Is this an uncommon mindset towards a vocation?


#1

Hi I am 22 years old and I am completely bent on discerning the priesthood after college. I have been discerning a vocation to the priesthood for around 4 years. It has consistently felt very strong in my heart for years, to the point where I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.

In the beginning of my discernment, I felt a strong intuition that I would not be married. It is not that I am not attracted to women, I just felt my heart scream: you are not meant to raise a family! It just felt inconceivable to me. I remember feeling this strongly early in my discernment and still do. I took that as a clue in the beginning.

When I had my first internship last summer, I felt my heart scream to me in a similar, but in a stronger way: you are not meant to work in the secular world! There was such an restlessness in my soul that I was literally screaming internally at the florissant lights above me with my hands clenched on the chair, and walked out during a presentation about future positions at the company because I couldn’t bare the thought of working in the secular world. It wasn’t that the work was uninteresting, I just felt like I didn’t belong there. If my work didn’t have an eternal / supernatural dimension to it, it felt utterly meaningless. I realized that even if I was the CEO of the company I would still feel angst because there was nothing eternal about my work.

I came to the realization that I would be living a hell in my own soul if I didn’t pursue my vocation.

The reason I am writing this all out is that I have noticed over the years that my feelings towards a vocation to the priesthood seem to be different from most discerners. People discerning the priesthood are often tempted by girlfriends, great job positions ect. But also by fears of being lonely and unsatisfied. I read that one seminary director said a major problem for men is that right before entering seminary, a women commonly appears in their life and they don’t enter.

But I don’t have any of that. I intentionally avoid forming intimate relationships with women, no type of job offer could be interesting enough to dissuade me from discerning the priesthood, and I have no fears about being a priest because I expect suffering.

I remember going on a retreat once for discerners and the priest focused heavily on the rich young man in one of the gospels, and connected it with discerning the priesthood, because apparently the situation of the rich young man is a shared situation by many discerning the priesthood. The meditation on the rich young man was interesting, but it didn’t do much for me vocation-wise, because I didn’t identify with him.

I identified much more with the man that wanted to bury his father first before following Jesus. I have faced strong opposition from my father who is very worried about me and strongly dislikes priests and the Church. He was very upset when I told him, and angry as well. A desire to please my father out of fear is what initially prevented me from honestly asking God where He wanted me to go to discern. (it was Spain).

The reason I am writing all of this out is to ask this: is this clarity a sign for something in the priesthood? Why do I have more clarity than others? Does anyone know of any other priests that have felt this way in their discernment? I have also been praying the rosary everyday for nearly 4 years, and I think that may have something to do with it. But I also know that there are some very holy men out there that struggle with uncertainty.


#2

I’d first ask: why are you gauging yourself by what you presume the experiences of others might be like? That’s not just a poor way to discern a vocation; it can lead to a lot of frustration and feelings of insecurity and inadequacy throughout your life.

These are good questions to bring before your spiritual director. Random strangers on the Internet can only do so much for you; often, they can obfuscate rather than clarify, and that doesn’t help. If you don’t have a spiritual director, contact your diocese’s vocations director; he might have some good leads.


#3

Merely because I’m 60, I’ve observed.

The differences between the two kinds you mention, may be more apparent than real. I’ve known some younger than you equally certain, who are turning out good priests, and some older than you uncertain for longer who are also turning out good priests.

It’s one of the mindsets.

May we all be real for God and for those around us.


#4

Everyone’s journey is different.
What does the vocations director of your Diocese think about it? You don’t have to tell us, but his opinion is more valuable to you than ours, unless a priest weighs in.

God bless.


#5

Many saints (sisters, priests) had an aversion to the ‘secular’ life. However, there are many saints also that say that the ‘secular’ life can give you a lot of holiness. Saint Therese of Lisieux’ parents became saints because they raised holy children; and stayed humble and faithful all their life.

Also, I know many vocational directors recognize a good candidate for priesthood by checking if they would also be a good family-father. “Not wanting” a family can also mean that you are afraid of committing yourself to another person - which is exactly what the priesthood also is on many levels: committing yourself to the bishop (obedience), committing yourself to the Church (the bride of Christ), committing yourself to the community you’ll serve (communion). I urge you to check your conscience if that’s not the case here.


#6

I’d be weary about what vocation directors say. I went to speak to one about becoming a consecrated virgin. He told me that I was much too young to be thinking of any such thing (I was 26 at the time) and that I should be out dating.

I told my spiritual director what he said and he was none too thrilled.


#7

We can’t paint everyone with the same brush. In general, Vocation Directors come across lots of scenarios.


#8

There are some who feel strongly about there call from the outset, while others are less certain to start with but grow in certainty as they progress. regardless though, there is no such thing as absolute certainty; doubts are a common - even natural - part of the priesthood discernment process and, if anything, are a sign of healthy discernment. Still, discernment is an ongoing process right up to and, in a sense, after ordination.

A priest also needs to be comfortable with the secular world and even, in a way, at home with it. Priesthood, be it diocesan or religious, isn’t an escape from the secular world. Granted, those called to priesthood are called to give up their ordinary lives as well as traditional attachments to the secular world (wife, career, family, money, etc) but this is not a call to reject the things so much as it is one to seek something more. They remain in the world, even if not a part of it in the same way as others. To put it another way, he is a father, albeit to his spiritual family rather than a biological one; he is also a worker, labouring in the service of his superior or bishop; and he need to be able to comfortably enjoy mature and appropriate relationships with women - who are of course a significant percentage of his flock. For a priest to reject the world is to reject those who remain in it - that is, the very people they are called to serve. As Thomas Merton said, trying to escape from the world in a purely negative fashion leads not to truth and to God, but only to a private illusion - pious thought it may be.


#9

Some do come in with more clarity than others; others are unable to admit that things are not as clear as they say they are to others.:shrug: Really, one thing you find out in the seminary is that literally every single person is on a different point on a different path towards the same city called “priesthood”; and, to be frank, not all find that their path actually leads to that city.

I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but I am encouraged that you at least recognize that there are many stories in the Gospel to describe how one goes about discerning whether or not to take that “leap of faith” to enter a program of formation.

Feel free to privately message me, if you would like to talk more.

Not to derail the conversation, but the Consecrated Virgin we have working at our seminary would agree with your spiritual director. You have to remember, most people (clergy and religious included) tend to forget that Consecrated Virginity is one of the oldest vocations in our Church (or, for that matter, that it even is a vocation).:rolleyes:


#10

To be honest I don’t think its wrong at all to feel that way. Discernment happens in different ways. Sometimes it’s more clear. My main fear is also family and though I’ve had opportunities to date that I rejected, I’m very happy at the idea of consecrated life. I feel that is where I would be happy - when I belong fully to God. Others feel that way too, including numerous Saints, you’re not the only one :slight_smile: maybe giving up relationships etc is talked about more but it doesn’t mean everyone has a huge struggle with leaving things in the world. For some its hardest leaving fily. God bless you :slight_smile:


#11

I think a priest shouldn’t run from the people he serves and their lives, but wanting to live for God alone and not caught up in worldly pursuits is very similar to how some Saint priests felt as their call - like St Alphonsus. Of course in all things we need to seek God’s Will.


#12

Wow :frowning: dating while feeling a call is a Very easy way to lose ones vocation. Its not like CVs are those who “never found someone” like it’s some consolation prize. However the VDs I’ve spoken to have been great!


#13

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