I tried reading through the forums to see if anything similar to this had been posted but I didn’t find anything. Hopefully someone here can give some advice. Lots of backstory will lead up to my end question.
I am 21 years old - just ended my junior year of college and will be graduating next spring
The summer after graduating HS I had two experiences in adoration where I said “I am going to be a priest some day”. This was a very haunting thought that slid me into a depression that eventually lifted when I was advised by priests that I don’t have to make a decision right now and it would be good to continue praying and discerning.
The last two summers I have worked as a missionary serving Catholic teens from around the country. I lived in community and followed a life of daily prayer. These experiences were incredibly fruitful to my relationship with Christ and allowed me to experience a life focused wholly on Christ. The first summer I came home saying “I am going to be a priest”, but was again advised that haste is not necessary and it would be better to wait till graduation. In my spiritual directors words, “God doesn’t work on deadlines, he will take you when he needs you and you are ready.”
I entered that year more sure of my call and sought out orders and religious to talk to. I refrained from dating and tried to picture myself in a priestly vocation. It brought me joy although much apprehension and internal push back. I went on a “seminary sprint” eager to learn about orders, but had a profoundly disappointing experience. Every place we visited I felt “wrong” and no attraction. I actually felt myself revolting and strongly rejecting the idea of religious life. It seemed too disconnected from everyday world and ineffective at dealing with what people are dealing with and struggling through. This trip left me incredibly confused and again worried.
The feeling in the back of my mind has never left though and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being called to priestly life of some sort. I just cannot picture myself being married. Much of this is for very practical reasons. Things like attending kids’ basketball games, mowing the lawn, hosting family parties, watching TV, going to parents night at school, working a “normal job” all seem like wastes of time. They seem to me just distractions from living for God.
Here’s where life gets interesting. In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself increasingly attracted to a female friend. We spent time together this semester working on activities at our parish and had a fun time interacting. We began to talk more and I found myself wanting to ask her on a date. I asked two priests and both said, “Sure, go for it. It’s fine to have female friends and it’ll just let you know what you might be missing out on.”
So we went on a date and had a great time. I loved talking to her and just getting to know her. At the end of the first date I made sure to say “I just want you to know I’m not sure if called to marriage and think priesthood is a possibility. Are you ok with still spending time together and getting to know each other.” She was slightly taken back, but said that was ok as long as I’m not leading her on.
Since then we’ve continued to talk more and more. We talk to each other on the phone frequently and have been on two more dates. I find myself loving her company and desiring to spend more time with her. I’m joyful and love having someone to talk to and share experiences with. Despite all of this, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I can’t shake this feeling that I’m making a mistake and harming my future. I’m happy when with her but in between I feel anxious and worried that I’m making a mistake.
Can anyone give me advice?
I feel a call to the priesthood. It wanes and grows stronger but has been relatively consistent for 3 years. Despite this, I’m very attracted to a girl and love spending time with her. I would say I strongly desire a wife but am not sure I would be happy with all the trappings of a secular life. Am I wrong to continue dating her?