Prayer for Benefactors of those with Vocations not just for Vocations


#1

I would like to pose a question...Why is it that, as Catholics, we pray heavily for vocations and then shirk the responsibility of helping those with vocations pay off their debt to enter religious life? (I don't think God was speaking only to those with vocations to religious life when he said, "Go sell all that you have and follow me.") Yet everyone's solution to the growing student debt problem that hinders those with vocations is to respond with lack of generosity while these brave souls attempt to give up every comfort in society and literally follow the life of Jesus and the saints, and their solution is to work for years to pay off debt. There is no wonder there is a shortage of vocations. The solution is for laity to be generous as well so that these saints are not lost. Any thoughts?


#2

I have student debt, and I wouldn't dare to ask anyone to pay it for me. I am close to paying the last of 63K. This has taken me 8 years. I had to live and work overseas to do it, and I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to do so.

One thing is, if my experience is anything to go on, even if the debt is just student loans, I am quite sure that many people did not live in total poverty as students. For example, I had a car, kept a dog and cat, went out to eat, upgraded a computer etc. Some of my debt is from those things. I would feel weird about asking for someone to pay for those things, regardless of the reason.

Also, there is the issue of needing to be debt free before entering; but just entering does not mean that the candidate will make it to profession. I wonder about that. If you solicit donations for your cause, and then you don't stay...well, what about that? The ex-candidate is now debt free...and may end therefore end up in a better position that many donors, who likely have things like mortgages, medical bills etc to deal with. For this reason alone, no one should feel any requirement to be "generous" about financial supporting candidates.

MANY people are in SERIOUS debt these days, and they have a responsibility to their own families and selves first. So, I think the idea that church members are 'shirking' a so-called responsibility for another persons life choices is mistaken...I mean, if getting out of debt is so important to someone, they, with God's help, will find a way.

It is nice to ask for donations, and I am sure many people will be glad to give what they can to help a worthy person...but it is not a duty but a gift, one that the candidate should be very, very grateful for. No one made the candidate rack up all that debt, they did it themselves. It may or may not have been worth it. Some people persued educational goals for very worldly reasons, and then 'reverted' or converted and now seek religious life. They have to pay for their misguided choices or misplaced priorities. Yes, many people have huge loads of student debt these days; hopefully the next generation will learn from our mistakes.

In the meantime, I wouldn't waste a second trying to make generosity a duty, this is a huge mistake. Candidates, step up to the plate; by all means ask for help, but don't try to guilt people into it. It is just money, money can be earned, in many ways. It takes time, but if someone is truly called, then God will make a way..but it might be a long path.

Furthermore, people can become saints outside of religious life, and people are not 'lost' if they cannot enter into religious life. Hard work and patience, with some generosity and windfalls along the way is a path to holiness too. Candidates can get started on that 'attempt to give up every comfort in society' while paying off debt. Comforts cost money. Going without them means more payment of debt. :)


#3

You are absolutely right in what you have said...my main point is that the candidates are doing all this anyways if they are serious about pursuing the vocation. My point is that our society basically forces this generation into massive amounts of debt through media brainwashing. Societal pressures tell kids that they are weird unless they pursue some lofty degree from a prestigious school. Not all vocations come from families who have brought their children up in a strong faith. God has a plan for all of us; however there seems to be a great double standard and a lot of us miss the point of being called to generosity. There is an extreme shortage of religious and priests and according to a statistic by the Laboure society 42% of vocations are hindered because of student debt. This is no joke. Without religious we are in serious trouble, because they are the ones ministering and guiding the flock to Jesus. It's no wonder our society is so far from God right now, since we have such a large shortage of priests. My very point in this article is that someone like you had to wait 8 years. Just think if everyone had to wait 8 years that would be devastating to religious life. All it takes are small donations from a ton of people; I am not talking about someone paying off 63k in a lump sum. If you read the Bible, Jesus calls the apostles and they leave everything and follow him. They don't go home and check with the family if its okay or if they should take care of their debts.


#4

I am not sure what you mean by double standard.

Society does not force anyone to rack up student debt. Society misleads people into doing this. People are mislead, very often by their own desires for a comfortable life and secure future. When people eventually open their hearts to hear a call, then part of their response is taking care of business in preparation for entrance. No community would counsel anyone to walk away from either family or financial obligations, that would be a misinterpretation of what Jesus meant.

I had to go through these 8 years because I made some mistakes...although I am glad that I got an education. If I had a bit more gumption, I might have asked people to help...but in all honesty, I see it as 100% my responsibility to deal with my debt.

We live in the times we live in. Student debt is a reality of our times. Vocations might be delayed because of debt, but if a candidate is truly called and truly willing to respond, then they will find a way. But that does not mean that there should be in any way pressure for others to pay, especially since many candidates leave without profession.

There seems to be an attitude that many people have...they want what they want, and they imagine that any barrier must be automatically or easily removed, that they can get a "do-over", start with a clean slate etc., especially if what they want is a good and worthy thing. Well, that is not always possible, and there should be some sober reflection on this. Sometimes we mess up and there are real-world consquences for our actions. Sometimes those consequences seem to block our path. That is just reality.

There is a shortage of vocations, but I wouldn't say it is caused directly by debt; it may be caused indirectly. In the first place, many pursued other goals and were not open to the idea of a vocation. As a result of this, debt is acquired.

So yes, people could donate to help a candidate, but there are also other, I would say more worthy, causes out there. Someone with a college degree is in a better place than many in our society.

AND, it is not lost on people, I think, that the job market and economy is tanking, and will be tanking for a long time...I think people may wonder about how this influences candidates around choosing religious life. If a candidate didn't feel called when they were young, full of optimism about their opportunities, and ready to incurr heavy debt for an education that would bring them a good job and comfortable life, are they truly called now, when they are facing an uncertain future and a mountain of debt? To be honest, I think that religious life can seem like a secure life to many, and many are willing to trade 'freedom' for security.

That is NOT to say that a candidate may not be called, BUT the average person is capable of a great deal of self-deception. So I still wonder...what if a candidate is assisted to pay debt, and then does not go on to profession? I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed before trying to reframe this problem into one that the larger society has to take responsibility for. I kind of wonder if some candidates would start feeling differently about their call if they ended up with a financial clean slate. People fool themselves ALL the time, and communities and candidates often don't figure this out until someone has entered.


#5

Well you successfully judged every one following a call to religious life, which has nothing to do with the point of this discussion...so at this point it's not worth responding anymore...


#6

[quote="trushatg, post:1, topic:300527"]
I would like to pose a question...Why is it that, as Catholics, we pray heavily for vocations and then shirk the responsibility of helping those with vocations pay off their debt to enter religious life? *(I don't think God was speaking only to those with vocations to religious life when he said, "Go sell all that you have and follow me.") * Yet everyone's solution to the growing student debt problem that hinders those with vocations is to respond with lack of generosity while these brave souls attempt to give up every comfort in society and literally follow the life of Jesus and the saints, and their solution is to work for years to pay off debt. There is no wonder there is a shortage of vocations. The solution is for laity to be generous as well so that these saints are not lost. Any thoughts?

[/quote]

The Church interprets this as one of many passages where Christ offers the religious life to all. Poverty is one of the three evangelical councils along with Perfect Chastity and Obedience. Christ recommends these to everyone though he commands it of none. Christ gave us a command that we are to love God with all our heart mind streangth and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves; This is the love commanded. He said that he who would be perfect ought live in poverty, chastity, and obedience; this is the love counseled. Everyone indeed has a vocation from God to the religious life, and free choice to accept or reject it. It is a De Fide Definita dogma that the celibate life is a happier and more blessed life than to marry.


#7

I just want to add something to this: I have recently written several traditional cloistered religious communities after having written off my vocation to the religious life because of massive student loans and not having enough time to pay them off by working in time for the cut-off age 5 years from now. Every single letter I received back from the Prioress urged me not to delay my vocation by attempting to work it off in hopes of an exception to be made to the cut off age, but rather get benefactors to help pay it off ASAP.


#8

I am in the student debt boat and hoping to enter the Dominicans (St. Joseph’s Province). Currently, I’m a Ph.D student in Theology at the best program in the nation. This comes with a scholarship for full tuition and a small stipend every year - it pays the bills, but I’m not exactly in saving up and paying off mode.

That said - I come from a poor family. I am the first person in my family in generations to even go to college - to be in grad school is beyond anything I had hoped for as a kid. I didn’t have good advice on all this, went to a private Baptist school that costed me loads of money, converted to Catholicism (Deo gratias), went to a state school to finish. I have about 84k in debt (between undergrad, M.A., and now the Ph.D) - a lot of which covered living expenses (I had to buy my own car, pay my own rent, insurance, cell phone, etc). I was not living anything close to a luxurious life. I even worked full time as a firefighter during my years at the Baptist school, but even this didn’t cover everything.

I am praying (to St. Jude, among others) that I will find a benefactor or several who will be willing to help me pay off my student loans so that I can enter religious life as soon as I finish my Ph.D. I think it’s probably unwise to question the motives of those who enter religious life and say they’re simply looking for security (holy obedience, after all, will undo that). Thank God that so many young people are responding to God’s invitation to a holy life and may His people listen to the call to be generous so that the Church can have good priests and religious. We need their prayers. May St. Jude pray for all of us.


#9

I have heard much the same thing from good and holy advisers: “if you know, you go.” I’ll say an extra prayer to St. Jude tonight for your sake. God will not abandon His holy causes.


#10

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