Girlfriend Question


#1

This is the first time I've ever really told anybody any of this stuff, so let me give a little background first.

I am a 19 year old male about to enter my second year of college :) Although I have been "Catholic" all my life, I didn't start to actually practice my faith until about the beginning of my senior year of high school. In about June of 2009 (right before I graduated high school) a lot of my family members would joke around and ask me if i wanted to be a priest (I have a large family, and I'd say that not very many of them practice their faith - so to see an 18 year old male actually trying to live a Christian life, I guess this must have meant I was going to be a priest :rolleyes:).

My mom was the one that was most insistent with her comments regarding the priesthood. I know she didn't want me to - she wants grandchildren and so I could tell that, while not against the idea, she would much rather me have a biological family.

The idea of the priesthood had never even entered my mind until my family members started making these comments. And it angered/scared the heck out of me. It was scary to think about the fact that God might be calling me to this. I hated the idea of being a priest. I don't necessarily know why, but I just did. And I tried to resist it as much as I could. I would use excuses, try to ignore it, hoped that it would go away - but it didn't.

And all the while, I was disappointed in myself because I thought I was at the point in my faith where I could honestly say that I would give up anything for God - and this priesthood situation was revealing how untrue that was. I was willing to give everything to God... except for my vocation. :D I was confused and wished that God could just let me know already what he wanted out of me.

But the most confusing part of it all was/is that I want to be married soooo badly. I want to have a (human) spouse and be a biological father.I have written letters to my wife. I love listening to romantic, lovey-dovey corny music because it makes me think about how I feel about my wife. Reading Jason Evert's tracts on chastity and purity and praying for my spouse and loving my wife more than I love myself and giving my very life to her and my children makes me so... blissful. That's the only word I can use to describe the way I feel when I think about the fact that I might be lucky enough to be married to the woman of my dreams and raise a family with her.

Then about a week ago, I had a bit of an "epiphany." As I was thinking/fantasizing :o about how much I want to be married, of course the usual thought of the priesthood came up - "What if God doesn't want me to get married?" But this time, out of nowhere, with tears in my eyes, I told God that I would be willing to give up anything, even marriage to my wife, for His will. And I felt strangely liberated. For the first time in over a year, I felt like I could honestly say that I had given myself completely and totally to God.

Basically, for more than a year, I had this mentality: If I know God is calling me to the priesthood, then I'll be willing to not get married and give my vocation to Christ. Now it's more like this: Whatever vocation God is calling me to do, I'm willing to give up anything for Him, regardless of how badly I want it. :) And I know that that is what being a man of God is all about.

Hoookay. So now that my personal story is out of the way, here's my concern. I still don't know what vocation God is calling me to :whacky: And I still have 3 years left of college.

I have basically chosen to remain single for the past 2 years (I wanted to be able to flirt with whoever I wanted my freshman year of college :D). But this question has been on my mind for a while now: Is it prudent for me to try to pursue a relationship with a girl while I am still not sure what vocation I am being called to? I would really like to be in a relationship with a girl this year.

I think that one of 2 things could happen (if the relationship were to ever get serious):

1) God would let me know that this girl is who He wants me to be with, and my priesthood concerns would be gone.
2) I would still have the nagging priesthood thoughts, and then I would have to possibly break up with her and let her know that I have to further discern my vocation.

Honestly, I would hope that (1) would happen, but would probably be afraid that (2) would occur.

So what should I do? Be single until God "let's me know" for sure? But when will that be? And how will that happen? I'm confused :confused:

Thanks in advance for any comments, advice, concerns, anything


#2

All of this is best worked out through spiritual direction.


#3

I don’t really have anyone to go to with this issue, especially considering the fact that I’m going back to college in about a week and a half.


#4

Is it prudent for me to try to pursue a relationship with a girl while I am still not sure what vocation I am being called to? I would really like to be in a relationship with a girl this year.

It would be unfair to pursue a relationship if you are also considering a vocation with the Church.

Dating is for discerning marraige; if you are not confident that marraige is what you are going for; it would be cruel and unfair to date another person; stating that you are activelly considering the priesthood is reason enough to withold from dating until you have more confidence in your future choice; be it marraige or priesthood.

So what should I do? Be single until God “let’s me know” for sure? But when will that be? And how will that happen? I’m confused

You should remain single until you are confident in your choice. You don’t have to be dead certain; you are still discerning until the day of your marraige/ordination/(vows).

But; a strong feeling in one direction is really appropriate.

Reflect on it for a year or so; by this time I am sure you will be more confident either way.

In the mean time; pick up Spiritual Direction; as Brother David suggested.** You can do this by speaking to the Priest in the area you are studying; he will put you in contact.**

Spiritual Direction is not the same as Vocations Direction; it is hard to think of an equivalent; but it is somewhat a Catholic “Counsellor” of sorts; it is certainly reccomendable.


#5

[quote="pcg2, post:1, topic:211967"]
Then about a week ago, I had a bit of an "epiphany." As I was thinking/fantasizing :o about how much I want to be married, of course the usual thought of the priesthood came up - "What if God doesn't want me to get married?" But this time, out of nowhere, with tears in my eyes, I told God that I would be willing to give up anything, even marriage to my wife, for His will. And I felt strangely liberated. For the first time in over a year, I felt like I could honestly say that I had given myself completely and totally to God.

[/quote]

That is beautiful. Praise God. More important that what your vocation is, is the willingness to follow wherever God leads.

I have no idea about the answer to your question, but you might want to talk to the vocations director in your diocese. It's probably a question he gets all of the time, and you could probably keep up your correspondence through e-mail.

I did have one thought while I was reading your post. That is, that the great love you have for the married state, makes your voluntary renunciation of it, if God calls you to be a priest, an even bigger "Thank you" to God for the blessing of His love. It makes it harder too, of course. :)

God bless you in your discernment process!

--Jen


#6

You said yourself that you were most “free” when you surrendered this decision to God. You also say that you are interested in dating “a girl” this year. I would be careful here.

I would be open to the possibility of meeting a girl this year, but I would not pursue dating “just any girl” just for the experience of it. You are right to be concerned about her feelings should you have to break up with her, and you don’t want to give her the impression you are open to a serious relationship (therefore marriage) unless you honestly feel this could be true with her in particular. Granted, that takes time to discern, but, in your case, I would get to know a girl first as a good friend before dating her. And while you are friends, be very open about your faith.

At the same time, I would pursue your possible priestly vocation. Surely, you go to Mass at college? Talk to your priest about it. Go on retreats. Go to Catholic bible study. Volunteer to serve the poor in your area and your school parish. Pray often before the tabernacle for guidance.

And then listen…

May God bless you wherever He leads you.

Gem


#7

Well I would warn you against taking anonymous advice over the internet.

Does your college have a Catholic Center or is there a Catholic parish nearby?


#8

It would be unfair to pursue a relationship if you are also considering a vocation with the Church.

Dating is for discerning marraige; if you are not confident that marraige is what you are going for; it would be cruel and unfair to date another person; stating that you are activelly considering the priesthood is reason enough to withold from dating until you have more confidence in your future choice; be it marraige or priesthood.

I guess this was my concern. But I wouldn’t say that I’m actively considering the priesthood… isn’t that for someone who is going to the seminary/ more sure that that’s what God wants of them? So far it’s just been a thought.


#9

Thank you!!


#10

You said yourself that you were most “free” when you surrendered this decision to God. You also say that you are interested in dating “a girl” this year. I would be careful here.

I would be open to the possibility of meeting a girl this year, but I would not pursue dating “just any girl” just for the experience of it. You are right to be concerned about her feelings should you have to break up with her, and you don’t want to give her the impression you are open to a serious relationship (therefore marriage) unless you honestly feel this could be true with her in particular. Granted, that takes time to discern, but, in your case, I would get to know a girl first as a good friend before dating her. And while you are friends, be very open about your faith.

haha I guess I gave the wrong impression. Believe me, I’m not just “looking for any girl” to date. My standards are very very high. I guess what I meant was the thought of being open to a relationship with a woman. But you are right. I should become friends with any girl before I were to even consider pursuing my relationship with her in a more romantic manner - I’ve read enough Jason Evert to know that!

Thank you for your thoughts :slight_smile:


#11

Well I would warn you against taking anonymous advice over the internet.

Maybe you’re right… but people here seem very knowledgeable and (at least) well-intentioned

Does your college have a Catholic Center or is there a Catholic parish nearby?

Yes we have a Catholic center. And there is an actual parish that is a 30 minute walk away.


#12

I felt the same way when I was 19. So many people were pressuring me into religious life, praying I’d discover my vocation. This was especially true when people saw me attending Mass. Everything to people is about the shortage. They see devotion and think that if you’re that devout, why surely you must be called. The thing is, we all should be devouting our lives to Christ regardless of our vocation. We need good devout married folk just as we need good devout priests and religious folk. I mean I see it also as a real crisis when during marriage prep, the fact that we weren’t living together and sexually active made us the minority.

Anyway, my desire for marriage has always been amazingly strong, and I too felt really bad about it. I kept trying to rid myself of it so that I could more clearly figure out what God wanted of me. Ultimately though the journey God led me on was a journey where I was simply single for the majority of my 20’s. I realized in my later 20’s, that I was impatient for my vocation to be told to me because I wanted either religious life or marriage, but definitely not lifelong singledom. I was very discontent with the feeling of lacking a permanent vocation. Ultimately I had to learn that God wanted me to focus more on the here and now. Eventually I did realize it was ok for me to date provided I not be restless about it and be driven by an overeagerness for my vocation to fall into sin or to marry because my heart was “desperate” for the concept of marriage.

Right now, I’d say since your a college student, focus on getting that degree and doing the best you can in your classes. I think its ok to be be open to meeting someone, but try to enjoy your life as a single man who had the freedom to serve God in so many ways. Don’t let your discontentment with singledom lead you to try to rush into something or to force something.


#13

No, I’d agree with you. The thing is, if you’re going to date anyone, you have to be ready for them to discern out of it. If you’re seriously leaning or heading in the direction of seminary, than I’d say that’s like courting two women at once. But just because you’re dating doesn’t mean you should be closed to other vocations.

I have several friends that discerned into different vocations. I have friends who were novices and in seminary or the pretheologate program, discerned out and are now married. I know priests who were engaged, broke of the engagement and joined seminary.

Dating is discernment, not engagement. If you’re going to date, you really do have to be prepared for it not leading to marriage but merely ending and that end can be hard regardless of if its discerning out of the marriage vocation with you or discerning the priesthood. The answer isn’t clear for a lot of people and a lot of people take wiggly roads. The important thing is to not turn a dating relationship into something too similiar to a marriage or too similiar to engagement. I reminded myself daily when I was courting my husband that he was first and foremost my friend. It also was a motivation for staying chaste. He wasn’t my husband, I shouldn’t think of him as my future husband. I was merely spending time with him to discern marriage together with him. I mean, he picked out the engagement ring himself, and he led me to believe that if he were going to ever propose to me, it’d be much much later. I only realized he was heading that direction the day before because he kept pressuring me to drive out to a religious shrine 2 hours away during a snow blizzard. I jokingly said “What are you planning out there? A proposal?” I was just joking but then he ruined it because he thought I had seriously guessed it.


#14

[quote="twoangels, post:12, topic:211967"]
I felt the same way when I was 19. So many people were pressuring me into religious life, praying I'd discover my vocation. This was especially true when people saw me attending Mass. Everything to people is about the shortage. They see devotion and think that if you're that devout, why surely you must be called. The thing is, we all should be devouting our lives to Christ regardless of our vocation. We need good devout married folk just as we need good devout priests and religious folk. I mean I see it also as a real crisis when during marriage prep, the fact that we weren't living together and sexually active made us the minority.

Anyway, my desire for marriage has always been amazingly strong, and I too felt really bad about it. I kept trying to rid myself of it so that I could more clearly figure out what God wanted of me. Ultimately though the journey God led me on was a journey where I was simply single for the majority of my 20's. I realized in my later 20's, that I was impatient for my vocation to be told to me because I wanted either religious life or marriage, but definitely not lifelong singledom. I was very discontent with the feeling of lacking a permanent vocation. Ultimately I had to learn that God wanted me to focus more on the here and now. Eventually I did realize it was ok for me to date provided I not be restless about it and be driven by an overeagerness for my vocation to fall into sin or to marry because my heart was "desperate" for the concept of marriage.

[/quote]

This is just how I feel at times. At times I hate the idea of never discovering my vocation more than feeling very strongly that it is either religious life or married life. Being single forever just seems so awful. How did you discern that marriage rather than religious life was your vocation, if you don't mind me asking?


#15

Ask at both places about the possibility of spiritual direction.

If you do enter into any discernment of a call to religious life and/or the priesthood this is a requirement that you will have to do anyways.


#16

[quote="Tota_pulchra_es, post:14, topic:211967"]
This is just how I feel at times. At times I hate the idea of never discovering my vocation more than feeling very strongly that it is either religious life or married life. Being single forever just seems so awful. How did you discern that marriage rather than religious life was your vocation, if you don't mind me asking?

[/quote]

I guess very slowly and by realizing that I didn't really have so much of a resistance to religious life beyond just not feeling called in that direction. Everything that shot my mind in that direction was pressure from other people, fears of potential singledom, wanting to get away from the loneliness of living as a single Catholic in a secular world, and dispair that I would ever meet a man who'd ever meet what I longed for in a husband, and sometimes fears of intimacy. That, and when I talked to vocations directors about it, they seemed to agree that God didn't seem to be heading me in that direction.

But goodness, even after that, the pressure was on from people. I felt so defensive about the fact that I felt I had pretty much discerned out of it, but some people just seemed compelled to pressure me to go on Nun Runs and to inform me that they were praying I would join a local dying order. I have friends who've joined vibrant convents far away, and then get hassled they didn't join the local dying religious order. "That convent over there doesn't need the vocations. Why didn't you go where the need was?"

Anyway, the one thing I knew was that God wanted me to focus on the present, to serve as a single person in whatever capacity and ministry I could and didn't want to give a hint about the future. When I'd ask God "Where do you want me?" or "What is my vocation?" "Will I ever marry?" the silence was like this kind smile. These questions were out of my restlessness. This made me feel guilty about praying for a spouse. I usually just prayed for God's will to be done in my life and was petrified of asking for something I wanted. Not long before I met my husband, however, I did write down a prayer before Mass detailed about what I longed for in a spouse. I later then wrote another prayer where I finally just handed my desire for a spouse to God, realizing that a part of my heart was contained in that desire. I had been trying to separate the two before handing it to Him, and then I realized, if He were to have it, I had to entrust that desire to Him to do with in whatever way He wanted. After that, it was just a hands off approach. If I were to marry, it would be because God gave me the gift of a spouse and answered that prayer, but I wasn't going to be like "Just please give me a spouse if you're going to or tell me you won't so I'll stop hoping."

I found after I finally just entrusted it to Him, I was so much less restless. It wasn't long after that when I met my husband. Though I have to say there were times when we had so many problems planning our wedding, I was like "Is this a spiritual attack because marrying each other is so good or is this God storming the gates saying NO, NO, NO!!" Ultimately though, I was completely confident the day I married my husband. I will never forget walking down the aisle toward both the tabernacle and my husband and seeing how my husband just looked completely happy, ready and not nervous at all. It was just like "Finally!"

There are times though I feel like being married just couldn't have happened to me. No, my life was just going to be perpetual singledom forever. Its sort of like how after I graduated from college, I felt like I was just on a winter or summer break and would sometime soon be flying back to Ohio, checking into my dorm and going to classes.


#17

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