Feeling pressured to virginity or religious life


#1

Keep on getting pressured by people in the Church to a single life of virginity or the religious life. I cannot understand the reason why except that I am a minority female, and they think that I will never find a spouse b/c I am a minority or they are not diverse and need diversity. I do spend a lot of time at daily mass and adoration.

Why should people who choose to get married themselves and live as wealthy people pressure others towards the single life? If someone should be religious because they spend time at daily mass and adoration, wouldn't that exclude the majority of people from daily mass and adoration?

Its starting to offend me and make it difficult for me to go to Church, because it is hard to understand how people who rejected this live and chose to live the easiest life imaginable have the chutzpah to pressure others. It is also annoying because the response I get from nuns ranges from telling me I have a vocation, and i shouldn't ignore it to telling me that I shouldn't choose this life because I can't get married. I have started to feel guilty that I have no attraction to this life, but it is getting impossible to choose it since if I did- I am starting to see it as closet racism that I have been pushed to this life but none of my other friends have - not even those who spent 1 year in Catholic volunteer work. It is hard to see it as a gift from God and not just arrogance in the part of those around me.

Any help on this? :confused: Either help on how to be happy/not resentful about this vocation or how to end the pressure and live without it?


#2

What reason do you have to think that race has anything to do with it, rather than simply them seeing you as a good Catholic and thinking you might be a good religious?

Addressing the general situation of being pressured towards a state of life for which you have no attraction, I would recommend just reminding yourself that these people presumably mean well. They evidently think religious life would be good for you and that you would be good for the Church in that state of life. Having chosen a lesser state of life (presumably because they were called to it) in no way disqualifies someone from recommending a higher (or lower) state of life for someone else who they believe it may be right for.

But they could well be wrong, and you are instead called to a life of holiness as a wife and mother. Politely telling them that you don’t feel called to religious life but rather to marriage should content them. If they blatantly disregard your own feelings on the subject, then that will be a wrong you are called to bear patiently.


#3

Would you feel comfortable responding with something like this?:

“Thank you for your thoughts/advice, but this is an issue that I would prefer to keep between myself and my spiritual adviser. I’m sure you understand.”

And if they press on, you could just smile repeat this courteous response until they get the hint. :slight_smile:


#4

Just a thought: why DO people who live a middle class life style, and who are married, seem to hold single/consecrated//religious life in such high esteem?

Sometimes turning questions on their heads helps them make more sense.

Maybe they are actually showing you a lot of respect by bringing up this issue? Maybe not, but maybe they are…:wink:


#5

Because of my lifestyle it has been suggested to me, as well, that I should be a nun.

Apparently people with strong morals who seek to please God should be nuns because married people don’t pursue these things?

I find it insulting to married people more then annoying for me in all honesty. The insinuation is that married people aren’t ‘holy’ and/or that people who seek God first aren’t well suited to marriage. :shrug:

I’m not sure what your race has to do with anything though? Perhaps I’m misunderstanding something.


#6

While some people like to put other people into categories where they can be safely labelled: nun, married, priest, single etc., I still think it’s good to listen to what people are saying, even if they don’t articulate it very well. You don’t have to believe everything they say, but I’ve often learned something about myself.


#7

Yes…married people are called to holiness as well as nuns, priests, and single people! In fact when both husband and wife put the Lord first in their lives and help one another on their married journey, they will both grow in holiness!

This brings back a memory to me. When I was in public high school and going to CCD at my church a story was told to me by the teacher about a person who was choosing a crown of thorns or a crown of jewels. Supposedly the “crown of thorns” was choosing the religious life, and the “crown of jewels” was choosing to live in the world. What confusion! :slight_smile:

No matter what vocation we choose there are temptations and problems that we are challenged with. If we react with the mind of Christ we will become holy, and have His peace.


#8

Hello, I have just entered the Church, and while I cannot say I feel pressured to enter religious life, I have had said life suggested to me. I am not a minority woman and so my situation could be different from yours; however, I think the main reason why the religious life has been suggested to me is because of my demeanor-at least that is what I would like to think :slight_smile: It could very well be the same situation for you; perhaps people in your parish see something special, pure or even holy in how you carry yourself, practice your faith and so forth.

Maybe it could be closeted racist opinions, and if so then I would highly suggest firmly, yet lovingly state your position for what you want in life, that you are searching for your vocation with God and then proceed to show these people, by your actions, how to be a better Catholic so they could follow your example.

I don’t think devaluing your feelings will resolve anything, maybe talking your spiritual advisor about these feelings and why they are coming up will offer a chance to explore this with a trusted outside party. I sincerely hope this is not a case of racism as the Church teaches against such behavior.


#9

[quote="HailStarofSea, post:1, topic:281266"]
...]I do spend a lot of time at daily mass and adoration....] it is hard to understand how people who rejected this live and chose to live the easiest life imaginable have the chutzpah to pressure others. It is also annoying because the response I get from nuns ranges from telling me I have a vocation, and i shouldn't ignore it to telling me that I shouldn't choose this life because I can't get married. ...] I am starting to see it as closet racism that I have been pushed to this life but none of my other friends have - not even those who spent 1 year in Catholic volunteer work. It is hard to see it as a gift from God and not just arrogance in the part of those around me.

Any help on this? :confused: Either help on how to be happy/not resentful about this vocation or how to end the pressure and live without it?

[/quote]

Without disclosing more than you want here, consider age in all this; younger persons who have a yearning for union with God are not rare, but younger persons who act on this Yearning are. Perhaps more than race, it is your age.
Now I know your other friends who've done volunteer work are probably your age too, so maybe it is akin to racism. Be careful with that term though. What could be seen sometimes as ignorant arrogance of assuming what is best for someone of a different race oftentimes should really be seen as wonder, awe, and thanksgiving to God for the different expressions of human life through cultures other than our own, and through that thanksgiving to Him, we become inspired to better listen to the Spirit.
Sometimes too, good people who once heard a whisper of a calling to religious life, but who ended up choosing another vocation often want for others that joy of freedom that only abandonment to Providence affords you, a joy they feel they may have missed out on.

I currently am discerning what my vocation is...the only way to prepare for it is to become a person that could be happily married, i.e., not full of myself, but rather full of a fire which lives for the Christ hidden in others. So you may have a vocation like some nuns are telling you, but maybe God wants you to grow in certain virtues, receive certain graces first.

Also, beware in assuming that the married life is the "easiest life imaginable". It is often not. And if God is calling you to a certain vocation, it would indeed be the easiest way to reach Life unimaginable, but with no guarantee that in this life you will be happy...but you will always have joy. Right now though, I don't hear joy. That is the most important part, and a vocation without joy is not coming from the voice of He who is Joy.
But that does not mean it is not out of the question, but it might mean that first you have to prepare. Is the person you were last year the same as this year? (With a spiritual director's help), try to live so that you are transforming always into Christ.

Remember to always ask when wondering if something is bad: will it take me away from You, Lord?


#10

That made me laugh :blush: I have perhaps the unique perspective of having lived both lives: I have been both a contemplative nun (over two years as a postulant and novice) and I have been a wife and mother.

There is no “easiest life imaginable” when one is trying to live the call to holiness. There were days in the monastery (a pressure cooker of human interaction) when I thought I’d strangle that old nun if she got up one more time to close the windows during prayer when the temperature in the chapel was 95 degrees :eek: And there have been days as a mother when I’m ready to go running back to the relative calm and simplicity of the monastic life!

As for how to deal with all this…

First of all, consider the possibility that unless people are telling you, “Hey, you’re a nice Asian, Latina, Black (etc.) girl; why don’t you become a nun?” their comments probably have nothing to do with your race.

Second, recognize that you cannot control other people’s thoughts about, opinions of, or even comments to you. What you can control is your own response (in thought and action) to what you actually hear from others.

Third, when people comment that you might consider religious life, it is almost certainly because they see something in you that they recognize as holy – a love of God, a love of the Church, a love of the sacraments, etc.

And finally, if you really resent their comments as pushing you into a lifestyle they would never choose (and on and on and on, as resentment goes), then you probably have a vocation to marriage :shrug: When I entered the monastery – even though I am a contemplative at heart, even though I loved so many things about the life – I remember how much I envied my Baptist friends for whom religious life was not an option! In other words, in my heart of hearts, I knew marriage and motherhood were my vocation (though I wouldn’t trade my two years in the monastery for anything!).

God bless you, dear one. Follow Christ, and don’t let anyone or anything separate you from Him.

Gertie


#11

Dear Friend,

I know the feeling, been there…

Listen, after all that’s been said, if you want to find peace, you must admit something about yourself, regardless of what others say or think about you. All this gets to you because it stirs up the questions you have about your own vocation perhaps and your ability to say Yes and to be faithful to your Yes, to Marriage or Religious Life or Consecrated Single Life, some form or consecrated life.

This is a blessing and a kiss of grace. God is prompting and prodding you externally and internally I think, until you check it out. With or without what you think about yourself, what you think people think about you, you must respond to the Divine Will and decide one way or another. Do not be afraid. We become Priests or Nuns or lead some form of celibate life, not because we can not, or are not able to get married, or even never seriously considered Marriage, but because we choose not to in order to respond to be faithful to a calling that is in us, but not from us.

As soon as you consider what they say and weigh it in the balance of discernment with a Spiritual Director, you will find peace. Why? Because you will not be relying on yourself, you will be submitting yourself to God’s Will and Authority. In an act of humility and abandonment only, do we find peace, the truth about ourselves, why we were made and what our purpose is, and finally, the truth sets us free to serve God the way He wants us to. Don’t fret and fume and pout and have tantrums for nothing. A light upon a hill can not be hidden, the lamp must shine in the darkness, and be set on the lamp stand for all to see. People can see your little light is all, all the rest is incidental and secondary.

There is something worth pursuing is what they are saying and I would concur to their observations, wouldn’t you? It all depends on how it is said, I know. What do you expect, from an awkward world that does not feel at home anymore with sacrifice and the Cross? They are saying that they believe in you, which is most important. They are judging you worthy of a higher calling, a special mission, of being set aside for a special purpose. Consider it a goofy vote of confidence, but it’s there. I believe in you too. Just be yourself and seek guidance, with or without anyone noticing that God has chosen you for something very spiritual and you will calm down.

Really and truly, you are afraid of what God might be asking of you. Peoples’ words only act like acupuncture on an agitated area of your spirit, a restlessness in your heart, a question you yourself have, and that fills you with a holy fear…check it out, it’s time, you are ripe is what the God you serve is telling you perhaps. You will still feel this way from time to time within your Vocation, as I do, and we all do who go all the way in serving God-one mission or assignment after another until this becomes a way of life. Look at the life of the Saints and the Apostles.

Consider their words a reference letter for an interview with your Lord who loves you to bits and is dying to console you and give you the peace, serenity and balance, and child-like trust and joy you thirst for. People will never bother you again like flies in your face, because you will have faced yourself in Spirit and Truth which is the only work you really have: your continuous conversion, preparation for your particular judgement before God.

Fr. Dominic


#12

OP, if I may ask, are you outside the US?
Because it does seem odd to me that you feel pressured not to marry. Not specificly to religious life, but chastity.
I can’t help but think that if I was in the situation you described, I might feel like the underlying statement is “we don’t want you marrying our boys” and that could very well be incorrect.
But religious life is not something anyone else but God can choose for you, and I am somewhat miffed that a nun would feel she has the right to tell you that you have a vocation and should embrace it. Is this nun in direct communication with God about you? How could she know more than you?
I would come right out and ask why they would think you can never get married, see if they have good reasons, or if it is an unjust thought.
The only reason to join a vocation is a calling from God, not to have an easier life.


#13

[quote="mommamia, post:12, topic:281266"]
OP, if I may ask, are you outside the US?

Because it does seem odd to me that you feel pressured not to marry. Not specificly to religious life, but chastity.
I can't help but think that if I was in the situation you described, I might feel like the underlying statement is "we don't want you marrying our boys" and that could very well be incorrect.
But religious life is not something anyone else but God can choose for you, and I am somewhat miffed that a nun would feel she has the right to tell you that you have a vocation and should embrace it. Is this nun in direct communication with God about you? How could she know more than you?
I would come right out and ask why they would think you can never get married, see if they have good reasons, or if it is an unjust thought.
The only reason to join a vocation is a calling from God, not to have an easier life.

[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. I do want a vocation, but only for the right reasons. No, live in US.

I tried the simple question to the person questioning why they thought this was a good vocation for me; they haven't responded yet. I would think that if their motives were good, then they would respond.


#14

Just because they can’t but their finger on why they think you would be suited to religious life doesn’t mean their intentions are bad. Sometimes it is a purely subjective thing and they may have good intentions but still can’t explain to you why they think that. Often seeing those qualities in someone is just a gut instinct.

I really doubt people are suggesting you should become a religious because of your race or because they think you could not marry. More likely, they see qualities of holiness and faith in you and that is a great compliment. It is not an insult, religious life is not the back-up plan for those who cannot find spouses.


closed #15

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