Hardest night . .


#1

I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and have since my first Mass one and a half years ago. There was a break, when I pushed it down, stifled it, because I liked a girl. We've been in a relationship now for 1 year. I hate seeing her hurt. I can no longer ignore the pull -- I have to figure out if the priesthood is truly what God wants. I don't care if it's hard, if it's sacrifice. The only thing I care about that stands in the way is my desire not to see my girlfriend hurt.

I hurt her last night. She asked me why I've been so distant lately, and I told her. She began to weep. We were on the phone for three hours, mostly to try to get her to calm down. During the conversation, she admitted that she could easily see me as a priest. When she wept, I told her that I wished I could bear her pain for her, that I could take up her suffering and place it on my shoulders. Just as I wish I could take my mother's cancer upon myself, and my brother's ALS. When the conversation ended, I decided to sleep on the floor, even though my bed was perfectly fine. I do that sometimes, the nights I am not in a state of grace, or the nights when I try to hear God's voice. The next morning I rarely eat much, just enough to satisfy my parents and to take my asthma medication. I don't know what to do. I have an appointment set with my pastor in four weeks, and I've gotten into contact with the vocations director of my diocese, as well as the vocations director of a group of Augustinians in my region, and a vocations director of another diocese after invitation to do so.

I'm torn in fear: I don't want to loose her, because we were good friends before we started dating. This part desperately wants the priesthood to not truly be a call. Another part of me wants to take to the vocation, and never let go. I've prayed and prayed and prayed. The more I've prayed for clarity, the more my current situation seems distasteful -- I just yesterday switched my major from English Education to Philosophy because the seminary in my state requires a bachelor's degree (any field) from an accredited university and academically, I have a love affair with Philosophy. The more I've prayed for strength to follow Christ wherever he may lead, the stronger my desire for the vocation has become. I don't want to hear incorrectly: what if these seeming answered prayers are just coincidences? I don't know. For some reason, I feel as if slowly separating myself from her is a sacrifice that I will have to make. For some reason, I know it will not be the last sacrifice I make before all this is said and done. Every time I fall into mortal sin, I feel as if it should have been me on the cross. That I should have died in Christ's place.

I apologize for rambling.


#2
  • God bless you. + I'm sorry you're having such a difficult time. It's wonderful to feel a calling to a vocation, but it can totally turn your world upside down. (I have no personal experience with that, but I've heard priests describe it as extremely effecting.) I think it's entirely possible to keep your friendship with the girl you mentioned and still persue your calling--it will take work,, but remind her that you will always greatly value and love her as a friend and will look back on your time spent in her company, as well as to the future of your friendship, with happiness and gratitude. Try to talk to her regularly and help her understand where you're coming from. I personally believe you should persue your vocation--I have confidence that you'll be able to make it work. You can do so much good as a priest. I also wouldn't worry about your answered prayers being "coincidences". When God wants to tell you something, He'll tell you, and it will be in your favor. You seem like a sensible, ambitious, and faithful person, and I think you'd probably know a call when you hear it. Continue to study the vocation and pray for God to show you the direction you need to take--He'll point you in the right direction, no question. You'll be in my prayers!

#3

Jesus,our Lords peace be whit You.
I know a bit how You feel. I have a call to priesthood myself,but I am to old,when it wos possible I did get married,and divorce ten years later,but the call is there and will always be. I don't know how to advice You,I am 50,and have seen a bit moore life then You,so I can say that if You love her,love her enough to not breake her heart,follow Yours. I did not follown my heart,if I would I would be a priest now I think,and if she loves You,she will tell You to choose priesthood,this is a question no one can ansver rigth or wrong,so talk to her,make her understand,and talk whit a priest. Heavenly peace be whit You son,I will remember You in my prayers,I will.
Blessings,Totterman


#4

[quote="Totterman, post:3, topic:213492"]
Jesus,our Lords peace be whit You.
I know a bit how You feel. I have a call to priesthood myself,but I am to old,when it wos possible I did get married,and divorce ten years later,but the call is there and will always be. I don't know how to advice You,I am 50,and have seen a bit moore life then You,so I can say that if You love her,love her enough to not breake her heart,follow Yours. I did not follown my heart,if I would I would be a priest now I think,and if she loves You,she will tell You to choose priesthood,this is a question no one can ansver rigth or wrong,so talk to her,make her understand,and talk whit a priest. Heavenly peace be whit You son,I will remember You in my prayers,I will.
Blessings,Totterman

[/quote]

You are not too old for the priesthood. I've heard of men in their 60's, and one in his 70's who was ordained here in the U.S. Maybe you should pursue it? Unless, of course, there is a local restriction in your diocese.


#5

[quote="ZDHayden, post:1, topic:213492"]
I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and have since my first Mass one and a half years ago. There was a break, when I pushed it down, stifled it, because I liked a girl. We've been in a relationship now for 1 year. I hate seeing her hurt. I can no longer ignore the pull -- I have to figure out if the priesthood is truly what God wants. I don't care if it's hard, if it's sacrifice. The only thing I care about that stands in the way is my desire not to see my girlfriend hurt.

I hurt her last night. She asked me why I've been so distant lately, and I told her. She began to weep. We were on the phone for three hours, mostly to try to get her to calm down. During the conversation, she admitted that she could easily see me as a priest. When she wept, I told her that I wished I could bear her pain for her, that I could take up her suffering and place it on my shoulders. Just as I wish I could take my mother's cancer upon myself, and my brother's ALS. When the conversation ended, I decided to sleep on the floor, even though my bed was perfectly fine. I do that sometimes, the nights I am not in a state of grace, or the nights when I try to hear God's voice. The next morning I rarely eat much, just enough to satisfy my parents and to take my asthma medication. I don't know what to do. I have an appointment set with my pastor in four weeks, and I've gotten into contact with the vocations director of my diocese, as well as the vocations director of a group of Augustinians in my region, and a vocations director of another diocese after invitation to do so.

I'm torn in fear: I don't want to loose her, because we were good friends before we started dating. This part desperately wants the priesthood to not truly be a call. Another part of me wants to take to the vocation, and never let go. I've prayed and prayed and prayed. The more I've prayed for clarity, the more my current situation seems distasteful -- I just yesterday switched my major from English Education to Philosophy because the seminary in my state requires a bachelor's degree (any field) from an accredited university and academically, I have a love affair with Philosophy. The more I've prayed for strength to follow Christ wherever he may lead, the stronger my desire for the vocation has become. I don't want to hear incorrectly: what if these seeming answered prayers are just coincidences? I don't know. For some reason, I feel as if slowly separating myself from her is a sacrifice that I will have to make. For some reason, I know it will not be the last sacrifice I make before all this is said and done. Every time I fall into mortal sin, I feel as if it should have been me on the cross. That I should have died in Christ's place.

I apologize for rambling.

[/quote]

A priest is many things, among which is an "alter christus" (another Christ). But a priest is also an innocent victim for others. It requires sacrifice to be a priest. If you aren't willing to sacrifice your life for Christ and the Church, then perhaps you don't have a vocation to the priesthood. We need good, faithful, heroic young men who put Christ and the Church above personal feelings. :) This is where you should focus your discernment. Either you're willing to give it up, or you're not. Life is all about choices...and consequences. :)

God bless! May God guide you into the vocation He made you for! ;)


#6

[quote="ZDHayden, post:1, topic:213492"]
I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and have since my first Mass one and a half years ago. There was a break, when I pushed it down, stifled it, because I liked a girl. We've been in a relationship now for 1 year. I hate seeing her hurt. I can no longer ignore the pull -- I have to figure out if the priesthood is truly what God wants. I don't care if it's hard, if it's sacrifice. The only thing I care about that stands in the way is my desire not to see my girlfriend hurt.

I hurt her last night. She asked me why I've been so distant lately, and I told her. She began to weep. We were on the phone for three hours, mostly to try to get her to calm down. During the conversation, she admitted that she could easily see me as a priest. When she wept, I told her that I wished I could bear her pain for her, that I could take up her suffering and place it on my shoulders. Just as I wish I could take my mother's cancer upon myself, and my brother's ALS. When the conversation ended, I decided to sleep on the floor, even though my bed was perfectly fine. I do that sometimes, the nights I am not in a state of grace, or the nights when I try to hear God's voice. The next morning I rarely eat much, just enough to satisfy my parents and to take my asthma medication. I don't know what to do. I have an appointment set with my pastor in four weeks, and I've gotten into contact with the vocations director of my diocese, as well as the vocations director of a group of Augustinians in my region, and a vocations director of another diocese after invitation to do so.

I'm torn in fear: I don't want to loose her, because we were good friends before we started dating. This part desperately wants the priesthood to not truly be a call. Another part of me wants to take to the vocation, and never let go. I've prayed and prayed and prayed. The more I've prayed for clarity, the more my current situation seems distasteful -- I just yesterday switched my major from English Education to Philosophy because the seminary in my state requires a bachelor's degree (any field) from an accredited university and academically, I have a love affair with Philosophy. The more I've prayed for strength to follow Christ wherever he may lead, the stronger my desire for the vocation has become. I don't want to hear incorrectly: what if these seeming answered prayers are just coincidences? I don't know. For some reason, I feel as if slowly separating myself from her is a sacrifice that I will have to make. For some reason, I know it will not be the last sacrifice I make before all this is said and done. Every time I fall into mortal sin, I feel as if it should have been me on the cross. That I should have died in Christ's place.

I apologize for rambling.

[/quote]

I spent a long time in a similar situation: attempting to discern a call to the priesthood while also trying to maintain a girlfriend.

Remember the gospel reading from sunday ZDHayden "It is not possible to serve two masters". In this case you are attempting to discern two INCREDIBLY similar vocations (Married life and the Priesthood) without being able to separate yourself from either. By maintaining your relationship with your girlfriend you will not be able to effectively discern your vocation without a LOT of suffering. While suffering is not necessarily a bad thing, in this case it will not be just you who suffers, as you just found out.

My girlfriend actually said the same thing to me "I can see you as a priest". She told me at one point that if we broke up she knew that I would become a priest. Not that she thought, not that she could see, but that she knew. Eventually I came to understand my desire to become a priest and understand that in my case, it was for two reasons:

1) a desperate love and desire for God and to do his will

2) a desire to not have to make decisions for myself, but to make them for someone else

My process is something that I would be willing to discuss with you, since I finally discerned away from the priesthood, but I can tell you are not on my path. So my advice to you is to use the band-aid method with this. You have to do this quickly and with as much love as possible. If you drag it out and force her to follow you, always hoping that you will choose her over God, you will be causing her distress that will hurt her for a very long time (perhaps the rest of her life). If you tell her something like "This is something I have to figure out. If I never try to find out if God is calling me to a be a priest I can never truly give myself in love to you since I will always be wondering if I was supposed to serve God in a different fashion." If she is willing to give you a year, wonderful. If not, then let her go, remember your love, and pray for her.

FSC


#7

I think that sooner or later every man who responds to the call of priesthood has to deal with the challenges and sacrifice of facing the various realities of being human, for instance, including being drawn towards a person with personal feelings that must be put aside. The question, can you deal with that by setting it aside is best answered now than later. One way or another many face this even in marriage. They may meet someone who seems like a soul-mate, but they are already married and owe it to God, the other person, their spouse, their family, and God to immediately make that sacrifice to relinquish even thinking of the other person as being potentially theirs in life.

The sad thing is that the girl is also hurting, but if it is God's desire for you to be a priest, then God will also provide someone for her later. In the meantime, like all of us in one way or another during our lives, her heart is broken. Do any of us escape one or many deep sorrows in our lives? I don't think so, and it is awful for any of us to live through those times. And unfortunately we can't really help anyone very much through the intensity of personal sorrow.

I think it is very gracious of the girl to be able to say that she can imagine you as a priest.
Do you think you could ask her to pray for you with her love and sadness?

God bless you for your courage, and may God grant that you receive wise and true counsel, and that you are able to proceed with balanced realism and deep faith in God's love and grace for your life, your ministry, and for all who are dear to you including this girl.


#8

I've come to learn that there is one reality in life... and that reality is that we are called, in the end, to love God.

The first step one should take when he is hurting and confused, as you appear to be, is to offer everything to God. Make the decision to give everything if He asks for it.. make that extremely difficult, and painful decision to give your life to Him no matter what the cost immediately. I'd even recommend writing Him a letter with your firm intention to do it.

Why? Discernment is a hard time my friend. If you are called to the priesthood, there will be a few hearts that will think they are broken. But if you are called, God will give you and her the strength to move on, even stronger than before. Make up your mind that, no matter what happens, you will always pray for her, and love her and all people with Holy Charity for the sake of Christ.

You have told her, I gather, and that is one of the hardest parts. Now help her to be at peace with it by hiding nothing. As you pray and discern, let her know, and remember yourself, that even if your vocation is to marriage, God is still first.

For your own consolation, put the situation in God's hands, and seek peace. The answers to our questions cannot be found without peace. When you pray for guidance during these difficult decisions, as you look into a vocation to the priesthood, take time just to let the worry slip from your mind and only silent love remain. It is so hard, I know, but it will be even harder if you try to face it alone.

Don't be afraid to hold Jesus accountable, don't be afraid to tell Him that if He wants you, He needs to show you and give you strength in your heart. He died on the cross for us... but He doesn't want us to be there in His place, He only wants us to be grateful, to admit that we need His help, and to love Him. Make that your first priority, ask Him to guide your decisions, and move on. God reward you for your courage and generosity in offering Him this gift, I will pray that He will aid you with many blessings, so you can find the best way to serve Him.

In Jesus,

Sadie

seekingavocation.blogspot.com/


#9

Thank you, all of you. Two days ago, she and I talked about it again. She started crying, and because of that I started crying (I've found I tend to reflect the mood of the people around me...). We talked and found a solution. While we would back off from each other so that I might explore God's calling in my life, we would not technically break up, so that if she needs comfort, I will be there. If she needs someone to talk to, I will be there. I have not yet spoken to my pastor . . . there was a funeral yesterday and he had to rearrange everything.


#10

[quote="ZDHayden, post:1, topic:213492"]
I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and have since my first Mass one and a half years ago. There was a break, when I pushed it down, stifled it, because I liked a girl. We've been in a relationship now for 1 year. I hate seeing her hurt. I can no longer ignore the pull -- I have to figure out if the priesthood is truly what God wants. I don't care if it's hard, if it's sacrifice. The only thing I care about that stands in the way is my desire not to see my girlfriend hurt.

I hurt her last night. She asked me why I've been so distant lately, and I told her. She began to weep. We were on the phone for three hours, mostly to try to get her to calm down. During the conversation, she admitted that she could easily see me as a priest. When she wept, I told her that I wished I could bear her pain for her, that I could take up her suffering and place it on my shoulders. Just as I wish I could take my mother's cancer upon myself, and my brother's ALS. When the conversation ended, I decided to sleep on the floor, even though my bed was perfectly fine. I do that sometimes, the nights I am not in a state of grace, or the nights when I try to hear God's voice. The next morning I rarely eat much, just enough to satisfy my parents and to take my asthma medication. I don't know what to do. I have an appointment set with my pastor in four weeks, and I've gotten into contact with the vocations director of my diocese, as well as the vocations director of a group of Augustinians in my region, and a vocations director of another diocese after invitation to do so.

I'm torn in fear: I don't want to loose her, because we were good friends before we started dating. This part desperately wants the priesthood to not truly be a call. Another part of me wants to take to the vocation, and never let go. I've prayed and prayed and prayed. The more I've prayed for clarity, the more my current situation seems distasteful -- I just yesterday switched my major from English Education to Philosophy because the seminary in my state requires a bachelor's degree (any field) from an accredited university and academically, I have a love affair with Philosophy. The more I've prayed for strength to follow Christ wherever he may lead, the stronger my desire for the vocation has become. I don't want to hear incorrectly: what if these seeming answered prayers are just coincidences? I don't know. For some reason, I feel as if slowly separating myself from her is a sacrifice that I will have to make. For some reason, I know it will not be the last sacrifice I make before all this is said and done. Every time I fall into mortal sin, I feel as if it should have been me on the cross. That I should have died in Christ's place.

I apologize for rambling.

[/quote]

It must feel ****. You should know though, that just reading your conflict I feel inspired to double and re-double my efforts as a Christian. I almost feel like you're really lukcy to be in such close communion with God. A part of me hopes you don't need to break up with your girlfriend... if you do, I hope you stay friends together. Good luck. My thoughts are with you.


#11

Hi,

Just from reading your post, I think it’s very likely that you have a vocation to the priesthood… I mean, obviously I’m in no position to judge this, but it just seems very similar to how God has worked in my life as well. If you’re trying to escape this calling or to stifle it (for example, by getting into a relationship, as you have) - but it’s still there deep down and you can’t find peace about it, - then I wouldn’t say it’s something based on your own desires… but perhaps a call. It would be good to talk about this with a spiritual director and discern further… a spriritual director can help a lot :slight_smile: but one thought that came to my mind is, - try to be open to Him… God loves you and knows what is BEST for you. Remember He created us for Himself… it is God who has the ultimate say in our vocation, because it’s based on His plan that He had for us when He made us. If you’re supposed to be a priest, - God made you for this purpose. If you say no to a calling, I personally believe you can still be saved (though you might need more Purgatory) - and God understands how difficult it can be to say yes to Him… that’s something I struggle with every day… but try to not look at it as a burden, but as a great gift :slight_smile: if God wants you to be a priest, He wants to work through you to bring His grace to other people… the priesthood is so important… that’s how we get forgiveness, or receive Christ in the Eucharist!! As a priest, you can give Christ to others… that is so special. I’m only saying this to help you see what a gift it is to be a priest, so it’s not something to be afraid of, though naturally it IS scary I’m sure :slight_smile: try to just TRUST God… the more we trust Him, the easier it is to say ‘yes’ to Him. And keep on discerning your vocation…

as for hurting your girlfriend, I can definitely see how that would be difficult for you, but remember that God comes first in our lives. We need to love Him with all our hearts, He needs to have first place. He is with your girlfriend too and if she turns to Him, He will comfort her during this time. It’s good that you were honest with her, because I think it’s more hurtful when a person is not telling the truth… it’s better to know, so you can deal with it together.

I dont know if any of this is helpful, but - try to trust God, trust in His goodness and plan for you (and for your girlfriend) - and try to surrender to Him… this might make His will more clear. Often we don’t hear His voice because we’re so fearful and nervous that we block Him out!

God bless :slight_smile:

ps: have you read books by the Saints? whenever I read them, I feel less afraid of sacrifice than before… they saw suffering and sacrifice as a joy… Mother Teresa said that whenever she saw someone sad, she knew they haven’t given everything to Jesus. When we surrender to Him with trust, sacrifice is joyful, even if incredibly difficult and painful at the same time. Tell Jesus, your life belongs to Him, you trust Him, and He can do what He wants in your life… and remember it’s all for the best and His plans are GOOD… it says in the Bible, God’s plans for us give us a hope and a future… if He’s calling you to priesthood, that is because of His love for you… try to see it from His perspective more :slight_smile: and if it gets really difficult, meditate on the Passion and on Gethsemane… Christ went through this too… remember His prayer in the Garden.


#12

Thank you Monica. I have read part of the most famous book the saint whose name I was Confirmed with, The Confessions, (sorry for the awkward wording, I’m not certain how to express the idea.) and have recently purchased a book by Mother Teresa. Due to my studies, I haven’t gotten the chance to read them fully, but I have begun to make it a point to read some Scripture each day, especially the Gospels. I find it odd that the more tragedy I experience or see in this life, the more I am drawn to the priesthood… In the prayer intentions portion of this forum, I mentioned that the doctors at Riley’s Hospital for Children have found just a few days ago that only 60% of his heart is working, and they don’t know why and say there is nothing that they can do. I may have some medical problems that prevent me from doing a lot of things (asthma, allergies, deathly allergies to bees) but that doesn’t bother me (except the bees one – I tend to stay inside during the summer), but the problems, be they medical, personal, or emotional, of those I love hurt me more than anything else. I wanted at one time to be a doctor to heal my mom’s cancer, another time to be a teacher to help students learn. The only time when I cry for myself is when I have wounded those who I love. I couldn’t even bring myself to cry at my step-father’s (my brother’s biological father) funeral when I was younger. I had seen death before, and had even watched him die. I was sad, I know, but I couldn’t cry. Perhaps because he was no longer feeling pain. Perhaps because, though I did not understand the mechanics of it then, I knew he was in a far better place than here on this earth. (He was a very traditional Catholic but one that was content to wait for my mother and myself. My mother was baptized and confirmed Catholic but “converted” when she married my father, so I guess my step-father and the diocese for that matter, considered her still Catholic. I don’t know how frequently he went to confession, but he was far from being a lapsed Catholic. When he was in town, he first stopped at his parish, if I remember correctly – it was the parish that my parish was eventually drawn from – my parish is the Newman center for the university I attend, but back in the 60s, the Newman center was in the basement of my step-father’s home parish.) Sorry for rambling. Thank you.


#13

Hello,

I understand how difficult this situation must be for you. I normally never get involved in posting things on forums, but your story struck a chord with me and I hope I can give you a little bit of perspective on how this may be affecting your girlfriend.

I dated a wonderful guy for over three years, and we were planning our wedding to the extent that he had given me a ring and we had chosen color schemes, etc. The only thing we were waiting for was for me to finish university. However, ever since he was little, he had always had this underlying desire to become a priest. This desire resurfaced a couple of years into our relationship, and he struggled with it for a very long time before he finally told me about it.

Here is the point where he had a really difficult decision to make. He told me that he felt he could not ignore the calling he felt and even if there was only a small chance that he had a true vocation, he felt that he had to at least "offer" himself to God.

This was a very painful and selfless decision for him to make, since he still wanted to continue the relationship with me (which he did). And I can tell you from agonizing personal experience that continuing the relationship while pursuing a vocation was a really big mistake. He was (understandably) trying to hold on to a relationship and a person he cared about, but in the long run it made things so much harder than they had to be. I spent a whole year putting my life on hold, waiting for him, hoping desperately that he would change his mind about pursuing the vocation. This put me in a very difficult place because at that point, I honestly couldn't have cared less whether it was God's will for him to be a priest or not... I built up a lot of resentment, anger, and frustration and it was very damaging to my own faith in God.

Your situation will obviously be different than mine was, and I can't pretend to be some sort of authority or tell you definitively what the best thing to do here is. It's an unbelievably tough situation and only you know what your heart truly wants. But my advice to you is this: pick one, and let the other go (for now, at least). If you try to pursue both at the same time, you could end up doing some serious damage to both your girlfriend and your potential vocation.

If you decide that you want to pursue your vocation, please give your girlfriend some time to heal. Give her some time and some space and try at all costs to avoid giving her mixed messages or false hope that will only prolong her pain. If you want to do something to help her through it, PRAY FOR HER. That's all any of us can really do.

I'll pray for you.


#14

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