I'm a college student, currently in application to the seminary, and I am 95% sure that God is calling me to be a priest. My great desire is to preach for the salvation of souls, etc., etc. Young and zealous am I! :D I am deeply in love with Jesus Christ, and slowly falling even deeper in love with Him! I can't emphasize this enough as I ask for your advice on this issue.
Anyway, my question is about having a female friend as a seminarian. I think it is inevitable that a young man discerning a vocation will have pretty girls appear suddenly in his path. This can be both a blessing and an annoyance to the discerner. For me at least, it is slightly disconcerting, because while I have always had female acquaintances with whom I got along very well, I have never really had a close female friend (and I have also never dated). Especially since the beginning of my vocation discernment. Now a young lady who was previously an acquaintance has suddenly appeared. I find myself quite attracted to her as a person; and there's also the fact that she's very pretty and quite single. I mean, I still like girls, right? However, though romantic thoughts have struck me while spending time with her, these are not even close to being of importance in my relationship with her.
I don't have a lot of friends. My very close friends are all guys, and while I love them dearly I find myself wishing at times that they were more mature, more interested in the intellectual issues I find myself thinking about often. Lately I've been thinking that I'd like to make some new friends who share interests with me in areas other than sports. I mean, I'd like a "best friend," so to speak, which I don't exactly have right now outside my family. So, I've prayed a little bit about this over an extended period of time, not in a desperate manner but asking God maybe to send me some new friends, some close friends, even a "best friend." Then this young lady appears, who I've known for a while but who I'm not very close to, who (in an almost uncanny way) shares many of my most cherished interests.
Above I mentioned that I am 95% sure that I am called to the priesthood. There are many reasons for this, as I have been blessed with a particularly rich spiritual upbringing and love of God. I love Jesus deeply, and I want to love Him exclusively the way the great saints have loved Him (St. Thomas Aquinas comes to mind. The passionate love of the Eucharist, the reading of the Song of Songs on his deathbed. This is how I would characterize my growing relationship with God (without trying to sound in the least bit arrogant or presumptious). But I digress.) But that other 5% is the part of me that has a deep attraction to marriage, which I think probably every seminarian should have if they are to become a true spiritual father. This complicates things a little if I were to grow closer to a woman.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I'm wondering how to best approach this new situation. Our common interests and mutual attraction (though not in the romantic sense, she knows my "status") indicate that this could be the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship. I would dearly love to have her as a close friend; she is a good, kind, and beautiful person. But in order to properly discern my vocation (which I see first and foremost as being called to an exclusive relationship with Christ), I'm wondering what the boundaries should be. Can we eat together alone in a restaurant at night? Is this too much like a date? Can we hang out alone together? Remember I said there's no romantic interest - but young people have a funny way of missing this. :) How close is too close? Is it "dangerous" for me to desire close female friendship when I should be foremost concerned with discerning my vocation and cultivating my exclusive relationship with Christ? If I'm called to a love of God along the lines of a St. Thomas Aquinas (again, without trying to sound presumptious or arrogant in any way), is it even appropriate to have a close though chaste friendship with a woman. (Wasn't St. Francis pretty close to St. Clare? Or am I wrong?) Or maybe I'm called to marriage!
I hope I don't sound too confused or scrupulous; such is not my attention. I merely would like some advice from the Elders (esp. those who have been in this situation) about this. I find myself caring a lot about this woman, with a desire for a deeper friendship even as I discern my vocation, and so I would like to get a sense of the appropriate boundaries for a chaste yet deep friendship between a seminarian/discerner and a young, eligible female.
Thanks to you all, and God bless,
"thunderboom" (sorry for the alias, but you know how it is ;))
Please keep me in your prayers. :gopray::highprayer::signofcross: