Sometimes when I go to bed I try to think of a woman I dated and I try to have a dream about her. Not a sexual dream, more of a romantic dream of us holding hands and being together. To be honest I kind of miss her right now. She is not Catholic and I don’t even know her views in regard to chastity- we were only together for a brief time. My question is, can a priest fully embrace celibacy if he purposely tries to dream about a previous relationship?
I would say that it is a lack of commitment towards celibacy. While it is not wrong to have enjoyed the relationship, wistfully fantasizing about it is certainly not good for a celibate man to do. Speaking as someone who ended a relationship to go to seminary, I can tell you that thinking about the past in such terms will just make you unhappy. I recommend that if you feel called to priesthood, you should first get past any remaining feelings you have for this woman before you go to seminary.
My VD, and a few other priests, have told me that “the wanting to be married and have a family is the sign of a good priest.” As long as it is not leading you towards sin, there is no harm, maybe it is a sign from the Lord that you are not to become a priest.
You should definite talk to your VD about this, as I’m sure he’ll give you ten thousand book suggestions for you (at least, my VD would).
This is a great discussion to have with your spiritual director.
This is NOT a lack of commitment to Celibacy.
Priests are still men, with all of the normal desires, the normal hormones, etc. as any other man. They do notice attractive women (or men, if that’s their orientation).
You can NOT control your dreams. They do not mean that you have to follow through on them, they do not predict your future, etc.
If you dated this woman, and found her compatible, that is not a bad thing. It is not something horrid that you think about her, or even dream about her. So long as you are not dwelling on a relationship with her, having fantasies about her, etc., there is no harm or any form of a lack of commitment.
If this does become a problem for you, discuss it with your confessor.
While what others have said is very good advice - one other thing.
If you are discerning the priesthood seriously and dating you need to stop. You are being unfair to the women you are dating. Dating is a discernment of marriage. They are dating to discern marriage with you if they are dating correctly under the Catholic model and you are basically courting two women- her and the Church. It is not fair to any woman you date and it is better that you make a decision and then worry about whether or not you should date.
BTW- you need a spiritual director.
Do you have a spiritual director yet?