How do I end a relationship so I can go to seminary?


#1

So, I have a conundrum. I have a strong calling to be a priest, and am pretty much set on the idea. For now I am still trying to figure out if I should be a religious or diocesan priest, but I have another issue. I have a girlfriend, who knows that this is how I am going to choose, and it is making her incredibly sad. I care about her a lot, and I want this to be as painless for her as possible. We’ve been dating for about 5 months now, after being very close friends for a while. We’ve both helped each other through many problems, which has lead me to be the person in life she looks to most for help and comfort.

Obviously, me leaving her is going to be a big problem. It’s made bigger because she isn’t a Catholic (she in fact dislikes my faith), which makes it hard for her to understand this. Worst of all, she is very prone to depression, and many times I have had to pull her away from attempting suicide. So separating from her is just going to create a lot of pain, and possibly drive her to hurt herself. That’s the last thing I want.

So my question is, how do I handle this? I probably won’t be joining a seminary for at least another year, so should I separate now, or once I have actually picked where my vocation will lead me? And most of all, how do I make this hurt as little as possible? I know it will have to hurt, but I want to handle this in the kindest way possible.


#2

So, you have been dating for only 5 months to a girl who dislikes Catholics and uses suicide threats to control you and you don't know how to tell her it is not working out? Right, I mean seminary aside, this was never a long term prospect, unless you were going to give up your faith. And you don't know how to tell her it could never work out????

You enable her to use your sympathy and you don't know exactly how to tell her??? Use the truth. You hate my faith, I am never going to change, we have no future, goodbye.

No, I'm sorry. No, I wish it could work out. No, wish you well in future. Just goodbye. Then change our cell number and move on.

And in the year before you enter seminary, open up a big can of maturity and take double doses.


#3

It's not going to be easy to tell her, I'm sorry.

You may want to talk to a mutual friend who can look after her when you break the news to her that you think you have a calling to the Priesthood.

As the other commenter said, you cannot be hostage to her..you will only come out in the long term resenting her if you keep enabling her. She will have to deal with the situation, and there's no easy way out of it for either of you.

But the Lord said you are to put Him first--- go, and see if you have a true calling, my friend.

God bless...you are both in my prayers.

D.


#4

If you wait it will be worse for her and you. I like the above posters suggestion of finding a friend to look after her.
In all honesty, if you knew you had this vocation, why did you start dating?
Pray, pray, and pray some more for her before and after the break. Once you've broken up, do not contact her back, move on and do what you need to do.


#5

Be honest. Say Goodbye now. The longer you wait the more she will be dependent.
Tell her parents or closest friends about her depression/suicide threats.


#6

[quote="Biedrik, post:1, topic:200948"]
So, I have a conundrum. I have a strong calling to be a priest, and am pretty much set on the idea.

[/quote]

What a blessing.

For now I am still trying to figure out if I should be a religious or diocesan priest, but I have another issue.

Religious. :) But I am biased...

I have a girlfriend, who knows that this is how I am going to choose, and it is making her incredibly sad. I care about her a lot, and I want this to be as painless for her as possible. We've been dating for about 5 months now, after being very close friends for a while. We've both helped each other through many problems, which has lead me to be the person in life she looks to most for help and comfort.

I broke up with a long time girlfriend about a year and a month ago. We had been dating for two and a half years.

Obviously, me leaving her is going to be a big problem. It's made bigger because she isn't a Catholic (she in fact dislikes my faith), which makes it hard for her to understand this. Worst of all, she is very prone to depression, and many times I have had to pull her away from attempting suicide. So separating from her is just going to create a lot of pain, and possibly drive her to hurt herself. That's the last thing I want.

The deeper the relationship you have with her, the more hurt and pain there will be. Pain is unavoidable at this point. But if you string her out, it will be more painful.

So my question is, how do I handle this? I probably won't be joining a seminary for at least another year, so should I separate now, or once I have actually picked where my vocation will lead me? And most of all, how do I make this hurt as little as possible? I know it will have to hurt, but I want to handle this in the kindest way possible.

Dating is essentially ordered toward marriage. If a man discerns that he is definitely not going to marry a woman, then he ought to stop dating her. I can see how you might be tempted to keep the relationship going longer, but you need to resist this. First, it's just stringing the poor girl along for a ride. You are sure that you want to be a priest, but she is sure that she wants to keep you. If you wait a year to break up with her... your relationship will be three times longer than it is now. Emotional bonds deepen incredibly over time. Habit increases over time with repeated actions. It will be harder, not easier, to break up with her later.

Second, you are certain that you want to consecrate your life to Jesus Christ. The time to start living in anticipation of that consecration is now. From this moment you need to start living in anticipation of the life which you intend to adopt. And that includes not dating. A crucial part of your priestly ministry will involve being in chaste, non-romantic relationships with women. The sort of close emotional and psychological intimacy which a dating relationship has-- and which leads into the close emotional and psychological intimacy of marriage-- is something that you need to wean yourself off of. You need to start forming the sorts of relationships which a celibate male should form. That includes women, of course, but in a different way than dating.

I don't mean to be harsh here, but you can't date two girls at once. Being open to discerning is one thing, and discerning is another. You are full-fledged discerning. You cannot date a girl and the Church at once. It's dishonest to both of them. Your heart is moving in two directions.

As to breaking up. It will be hard. Incredibly hard. Perhaps the hardest words that you've had to say in your life. I know, on my part, that breaking up with my girlfriend was incredibly hard. It will be a cross. But the Lord wants to break you so that you can be his faithful minister. You will feel pain and loss when you break up with this girl. The Lord wants you to know this pain, just as He knew pain in this life, so that you can be merciful to His Church as a shepherd of souls. Remember that the Epistle to the Hebrews said that Jesus

...**had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God **(Heb 2:17).

The Lord too wants you to be like your brothers in every way so that you can be His faithful priest. You have to be fully human to minister to this Church, which too is human. That includes growing into mature emotional and psychological manhood-- and the Lord will use trials like this to form you as He wills.


#7

In the past year I have been discerning the Lord's calling. I will be entering religious life shortly. This past year has been an intense year of trial and growth. Don't be fooled into thinking that the time between now and seminary is 'dead' time where you can dilly-dally before entering. It is a time of the Lord's purgation for you. I have been blessed with new and deeper relationships since I broke up with my girlfriend last year. The Lord takes and gives as He will. He will not take from you and give you a trial without giving you consolation to make up for it. I have, I like to think, been given a gift of anticipation of the pure and universal love which a celibate man is called to, in the sense that my extra time is now freed to love more people in a deeper way than I could within a committed dating relationship. I have been given a much deeper friendship with my male friends, and good, chaste relationships with women which will no doubt help me to be His faithful minister and priest.

Most of all, He wants you for Himself. Do not be fooled. He is far more jealous than the most jealous girlfriend. Since He wants you as His priest He wants you especially as a hidden jewel of His marvelous handiwork. He wants to sanctify you in secret and make you His hidden saint. He is far too jealous to spread such sanctity abroad and to make it well known to men. He only raises a select few of the great saints to fame and glory in the world as examples to men and the Church. The rest He hides deep in obscurity because He wants you only for Himself and not for others.

This next year is a time for you to grow in intimacy with the Lord. This is the time to build and cement the foundation of the prayer life which is necessary for any priestly ministry. This is the time to meet the Lord in contemplation so that you be transformed into Him, and thus be His faithful minister. Challenge yourself to make daily meditation. If you don't already, start immediately doing half an hour a day. If you do some, go up to an hour a day. Make that your goal for now. Don't worry about what you ask for or what you'll say. Just sit with Him, rain or shine, every day. Every day. Punch your card, do your time. Be determined that nothing should tear you from your relationship with Him.

If the Lord blesses you with trials over this next year, as He has blessed me during this year, then it is because He loves you. The Cross is His love sent from heaven. Learn to suffer with His cruciform love. And when your heart breaks in pain when you break up, offer it to Him.

If you would like to talk personally, feel free to private message me at any time.

God bless,

Rob


#8

I agree with Rob here.
You have to tell her and you can't put it off.
You'll have to tell her as gently as you, but it is going to hurt regardless.

You need to do this for your self, but also for her happiness. God loves you both and he is omnipotent. He wouldn't call you to the priesthood and not have it be for her good also. If you think about it, your delaying the break up, is delaying her finding her true vocation.

I was in a similar situation, (not with the history of depression though). It was hard to do. But now, my ex-boyfriend is happily married. Now, he sees that the love we had for one another pales in comparison with the love he now has with his wife.

I don't know whether an absolute immediate cut off of contact is necessary or the best answer. I think you will have to carefully decide that, knowing yourself and knowing her.


#9

This is just one of the many reasons why one should never date while discerning a call to religious life/priesthood.

This is also one of the many reasons why I do not believe people should date outside of their faith.

Its going to be hard but you must be honest as you can not really go on with the process while dating.

I do have one question, do you have a spiritual director? If not, get one. Discuss this with him.


#10

In a biography of St. Edith Stein, I read that as soon as she realized that she had a calling to the religious life, she began to refrain from dinners out with male friends. She had been a professional woman in academia with a normal adult social life. She was afraid that she could put her vocation in danger. She was saving her heart for the Lord. You need to do the same.


#11

[quote="Julian0404, post:2, topic:200948"]
So, you have been dating for only 5 months to a girl who dislikes Catholics and uses suicide threats to control you and you don't know how to tell her it is not working out? Right, I mean seminary aside, this was never a long term prospect, unless you were going to give up your faith. And you don't know how to tell her it could never work out????

You enable her to use your sympathy and you don't know exactly how to tell her??? Use the truth. You hate my faith, I am never going to change, we have no future, goodbye.

No, I'm sorry. No, I wish it could work out. No, wish you well in future. Just goodbye. Then change our cell number and move on.

And in the year before you enter seminary, open up a big can of maturity and take double doses.

[/quote]

I think I wasn't clear enough about the suicide thing. She doesn't use it to control me. I've simply been there at times when she has been extremely depressed, and so have been helping her out. She doesn't use my sympathy to manipulate me. And in this case, I am simply assuming that she may become prone to suicide because I just know that she does very badly with emotional pain. I'm just being cautious, as I'd rather not cause her death. This is caution, not manipulation of my sympathy.

Anyways, thank you everyone for your advice. I'll be separating with her soon, in what I hope is the best way to handle it. Once again, thank you everyone for your help.


#12

I went on a spring break trip years ago and met a man with whom I felt an instant connection the likes of which I've never felt before nor since. He never called me his girlfriend, never made a promise he'd date only me but he certainly encouraged my affections, making the first moves to kiss me and I guess you would say "making out" with me for hours at a time on several occassions. Both Catholic, it went no further as we were not married to one another, but ours was not a mere friendship. We lived at a great distance from one another but wrote and called each other and he shared other parts of his life often - his interest in running, news of his siblings and the like, and he would mention church which actually was a draw for me, as I hoped to marry a Catholic man, and if he could take his faith seriously in the hedonistic college years, when most men I knew just wanted to get drunk and have sex, I felt it showed he was a man of substance. When I visited him on his college campus (we went to different schools) just prior to his graduation, he took me out for a beer and told me he was entering seminary to become a priest. The focus of the conversation turned to his vocation and plans, and my feeling - being Catholic - was that I could not be selfish and had to celebrate and encourage his decision. But truly, what is a man contemplating priesthood doing picking up a girl at a toga party on spring break and making out with her all night on the beach? Different versions of this same story are lived by a great many men seeking vocations - they figure that since they've not yet taken vows, and as long as they don't have intercourse, they are good to have girlfriends and make out and so on.

He went to seminary, later took a break and for a short time our relationship heated up again. After more months of calls and letters, a fairly passionate date with me (we still lived far apart so our actual time in each other's physical presence was very limited), he invited me to his home with his family where I met his parents, he showed me around his home and home town, took me to see his parish where he grew up and attended school, took me to lunch and some tourist spots in his city, then announced he was returning to seminary.

This was half my lifetime ago and even recently I have struggled to work through the resulting damage to my life caused by his unfair and selfish interuption of my own vocation - to meet and marry a Catholic man and live as was meant for me by God. There is an arrogance when a seminarian and priest puts his own vocation above that of the laity. It also interfered greatly with my own faith, putting me at odds and in competition with my God for the love that I need. As he took his vows, I turned away from God and church out of pain and anger, and that was 23 years ago. Advised by another priest to reach out to this man, as he remained in his home diocese and I knew where he was, to work through the point when my faith was fractured, I wrote him and he ignored my letter. I was left feeling highly embarassed and humiliated again.

So men considering vocations, particularly before you date a CATHOLIC woman, consider the violation of HER vocation when you date her, as she is seeking God in her life as well, by becoming a faithful wife and mother, her service is as important as is yours. If you question this, look to your own mother and ask, is your value greater than hers?

In my case, though this was not my first hurt with the church (I lost another significant relationship because my boyfriend had been molested by a priest, and he could not cope with a relationship), it lead me directly out of my faith, which had pretty devastating impacts on my life - a bad marriage and trying to raise my child outside of the church, alone.

If you question what you should do, look forward to your ordination when you will humble yourself before God, prostrate on the altar. If you cannot live with such humility and put yourself subordinate to the needs of others, such as doing without sexual contact since you cannot make a commitment, then a religious vocation should not be your choice.


#13

[quote="Julian0404, post:2, topic:200948"]
So, you have been dating for only 5 months to a girl who dislikes Catholics and uses suicide threats to control you and you don't know how to tell her it is not working out? Right, I mean seminary aside, this was never a long term prospect, unless you were going to give up your faith. And you don't know how to tell her it could never work out????

You enable her to use your sympathy and you don't know exactly how to tell her??? Use the truth. You hate my faith, I am never going to change, we have no future, goodbye.

No, I'm sorry. No, I wish it could work out. No, wish you well in future. Just goodbye. Then change our cell number and move on.

And in the year before you enter seminary, open up a big can of maturity and take double doses.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#14

I would also recomend going to Adoration and telling Jesus your plans on breaking up with her and ask Him for assistane. Hes got your back.


#15

Please break it off now I f you are truly called to the priesthood God will work it out.


#16

Err...this issue was over a long time ago. People can stop posting about this. I don't even know why this thread was resurrected.


#17

I posted earlier about my prior relationship with a man contemplating seminary and my faith in him is considerably restored as he did reach in response to my correspondence and I did not, in fairness, give him enough credit in my post in saying he was selfish.

I think conflicted would have been a better choice of words and am grateful that he is such a person that he is willing to help me resolve old issues so I can move forward.

However, I would still say that any man seriously considering a religious vocation as a Catholic is not really free - they may not be married, they may not be engaged but it's like having a pretty serious girlfriend. As it would be if contemplating marriage to a different girl rather than to the church, it's not fair to date one while considering marrying another.


#18

[quote="formerlysure, post:17, topic:200948"]
I posted earlier about my prior relationship with a man contemplating seminary and my faith in him is considerably restored as he did reach in response to my correspondence and I did not, in fairness, give him enough credit in my post in saying he was selfish.

I think conflicted would have been a better choice of words and am grateful that he is such a person that he is willing to help me resolve old issues so I can move forward.

However, I would still say that any man seriously considering a religious vocation as a Catholic is not really free - they may not be married, they may not be engaged but it's like having a pretty serious girlfriend. As it would be if contemplating marriage to a different girl rather than to the church, it's not fair to date one while considering marrying another.

[/quote]

Forgive and forget.


#19

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