Priesthood? Girlfriend?


#1

Hello Catholics,

I am currently discerning the priesthood but I feel I have already done damage with my up and down emotions. There are times I feel very close to God and want to become a priest but there are other times I decide I’m not being called and go with my first feelings of wanting to get married, have children, and get a job. Where I think I have greatly failed is telling my girlfriend three different times I’m not called to the priesthood to her enjoyment. I’m so wishy washy and the sad thing is I still have the thoughts of priesthood in the back of my mind even when I have told my girlfriend that I want to be with her. I feel like a huge hypocrite and a jerk for playing with my girlfriend’s feelings because of my inability to decide what God is calling me to. I feel really hopeless, confused, and would really like some direction as to what I should do in my situation. I feel like the only way I can know is to go visit seminary but then I would have to break it to my girlfriend AGAIN that I need some time and space. I feel so guilty and ashamed. Why does discernment have to be so hard?


#2

My friend,

I have such empathy for your struggle. But remember: You're not the first person to feel this way. I suspect that you could find many, many priests who went through similar ordeals. Find one, and talk to him.

I really encourage you to go visit a seminary. Go more than once. Though you'll eventually have to talk to your girlfriend about this, you're not being deceitful if you choose not to talk to her until you make up your mind. So don't avoid going on a seminary visit merely because you want to avoid an upleasant conversation with your girlfriend. Just go. She doesn't have to know in advance.

Have you considered spending some time in solitary discernment and prayer? (Not just from your girlfriend, but from other distractions.)

Pax,
OA


#3

This is normal. Everybody goes through this. But this is where it becomes important. It’s the same as prayer. Do you only pray when you are filled with love of God, or when you are in hard times? Or do you pray when times are good and when you really, really don’t want to? The Priesthood (and discernment) is no different. There are ups and downs, which is why real discernment is necessary. I think you are having a hard time getting into real discernment which is where your problem lies.

Where I think I have greatly failed is telling my girlfriend three different times I’m not called to the priesthood to her enjoyment. I’m so wishy washy and the sad thing is I still have the thoughts of priesthood in the back of my mind even when I have told my girlfriend that I want to be with her.

Yes, you have failed. To put it bluntly you are failing on three levels.

  1. Failing God - you are not taking discernment seriously. It’s almost as if you are trying to fool Him - “I swear I’m discerning your will” meanwhile, you are juggling two different paths.
  2. Failing this girl. You have lied to her, and you continue to lie while you discern if you are serious about the priesthood. Dating is preparing and discernment for marriage. You are not giving her the respect she deserves if you are trying to fool her into thinking you are not going to do something else like become a Priest.
  3. Failing yourself. You cannot discern the Priesthood or Marriage correctly or whole heartedly if you are in this situation.

It is tough, my friend. But as I said, that’s where it counts.

I feel like a huge hypocrite and a jerk for playing with my girlfriend’s feelings because of my inability to decide what God is calling me to.

That phrase just strikes me as wrong. You can’t “decide” what God calls you to do. God calls and you answer. Thankfully God gives you free will and he is a kind of loving God so that if you choose to say no to His call (which can be the call to marriage or priesthood/religious life) you can still be happy and holy. But God specifically calls you and the decision is saying yes or no.

I feel really hopeless, confused, and would really like some direction as to what I should do in my situation. I feel like the only way I can know is to go visit seminary but then I would have to break it to my girlfriend AGAIN that I need some time and space. I feel so guilty and ashamed. Why does discernment have to be so hard?

I made a thread around here a while ago called something like “Vocations Posters Relax”. Please go read it.

The Lord will not make you uneasy. In Him is comfort. He only offers you this small little gift in whatever he calls you to do - the ability to live your most happy and holy life. Wherever that may be.

You are feeling like this because you recognise you are living a lie in some sense. It sounds harsh, but think about it. If you are serious about your calling, and if you are serious about God, and about respect for this girl you will give God the attitude, time and discernment that He deserves.

I sincerely wish you luck my friend.

But please remember that the Lord offers comfort. Any discomfort is a sign that there may be something going off-track. And that may even be your own attitude - as in, you might in fact already KNOW the Priesthood is where you are meant to be, but you are trying to fool yourself into believing otherwise. This self-deception does confuse and hurt.

Pray, hope and don’t worry.


#4

Do you have a spiritual director? No one should discern a vocation to religious life/priesthood without one.

You should not be dating while discerning a vocation.

Having a vocation is not about feelings. Feelings change and can be manipulated by many things that have nothing to do with a Calling from God. A feeling of being called might be a sign of a vocation or it might not be. This is what a spiritual director is for.


#5

I do not as of yet ByzCath but I am fixing my situation the best I can for now and certainly getting into contact with a spiritual director is part of it.

For now, I have completely suspended my relationship with my girlfriend and told her I would need a lot of time to dedicate my time to prayer and discernment. Part of that discernment is also visiting the seminary which is what I will be doing in about two weeks. I've also separated myself from time consuming things like facebook and the other forums on catholic answers in order to focus on this calling I know I am receiving.

Thank you all for your input and constructive criticism. I hope that these simple things will help this process and truly allow me to listen to God as I remove noise in my life. Please keep me in your prayers and once again thanks.


#6

[quote="rben20, post:5, topic:219941"]
I do not as of yet ByzCath but I am fixing my situation the best I can for now and certainly getting into contact with a spiritual director is part of it.

For now, I have completely suspended my relationship with my girlfriend and told her I would need a lot of time to dedicate my time to prayer and discernment. Part of that discernment is also visiting the seminary which is what I will be doing in about two weeks. I've also separated myself from time consuming things like facebook and the other forums on catholic answers in order to focus on this calling I know I am receiving.

Thank you all for your input and constructive criticism. I hope that these simple things will help this process and truly allow me to listen to God as I remove noise in my life. Please keep me in your prayers and once again thanks.

[/quote]

I apologize if I sounded to harsh. I will continue to keep you in my prayers, especially that you find a good spiritual director.


#7

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