Is it my vocation, or am I just selfish?


#1

First, a bit of background - I am 35, raised a secular Jew and until five years ago staunchly atheist. I was converted and baptized at an evangelical church, then God led me to the Catholic Church and I was confirmed and entered into communion with her three years ago. Even as a Christian I have lived a life not honorable to Christ, although the Holy Spirit has been working in me slowly but surely to make me a little bit more conformed to Him. In my walk, I've come to several conclusions regarding relationships. First, I now finally intend to fully live by all of the Church's teachings regarding chastity and marriage. As a natural conclusion of that, I've opted not to date anybody until I'm certain I'm ready for marriage.

And I'll be honest here. When I think about a good Christian marriage - devoting myself to my family, caring for my wife like she's myself, and raising children to be devoted to God - I inwardly cringe. At this point in my life, frankly, I would rather remain a celibate single than shoulder all of that responsibility. I just don't want it. Nor to I care about sex. I've had enough of it in my life, and I at this point I could take it or leave it. I'm very self-contained and have no problem spending time by myself. I don't get lonely very easily, nor do I want children.

Also, ever since I became Catholic, I've felt inclined towards a religious life. I'm looking into the Franciscans. The idea of giving up material posessions and living a life devoted to service to the Church and to the poor and needy seems not only much more appealing, but infinitely simpler than marriage.

So I'm wondering if this is a sign that the religious life is my vocation, or is it simply laziness, selfishness, and an unwillingness to shoulder responsibility? I am praying often about this, talking with my therapist, and I am in contact with the vocations director of the Holy Name province. I thought I'd post on here, though, and get some more opinions from thoughtful people.


#2

If you become a religious, you will be called upon to be anything but be lazy, selfish, or unwilling to shoulder responsibility. To pray, work, devote yourself to community, and assume responsibility are at the heart of the way one seeks God in the Christian life in general and in the religious life in a much more intense way. If you give up material possessions and marriage because it would be easier not to have those things, that’s one thing–but perhaps that’s a start. God can work by grace to make our lesser intentions tend toward greater ones, in this case offering up those things as a real sacrifice of love for His glory and the good of your soul. I would try to find a spiritual director if I were you and ask him to help you discern your vocation. Remember too that this isn’t something you have to figure out tonight, it’s a journey to something which will ultimately shape the rest of your life. Know of my prayers for you, and welcome home to the Church.

-ACEGC


#3

When I was in formation with the Franciscans I spent some time with a bunch of young friars and their formation director from Holy Name Province. A great bunch of guys and very grounded.

Just go spend some time with them yourself. You'll find out if it's you just being selfish and "running from" or if you are called and are indeed "running to":thumbsup:


#4

As a single 24 year old man who recently converted to the Catholic faith, I’m also waiting for God to reveal my vocation in life. I think what you need to do is just let go of any pre-made plans for your life and just focus on loving God each and every day. Whatever your vocation is, I truly believe that it will be made clear to you when God feels that the time is right. For example, there may be healing/growth that God wants you to address in your life now that you may not have the opportunity to do once you are married or in a religious vocation.

Remember, you may never have this opportunity again in your life to be free of earthly responsibility and to be able to completely focus on developing a proper foundation for a relationship with God.


#5

Consecrated life is 100% the polar opposite of selfishness. It is a different kind of responsibility to a different type of family, and it is something you could not do if you went the conventional marriage/children route.

Some people are called to be married and/or parents and others are not. It takes all kinds.

Furthermore, and I just have to put this out there, being married and having children does not by itself make you unselfish. Sure, it requires a huge investment of time, money, resources, and energy to make it work on any level, and that’s why we tend to think of it as unselfish. However, lots of people choose marriage and children for all sorts of selfish reasons-the desire to “have it all,” social pressure, patch up a failing relationship, carry on a family name, etc. in which case I can’t really call that holy. Anyone raised by parents with personality disorders knows all too well the twisted reasons people have for pursuing the family life. Meanwhile, there are people who care for siblings and parents that cannot care for themselves, and they give up having their own families to do this. You need to be disposed for family life and pursue it for the right reasons and, of course, construct your family in a godly way.

What I’m getting at is don’t let other people tell you what kind of person you are, and don’t let them tell you what your vocation should be. People who try to tell you that you just don’t want to spend money/share space, etc. might be insecure about their own choices and trying to project that onto you. On the surface, it seems easy to go without marriage and children, but it carries a lot of sacrifices that people tend to overlook, as well as stigma in some circles.


#6

Hmmm. Well, Franciscan might not make sense since you really don’t seem like the “Fraternal” type. Have you thought about the Benedictine monk route?

There isn’t anything simple about any choice. It’s all demanding. I certainly think you are correct in not pursuing relationships with women or thinking marriage is on your horizon. Hermitages seem more suited to you as you have portrayed yourself.


#7

I think it’s more likely to be a sign that you’re called rather than that your lazy.

If someone had to choose between a career that they loved which provided them work that they wanted to get up for in the morning and lived for, or a job that they had to trudge through everyday and made them hate the morning and ache for the weekend, they wouldn’t be considered “lazy”.

In my own life, I’d rather be a stay-at-home mom, because I think I’m much more suited to that work than what I’m currently doing. However, some people think SAHMs don’t do anything, or do less than a “working” mom. But I know the truth, and no matter what it seems like to others, I know it wouldn’t be less “work” to be a SAHM, but just work that I’m more suited to.

Regardless, you should take all this opinions very lightly, and give far more consideration to your own preferences and the guidance from your spiritual director/advisor.


#8

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