Is it a mortal sin for someone called to the religious life to act against this calling?

After much discernment, I am sure that I am being called to the religious life. I have every intent of entering an order as soon as I discern where God wants me, so I hope this question is not misconstrued as my trying to weasel out of my vocation.
My question is about vows. I know that a vow is binding, and that to act contrary to a vow is a serious sin, as in the case of a nun who breaks her vow of chastity by trying to attract someone, for example.
However, would it not be a serious sin for someone in my type of situation to date someone or even desire to attract someone? Even though they have not made solemn, binding vows, they know where they are being called and intend to fulfill this calling. If they were to at any point act contrary to this, would it be a mortal sin? Or, because they have not actually made a solemn vow yet, would it just be venial or even not a sin at all?

The disordered desire would not be the desire to “attract someone” but rather the desire to USE that person. Why do you want to attract someone? Is it to serve God? Is it to Love?

If you date out of Love (for God, for the other person, and for yourself) and you are OPEN to marriage in that dating situation then there is nothing wrong. If however you don’t feel that you are open to permitting God to lead you into marriage then you should not be dating. Remember that you haven’t taken a vow yet (unless you took a temporary one!) so you have not bound yourself to celibacy. This means that marriage is still open to you. Celibacy is not EVER the rejection of marriage, but rather the pursuit of a greater good.

I am presently discerning religious life. While I would not seek out a woman to date at the moment, if God placed me in a position with a woman and told me to date her, I would say, “not my will, but your will lord”.

Thanks for your reply. I understand your point, but it didn’t quite answer my question.

If someone *knows *it is God’s will for them to enter religious life, and they fully intend to follow that call, but then act against that call by wanting to attract someone (in a way that is *not *disordered or impure), have they or have they not committed a mortal sin?

I think there is some danger in calling a desire sinful. Sin is in our actions, not our desires. The right question is, “is this desire well-ordered, or disordered?” If it is disordered, we must ask Why? If we think it is well-ordered, we should look to see if it conflicts with our other desires.

It is my experience that well-ordered desires tend to perform a harmony, never clashing against one another. Disordered desires however cause me great distress and confusion. The problem when I have a disordered desire is usually simply that I don’t understand myself well enough. Thus I wait and let God teach me.

Do you have a spiritual director? This is a great question for one. Confessors tend to deal with matters of sin where as a spiritual director seeks to perfect desires and build virtues.

The question, I think, needs to be asked what do you consider “disordered”, also what do you mean by “attract someone”?
For a sin to be mortal, it must be the subject of grave matter. To want to attract a person in friendship, hence nothing disordered or impure, is not a mortal sin. A vocation from God is not a Divine Command, it is an invitation only with a guarantee from God that He will provide all necessary to fulfill that vocation. If I feel I have a religious vocation and act contrary to that vocation, then I am either confused or guilty of ingratitude to God. I doubt that ingratitude to God is a mortal sin - to be avoided nonetheless as venial sin.
Certainly, if I feel I have a religious vocation and desire a romantic attachment as well, then I have something to sort out as I would be confused and this is best done with spiritual direction.
Some saints had very close friendships and loving relationships of close friendship with the opposite sex. These were not romantic in nature, rather spiritual.

Why would you even want to think about doing that? It is irrelevant and contradictory to where you say God is leading you.

Why think in these legalisitc terms also?

Were you to speak of thsi in this way to any formation director or Order you approached?

This is not how future religious think or act.

Your awareness of what religious life is seems sadly flawed.

You need to speak with a priest or spiritual director.

You can not fully know that it is God’s will for you to enter religious life until you receive the actual call to vows from the Church.

A calling to religious life and/or orders is not a personal thing. While there is a personal dimension to it there is also the communal aspect. No call is present until it is confirmed by the Church. If the Church does not call then there is no calling there.

I think if you can’t decide between having a girlfriend/wife and becoming a priest then you probably don’t really know if you have a calling. If you are intent on one or another then I’d just say stick to your intentions. If you’re becoming a priest there is no need to build romantic relationships, though friends are perfectly in tune with the priestly calling.

(Off-track) If you are becoming a priest, I’d DEFINITELY look at Josephinum Pontifical College. (it’s in Columbus Ohio) The facilities are nice, everything is clean, everyone is easy to get along with (I kind of know a few guys there and they’re all cool), and the stuff they teach (from my own experience) is right on. Their food is also amazing and the dorms I stayed in are pretty nice.

Why would you even want to think about doing that? It is irrelevant and contradictory to where you say God is leading you.

Why think in these legalisitc terms also?

Were you to speak of thsi in this way to any formation director or Order you approached?

This is not how future religious think or act.

Your awareness of what religious life is seems sadly flawed.

You need to speak with a priest or spiritual director.

I said in my very first post that I have every intent to follow my vocation. I am not trying to think in legalistic terms, and I am not trying to get away with indulging any romantic attraction. Not to sound arrogant, but I do have a thorough knowledge of what religious life is–otherwise, I would have no intention of following this call. I am simply asking this question because it is something I thought of recently and wanted some insight.

I think if you can’t decide between having a girlfriend/wife and becoming a priest then you probably don’t really know if you have a calling. If you are intent on one or another then I’d just say stick to your intentions. If you’re becoming a priest there is no need to build romantic relationships, though friends are perfectly in tune with the priestly calling.

(Off-track) If you are becoming a priest, I’d DEFINITELY look at Josephinum Pontifical College. (it’s in Columbus Ohio) The facilities are nice, everything is clean, everyone is easy to get along with (I kind of know a few guys there and they’re all cool), and the stuff they teach (from my own experience) is right on. Their food is also amazing and the dorms I stayed in are pretty nice.

First, I’m a girl :slight_smile: Also, I’m not asking this question because I can’t decide between a relationship or a religious vocation. I was just thinking about it and wanted to hear others’ thoughts.

You can not fully know that it is God’s will for you to enter religious life until you receive the actual call to vows from the Church.

A calling to religious life and/or orders is not a personal thing. While there is a personal dimension to it there is also the communal aspect. No call is present until it is confirmed by the Church. If the Church does not call then there is no calling there.

Thanks ByzCath. You’re absolutely right. I think what I was referring to in my post is someone who feels very strongly that God is calling them to intensely explore a calling to the religious life, but acts against that. Thank you very much for your input, though–I do appreciate it.

Oh, I beg your pardon then! - for some reason I assumed you were a guy entering the priesthood. :stuck_out_tongue:

Another thing to remember is that God does not call us to where we can not go.

How can one feel " very strongly that God is calling them to intensely explore a calling to the religious life" yet not want that life?

I would think that acting against that “feeling” would be a sign that maybe the “feeling” of a calling is not a real calling.

Well put, ByzCath.

After I received my call to religious life, my love for my boyfriend was stronger than my desire to join a convent. When I spoke to my priest about this, he told me that God does not want to force us to do anything. He advised me against seeking religius life out of fear that I would otherwise go to Hell. Our response to our calling needs to be free and loving. I could not freely give my heart to Christ through an order for quite some time, and I do not think a community would have accepted me while I was so attached to dating relationship.

After that relationship ended and I had time to heal and move on, I found an order that accepted me. I am now I Sister and very happy with my vocation.

I don’t want to suggest that dating absolutely will not stand in the way of your vocation. In fact, a friend of mine who thought she had a calling to religious life started dating during her discernment process and is now married.

I am just advising that you not be hindered by fear since this is a major message of Jesus: Be not afraid.

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