Discernment of spirits in the vocation


#1

I was wondering if anyone has some advice for discerning confirming signs of one's vocation. Here's my situation:

1) I'm 17 years old, almost 18. I'm going out of state to college this fall. Recently my boyfriend of a year and half and I broke up, and I had sensed a spiritual awakening which led me to the discernment of my vocation shortly before the breakup. I always deeply desired marriage but I felt I should really be sure of what I'm called to.

2) I feel strongly called to marriage. It seems to be apart of who I am. I have a deep desire for marriage and family life; I love everything about it, reading about and seeing it thrills me. I see young families and babies and it fills me with a deep joy and a desire to do the same. I want to be married because I want for my union with a man to be a witness not only to eachother but to other people of Christ's love; I desire to share that love and to assist God in the creation of new life and I want to teach them about God's love. I also want to homeschool any children I have because I received that eduaction and I really love it - I want to bring more fervent souls into this dark world! I feel like I might be called to be involved in marriage apostolate, since I love talking about the theology of marriage and I know so much about the subject and experience joy when I do it. I feel attracted to the idea of a lay apostolate.

3) Furthermore, I've had what I believe are signs that marriage is in fact my vocation. While praying, I heard "Let Me build your home." I didn't know it at the time, but when I was reading "Life-Giving Love" by Kimberly Hahn later, she said that it is a biblical reference for building a family. Second, St. Anthony seems to be popping up everywhere, in my conversations with other people, etc. When I spoke to a priest about my feeling called to marriage, he told me that God was confirming my vocation to marriage after I told him why I desired it and then gave me a St. Anthony card and medal and told me to pray to him about finding the man God's chosen for me to marry.

4) When I think of marriage, my soul feels at peace. It feels right. But I still feel a restlessness in my soul. Not anxiety, but a restlessness. These two feelings are confusing for me. On the other hand, if I think about religious life (which was something I wanted as a little kid but went away as I got older and got to know nuns where we live), I feel a great anxiety and stress. I feel no attraction or desire for the life, and I really do not feel God calling me there. I even feel somewhat tortured at the thought of never having my own family and children, especially when this desire is so strong. But I still wonder about it because I wanted it as a child, and I've been around nuns a lot. But I never feel at home while with them. So is it just me who is initiating those thoughts, because I still feel a restlessness, even though I feel called to marriage? If that is the case, what do I do with the restlessness? I'm prone to worry. Should I throw the relgious option out because I feel a strong desire for marriage and thinking about religious life makes me feel deeply anxious? Or should I keep the window open? I've always been one to know God's will by the desires of my heart, which is, in this case, marriage. Can I really trust that desire?When I hear people talk about how they didn't want to be religious but then became one or they were engaged and then became religious, I feel terrified. I'm worried about my desire being from me or God. I'm afraid that God is going to take that away from me and then call me to religious life. Could the restlessness not mean anything having to do with my vocation, but really just God beckoning me to a deeper relationship with Him? I have trouble figuring out what these feelings mean.


#2

SOMEBODY PLEASE respond to this person's thread! As I read this I discovered that what she's going through is the EXACT thing I'm going through myself and we BOTH need help!

Please! :eek:


#3

[quote="LotusCarsLtd, post:2, topic:198151"]
SOMEBODY PLEASE respond to this person's thread! As I read this I discovered that what she's going through is the EXACT thing I'm going through myself and we BOTH need help!

Please! :eek:

[/quote]

Yes, somebody please. I'm so confused! :( And I'm sure he is too!


#4

[quote="therekaa, post:3, topic:198151"]
Yes, somebody please. I'm so confused! :( And I'm sure he is too!

[/quote]

I am! Help please!

Anyway after looking at your first thread I had some of my own thoughts on what my feelings might be telling me. I know that I need to be more devout through greater prayer, more spiritual reading, and maybe attending Mass more often during the week than I do now (i.e. rarely). So I certainly realize that this restlessness could certainly be a sign that I need to do this.

And in the past I discerned and determined that I was called to marriage but occasionally things will make me doubt again. And given that I have a lot of self-doubt, I worry excessively, I ruminate a lot, I am scrupulous, I have trouble making decisions, etc. and I end-up doubting easily, worrying easily, and so on about decisions I am sure I want to make or things I want to do and even the smallest things can make me doubt. What happened to me recently is that someone handed me a prayer card for priestly vocations, caused me to feel cold chills down my spine, and caused me all day to doubt all over again. This is despite the fact that I do not feel called there and have already determined this for myself.


#5

I am no spiritual director and certainly not re advice on vocation in life.
You are still very young. But the joy and peace you experience at the thought of marriage is a gift and the restlessness that religious life triggers in you could be due to many things. My advice would be to pray about it and to seek out spiritual direction on a more or less regular basis to sort out the source of the restlessness, the why of it all, and deal with it. At 17years you are too young for marriage probably and even too young for religious life, but I know that when we are young it can be very hard to live with uncertainty and unknowing. Prayer and spiritual direction is my advice as I dont think there is any ready answer from what you have written, and a discussion forum may not be the best place to sort things out - unless there are members here who post who have experience of spiritual direction and vocation in life. It seems to me at this point anyway that you may have a vocation to marriage. But as I said, you are still young and may change at some point in your coming journey. We can be travelling along in our journey and then some unanticipated and unexpected circumstance of some kind come along, someone may say something, a homily or we read something, most anything can happen, and we find we change or are changing. I do think that you need to discern with spiritual direction the why of the restlessness. The thought of a potential vocation certainly should not “terrify” you. This may or might, could, be due to some concept in your mind re religious life that is not quite accurate, even totally inaccurate - that is one scenario only. As I said it could have many causes.
Why do you think St. Anthony kept popping up? What reason do you think there could be?

At this point anyway, keep the window open as you are unsure yourself.

There are generally three general signs of vocation:

Attraction to the life
Ability to lead the life
Acceptance into the life

Have you thought of sending of a private message to the various religious sisters, brothers etc. that do contribute here as members and ask them to come in on your thread here. They may not have sighted it. They may be able to be of more help to you.

TS
PS I am not often on Catholic Answers here, but I will endeavour to stay in touch with your thread and hope and pray that someone may be of more help to you than I.


#6

[quote="TiggerS, post:5, topic:198151"]
I am no spiritual director and certainly not re advice on vocation in life.
You are still very young. But the joy and peace you experience at the thought of marriage is a gift and the restlessness that religious life triggers in you could be due to many things. My advice would be to pray about it and to seek out spiritual direction on a more or less regular basis to sort out the source of the restlessness, the why of it all, and deal with it. At 17years you are too young for marriage probably and even too young for religious life, but I know that when we are young it can be very hard to live with uncertainty and unknowing. Prayer and spiritual direction is my advice as I dont think there is any ready answer from what you have written, and a discussion forum may not be the best place to sort things out - unless there are members here who post who have experience of spiritual direction and vocation in life. It seems to me at this point anyway that you may have a vocation to marriage. But as I said, you are still young and may change at some point in your coming journey. We can be travelling along in our journey and then some unanticipated and unexpected circumstance of some kind come along, someone may say something, a homily or we read something, most anything can happen, and we find we change or are changing. I do think that you need to discern with spiritual direction the why of the restlessness. The thought of a potential vocation certainly should not "terrify" you. This may or might, could, be due to some concept in your mind re religious life that is not quite accurate, even totally inaccurate - that is one scenario only. As I said it could have many causes.
Why do you think St. Anthony kept popping up? What reason do you think there could be?

At this point anyway, keep the window open as you are unsure yourself.

There are generally three general signs of vocation:

Attraction to the life
Ability to lead the life
Acceptance into the life

Have you thought of sending of a private message to the various religious sisters, brothers etc. that do contribute here as members and ask them to come in on your thread here. They may not have sighted it. They may be able to be of more help to you.

TS
PS I am not often on Catholic Answers here, but I will endeavour to stay in touch with your thread and hope and pray that someone may be of more help to you than I.

[/quote]

Thanks for your post!

Currently I do not have a spiritual director, but I do have a few people I can talk to about this. But I will certainly try finding one.

I know I'm too young for anything, but like I said, these things are pretty confusing. And as Lotus said, the slightest thing sends doubt!

As for St. Anthony, I'm not sure why. I've always had a devotion to him throughout my life, but only recently have I noticed him appearing everywhere.

There is a kind of nagging debate in my head about all this, and it's difficult not to give into that tempation. I've been speaking to a friend about this, who went through a similar thing about marriage and priesthood (although he's married now) and was telling me that since the mind is not quiet, nothing can be discerned. Everything might be seen as a sign, because what I'm experiencing (and I suspect Lotus too) is a type of Dark Night of the Soul. God seems silent and so there is a kind of subconscious search for anything He might be saying, and signs can't be trusted in this state. Based on my own knowledge about vocations, God doesn't call people with nagging, fearful thoughts, it's a gentle invitation...so my thought is it's not God. But of course, there's no way to tell for sure for me right now.

I'm not sure why it terrifies me. Maybe it's because I want so badly to have my own children?

I'll try and message some of the religious here, thanks for the idea, hadn't thought of it.


#7

Thank you for the response and I will be keeping you in daily prayer.

In my next post (the forum did not like my word count) I am posting some links for you.

I have heard that this book is excellent: Here goodcatholicbooks.org/francis-discernment.html you find a few short texts from St. Francis de Sales on discernment of the will of God. Much more is available in the popular book Finding God's Will for Youhttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=httpwwwgoodca-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0918477832, a translation of the writing of St. Francis.

I think it is insightful of you and a sign of Grace at work in you to realize that in your current state not much, if anything, can be discerned for sure and this is why I was happy to read that you intend to try to find a spiritual director. Sometimes religious orders of priests and brothers undertake to spiritually direct - or if not, very often they know how to go about finding one. You could also phone your diocesan offices and ask how you would go about finding a spiritual director - usually they also have some knowledge even contacts.
You could do a Search here on Catholic Answers for threads relating to discerning God's Will and vocation.
Conforming to God's Will in our lives brings Peace - but it can be that this is on the spiritual level while humanly we could be disturbed in some way. But I cannot say anything about your particular case and what may be applying as I think that it really will take spiritual direction which is a totally different medium, and far more effective, than a discussion forum. Spiritual direction brings us into a face to face situation with someone who has expertise in many matters spiritual as well as insight etc. The face to face situation alone is a totally different scenario to a discussion forum, which is the written word only.
I dont want to put any spoke in the wheels as it were, but I know a religious sister who had distinct distaste for the religious life and at a point it seemed to her she was coming across religious sisters most everywhere. She decided to make enquiries about religious life despite her distaste. She has now probably been happily professed in religious life for 40 years. This is not at all to state anything in your regard, except that discerning God's Will for us can sometimes be the weirdest of journeys! "Weird" in that it COULD take us where we had not expected or anticipated at all. Hence I undscore your wisdom in regarding it as a journey not yet concluded. Spiritual direction!

Do remember too that a vocation is an invitation to follow the general call to holiness in a certain manner - it is not a command. The only thing that can separate us from God and His Love, be offensive to Him, is mortal sin. It is not mortally sinful to not take up an invitation from God, for invitation it is. Be that as it may, to be invited by God to follow a certain path in life is not to be disregarded and I think you are very wise indeed at 17 to recognize this.

May God richly bless your searching and quickly bring you Peace and resolution in your discernment journey and sorting things out for yourself. I only wish I could be more helpful.

TS


#8

These links may be helpful to you which I have pasted from the web:

Answers ForumsHow do you discern God’s****Catholic
15 posts - 9 authors - Last post: 28 Feb 2008
However, I was recently reading a Catholic book about discerning a Catholic spouse. God’s Will can be revealed in strange ways indeed.
forums.catholic.comForumsCatholic LivingVocations - Cached - Similar for their Lives Are Catholics Required to Discern God’s Will**…**‎ - 15 posts - 5 Dec 2009
vs. our will?God’s will‎ - 7 posts - 29 Apr 2008
and accepting Discerning****God’s will‎ - 15 posts - 3 Apr 2008
calling for your life?How do you discern God’s‎ - 4 posts - 8 Jun 2004

One point I must underscore is that when I say the journey in discerning God’s Will “COULD” take you to unexpected and unanticipated places is not to say that it will or shall …by “COULD” I meant as a potential only that may never eventuate.

God bless

TS


#9

Thank you very much for your posts! I found them very insightful. And the links to other threads were very helpful as well, so thank you.
I’ve found a spiritual director and I’ll be discussing all this with him soon. Hopefully the discernment journey will become more peaceful and clear now!


#10

[quote="therekaa, post:9, topic:198151"]
Thank you very much for your posts! I found them very insightful. And the links to other threads were very helpful as well, so thank you.
I've found a spiritual director and I'll be discussing all this with him soon. Hopefully the discernment journey will become more peaceful and clear now!

[/quote]

Growing mature years daily grants a certain level of experience hence insight. God is Good - old age has its compensations. Keeps one away from the mirror too, once is more than enough.! :ouch:

I will keep you in daily prayer for a peaceful with growing clarity discernment journey and a director who proves wise and holy, educated, and a real support and encouragement for you. I do think you show really remarkable maturity spiritually too for a person of 17yrs. A pleasure to know you as a fellow Catholic Answers member!

God bless

TS


#11

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