I think I have a vocation and I'm scared to tell my parents

Hi everyone,

I'm a 17 year old female, and I really think God is calling me to religious life. I truly want to be married to Christ and do His work in the world. He's the love of my life, and I just want to go and radiate His love to everyone. I feel drawn to the life of poverty, chasity, and obidence. Well, it's getting to the point when people are asking me what I want to do after high school. I know most orders require college, so I'm going to go to college, but I really want to enter the convent after I graduate from college. I'm an only child, and my parents have told me many times that they can't wait to have grandkids. Also, my dad is sick, and his illness will progress over time, and he'll need constant care. I know my mom will need me there to help tend to him, she won't have anyone else. My mom is also a really skeptical Catholic. She's really afraid of molesters, like she refuses to go to Confession because she dosen't want to be alone with a priest. Also, she banned me from overnight retreats for a long time. She almost didn't allow me to Confirm because I had to stay at an overnight retreat. She thinks I need protection, and I feel like she thinks I need to be married for that. I expressed to her that I wanted to study theology in college and she thought I was crazy. Because I'm an only child, they're very overproctive and strict. I'm a normal teenager, which means I get into arguments with my parents sometimes. My mom has been telling me lately that I'm going to hell, that I'm a bad person, and she critizizes me for going to Confession by saying things like "You are so wrong thinking that you can go to Confession and think you're ok with God."
I'm really scared to tell them about my vocation. I really want to enter a convent with their blessing, but from what I see right now it might not happen. I'm just trusting in God's plan for me, I know things will work out just fine. But this is really eating at me. I would deeply appreciate any advice or prayers.

-Jeanne

Do you have a Spiritual Director?

If not, I would strongly suggest that you find one,
try contacting the Vocation Director in your diocese or with the order that you are considering.

As for your relationship with your parents,
I was a 17 year old girl once (a long time ago!):D,
and I remember it being a very tough time(I was pretty stubborn & obstinate;)),
and my parents & I never saw eye-to-eye, but then in my 20's I realized that they were a lot smater than I gave them credit for!:p

Keep praying and keep listening to God,
He will let you know what to do, and will help your parents to understand and accept whatever decisions you make.

I will pray for you!:gopray2:

Peace be with you on your journey!

Well, I’m assuming you have a year of high school left and are weighing your options for college. I really do you think you need to go to college if it’s in your mind to do it. Most religious communities will require a minimum of two years of college or post-HS employment. And, you are probably correct in assuming that your parents do not want to hear you talk about religious life as a career path, and they are probably also not crazy about you majoring in theology. Perhaps you need to keep some of these things to yourself and enroll as an open-option arts major and just take gen-ed classes your first year that will apply to most degree programs.

The best advice I can give you is, all things being comparable, choose the place where you will incur the least debt. Seriously. When you graduate, if you still want to apply to a religious order, they will want to know how much debt you have and how you plan to pay it off. Don’t keep a credit card balance; student loans look much better than personal credit debt and sometimes there are funds you can apply for to help pay off student loans faster if you consider religious life. Keep looking for grants and scholarships. Although your parents are over-protective, consider a community college in-state for your first year or two and living at home. In my area, yeah, it’s like a glorified high school because everybody still drives there and there are smaller class sizes and many of the same people, but you do get better value (those instructors aren’t paid as much as at a university, but they are paid to teach, not conduct research) and as long as you have an idea where you want to transfer to and what will transfer with what grades, you stand to save a lot in tuition.

You could take classes for natural sciences and math, for freshmen composition and/or speech, and you can generally take things like “Intro to Philosophy”, “Logical Reasoning” and “World Religions” that would be acceptable in many programs, to get a feel if you like this study. Better yet, you will be challenged to study it from a purely academic and secular sense. Your teachers will not accept a “confessional” argument, and you are likely to encounter more diverse (and perhaps uncomfortable) perspectives than you might at some Catholic colleges.

If you go to a public college, get involved with the Catholic student group or Newman center. Campus ministries often have excellent programming for service learning and appropriation of the faith. You may have the opportunity to lead a retreat or a discussion group, plan prayer services, conduct service trips and do peer evangelization. You may meet others who are discerning religious life or get help in finding a spiritual director.

[quote="Oneofthewomen, post:2, topic:200779"]
Do you have a Spiritual Director?

If not, I would strongly suggest that you find one,
try contacting the Vocation Director in your diocese or with the order that you are considering.

As for your relationship with your parents,
I was a 17 year old girl once (a long time ago!):D,
and I remember it being a very tough time(I was pretty stubborn & obstinate;)),
and my parents & I never saw eye-to-eye, but then in my 20's I realized that they were a lot smater than I gave them credit for!:p

Keep praying and keep listening to God,
He will let you know what to do, and will help your parents to understand and accept whatever decisions you make.

I will pray for you!:gopray2:

Peace be with you on your journey!

[/quote]

It's really not that simple, sadly. I'm kind of under lock and key here, and I wouldn't be able to go out and meet with a spirtual director. I really want one, and I know I need one, but I have no means to get there.

I appreciate the prayers :)

-Jeanne

Hi, Jeanne. I think ChemicalBean gave you some great advice. I know this is going to sound trite but a) don't worry about this and b) realize you're only 17. Please understand, I am in NO way trying to demean your age or anything about you. Not at all. I'm simply trying to help you understand that there is PLENTY of time, years really, for you to discern your vocation. I understand that right now you 'think' you have a vocation. Someday -- perhaps very soon, perhaps later -- you will KNOW if you do. As an example, I too, contemplated the religious life. I would peruse information about various Catholic orders seeking the right 'fit.' Well, despite my interest, prayers and looking, I never found one. I even had the most awesome priest I know praying for my vocation and it never happened. On the contrary, over time, I found myself drawn to the married life. This is where I am now and where I feel I best serve our Lord. You are rightfully concerned about your parents and it makes you a great daughter! I would be VERY proud of you if you were my child. Rest assured, if the Lord is calling you, He will make a way for all of it to happen and your folks will be OK. Until then, just follow His commandments and find His will in your life. It will all work out as He intends it to. God Bless. I'm praying for you.

To be honest your situation sounds unnatural. I think you need to get out of home. If I were you I would get a job and find a devout Catholic widow to live with. You could pay her board and help her around the house. This would give you freedom as well to pursue your life goals. If you are prevented from going to Confession and consulting a spiritual director then I would regard that as being very close to imprisonment.

First things first I say. It may be that your desire to enter a religious life is the way that you see that you can escape your stifling family life. I think you need to be completely free before you make such a huge decision.

Therefore I would not talk to your parents about a vocation but I would make it very clear to you that you are going to see your priest and there is nothing they can do to stop you. You have to be firm and resolute with them. You are not a little kid any more. When you say you are under lock and key, does that mean that you can't even get on a bike and go for a ride on your bike. Or go and visit a friend?

In this case I would make it a priority to go and see the priest. If a certain amount of subterfuge is necessary to achieve that then I would have no qualms about it. It seems to me that you are being oppressed and you may need the help of the church to get free of this situation. Of course I am only hearing your side of the story but even so the advice is the same. You should consult a priest.

My opinion is that you have a gift of being in love with Christ. Most 17 year olds dont have the same passion that you have for Christ. You are unique but in a good way. You can serve Christ in many ways. If it is through religious life, this is a good thing. Being a nun is a high calling. I know a girl that became a nun and she is serving the Lord that way. Her parents were proud of her for her vocation and supported her but I think she would have done it regardless. In your case, is there any chance you could try to compromise with your parents a bit? While your parents could be wrong, they could also be messengers from God to show you what He wants from you. Have you considered Opus Dei? Opus Dei as a super-numerary member could give you the religious life as well as family life.

While you are still young, it is good to plan for the future like you are doing. I am sure you will find the path that God wants you to follow. I think you should stay on fire with love of Christ. More than anything else, keep the passion for the Lord. I have seen many people say they live Our Lord only for the passion they have to wane and die off with time. Keep your passion. Focus on never losing the zeal that you have. You have been blessed with many spiritual gifts. Use them and you will sanctify yourself and those closest to you.

[quote="excubitor, post:6, topic:200779"]
To be honest your situation sounds unnatural. I think you need to get out of home. If I were you I would get a job and find a devout Catholic widow to live with. You could pay her board and help her around the house. This would give you freedom as well to pursue your life goals. If you are prevented from going to Confession and consulting a spiritual director then I would regard that as being very close to imprisonment.

First things first I say. It may be that your desire to enter a religious life is the way that you see that you can escape your stifling family life. I think you need to be completely free before you make such a huge decision.

Therefore I would not talk to your parents about a vocation but I would make it very clear to you that you are going to see your priest and there is nothing they can do to stop you. You have to be firm and resolute with them. You are not a little kid any more. When you say you are under lock and key, does that mean that you can't even get on a bike and go for a ride on your bike. Or go and visit a friend?

In this case I would make it a priority to go and see the priest. If a certain amount of subterfuge is necessary to achieve that then I would have no qualms about it. It seems to me that you are being oppressed and you may need the help of the church to get free of this situation. Of course I am only hearing your side of the story but even so the advice is the same. You should consult a priest.

[/quote]

What I mean by under lock and key is that my parents are in my buisnisess a lot. Like, I just got my drivers liscence, and my parents let me drive to school by myself and they followed me. Well, they expected me to park at a certian spot, but didn't tell me. I parked somewhere else and they had a fit. They like called the school to see where I was, and they yelled at me a lot when I got home because they thought I disobeyed them. They always have to know where I am if I go out with friends, and I can't get in a car with anyone unless my parents know, but I guess that's normal. I went to an overnight retreat, and they kept telling me to hide my phone and text them if someone does wrong with me, and they said they would call the people and get me out of there. They really make me feel like a bad kid sometimes.

I really don't know what to do. I really want to get away from my family (extended too, they have more issues than Reader's Digest), and I'm working hard in school to get a scholarship to pay for an away college. Even though my situation sucks, I really think God placed me there for a reason. I think I am having a postive influence on them. We've been praying together before meals every day lately, which NEVER happened for many years. And we're going to Mass more, and my parents see how important that is. Good fruit is coming out of this.

Thanks
Jeanne

[quote="mjs1987, post:7, topic:200779"]
My opinion is that you have a gift of being in love with Christ. Most 17 year olds dont have the same passion that you have for Christ. You are unique but in a good way. You can serve Christ in many ways. If it is through religious life, this is a good thing. Being a nun is a high calling. I know a girl that became a nun and she is serving the Lord that way. Her parents were proud of her for her vocation and supported her but I think she would have done it regardless. In your case, is there any chance you could try to compromise with your parents a bit? While your parents could be wrong, they could also be messengers from God to show you what He wants from you. Have you considered Opus Dei? Opus Dei as a super-numerary member could give you the religious life as well as family life.

While you are still young, it is good to plan for the future like you are doing. I am sure you will find the path that God wants you to follow. I think you should stay on fire with love of Christ. More than anything else, keep the passion for the Lord. I have seen many people say they live Our Lord only for the passion they have to wane and die off with time. Keep your passion. Focus on never losing the zeal that you have. You have been blessed with many spiritual gifts. Use them and you will sanctify yourself and those closest to you.

[/quote]

Thank you Matthew. You always make me feel better :)

I'm really trying my best. It's my cross to carry.

-Jeanne

God seems to choose those that would have the most difficult time entering the monasteries to become monastics, but that truly shows the sacrifice.

I feel your anguish. I would often get scorned in high school for expressing how I hoped to become a monk after while everyone was going to college. Of course, I'm still not there, but I'm a lot closer than I was when I began. It's not an instant process, and it begins with small steps.

The first step is to begin letting your parents know. I told mine at first, to which they dismissed me as being lazy and not wanting to work in life. I wrote them a letter a year later, which expressed immense detail on my thoughts and feelings, and they took it a lot better.

I suggest a letter and a conversation. Let them know that you're serious about it and that you're not thinking of it as an impulsive idea. However, most importantly, pray to God, because He will guide you and help clear a path for you, no matter how trapped you might feel.

I wish you the best!

[quote="mjs1987, post:7, topic:200779"]
My opinion is that you have a gift of being in love with Christ. Most 17 year olds dont have the same passion that you have for Christ. You are unique but in a good way. You can serve Christ in many ways. If it is through religious life, this is a good thing. Being a nun is a high calling. I know a girl that became a nun and she is serving the Lord that way. Her parents were proud of her for her vocation and supported her but I think she would have done it regardless. In your case, is there any chance you could try to compromise with your parents a bit? While your parents could be wrong, they could also be messengers from God to show you what He wants from you. Have you considered Opus Dei? Opus Dei as a super-numerary member could give you the religious life as well as family life.

While you are still young, it is good to plan for the future like you are doing. I am sure you will find the path that God wants you to follow. I think you should stay on fire with love of Christ. More than anything else, keep the passion for the Lord. I have seen many people say they live Our Lord only for the passion they have to wane and die off with time. Keep your passion. Focus on never losing the zeal that you have. You have been blessed with many spiritual gifts. Use them and you will sanctify yourself and those closest to you.

[/quote]

You could also consider being an associate member of Opus Dei, like me. :D
It's a celibate, lay vocation but unlike the numeraries of Opus Dei, most associates live with their families or by themselves, and are usually the primary care takers of their parents. Although I have 3 other siblings, I am the eldest child and by the way I was brought up, I knew I had to be around to help my parents and care for them in their old age (I am the only one of my siblings in the medical profession and two of my siblings have issues with our alcoholic father). I knew that my other siblings wanted to live their lives possibly away from our parents. I figured that out while I was 20, so becoming a numerary (with the availability of a celibate who could be transfered wherever in the world at the slightest notice) was not a suitable option for me, though I knew I had to be celibate for the sake of doing apostolate in Opus Dei. An associate in Opus Dei was my perfect fit. I still live with my parents and younger siblings until this day, as I have since I became an associate nine and a half years ago.
:)

Dear Little one
here is my advice to you.

  1. Continue respecting your parents, pray for them more and love them even more.
  2. Accept what you are going through by offering everything to Jesus for the either the pope, priests, vocations, marriage or families 3.Constant mass, holy communion,Eucharist adoration, confession and the holy rosary
  3. Do not fear, do not despair, smile and ask for God's grace to persevere 5.ONLY LOVE WINS ALL. Do what you can and leave the rest to God. 5.Don't run away from home and when the time matures, the Almighty will show you the way.

In mean time, am behind you in prayers.

Also meditate on: Ecclesiasticus 2:10

Densy

This will take much prudence, but it is good to float the idea as a possibility well in advance of following through with it. It lets your parents get used to the idea over a long period of time.

Like if you see a nun walking into your parish you can say, "oh, she seems so happy, I bet it's a really fulfilling life!" And make other comments (you need to judge the prudence of this) like "I wonder if I'd be good at that sort of life?" Since you have four years, you don't need to come out and say it... but if you say things like this your parents will start thinking about you and religious life (and they probably won't like it either... but don't worry about that for now... when a child enters religious life it is a trial from God for parents and child, and can result in much unexpected sanctification of both parents and child).

Now is your time to grow strong before you get into the vortex of the storm. Pray every day. If you want to prepare for religious life, start working yourself up to an hour of daily meditation, and perhaps get yourself a copy of the "Shorter Christian Prayer" version of the Liturgy of the Hours so that you can start praying the divine office with the Church. Every minute of prayer is money in the bank when trials come.

-Rob

One recommendation that I have is that if you do tell your parents, do not under any circumstances let them crush your ideas, discourage you, or stop you. I myself am a year older than you, and have had a similar issue, although my mother is not so extreme. When I was about 14-15 I confessed for the first time to my mother that I might want to join the priesthood. She immediately scolded me, told me that I would be a terrible priest, and overall discouraged me. The idea stayed for some time, but hidden. Now recently I started to regain interest in my vocation again, and I have decided that I really will become a priest. But, because I was discouraged this came too late and now I am going to be wasting a year in college when I plan on leaving anyways. All this because I let myself be discouraged.

So if your parents try to discourage by telling you how bad you will be at your vocation, or how unhappy it will make you, try not to listen to them. It will set you back, and when I did it I just ended up in a situation that I would regret.

By the way, it is nice to see someone else close to my age who wants to serve God :)

Hi Jeanne,
Sounds like a tough situation.

I think it's good that you are getting your parents to go to Mass more and to pray before meals. Those little steps with them will be a big help, because in the end it will only be their relationship with God that will allow them to accept this, I think.

You still don't know which community you would apply to yet do you? If that's the case, I don't know that you really need to tell your parents yet. Going away to college may give you more freedom to be involved in Church, go to Spiritual Direction, look into religious orders, go on retreat... That distance may be a good stepping stone for your parents too. Help them to realize they have to give up some control.

They do seem to be particularly fearful of sexual abuse. It may be solely from the way the media has played up the Church scandle. They may have had some incident either personally or perhaps someone close to them. Regardless, it may not be advisable to push to much on that. You may need to work on the confession issue though. Perhaps, you can find a way to show that the confessionals aren't so private that something could not be heard outside if you were attacked. Perhaps, you could work on getting them to confession too. ;)

Keep praying for them. God has a way of working things out.

Dear Jeanne, I hope that in time your parents come to realize that the greatest honor that can come to a Catholic family is to have a child enter the priesthood or the religious life. Unless you would like to enter a convent right after high school, as a young Sister friend of mine did, who is an only child too, maybe you should not discuss this with your parents quite yet. Go to Holy Mass everyday, if possible, if not at least try to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament as often as you can. Pray the Rosary daily, and ask our Blessed Mother for help. Be an obedient daughter, and study hard in school so you will be prepared for the higher education which you will need. Be active in your parish. If you can't get spiritual director, ask the priest for advice in confession. Read the biographies of saints who were nuns such as St. Teresa (she snuck out of the house to join the convent), St. Therese, St. Catherine Laboure (who father did everything he could to keep her out of the convent), or St. Faustina. St. Faustina's father could not understand her vocation until she explained to him that Jesus Himself was his son-in-law! Pray to these sister-saints, and ask for their intersession with our Lord for your parents. Don't give up! If God is calling you, He will show you the way, even if you have to wait a few years. Follow the advise of your confessor.

[quote="ChemicalBean, post:3, topic:200779"]
The best advice I can give you is, all things being comparable, choose the place where you will incur the least debt. Seriously.

[/quote]

I would echo this one (assuming that you decide to go to college). There is nothing worse than being a slave to a huge pile of student loan debt, because it limits all of your future options in life. I wish I had thought more about the debt aspect before I went to college.

[quote="jeanne71350, post:1, topic:200779"]
Hi everyone,

I'm a 17 year old female, and I really think God is calling me to religious life. I truly want to be married to Christ and do His work in the world. He's the love of my life, and I just want to go and radiate His love to everyone. I feel drawn to the life of poverty, chasity, and obidence. Well, it's getting to the point when people are asking me what I want to do after high school. I know most orders require college, so I'm going to go to college, but I really want to enter the convent after I graduate from college.

-Jeanne

[/quote]

Hi,
I'm a 20 year old female who has experienced a similar situation...I began feeling called around 18 after my freshman year. I'll now be a senior next year, and I still think I feel called, but I have lately been questioning it a little. So I think you should get an Associate's degree rather than going through four years of college, because it's a long time, and while a true vocation will last, this is quite enough time to put yourself at risk of losing your vocation. Also, try to keep your debt to a minimum, or else you are simply educating yourself in order to pay off that education...which is redundant and a very difficult situation when one wants to enter the convent.

My parents aren't as strict as yours...frankly, unless you've completely acted out in the past (which I doubt based on your posts), then following you to school is completely inappropriate. I think you ought to have a sit-down talk with them about how they are smothering you, maybe set some solid rules so they're comfortable but aren't breathing down your neck all the time. Also, while you may not be able to get a spiritual director, you could just talk to your priest during or after confession and he can give you a little direction and help.

Now, about telling them. In my case, I was so quiet that I had no clue how I'd tell them. They actually both figured it out on their own, at different times. (I like to think Jesus told them for me :) My mom would always be mentioning marriage, and I'd just be like "sure..." but not continue the conversation; and I had talked about working in orphanages which was how my dad guessed. This was also after a few months of increased interest in religious things. So, I think you might want to do that for a bit...for a few weeks just talk about religious stuff more. It sounds like you have been already, with the confession and the theology major. Pretty soon, I think you should sit them down and just tell them that you are thinking about it (don't make it sound too final, even though you'll want to, just so that they'll ease into it.) They may get mad...but if you're going to do it you'll have to tell them eventually anyway, so it would be better to do it now.

I hope it works out and I'll pray for you. :) What orders do you like?

Wow! I told my parents at 16 and they never stopped teasing me. When I entered religious life, I was still 17 (turned 18 a month later, before becoming a postulant). Mom and Dad told everyone I was away at college. 3 1/2 years later, they did not come to my 1st Profession (still waiting for me to fail!) By the time I made final vows, they came to terms and figured I was really going to make it, after all! As an earlier poster said, "Don't be discouraged." St. Teresa of Avila's prayer comes to mind:

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.

It could be worse. In Saint Bernadette's case, *the sisters didn't want her *and the bishop had to insist that they accept her! Can you imagine? Bottom line - God does not make it easy for those whom He calls. Consider yourself in good company.

I can't understand your parents' fear of confession. In our parish (and most I know of) there is a line of people standing outside the confessional. I doubt if there would ever be any molesting going on. I'd say you are very, very safe in that scenario. Maybe there is a chance that your mother, or someone she knows, was actually molested and she has not disclosed this to you. My advice would be to just come out and ask her. At 17, you are considered an adult in many countries/cultures, and very close to it in this country. I always had to check in with my parents, too, so I can understand the feeling of being under "lock and key." You are at the age when you want to test your wings, and they want to keep you in sight at all times. The best way to alleviate their fears is to prove yourself trustworthy. Be where you are supposed to be; let them know who you are with. If you're not doing anything wrong, that should be no big deal. Besides, in religious life you are always accountable. I entered a fairly strict community, and a sister in formation couldn't even go to her room during the day without permission. Most communities are not that extreme any more - and I'm only telling you this to show you that it is possible. (In otherwords, it didn't kill me!)

Keep your spirits up! I will be praying for you.

[quote="jrs88, post:18, topic:200779"]
Hi,
I'm a 20 year old female who has experienced a similar situation...I began feeling called around 18 after my freshman year. I'll now be a senior next year, and I still think I feel called, but I have lately been questioning it a little. *So I think you should get an Associate's degree rather than going through four years of college, because it's a long time, and while a true vocation will last, this is quite enough time to put yourself at risk of losing your vocation. * Also, try to keep your debt to a minimum, or else you are simply educating yourself in order to pay off that education...which is redundant and a very difficult situation when one wants to enter the convent.

[/quote]

I disagree; one should not sacrifice obtaining a good education because of time(4 years is really not that long) or money. For one thing, what if one enters an active order? A baccalaureate is needed in order to serve, for example, as a schoolteacher or registered nurse.

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