Spiritually Frustrated....

First of all, I’m not losing my faith in God in any way, shape or form, so please don’t take the title like that even though it could be taken that way and in advance I want to thank everyone who responds for your help and prayers.
Let me start by giving a brief bio (probably will turn into a book, as much as I tend to type, sorry in advance lol :p) of myself.
I am 25 years old, happily Catholic my entire life. Since I was young my mother has always taught me to live my life with God as number one and I’ve always tried to keep Him as my number 1 priority, failing now and then as any human does. She brought us to Church every Sunday and helped to keep Scripture and Prayer in our lives. I remember, since being very young in grade school, always feeling something VERY special during Mass and especially the liturgy of the Eucharist. I don’t know exactly how to explain it other than saying it was a certain reverence that I felt in my heart, a certain spark. And I’ve always had that feeling when I go to Church. No matter if I’d wake up cranky or depressed or anything, when I go to Church and especially Communion, I always leave happy and cheerful.
Since Kindergarten, I’d attended Catholic school, all the way to grade 12. I went to Penn State for college and got my Bachelor of Science degree in Information Sciences Technology. I currently have a job, though it’s not what I went to school for and in the last 3 years of interviewing, I’ve been unable to find a job anywhere.
When I was in 1st grade, I joined the Tiger cubs and followed the ladder the entire way to Eagle Scout. I was more proud of getting my Eagle Scout then I was of graduating college. Why? I don’t know. I feel that I worked harder in scouting and was happier then I was in college. The point of me telling you this is, when I was still in scouts in High School, my friend who I went to school with (who belonged to a different Boy Scout troop, in a different council and district but the same diocese) invited me to a Catholic scouting “retreatoree” that he went to every year through our diocese. I went and loved it and went with him every year from 6th thru 12th grade. When I graduated High School, my Boy Scout troop was all but finished and had folded up with my brother being our last eagle. So I didn’t really have a lot of time put into volunteering for the Boy Scouts or to give back to the organization, plus I was extremely busy with college.
Then, when I was in my senior year of college (lucky for me the Penn State branch I went to was within 15 miles of my home, I didn’t go to main campus for school), my great aunt passed away. At the reception after the funeral, my other great aunt who was incidentally involved with the girl scouts and our diocese, asked me about helping out at a retreat for scouting. I inquired and it turns out it was the same one I had went to a few years before and attended every year so I of course jumped on it, excited both to be going on this retreat again, this time as a staff member and also to be helping out with Boy Scouts. So I went and I met a lot of people who I remembered from going to the retreatoree before and met a lot of new people, including the two priests who were now in charge.

Now, this retreat was always held at a Boy Scout camp and of course this meant that people need to bring their own tents and all of course. Being on staff has it’s perks, including getting to use the camp’s staff quarters. Me being a late addition to the staff, I was assigned to sleep in the chaplain’s cabin with, you guessed it, the priests. They slept in one room and I in the other. This doesn’t really have a lot to do with the story, other than saying that it was exciting knowing that I was so close to them. But during this retreatoree, the one priest in particular, Father Doug, made me feel very special. I went to confession with him and I swear, it was the best confession I think that I’ve ever had and I came away from it more confused but at peace feeling then I’ve ever come before from a confession. What I really liked about it was, Father Doug was really the first confessor that I’ve been to that tried to hold an actual conversation with me about my sins and my life and all, instead of just
him: “speak your sins”
me: sins
him: “ok do this and this and 10 hali mary’s, now do an act of contrition”
I really enjoyed this. I mean I know that my parish priest and the other priests that I went to confession with cared about me and helping me, but they were always just going just by the script and finishing up. Father Doug did all the prayers and parts of the confession necessary, but when giving me my penance and even while I was confessing my sins, he made me feel extremely comfortable and I truly felt that it was ‘in persona Christi,’ in the person of Christ. We discussed my life a little bit, what I’m doing with it, where I thought it was headed. And then he asked me a question. Have I ever thought of the priesthood?
Now, in my 25 years of life, of course my mother’s asked me this before and others have asked me before, including priests and I was never affected by it. But there was something different about Father Doug. He just seemed to be so passionate about his vocation and the ministry and he made one feel extremely comfortable to talk about their faith or in confession, wherever. And when he asked me, it really made me think more. I told him what I wrote above here, about always feeling special when in Mass but that I always brushed it aside as just a spiritual high, not a calling from God to be a priest. He told me God puts the door before us, we just have to choose to open it and that made me think. I wasn’t lead to feel that God was definitely calling me to be a priest by this experience, but it helped to open my mind more to different vocations, other than married life, which is what I’d always considered “my thing.” It wasn’t just Father Doug that helped me, by being on the staff of the Retreatoree and helping younger people to learn about Jesus and their faith, it inspired me. I came home and met with my parish priest and one of the vocation directors for my diocese, another priest. I spoke with them and they basically told me that I would know if God wanted me to be a priest or what He has planned for me. The vocations director even assigned me a local priest to be my spiritual advisor, to help me to discern. I only met with him a few times, not because I was uncomfortable or anything, I just didn’t have a lot of time. Since then, along with still going to Church regularly, I still am on staff at the Retreatoree and actually am in charge of one of the sessions, for the under high school kids. I enjoy doing it, especially because my friend, who’s not a scout but is Catholic like me, has started coming and helps out with my session now so I’m more comfortable in front of them. And I’m still friends with Father Doug as well. He’s in our planning committee for the retreatoree and I’ve met with him myself a few times as well just to talk or discuss things in my life, as well as confession.

So that’s my bio…sorry it’s too long, I told you it’d turn into a book, but I feel it’s necessary for you to understand who I am and where I come from before I explain more about my discernment and my ‘spiritual frustration,’ that I’m currently feeling. If you have any questions, please ask away. Now on to the point of the thread. Two weeks ago, I attended Mass for the first time in a few months. Again, I wasn’t proud of this, more ashamed then anything and my morals and guilt was driving me nuts because I missed it, I just kept letting myself get distracted with the world. So I went to Mass and had confession with the priest and I felt a lot better, happier then I have in a while. Not that I’m ever really that depressed, but you know what I mean. I felt better about myself because I knew I was taking a step back into the right direction. So anyways, this week I went to Mass again and again I feel better. My problem (and it’s really not a problem just something on my mind) is that the thought of the priesthood or some other vocation is starting to touch me in my mind and heart again, not that it ever left completely I guess, just it was stifled by other events and things. So I emailed the vocations director about it, to see if there are any weekend retreats or anything for people discerning because he’d invited me to one a while ago and I couldn’t make it.
The reason I’m feeling spiritually frustrated though is because since I went to Church the first time last week and went to confession, I’ve had that spiritual high feeling almost constantly since then. I haven’t done anything different, other than wearing my crucifix and medals more (I just found them because I’d thought they were lost) and that’s really it. I have that feeling right now like in the name of God and His love for me, I can do anything. I can fly on a cloud if I wanted to. I don’t know why this feeling is here and so permanant feeling, but it feels really good. I just feel very blessed and like I just got back from the retreatoree, but it’s in September so it’s not here yet and hasn’t been here for almost a year. There have been other times in my life that I’ve missed Church for a while, again not proud of it, but just the same as before, I went back to Church and confession and all. But this time, I feel an even stronger desire to keep going back. I mean I wanted to keep going back before, but until I finally put my foot down, I kept letting myself miss.
With going to school and all like I did above, I’ve never been happy. When I first graduated from High School, I knew I wanted to go to college for technology. My parents tried to tell me that I should go for business because there were more jobs but after meeting with professors and seeing the numbers and also seeing I’d be happier, I switched to IT. All through college, I never could find a decent internship. I finally got one that wasn’t really an internship but they counted it because it involved using a computer. I was a good student, 3.0 GPA for my major’s classes, 2.8 with the general ed classes (which isn’t great, but I was good at the IT classes and that’s the important ones according to people I know that work the industry). And when I graduated college, I still have never been able to find a good job in IT. I go on interviews and either get rejected or never hear back. I finally got the job I’m in right now and it pays enough to pay the bills, but I’m not happy. It’s just not an enjoyable employment. The people I work for and with are great, friendly, I just don’t like the line of work. They’ll pay for me to go back to school, but only for jobs relevant for the company of course, and other than sales, I’d be forced to move halfway across the state which is the last thing I want to do. Since I graduated college and even within the months leading up to my graduation, I was starting to feel this unhappiness, like it wasn’t for me. I’m not the most outspoken person in the world or that great with the ladies (the only reason I had the last girlfriend was a little bit of luck and a chance meeting), and when I started doing interviews for internships and eventually full time positions, I think that’s when I started to realize, I’m not happy. I’m not happy trying to work for corporate America. As I’ve told my family and friends, I’d rather be happy then rich not rich and not happy and I don’t see myself really going for any other realistic college degree and being happy. I mean I love reading and literature but I don’t think I’d want to be an english teacher/professor or anything like that. I like the outdoors, but I don’t want to be a park ranger or anything like that either. I feel like there’s way more to life than just working in a company all day, doing the same things over and over. I feel like I can contribute to this world more and help others. But at the same time, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and this is where the frustration really comes.
I keep asking God in my thoughts and prayers, ‘what do you have planned for me? where am I headed in this life?’ And I feel like I don’t get a response. I’ve read from others to quit looking so hard because I’ll never find anything but I’m 25. I mean I know it’s still real young, but I don’t want to wait until I’m old to do something if I’m meant to do it. The priesthood just feels so welcoming to me but then when I start to imagine what it’d be like to be a priest, that’s where I start to feel like it’s not for me. I’m afraid. I mean I feel like I’m not smart enough, not good enough for that. When I go to confession, almost the moment I get out and complete my penance, I start to feel like what’s the point because I’m just going to commit sins again and that I don’t live a good enough Catholic life to ever compare to the priests I know. I feel like in order to do so, I’d need to sit in a Church and pray for 24 hours a day like St. Padre Pio or something. I know that priests sin, the Pope himself goes to confession, I guess I just don’t have the faith in myself that I need maybe. I’m not worried about doing homilies or staying chaste or anything like that. At the same time, I can’t convince myself to forget about it either. That’s why I want to meet with other people who are discerning, I want to know if I’m the only one who goes through these feelings. I’ve been praying and keeping God in my thoughts almost constantly for the last two weeks and even prior to that, and I just wish I knew what the answer was. I want to know what I’m meant to do and where I’m meant to go. I love helping others, I love the Bible and I love teaching others (hence the Retreatoree). I remember when I was little teaching the Bible and about God to my little brother, my mom always joked that I’d be a priest someday. I wish Jesus would just pop up in front of me and say, ‘Patrick, you’re going to be a priest,’ or ‘Patrick, go to school for this,’ and I’d be happy. I’m sorry this is so so long, I just spilled my thoughts out. I look forward to your replies and help, if you have any questions feel free to ask or pm me. Thanks.

Sorry for the double post, I wrote too much for one posting :frowning:

Wow… Your story was not long at all. You give a real sense of you and what you are going through. I would think that all these thoughts and feelings are quite normal. But I agree that it would be suitable to be with others that are going through what you are going through. I imagine that you would receive, some clarity, comfort and support. When I read your post something immediately popped into my mind. I watched Journey Home on EWTN this morning. On it was a young Priest Father Micheal( can’t remember surname). He has just recently become a Priest, this June I think. When I watched him on Journey Home, I got a feeling, the same feeling I got when I heard him telling his story.
Why don’t you check it out.
God Bless you and be with you always. I will pray for you and good luck with what ever Our Lord has in store for you.:slight_smile:

Thank you for your reply, I will definitely look into that program on EWTN!

Hi Patrick

I think you have a few chapters for a solid start to your autobiography in what you have written. I for one am very interested to know what happens next in the story of your life.

I’m sure there will be many more experienced people who will reply to your post, but I will give you my thoughts too. First a bit of my background:

I’m a similar age to you - 26, and had a similar upbringing, although in the UK; Catholic household, school, encouraged at home and so on. From my mid-teens I thought very hard about becoming a priest, including talking to my parish priest and diocesan vocations director. I drifted away from the idea after meeting a girl that I later married and now we have a beautiful daughter and another on the way.

Some parts of your post made me think back to when I was 18-20 years old; I had been seriously considering the priesthood for 5 or 6 years and suddenly I was being pulled in another direction. Like yourself I prayed long and hard for guidance as to which way I should take my life. I am sorry to say I did not experience any single event that caused me to choose marriage, it was a gradual waxing and waning until one day I realised I loved this woman, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I could not, and still cannot, see any evil in my relationship and therefore I believe that it is (and always was) God’s will that I should follow that path.

For yourself, perhaps a similar thing has happened, a gradual waxing and waning of your spirituality, through the experiences that you have (and that God sets before you). I do not presume to know your heart and mind but the eloquence with which you describe the positive feeling that will not go away might be analogous to my realisation that marriage and life spent with my wife was what God wanted of me. Equally, it may not be, and it may take some time yet before you discern what God wants from you; but when that time comes, you must be brave and go with it - do not expect to be sure and certain, that time may never come; but whatever logic and reason might tell you, God’s Will will make itself known in you.

I’ll finish by saying that I still think what my life might have been like had I chosen to enter seminary, but I never doubt that I made the right choice or wish for things to be different. Indeed, a priest mentioned the permanent diaconate to me a few months ago, and I have been considering and praying for guidance as to whether God might yet have other ways for me to use my life for his greater glory.

Best wishes

Martin

P.S. If you want to discuss anything out of the public eye feel free to PM me, but as I said at the beginning, there are far more learned and experienced people than myself who may be able to help.

Hmm… this is a hard thing to help someone with. I can empathize a bit with how you are feeling. It’s never fun not to be sure when it comes to things like this. I know you think you aren’t getting any answers from Jesus, but maybe you are. That spiritual high, the joy you feel when you think about becoming a priest, the memories of many people saying you would make a good priest, etc. I know you said you are afraid, but I think this is perfectly normal for everyone trying to discern the path that they should take in life. I think you were right when you said you don’t have enough faith in yourself. By reading what you have posted, it sounds like you would make a great priest. I will pray for you, that someday soon or in the future you will feel sure of what Jesus is calling you to do. I will also pray that in the meantime, you will be able to find a job that makes you truly happy. May God give you peace… :slight_smile:

I want to thank each of you for your replies.

I was in a relationship with a girl for four years. We never lived together, never had relations of any kind, but it just didn’t work out. She wasn’t religious and didn’t really hold the same values as I did and I’m not really sure why it lasted as long as it did, other then the fact that we got along well and were good friends. Towards the end, I was actually praying to God to help me to end it because I was so worried about pleasing her and not hurting her, I didn’t see that it was hurting myself. I know that I learned a lot through those four years, and I think it’s made me a stronger person. Also, she did help me to become more confident in myself and to value myself more. I wasn’t heart broken or anything when the relationship ended I was actually more relieved then anything.

My mother, as I stated in my novel up above, is the one that’s always brought my brother, sister and I to Church every Sunday. My dad, while a great guy and wonderful role model, goes only on holidays. Another thing that’s kind of geared me towards becoming a priest is to help them out as well. While my mom and sibling’s haven’t lost their faith, they’ve lost their motivation to go to Church. Not to bring up politics but with the Catholic Church in the news, I think that might have had some to do with it. It’s not that they don’t want to go, it’s that they’re of the opinion it’s not important to go. I try to explain to them, Jesus gives us the most precious gift of His sacrifice every Mass where we relive it, but they just don’t have the motivation to wake up early or take that one hour of the week out. It makes me sad and sometimes I feel that if I became a priest, that would also help them to go back to Church and maybe help my Dad to go too. I’m by all means not telling anyone that if they don’t go to Church they’re a bad person, it’s just, it’s always been part of my family and until recently, it still was and I wish it could be again…

Sorry if it’s against the rules to make a double post or anything, but wanted to update a little more. Since my last posting, I’ve been praying and spending more quiet time by myself at home when not at work, just reflecting on myself and things, reading some Scripture. I still don’t know what I’m meant to do with my life yet but I’ve contacted the priest that was assigned to me as an adviser hoping to meet with him and talk some more. I know the vocations director who I’ve met with before was recently assigned a parish since he’s a senior priest and they needed some assistance, so I’m sure he’s extremely busy. The priest that’s my adviser is semi-retired with my own parish priest as the administrator of that parish. So I’m hoping to hear back from him and possibly meet with him to talk about things. Thanks again for all of your help and responses.

Hm… you have a very interesting life! :smiley:

I think your soul is really excited to learn more about God and what he has in store for you. The retreats, the priest, people telling you that you would make a good priest… it all seems to be reaching the tipping point, doesn’t it? Honestly, I don’t think you will know until you try it. Visit abbeys, visit the seminary. Do what you need to do and when you finally end up the right place, I’m sure God will let you know.

I’m currently in the same exactly situation as you are. I’m determining whether I should go in the direction of a religious life as well, and I swear, it’s probably one of the more confusing times in my life. But my excitement to go on a vocation discernment retreat, my willingness to go see Jesus everyday… these are great signs that one is being called to something special. And it’s definitely okay to be afraid. This is your life we’re talking about!

And I know the process to become a priest is not at all easy, so you have plenty of time of discernment to work up until that point.

I know I don’t know you, but you are definitely attracted to everything a priest does… the mass, prayer, confession, teaching others about God. Don’t give up hope, you’re definitely in the right place! Good luck! :thumbsup:

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