Parental Opposition


#1

I've seen many posts in the vocations forum where people mention that their families are opposed to their entering religious life - can we discuss this?
In my discernment it's been / still is quite an issue because my parents aren't religious at all, so they simply can't understand A) belief in God and B) why this would drive someone to give up all their material possessions in pursuit of the most spiritual life possible.

I think, from my personal experience, that it's much harder dealing with parents and siblings (or even close friends) who are against one following a vocation than it is from anyone else because we WANT them to understand why we would do that. We want them to understand what drives us, what defines us because it's what we care about most deeply. Most importantly, we want them to listen when we try to explain...I've broached the subject with my mother a few times now and the most recent exchange went something like this:

"But if you love God, why don't you become a Priest instead?"
"I can't, the Church doesn't ordain women. I'm trying to tell you I'm thinking of becoming a religious sister, the two are nothing alike".
"You can't be a Priest? But then why don't you become a vicar? I thought they can be women?"
".........You're telling me to leave the Church and be an Anglican vicar?"
"Why not? They still believe in God, right?"

I literally spent the rest of the evening in tears not just at the thought of leaving the Church (and the true faith that Christ gave us), but because there seems to be an unbridgeable gap where she thinks she can make "suggestions" for my benefit that don't take into account anything I've told her up to that point (we've had the Priest/vicar conversation several times now and she hasn't taken on board any of my explanations about the difference between Priesthood and religious life and why women aren't Priests etc.).

I don't want to whinge, this isn't a pity-seeking thread at all! I'm just trying to make sense of it all and I think the reason it hurts is because it's probably the only time in life where parents can't advise us, as it's something so personal and private between the person discerning and God that family can only stand on the sidelines. The realisation that they don't actually know best and can't provide all the answers, so it just boils down to whether they are supportive or not. At the moment I think I'm going to have to not talk about it with my mother any more until I come to a decision either way, because it's making me even more conflicted and unhappy than I would be if I couldn't talk to anyone at all.

I've not talked about it with my father because I know he'll be even less helpful. I have older sisters who are quite high-flyers and I feel like my parents are holding me to the same standard, so I'll be letting them down if I don't pursue a career and a family. But I don't feel like that life is for me, I want to live entirely for God and devote myself to Him. As I'm only 22 I know they think I'm too young to be sure of a decision like joining a religious community, but they have to see that it's my life and if I do genuinely have a calling, then I have to follow it no matter what they believe or think I should do.

Is anyone else dealing with anything similar? How do you cope?


#2

Yes, I have experienced such a situation(though I am male, so I do not exactly want to become a nun!). I come from a Shi'a Muslim family yet was raised as a Protestant, and I have had trouble even attending Mass. A few of my relatives are rather anti-Catholic, while my mother is a little more "open." Even so, when I asked her if she would be happy to have a priest for a son, "she replied, "Not a Catholic one." Also, since I wish to enter an order or congregation, the issue of the vow of poverty has come up. They think that it is senseless, even un-Biblical(though I have given a few examples from the Good Book of similar instances). I have tried to explain to them that there is a significant difference between religious and involuntary poverty, but they still do not understand. I guess that, basically, all that one can do is to pray.


#3

I understand your pain! My mother and sister rejected my calling and wants for a vocation. I posted a forum in Spirituality about it. I hope it helps.
What helps me deal is CAF, good catholic friends who understand, my priest and talking to God. I keep a journal of all my conversations,prayers, and whatever comes to mind about my vocation, since I can't talk to my family about it..

God bless.

Cameron


#4

Although my parents were against me before, now I see that they try to accept it and let me to decide it. But later my relatives are against me (uncles and aunts), well prayer is the right way to do. And it's better all people are against me than God is against me, right?


#5

God Bless all of you who are discerning!

Do not be discouraged, St. Monica prayed for her son Augustine for 30 years until he converted, became a priest, Bishop & Doctor of the Church!

Jesus said; "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; 52 for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (LK 12:51-53)

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

mark


#6

I'm in a similar situation. My parents don't know how seriously I'm thinking about this, but I've mentioned that possibility a few times when the topic has come up, and my parents got really upset :( I've stopped talking about it and I'm going to teachers college next year so I think they are assuming I'm planning to be a teacher for the rest of my life, and are happy about that... but I'm still wondering about my vocation, and I know if God calls me to be a nun, I need to say yes!


#7

Similar situation, too. My mom (who wasn't raised Catholic) knows that I like going to church so much (she even hinted that I could be a nun). Her main concern is that I'll be too far away, or won't be able to visit, won't be there when [my parents] pass away, and messing up my retirement (I have a full time job right now - which has had a very difficult time filling positions in my particular line of work). To top it off, they won't take me anywhere beyond 70 miles (I don't drive), so that kind of limits me. Another concern she has is giving up all of my money (and if the convent folds up, I have nothing).

It's kind of funny listening to her say, "Well, what if a nun wanted to do this?", "What if a nun didn't want to be a nurse?", "What if the nun stayed eight years and decided she made a mistake?" (after telling her about the 7 years - give or take - of discernment). She's very independant minded, if not a little rebellious, and I don't think she can comprehend taking orders from anyone. :rotfl:

She'll also go on about retirement communities and how I could live there and go to their chapel (a local one is interdenominational). Personally, I don't see myself going from activity to activity and chatting up a storm. I think one of the harder parts is trying to convince her that her ideals (like, my sister will make lots of money in her music business and she'll hire a personal rider, etc.) for me aren't exactly what I would want. Another would be trying to get the point across that I'm getting up there in the age limit (35-40). She says, "Well, even many grandmothers go join convents. You can do that after we're dead and gone.".


#8

Thanks to everyone for your replies, it’s reassuring to know that others are going through similar things to me.
Let’s all persevere and I wish you the best of luck in your journeys! I think it makes it slightly easier to remember that at the end of the day, no matter how much we love them, we can only listen to our family’s opinion because they can’t see into our hearts and give us the answers that only God can give.

My thoughts keep going round and round in circles no matter how much I pray, so I’m glad to be going to see the diocesan vocations director again this weekend to have a chat with him, and really looking forward to a 5 day retreat in a couple of weeks with the Dominicans that I feel called to. I went to an enclosed Poor Clares convent to talk to the novice mistress about their way of life, and it seems beautiful but I still don’t think I’m called to enclosed life. I love the Dominican’s emphasis on study because I find that (reading God’s Word and the writings of the Church / Saints etc.) to be the most spiritually nourishing aspect of living my faith.
But then I know I need to keep an open mind and go where God’s taking me, it’s so hard to know if it’s His will or mine :S


#9

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