Luke 9:59-62, Discerning, and Going to College

Hi CAFers! I hope you are all doing well! :slight_smile:

I have been doing some thinking about Luke 9:59-62:
59And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “[Lord,] let me go first and bury my father.”60But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.* But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”61e And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”62[To him] Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”*

As some of you may know, I am discerning a vocation to the religious life. I decided a couple months back that whether or not I enter, I want to go to college degree. A completely valid question is why, and, to be honest, I don’t really have that answer. It seems that if I really had my heart set on entering, getting a college degree shouldn’t matter. Is it possible that this is what Jesus is referring to in this passage? The fact that even if I decide to enter I first want to get a college degree? I am slightly worried that it is almost as if I’m saying, “Sure, Lord, I’ll join, but just wait a couple years.”

What do you think? Thank you very much! God bless!

SnowAngel, I think this may depend in part on what congregation–or kind of congregation–you feel called to enter. If you are called to a teaching congregation, for example, they may want you to have a certain amount of education when you enter, or they may assume the responsibility of all your post-h.s. training. There are some communities (in the US, at least, which is what I know) that will not consider candidates without at least a Bachelor’s degree. So it might be well to consider this before being overly concerned. Also, while I do not know your age, many communities would prefer applicants with some experience beyond h.s. (work, education, or both) and don’t want very young applicants. Meanwhile, other communties have a fairly lengthy application and candidacy process (before formal entrance), and may suggest that you attend college while you go through it.

If you think of college not as a “delay” of responding to God’s call, but as a stage in responding to it, you may be less reluctant to pursue it. I would think that vocation directors and a spiritual director would be able to address your personal situation more explicitly.

Good luck!

I am also discerning the religious life, and am going into my sophomore year of college. I found that while I would much rather go straight to a monastery right now, I can use college to my advantage. I’m using college to help teach me commitment and discipline. I’ve also used it to get involved with Catholic groups and made wonderful Catholic friends. It’s also been wonderful to discern, and I have the next three years to discern, and the summers to take retreats, and I can read books in between classes and homework assignments. :slight_smile:

It’s all about perspective.

Thank you both for your answers. :slight_smile: They were helpful in understanding how going to college and entering can work together!
@nunsuch, I’ll be 17 in 4 months, and I attend college part-time (including my high school work). :slight_smile:

While there’s a few interpretations on what that specific passage means, let’s go with the NABRE’s take on it:

In these sayings Jesus speaks of the severity and the unconditional nature of Christian discipleship. Even family ties and filial obligations, such as burying one’s parents, cannot distract one no matter how briefly from proclaiming the kingdom of God.

In my mind, the general idea would be that you should do everything in Christ; that is to say, you can’t “pause” being Christian.

Now, as far as whether or not you should think about getting a college degree given (what I’m assuming as) your desire to enter religious life, I think it would be rather prudent to get the degree, especially if you’ve already started it; the fact of the matter is that it may not work out for you, and you should be prepared for that possibility. At any rate, the time spent can only serve to further your discernment. :thumbsup:

Depending on the religious order and what they’ll have you do, you may end up going to college anyways. Almost every religious order will send someone to seminary if they are going to be a priest. They’ll land you a college degree and an mDiv/STB.

Many non-priests in orders will also get further education depending on what is needed and what the person is capable of doing.

Sometimes it can be a good thing to go to college, grow up and live independently for a while before going into priesthood and/or religious life.

I hate to be the only nay sayer here but someone should be. Like some said it largely depends on which community you end up with. A lot of cloistered groups don’t require a college degree, but they do look for maturity and some kind of life experience. The biggest problem with attending college is that it may put you so far into debt you’ll never be able to get out, and a lot of communities don’t accept people with debt. Again it depends on the community. Just think carefully, a college degree doesn’t mean much as a cloistered monk but it’s pretty important to a community who teaches. For those who say college gives you life experience, there are cheaper ways to get life experience. Just my two cents. Good luck with your vocation!

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