

Yeah, I definitely will. He wants me to be the leader in our meetings so he wants me to come up with stuff I am confused about or things that I feel needs to be talked about, so I will definitely bring this up to him next time we meet.


#5

My advice is from a friend of mine. Try a dating fast. Make a commitment to not date anyone for 365 days. If you happen to meet the woman of your dreams, tell her directly: "I think you're an awesome girl, and I would love to ask you out, but I promise God I wouldn't date anyone for one year to help discern my vocation in life. I just wanted to let you know that I think you're awesome."
Then leave her alone until you've reached one year and have decided that you need to date again to determine your vocation.
If she's mature, she'll probably (1) think you're nuts at first (2) think you're pretty manly for being so bold (3) think you're nice because you're being honest. If God does want you to end up marrying her, she'll still be around at the end of the fast.


#6

[quote="Saint_Macarius, post:5, topic:255886"]
My advice is from a friend of mine. Try a dating fast. Make a commitment to not date anyone for 365 days. If you happen to meet the woman of your dreams, tell her directly: "I think you're an awesome girl, and I would love to ask you out, but I promise God I wouldn't date anyone for one year to help discern my vocation in life. I just wanted to let you know that I think you're awesome."
Then leave her alone until you've reached one year and have decided that you need to date again to determine your vocation.
If she's mature, she'll probably (1) think you're nuts at first (2) think you're pretty manly for being so bold (3) think you're nice because you're being honest. If God does want you to end up marrying her, she'll still be around at the end of the fast.

[/quote]

Yeah, that's a good idea. I might have to try that. Those are also really good points! Thanks! :D


#7

My vocation isn't the religious life but I have overhead my former spiritual director who was a nun, recommend that if a person is discerning, they should date and see what happens. I will take it further. I suggest that you pray and ask for God's guidance. My favourite prayer is: if it is meant to be, let it be, if not let it go." You might realize that you like dating and this is your direction or you might also find out that it isn't. I think it is important to start out as friends, pray constantly and see where it leads. Not everyone is called to this type of life. Part of the discernment entails: trail, error and self discovery. Sometimes you need to step out of the box every now and then see where God is leading you. Things don't have to be 100% one colour.

The priesthood is a special calling that is filled with a lot sacrifice and love. Marriage also fits into this definition. It's best to explore before you commit yourself.


#8

[quote="auderyja, post:3, topic:255886"]
You should talk to your Spiritual Director about this.

[/quote]

This. A spiritual director should be there to help you discern ALL your options, not just sell you on the religious life option. A good spiritual director has heard your situation, concerns and more. You won't be the first that is interested in dating and also considering being a priest, you won't be the last either.


#9

If you think you may have a vocation why not give God the first chance. Visit a few religious houses and then try to live the life of one by becoming a postulant / candidate. (This means you live with them as a prospective member of the comunity but have no vows or promises yet and so can leave if you want. Comunities will either accept new candidates whenever or once a year [usually summer in the US based on the school year].)

Then, if it becomes clear God doesn't have a religious / priestly vocatyion for you, you can approach dating with much more peace.

Practically this may end similar to the dating fast but you come at it from the angle of giving something to God rather than denying yourself a legitimate good.

Hope it helps.

Br Matthew, LC


#10

I am also discerning the priesthood, and this topic also came up when I talked to our vocations director. When a guy is seriously discerning the priesthood, its known as the "seminarians curse". Basically its where a guy thinking of joining the seminary will magically meet a girl that seems perfect for him. This has happened to some of my family members, and it either worked out great for them or not. I would suggest that you read the book, "To Save A Thousand Souls." While it is about the Diocesan priesthood, it helped me find where I was on my path to discernment, and how it should be worked with dating.

God bless!


#11

First, we are all trying to help, but we are not your spiritual advisor, so don't read this thread and jump to conclusions, just use it as info and ideas, organize your thoughts, and then go to the real person who understands these matters, the spiritual director.

Second, I disagree very much with the "fast" idea. Marriage, attraction to women, is the normal state for a man. Only a tiny fraction are really called to the priesthood. If you are "discerning" a vocation, not positive of one, don't create an artificial, constrained lifestyle that may force you to miss your real vocation, marriage. I'm not saying to actively pursue girls. But like this one you met, if you want to have coffee, that's not a proposal, and it is a natural part of being young, like your Dad sad.

Also, a girl should be trustworthy enough that you can say, "I'm thinking about being a priest" and you two can be friends. How can you discern the vocation if you live like girls don't exist? Believe me, when you are a priest you are going to be surrounded by women probably more than you'd like. So just take an easy, natural approach, don't shun all females, focus on the vocation idea, but having a few "friend" girls might help put it in perspective.


#12

[quote="Margie9, post:11, topic:255886"]
First, we are all trying to help, but we are not your spiritual advisor, so don't read this thread and jump to conclusions, just use it as info and ideas, organize your thoughts, and then go to the real person who understands these matters, the spiritual director.

Second, I disagree very much with the "fast" idea. Marriage, attraction to women, is the normal state for a man. Only a tiny fraction are really called to the priesthood. If you are "discerning" a vocation, not positive of one, don't create an artificial, constrained lifestyle that may force you to miss your real vocation, marriage. I'm not saying to actively pursue girls. But like this one you met, if you want to have coffee, that's not a proposal, and it is a natural part of being young, like your Dad sad.

Also, a girl should be trustworthy enough that you can say, "I'm thinking about being a priest" and you two can be friends. How can you discern the vocation if you live like girls don't exist? Believe me, when you are a priest you are going to be surrounded by women probably more than you'd like. So just take an easy, natural approach, don't shun all females, focus on the vocation idea, but having a few "friend" girls might help put it in perspective.

[/quote]

  1. True, each case if different and a spiritual director should be consulted. But there are certain general rules or principles which is what we point out here.

  2. I think your comment on a dating fast shows the exact difference between it and my proposal. If you are seriously discerning, you are not availible because because the place that dating would take (discerning which woman to marry) is already taken by God. If someone has a strong sense that he may have a vocation, one should then give God the first chance.

As a poor analogy, most people form you town get a degree from X Sate University o Y State College but you did really well in high school and have a chance at an Ivy League school. To fast from responding to acceptance letters to state schools sounds odd. But to give the Ivy League schools the first chance seems logical.

I would not recomend stopping dating to everyone, but someone who announces they are discerning on a public forum probably has a strong enough sense to give God first dibs.

I hope that helps clarify.

Yours in Christ,
Br Matthew, LC


#13

[quote="bcordova299, post:10, topic:255886"]
I am also discerning the priesthood, and this topic also came up when I talked to our vocations director. When a guy is seriously discerning the priesthood, its known as the "seminarians curse". Basically its where a guy thinking of joining the seminary will magically meet a girl that seems perfect for him. This has happened to some of my family members, and it either worked out great for them or not. I would suggest that you read the book, "To Save A Thousand Souls." While it is about the Diocesan priesthood, it helped me find where I was on my path to discernment, and how it should be worked with dating.

God bless!

[/quote]

I definitely will check this book out, thank you very much! =]

[quote="Margie9, post:11, topic:255886"]
First, we are all trying to help, but we are not your spiritual advisor, so don't read this thread and jump to conclusions, just use it as info and ideas, organize your thoughts, and then go to the real person who understands these matters, the spiritual director.

Second, I disagree very much with the "fast" idea. Marriage, attraction to women, is the normal state for a man. Only a tiny fraction are really called to the priesthood. If you are "discerning" a vocation, not positive of one, don't create an artificial, constrained lifestyle that may force you to miss your real vocation, marriage. I'm not saying to actively pursue girls. But like this one you met, if you want to have coffee, that's not a proposal, and it is a natural part of being young, like your Dad sad.

Also, a girl should be trustworthy enough that you can say, "I'm thinking about being a priest" and you two can be friends. How can you discern the vocation if you live like girls don't exist? Believe me, when you are a priest you are going to be surrounded by women probably more than you'd like. So just take an easy, natural approach, don't shun all females, focus on the vocation idea, but having a few "friend" girls might help put it in perspective.

[/quote]

Yes, I agree with pretty much all of what you said. The main reason I posted this was just to get different peoples' experiences and compare them to mine. (Not saying we all make the same choices) But I agree with you, I do have a lot of friends who are girls that I hang out with, that's actually something that's important to me in regards to religious life. I need some kind of connection with women. Sometimes when I get really upset or something happens and I need help, a female presence is the only thing that helps (not to be creepy or anything. lol). I guess it's just because a lot of my best friends in the past have been girls. I definitely agree with the third part as well. Something that God revealed to me in prayer is to just give things time, things will work out naturally with time. So I'm not as worried about it as much as I was before. I thank very much for the advice though and I will definitely keep it all in mind! =]


#14

The #1 way to discern one's vocation is throuigh prayer. Spend time especially in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament and pray pray pray to Our Lady. Read st Louis De Montfort's book True Devotion to Mary I think one of the reasons God doesn't give an answere right away is because He knows we will get so close to him during the period when we're praying like crazy for discernment. (I'm praying to St Therese for my own discernment & for my non practicing friend Norberto. if you pray for him, I'll pray for you.) Remain in peace. Stay close to Mary. Stay in the present because you don't know God's future will, but you do know He wants you to live virtuouslyl right now:thumbsup:


#15

By the way, I'm a girl & Norberto (obviously a guy) is my most important friendship. I've always needed a good guy friend.


#16

Also even though you should trust your spiritual director---and it's very important that he's good, knowledgable w common sense & education as well as being suitable for you at whatever stage you're at---Ultimately the question of your vocation can only be dscided by you. This was emphasised by my own excellent director. If your director's any good, he knows that. If he knows that, he won't get upset.


#17

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