*Must* non-married individuals seek a religious vocation?


#1

As a 19-year-old, I feel like now is the time more than ever where I need to lay down the foundations for the rest of my life. For one reason or another, I just don't feel all that called to the married life. Sure, there are some women that I find attractive, it's just that I feel like I'd be a horrible father figure, not up to the responsibility, and in general I just can't see myself in a father's shoes. On the other hand, while I've really spent time learning more about my faith over this past year six months or so, I just don't have the charisma or dedication needed to be a priest. With the way I hear most people, both in my church, my family and these forums framing it, it's an either/or situation, if I'm to live my life to its fullest. I'm just feeling kind of... lost... right now.

Are there any other options I'm overlooking? Any advice, whatever you have to give, would be greatly appreciated.


#2

I seriously would like to know where all of this "married life vs. faith life" pressure comes from. I didn't realize that some Catholic communities could be so pushy, and this is also based off of what others here are CAF have told me about their experiences.

I have to say one thing. You're only 19! Good grief! The foundations you should be laying for your life are determining the kind of person you want to be, what you want to do for a living, what your goals are, and how you're going to accomplish them. This also includes what you'd like to put into your faith life.

This is NOT an either/or situation. I have an aunt-in-law who has never married, yet didn't seek a religious vocation. From what I also understand, she also doesn't date (so she's not interested in marriage), she works full-time, and she is family-focused. I've never seen or heard of any pressure on her to get married or become a nun any time soon.

Here's what I would suggest you focus on, while you are not married:

  1. What are you going to do to strengthen your faith life?
  2. Do you know what you want to do for a living?
  3. Do you know how to manage your finances effectively?
  4. How will you be part of your community?
  5. What kind of man do you want to be?
  6. What kinds of relationships do you want to have (non-romantic)?
  7. What will you do to improve your physical and mental health?
  8. What do you feel called to do as your mission in life?
  9. How do you want others to view you as?
  10. With your endeavors, what do you hope to achieve?

I personally would try to answer those questions first before making any decisions regarding marriage or religious vocation.


#3

I would agree - you are only 19 - these things might change.

That being said and I will try to find the exact thread link and quote and bring it back but Brother JR who goes by JREducation made an excellent point on the vocations forum - he said basically that when it comes to Religious life and you choose to sacrifice the married life for the life celibacy for the sake of the kingdom - you can't give something you haven't got. Meaning that if you aren't a good candidate for marriage you probably aren't a good candidate for the priesthood. Let me try to find that link for you and the quote. God bless.


#4

Here is the quote from Brother JR:

Finally, remember that marriage is also a vocation. In fact, to help someone understand celibacy, we should do a test to see how much do they understand about marriage. He's a little trick. A man or a woman who can be a good spouse and parent, makes the best celibate, because this person has a real understanding of what he or she is giving to God. The person who lacks the gift to be a good spouse and parent or the person who does not even realize what an awesome gift marriage and parenting is, makes a shaky religious or priest. You cannot give what you don't own. The next time that some asks about celibacy, ask them about marrriage.

Here is the link to the Thread if you would like to read it through it is quite informative and has two Religious brothers


#5

Yes, there are huge options you are overlooking! As the parent of a 19 year old man, I would advise you to continue your education. Get a degree and figure out what interests you. Build a foundation for a career that you will be able to support yourself on. Along the way, you may (or may not) meet someone that you will want to share your life with. But 19 is NOT the time to get married (too young, IMO). So, get your education, have some fun (chaste, legal fun!), and enjoy life.


#6

Most of this pressure comes from my parents, who seem to want grandchildren. As for the religious vocation part of it, let’s just say that our diocese (Baker, Central Oregon) has been extremely barren in the area of vocations, and it’s come to the point where our priests are really stressing them. The thing is, for one reason or another, I’m just not all that interested in women at this point in my life (in other words, I’m not actively dating), and my guess is that this lack of interest for some reason is haunting my parents / family members.

I have to say one thing. You’re only 19! Good grief!

Perhaps I’m trying to move too fast. What can I say? We are living fast, extremely structured lives these days, and I’m feeling pressured to keep up with my peers.

Here’s what I would suggest you focus on, while you are not married:

  1. What are you going to do to strengthen your faith life?
  2. Do you know what you want to do for a living?
  3. Do you know how to manage your finances effectively?
  4. How will you be part of your community?
  5. What kind of man do you want to be?
  6. What kinds of relationships do you want to have (non-romantic)?
  7. What will you do to improve your physical and mental health?
  8. What do you feel called to do as your mission in life?
  9. How do you want others to view you as?
  10. With your endeavors, what do you hope to achieve?

I personally would try to answer those questions first before making any decisions regarding marriage or religious vocation.

Those are some excellent questions. Glancing over them, I can answer at least half off the top of my head, so that must count for something, although I see what you’re saying. It may be a couple more years before I can truly make an informed decision.

Here is the link to the Thread if you would like to read it through it is quite informative and has two Religious brothers

Thank you for the link. I’ll be sure to look into it.

Yes, there are huge options you are overlooking! As the parent of a 19 year old man, I would advise you to continue your education. Get a degree and figure out what interests you. Build a foundation for a career that you will be able to support yourself on. Along the way, you may (or may not) meet someone that you will want to share your life with. But 19 is NOT the time to get married (too young, IMO). So, get your education, have some fun (chaste, legal fun!), and enjoy life.

Which is what I’m working on, now. I just feel like there should be something… more to my life… than just my career, but if such a life is what I’m called for, so be it.


#7

Just some thoughts:

1) For Vocation into the priesthood you would need first a Bachelors and then Seminary - so at 19 - you have a ways to go for that decision - if you graduated high school at 18 - you probably still have another year of general education in college to figure that out. So take your time - it's OK.

2) As far as your parents and grandchildren.. Children should be raised in happy two parent households (utopian society - I know :) ) So if you haven't met that right girl yet and you aren't even out of school where you could raise a family then you aren't ready to discern marriage anyway so they need to take a breath - it's OK. And for you as an adult it's OK to nicely say Mom, Dad - I love you but I want to make sure I'm happy and I feel as if you are reallly putting a lot of pressure on me - and I want to make sure I make the decision for me. And if that doesn't work here is a paragraph from the CCC:

2230 When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them - quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family.

Sometimes even the most loving of parents need to be reminded of the above especially at the "transitional" ages of adulthood. God bless.


#8

You are hard on yourself about what kind of father you might make. The very fact that you care what kind of father you want to be, shows you have promise as a Dad!

And you're not obliged to become a priest or a brother even if you do choose to be single, any more than you are obliged to marry!

The fact that you have no interest in marrying, at this time at least, is probably a good thing at your age...you can establish yourself and mature at your own pace!
Then see what happens.

All the very best....and God bless you.

Regarding your parents wanting grandchildren, they may just have to wait!
If my 19 year old grandson told me he was thinking of marrying and of having kids right now or any time very soon, I'd be worried for him.


#9

Sometimes it takes the right lady to consider the married life, or the right inspiration to discern a religious vocation, or the right example to realize you’re meant for something else entirely.

Read voraciously, and sample much. Read Lewis and Chesterton and listen to Kreeft’s lectures online to inoculate yourself against sampling the wrong thing. Expose your mind to a variety of spheres of expression you’d never tried. If you don’t try, who knows?

[LIST]
*]You might be a violin virtuoso who might meet the cellist of your dreams thirty years from now in the Vienna Philharmonic. If you don’t try music, you’ll never know.
*]You might be fated to missionary work in the diaconate, preaching the Gospel to legions of converts thirsty for Christ.
*]Best yet, you scrape by in a job without glory, nonetheless bearing witness to the Gospel by your pleasant laugh and firm convictions, dying as a saint canonized by God but never discovered by any Pope.
[/LIST]

See, the important thing is not what you do with your life but how you do it. You could work hard labor or posh office work, but the important thing is that in whatever you do you embrace Christ.

Insofar as a vocation is concerned, most people I know who love their jobs happened into it, either through dumb luck or, more likely, copious experimentation — recognize that even with your dream job, one which makes you deliriously happy, that bountiful, satisfying employment is the means to an end.


#10

Jesus,our Lords peace be with You.
You are only 19,but You will grow older,and I wish You would not do the same mistake I did. I had,and still have,a call to priesthood,I got married when I wos 25,have children,one step-daughter and a girl and a boy,all adults now,and I love them,and need them and the love they give me,I am divorced,but I still think I should have follow my call,so search Your soul,heart and mind,and do what God want's You to do. (Sorry for my bad english.)


#11

I have known 20 year olds with just your dilemma. One became the mother of six (and loves it). Another is a priest. There are many more, and they have become parents and done many different things. Few of them knew at 19 what that would be. I know a fellow who, at 19, thought for sure he’d be an FBI agent. He’s an emergency physician now. Another was sure he’d be an actor. He’s a priest.

I’ve found that in many of the clubs I have been in, the best presidents are the ones who took the job because it needed to be done, not because they put themselves forward as best for the job. It should not concern you if you think you are not fit to do what God has in mind for you. If anything, it should concern you if you are overly confident that you are. After all, the first mark of a saint is reliance on God for the power to do God’s will. Many of them had to be dragged into their calling, because they didn’t think themselves up to the call!

Do you want to live your life to the fullest? Every day, ask the Lord, “Lord, what do you want me to do today?” Every day, ask that. Every day, listen. Look for different ways to listen. If you ask God to do it, He will make of you precisely the saint that He intends. If you’re going to Heaven, He’ll have to do it sooner or later. May as well make it sooner.

Your vocation, literally speaking, is your calling from God. It is not a dead calling that you receive once. You never get to a point where you say, “Oh, I am a father, oh, I am a priest, oh, I am…” fill-in-the-blank. Your vocation is built on what you hear, but what you hear one day at a time. You do not get a two-inch-thick script in the mail. Most of us do not have the courage to handle that, after all!

If you want to hear your calling, then every day you ask, you listen, you try to do that, you repent where you fail, you ask again the next day, and you try again the next day. You grow in love, you grow in compassion, you grow in desire to listen and to respond, but a bit at a time, two steps forward, then a step back. You will not fail to find your vocation that way.

This is the way Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, put it:
I thought I’d live and die a little cloistered nun in a hidden monastery in Cleveland, Ohio—and that would be it. God had other plans. A little at a time, the Gentle Jesus unfolded His plans in my life as He unfolds them in yours. You’re never alone. You must feel safe, always safe, and sure that whatever He does with you or for you, He can be trusted.”

That is one wise and saintly lady. If you listen to her advice, you will have nothing to worry about.


#12

Some people are not called to marriage and not called to a religious vocation as a priest, brother, or sister. Those who live single in the world can do much to work for the Kingdom.

Perhaps look towards the spirituality of Opus Dei, there are many people who work in the world as lay missionaries, lay members of orders (third order fransiscans for example) or who otherwise dedicate themselves to service while having a full time job in some industry.


#13

[quote="Catholic90, post:5, topic:218962"]
Yes, there are huge options you are overlooking! As the parent of a 19 year old man, I would advise you to continue your education. Get a degree and figure out what interests you. Build a foundation for a career that you will be able to support yourself on. Along the way, you may (or may not) meet someone that you will want to share your life with. But 19 is NOT the time to get married (too young, IMO). So, get your education, have some fun (chaste, legal fun!), and enjoy life.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

go to Steubenville :)

Also there are many and varied vocations in the Church...not only married or religious life or Priesthood...

Some involve celebacy ...such numerary in Opus Dei and some of the movements...

Be open to the calls of God in your life --this book is not a "vocation book"...but get a hold of one...frjacquesphilippe.com/books/called_to_life.html it is a book about the varied ways God " calls" (again not in a restricted "vocation to state of life way")

... if you are called to marriage...and thus likly to Fatherhood..you get grace to live it...and it will shape you ..make you that man more that you do not think you can be...

In any case...explore your options...pray...maybe your called to be a Carthusian!

And remember...no matter what life may hold...keep following Jesus of Nazareth...more and more!

Live in Christ


#14

[quote="JChapel, post:6, topic:218962"]
Most of this pressure comes from my parents, who seem to want grandchildren. As for the religious vocation part of it, let's just say that our diocese (Baker, Central Oregon) has been extremely barren in the area of vocations, and it's come to the point where our priests are really stressing them. The thing is, for one reason or another, I'm just not all that interested in women at this point in my life (in other words, I'm not actively dating), and my guess is that this lack of interest for some reason is haunting my parents / family members.

Perhaps I'm trying to move too fast. What can I say? We are living fast, extremely structured lives these days, and I'm feeling pressured to keep up with my peers.

Those are some excellent questions. Glancing over them, I can answer at least half off the top of my head, so that must count for something, although I see what you're saying. It may be a couple more years before I can truly make an informed decision.

Thank you for the link. I'll be sure to look into it.

Which is what I'm working on, now. I just feel like there should be something... more to my life... than just my career, but if such a life is what I'm called for, so be it.

[/quote]

The pressure is the problem. Pressure from your family and pressure from society to keep up with your peers. I know its easy for me to say, but you don't have to keep up with your peers. It isn't a race or competition. All that matters is God's plan for you, and your life shouldn't look like anybody else's anyways. Spend some time at adoration, pray for God's plan to be made known to you. You don't have to have any serious plans right now for the rest of your life. I know 30, even 40 year olds that still are trying to figure out what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. I can almost guarantee you, your peers are just as confused as you are feeling right now. If it was me, I would set some goals just for this coming year and this year alone. Are you in school? If not, then I would pursue some general subjects, see what sparks an interest. If you already have a major in mind and its not exciting to you, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Find an interest, try some new things. You don't have to have the whole map for the rest of your life right now. If we're having this same conversation in 10 years or so, then its time to panic a little.


#15

The only pressure you should have with your peers is to NOT keep up with them, considering what most young people engage in these days. I was one of those people who didn't keep up and didn't even know where to start which was probably a blessing in many ways.

What I made sure I did do was figure out what I wanted to study, what I wanted to eventually do for a living, whether or not I was able to live an adult lifestyle, and to make sure that I stayed between both ditches-- ethics and morals.

Next time your parents pressure you, make sure you point out to them that many marriages end in divorce because often times the couple involved are too immature, were too young, didn't have the necessary life skills, and were not spiritually mature. Which cannot always be accomplished at age 19. Or even 22, and for many not until 25. But definitely NOT 19, unless you came from a culture which had rigid roles and the expectations that you needed to get married before 21.


#16

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