NEED HELP. Torn between vocation and married life. Anglican family trying to convert, and it is tempting


#1

Hi, everyone :slight_smile:

I have discerned a vocation to the priesthood- there is nothing I would love more than to live a life for Christ through the priesthood and be a spiritual Father to my community- I have been discerning for the past six months.

Except, one thing- I met a girl and we have been dating for two years. She is fantastic! She is beautiful and passionate, we are Christian activists together, going to pro-life rallies, working for peace in our communities, we are studying the Franciscan order together. I am getting to the point in my life and our relationship where I need to commit to one, or the other… And I feel called to both. There is nothing I’d like more than to be a priest, but I would love to call this woman my wife.

My Anglican family knows of my dilemma and have been taking me to Anglo-Catholic and low church Anglican services and having me meet with married priests- they think I should pursue ministry in the Church of England. I’m not going to lie- it is so tempting to pursue that. I purchased a Book of Common Prayer and read some books, but I would feel so guilty leaving my beloved Catholic church… I need help. What is your advice?


#2

[quote="TauCTC, post:1, topic:333484"]
Hi, everyone :)

I have discerned a vocation to the priesthood- there is nothing I would love more than to live a life for Christ through the priesthood and be a spiritual Father to my community- I have been discerning for the past six months.

Except, one thing- I met a girl and we have been dating for two years. She is fantastic! She is beautiful and passionate, we are Christian activists together, going to pro-life rallies, working for peace in our communities, we are studying the Franciscan order together. I am getting to the point in my life and our relationship where I need to commit to one, or the other.. And I feel called to both. There is nothing I'd like more than to be a priest, but I would love to call this woman my wife.

My Anglican family knows of my dilemma and have been taking me to Anglo-Catholic and low church Anglican services and having me meet with married priests- they think I should pursue ministry in the Church of England. I'm not going to lie- it is so tempting to pursue that. I purchased a Book of Common Prayer and read some books, but I would feel so guilty leaving my beloved Catholic church.. I need help. What is your advice?

[/quote]

I will pray for this challenge you are facing!

I would encourage you to take time and discern this thoroughly. There is a lot of catholic ministry you can be involved in while married (Deacon, FAITH Formation, education, etc) what does your girlfriend want?

As I moved from Evangelical to Catholic, my family would have much preferred I stopped at the Anglican Church since it was still in the Protestant realm. After diving into history, though, I just couldn't bring myself to join a church founded in the 16th century because a king wanted a divorce.


#3

It seems to me that your discernment process is not complete. If you are unsure, you should probably give yourself some time. And yes, you do have time. The need for a decision is not as immediate as you seem to feel. You are not obligated to get engaged after a certain period of time dating, but, in fairness to your girlfriend, it might be good to communicate to her that you are in this discernment process, and even slow the relationship down a little bit to give you some space. This may be painful for her, but if she is the faithful Catholic you describe, she will understand the importance of giving you room to make the decision God wants you to make, and she won't pressure you.

I am noticing something of concern in the way you talk about your very difficult situation. You talk about what you are attracted to and what you want:

[quote="TauCTC, post:1, topic:333484"]
I would love more than to live a life for Christ through the priesthood and be a spiritual Father to my community...There is nothing I'd like more than to be a priest, but I would love to call this woman my wife.

[/quote]

But I don't see anything that indicates how you have been trying to discern your vocation other than your feelings about what you like. Attraction to a person or a way of life does not a vocation make.

The question when one is discerning one's vocation is not, "What attracts me?" or "What do I want?" The question is "What does God want?" If the story of Jonah tells us anything it is that sometimes one's calling and one's desires do not always coincide.

Leaving the true Church to go to a denomination that lets you have both things you want would not ultimately help you. In the first place, you are called either to the catholic priesthood, or to Catholic marriage. As an Anglican you would have neither valid ordination nor a Catholic marriage. In the second place, (and please forgive what may sound harsh here) it would be a selfish decision, focused on allowing you to have your way, instead of having to move past your desires and figure out which one God is calling you to. This cannot ultimately satisfy your soul, and, since you know that the Church has the fullness of truth, leaving has the potential to even endanger it.

Bottom line, keep praying, talk to your girlfriend, and get a Catholic spiritual director to help you. And don't leave the Church. People who tell you to do that are thinking as the world thinks instead of challenging you to think as God does.


#4

You need to stop putting yourself into temptation; stop going to Anglican services. Politely decline your family's offers to take you.

I would encourage you also to study the Catechism in detail, particularly the Eucharist and Priesthood. The Anglican Church lacks these great gifts.

Leaving the Catholic Church is a great sin, and it is not something that God would ask you to do.

If you are tempted to "jump ship" and leave the holy Catholic Church to be married to this woman, this may be a sign that God calls you to marriage rather than the priesthood.

In the First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul tells us that he wishes everyone could devote their lives to God through celibacy and the priesthood, but for those who can't:

"But if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire" - 1 Corinthians 7:9

While Saint Paul's words apply most directly to the temptation of an unmarried couple to sexual sin, I am sure Saint Paul would agree that it would be better to marry in the Catholic Church and not be a priest, than to succumb to the temptation to leave the Holy Church to vainly attempt both the priesthood and marriage. I would encourage you to read through the whole letter, too.

Finally, you need to have an honest talk with your girlfriend. She may be not be as into the relationship as you are. She may even consider your possible vocation to the priesthood as a natural end to the relationship, as she is helping you study religious orders. Find out her true thoughts on the matter before you decide what path to commit to.


#5

There is a way that you can sort of do both in the Catholic Church: become a deacon. It is not exactly like a priest but it’s close. To me, I sort of see married deacons as men that would have become priests if they weren’t called to be married, too. Hope this helps


#6

I also have anglican roots. The anglican church is beautiful. You would be OK to marry and have lots of Catholic children??

All the Lord asks is we follow him. Holy Mass, Adoration, Eucharist

Married people are saints
St. Joseph
St. Rita
Virgin Mary was also married

Marriage has been polluted by sin but it is a sacrament instituted by God


#7

God has placed a fork in the road for you. Neither choice is wrong, and great holiness can come from either path. Ask God, which is his will. He’ll let you know.


#8

Dear Tau,

I would suggest you pray, pray and pray some more. That being said there are some practical things you might do in the meanwhile… to help you in your discernment process

  1. Have you been in touch with a priest or spiritual director to help you in your discernment process???

  2. You seem to be drawn to Franciscan spirituality… perhaps you might contact a vocations director in your area and ask him how to clarify for yourself whether you are called to the priesthood via the Franciscan order, the brotherhood via the Franciscan order, or to being married… (there are of course options of being a secular Franciscan serving the church through by being a Deacon or Diocesan priesthood, or as a married man?)

Bottom line it helps to have a trained priest or vocations director to help you to begin a discernment process and to help you to see what state in life God might be calling you to.
The vocation director is trained to help men to discern their calling and can help you clarify what you may be called to…
I encourage you find someone to share your journey with and pray you will find a good director.

I am assuming from your post you are Roman Catholic??? You might find some help from the website via the Coming Home Network. (Marcus Grodi)… there are some fine tools to help former Non Catholics and those returning home… since you have non Catholic family there might be helpful discussions and media on their site.

again as others have mentioned… time is on your side so pray and seek advice for sure


#9

Maybe you could change Rites and become an Eastern Catholic married priest?


#10

It sounds like you have two separate issues.

First, I agree with LittleRose. You have time to continue discerning. There’s no rush. You should continue dating, but don’t stop discerning the priesthood. You may one day marry this young woman, but that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in discernment retreats and activities that will help you grow in your faith and appreciation for the priesthood.

Your second issue is your parents trying to convert you to Anglicanism. I would avoid going to Anglican services entirely. If your choices come down to 1) converting so you can become a married priest or 2) getting married and staying Catholic, you should definitely choose to stay Catholic.


#11

Apparently this is very tough, and also discouraged, for obvious reasons. You have to learn the language of the rite (Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, for example); go to their seminary, which may be remote, for several years; then go to their mother country to be ordained and live and work there for several years,—and then come back to the states. And then be assigned to a church of that rite, wherever that may be. I am sorry that I lost the link, but you can look this up, especially if you may be attracted to an eastern rite.

You and your wife could become third order married Franciscans. Eventually you could apply for and be accepted to the diaconate. Deacons are shouldering increasing responsibilities, which include a lot of pastoral work, which seems to attract you.


#12

I would say this is good advice from Mikeeh.

Discern your state of life first, with either one you can join a part of the Franciscan family but first you must see what life you are called to. (The answer is not to leave the Church)

Perhaps it would help you to clarify in your mind the reasons for your becoming Catholic, by reading the works of Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman. He of course is one of the best known churchman to have left the Anglican Church to Join the Roman Church.

Also why not talk to some of the Anglicans who have joined the Roman Church? I am sure they can help you with your journey by being a listening presence

Blessings,

Sr Debbie, OSC

( A convert in 1975)


#13

Some good advice I got from St. Ignatius was, “What advice would you give to a stranger in exactly the same situation as yourself?” Also, ask yourself which direction draws you closer to God and gives you greater peace. But I agree with what everyone else said, stay in the Catholic Church and talk to a spiritual director!


#14

I’m in a VERY similar situation as you, OP. My girlfriend of 2 years actually got me back onto the right path of Catholicism and Christianity and she is amazing. However, I can’t help but feel that same call that you do to be a priest…

Of course I’ve thought of becoming Orthodox so I could be a priest and be married. Anglican is a little extreme for me, like other posters have mentioned: How can I serve a church that some mad king who wanted a divorce created? Of course being a Catholic deacon is always an option; and my Spanish teacher is “just” a layperson, yet has been on many missions around the world teaching people about the church… Maybe something like that is a good option for us? Good luck on your journey and I’ll pray for you, hopefully you’ll do the same for me. Stay in touch, God bless!


#15

In the Eastern Catholic churches we desire priests who enjoy the beauty of the Eastern rites, not simply Latin men trying to escape the regulations of their own rite.

To the OP: do you believe the Catholic Church or the Anglican Church to be that of Christ Jesus? We need priests, yes, but priests who preach and teach with conviction.

There is a story that my Roman Catholic pastor (I attend an Anglican Use parish on the off weeks the Byzantine Divine Liturgy is not offered) likes to pull out from time to time, about the Vicar of Bray. He would change religion from Catholic to Protestant every time a new monarch of England came to power and was chided for doing so. There was a strange response he always gave. I will find out what it was and post it.


#16

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