I'm Confused About My Vocation


#1

Hello All,

I'll give you a short synopsis of my personal situation and you tell me what you think.

For about a year now I have been seriously discerning my vocation. I am about to turn 22 so I'm not rushing the decision because I want to make the right one. At the moment I am stuck between religious life and marriage. Religious life is appealing to me as the holiness of the men and women called to it is often very obvious and is something I envy very much. On the other hand is marriage. The leaders of the church say that we are hurting for religious vocations but I would argue that we are just as in need of people who take the vocation of marriage serriously. I have trouble choosing between the two because I can see the true beauty that God has bestowed on both sacraments. Some extrinsic motivators in my life are that I am successful in my chosen profession, the US Navy. I am also often told by my family member's when I interact with their children that I would make a wonderful father. My family tends to encourage me more toward the married life. So as you can see the extinsic motivators in my life tend to point to married life but intrinsically I can see the value of both. Just to be clear, I am not currently dating anyone for the purpose of maintaining a certain level of detachement, as suggested by St. Ignatius. I am meeting with a spiritual director and intend to delve into this more with him but I just wanted to get the POV of other faithful religious people. Please feel free to ask questions for clarity.

V/R
The_Question


#2

This won't help much, but I just wanted to say, the vocation you are called to isn't necessarily the one you see more value in. Don't choose a vocation just because you see more value in it - both priesthood and marriage are extremely important vocations that need good exemplars in the current day. Your vocation is something you must discern through prayer and just what attracts you in general - God calls you to your vocation.

I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing...haha but it sounds as if the reason you're confused about your vocation is that you see no more value in one than in the other, whereas it should be based on what you believe God is calling you to do.

It's good you will be talking with your spiritual director about it - he should be able to give you some valuable insight! You'll be in my prayers.


#3

I think that one must apply their intellect and desires to the case of vocational discernment, because these are some of the methods that God uses to communicate with us. I spend much time in prayer but the waters of my mind are still murky. As far as what attracts me in general, fullfilling God's will for my life is what attracts me. The issue for me is that I seem no more suited for one than the other. So if I have no natural inclination and no natural skills/gifts that seem to point in direction or another how do I discern which way is my "true North". Also another clarifying point, I do not feel drawn to the priesthood. When I said religious life I was speaking of monasticism.


#4

When I graduated high school, I was having a tough time deciding between college and millitary. I went to my Grandfather for help. The advice he gave me was meant as a joke but I've always thought there may be some truth to how it would work.

He said:

"Put on some running shoes, and start running, name all the even miles college, and all the odd miles millitary, what ever number you pass out on that is what you should do."

Like I said he meant it as a joke, but where I think there is something real to this is with every passing mile, I am going to be worried about not passing out on this mile, and as I get tired I am going to be more focused on making it to the next mile. Finally when I am ready to pass out, I am going to push myself as hard as I can to make it to the mile that allows me to do what I really want.

Like I said I never tried it, its probably not safe.

I chose college, and sometimes I still regret it.


#5

Hello The_Question:
That one must apply their intellect and desires to the case of vocational discernment I think is right on. St Ignatius of Loyola was a master of the art of discernment and his Spiritual Exercises are a way of applying our intellect, desires, will, and feelings to discerning God’s will. God reveals to us His will through our thoughts, desires and feelings. Definitely continue to speak to a spiritual director. You might even consider doing the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius. They can be done while your still working your job, this is called the 19th annotation way of doing them I believe. The best way is to be guided through them by a spiritual director. The Jesuits, of course, are very famaliar with the exercises. Maybe you can find a Jesuit priest who can guide you through the exercises. I have been in your situation before so I can understand somewhat of what you are going through. I had a Jesuit priest guide me through the spiritual exercises sometime ago and it was very helpful to me. Probably the most important thing I learned was how important our desires and feelings are in discernment. I was using my intellect a lot but wasn’t paying much attention to my feelings and heart. It’s important to know how you feel about different thoughts that may pass through your mind in discernment. We are composed of soul and body, intellect and will, and God speaks to us through an interaction of all these. I now believe that what is in your heart, what is deep down inside you, is what is most important in discernment especially in vocational discernment. And I have been told this by a few directors that I have had contact with. I don’t believe God wants us to do something we have no inclination for.

Confusion results from the devil. Try to maintain peace in your heart, continue to pray, frequent the sacraments, speak with a spiritual director.

One more tidbit. Not to long ago I was talking to a discalced carmelite priest I know and he told me that a vocation is like falling in love. You really can’t define it, you just know it.

God bless!


#6

So the other day I was having a mini freek out. I had just been promoted to E5 and I was thinking about all that I would be giving up if I joined a monastery. Intellectually of course I know that sounds bad but I was allowing the "what if's" get to me. Even though I do have a certain attraction to marriage the more time I spend in prayer the more I feel drawn to religious life. As of right now I haven't made up my mind but when I look at the two options I can see that for me personally religious life is what inspires me to move closer to God whereas the alternative does not. It can be intimidating though to actually give up everything to go where you think God is calling you. Pray for me that I may have clarity in my decisions and faith to follow God wherever He may lead me.:thumbsup:


#7

[quote="The_Question, post:6, topic:329309"]
So the other day I was having a mini freek out. I had just been promoted to E5 and I was thinking about all that I would be giving up if I joined a monastery. Intellectually of course I know that sounds bad but I was allowing the "what if's" get to me. Even though I do have a certain attraction to marriage the more time I spend in prayer the more I feel drawn to religious life. As of right now I haven't made up my mind but when I look at the two options I can see that for me personally religious life is what inspires me to move closer to God whereas the alternative does not. It can be intimidating though to actually give up everything to go where you think God is calling you. Pray for me that I may have clarity in my decisions and faith to follow God wherever He may lead me.:thumbsup:

[/quote]

As a married man I can tell you that is a rewarding vocation as well, but it does not mean that you have exclude God because you are not going to be a contemplative monk. I would pray for guidance and discernment in this process, people's vocations also change over time as our gifts and spirituality develops, walk slowly with the Lord and don't run. It's not a destination but rather the journey, and that way you will better learn God's will.

Another point I read recently on the issue of vocations is that at the end of the day, you have to make a "leap of faith" whatever that vocation is. No one is assured of what will happen to you, your partner (if you marry), children, religious vocation.

If you are unsure, or even if you are not, I would increase your* prayer life *and continue your *scriptural and theological *education, these will serve you well regardless of the path you are on. Once brings you closer to God and the other God closer to you.


#8

I understand that marriage can be a force that brings a man closer to God, which happens when it's your vocation. In the same way if your vocation is not to religious life it won't draw you closer to God the same way your vocation will. What I'm trying to say is when I am still and calm in prayer I definitely feel a greater pull toward religious life. As far as scriptural and theological reading goes, I am an avid reader and spend all of my free time reading religious books. But it's like someone else said in an earlier post, a vocation is something you know not with your intellect or emotions but with your soul. I will remane open though for God's will to be worked in my life in whatever way it may happen, but I will continue to pursue what I think is right for me right now. It's not an easy process, discerning your vocation, but I'm glad to know that there are other good Catholics out there who support those who are discerning. Thank you everyone for your support!


#9

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