Theology or no Theology? I'm scared


#1

So, as many of you here…I’m trying really hard to discern my vocation. I’m 23 now and I don’t yet have a college degree. Took some time off after High School, ended up enrolling in the program of Political Science and Government at 19, but that didn’t work out. Wasn’t my thing. Switched to Philosphy for a semester, but that wasn’t it, either. So at 22, I dropped out (last December).

I decided to take a year to figure out what I want, but all this time I’ve been working (yoga instructor and studio administrator). My job (the administration bit) is really suffocating me…something’s really off there, my boss is a really tough person to deal with, and I’m just getting a tiny bit tired of having to deal with people with such different faith to my own. I’ve worked there for over a year, and I have finally decided to quit. I’m talking to my boss this Tuesday.

I’m worried because I need the money. I need to save both for school (on the occassion I go back) and to travel (in a long distance relationship - my boyfriend lives in the States and will be off to grad school for a Masters of Divinity program in Notre Dame). By quitting my job I’m also giving in to the possibility of not seeing him in a long time and of not having enough money for school. Somehow I feel that uncertainty is what I have to give in to. I feel God’s asking me to trust Him and go for it.

I’m trying to figure out if He’s asking me to go for…Theology, as well. I’ve been thinking for quite a few months now, if that’s what I’m called to do. I’m a Catholic convert, I was an atheist for 7 years (was a non-practicing Catholic before that) and came back to Church roughly a year ago. It’s wonderful. Finding God, finally feeling His presence was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. Never in my life have I felt happier.

But I have a lot of doubts regarding this…I am very scared. As you can see, I have a habit of starting something, realizing it’s not my thing, and quitting. I was just having a conversation with my mom and she told me that that’s my pattern and that that’s what I’ll end up doing. She’s not a practicing Catholic and is very much against the Church in many ways. She doesn’t understand my experience of God, and it breaks my heart that I can’t share this with her. But at the same time, it scares me…what if she’s right? What if I quit this too?

All my life all I have known for certain is that I have a very strong calling to serve. When I was very little I wanted to become a nun and go work with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Then I also wanted to become a priest and was very upset when I realized I couldn’t because I was a girl. As I grew older, I became very analytical and logical, which is what made me question God’s existance. But now I’m back, and I’m back “full force”…I want to know everything about Him, I want to really immerse myself in the study of God, in Christology, in learning everything about Jesus Christ. He’s been my role model my whole life, even through those years of atheism (yeah, I was a weird “atheist”)…I feel I want to do this. But I have so, so many doubts. I don’t know if my doubts are coming from everyone else questioning my motives, or if theyre coming from myself.

If I study Theology, I would like to then get a Masters in Humanitarian Aid. I really like how those two can compliment each other…my parish priest, who has become a good friend of mine, told me that he sees me working in social work. I agree, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed, and it’s always a very profound experience for me.

It’s so hard for me to understand this…I want to say: ‘I feel this is what I want to do’, but I also want to say ‘I think this is what I want to do…?’ I don’t know if this doubt are actual warning signs, or if it’s just my mind making me unable to see clearly because of all the fear that’s there.

Any advice? Have any of you experienced this? Is there anyone out there that’s a Theology major that would have a few things to say? I still have some months to make up my mind regarding Theology…but, gosh, it’s so tough.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. And, please, send some prayers my way. I’m very much in need of those :frowning: Thanks so much in advance, and God bless.


#2

If you want to do social work go for a degree in social work. There are not many jobs out there for people with degrees in theology except a DRE, teacher, pastoral associate, youth minister, and the pay isn’t great so it will be hard to pay off student loans. I know I have 2 MAs in Theology and a D.Min, but I also have a husband with a good job plus a pension.

I would suggest taking some theology courses before you decide to major in it. Does your diocese offer adult education courses? You can start with these and see if you like it and can handle it. That is how I started. Once I realized that I loved studying theology, and could handle the research, then I enrolled in the MA program in our seminary and eventually got a second MA degree at Notre Dame. (you boyfriend will love it). Studying theology can be difficult as you will need philosophy classes as well.

Theology is also not very “practical.” Most theology courses are kind of “heavy” in that they deal with concepts that don’t “translate” very easily into everyday language and understanding. Try googling Karl Rahner, Schillebeeckx, or even Ratzinger’s early theological works (not his writings as Pope) to get an idea of the kind of stuff you will be reading. Read the documents of Vatican II. If you find these things wonderful reading and things that get you excited about learning more, then maybe theology is for you.


#3

Maybe read a few of the great works of the church; they're a lot like what you'll probably read in class (note: this is a guess as the teen part of my screen name would imply)


#4

Well, I studied theology. It can potentially deepen your spiritual life and make you a better apologist for the faith–but it can just as easily have the opposite effect. That depends a great deal on your spiritual foundation, which is not something the university curriculum will address.

I would say that studying theology, if you do not have a religious vocation, is something that will enrich your life, but it will not make the question of what you should *do *with your life any easier: you will still have the same questions to answer after your degree as you do now. You could easily end up giving yoga classes again, with only ‘intangible benefits’ to show for having done your degree.

That said, a university degree, no matter what the subject, can open doors to jobs you might not have been able to get otherwise. But that’s a conditional statement: there are no guarantees. You also need to weigh the costs, if you do not have a scholarship. Thanks to the internet, patristic and scholastic theology can be studied in great detail for no cost at all, simply by consulting the available material online.

The above is just my thinking about what a theology degree will or will not get you, since that’s what you asked for. As to the question of what you should do, my only advice is to pray, pray, pray. And listen. Listen to what God wants you to do with your life, no matter how unexpected or difficult the answer may seem.


#5

Thanks for your replies :) I see that a lot of the replies addressed the issue of financial stuff regarding how to pay for studies and all. Well, the cool thing about Peru is that studying here is nowhere near as expensive as the States, so we never really have the whole student loan issue after we're done with our degrees.

To be honest I'm not so worried about what to DO with my (hypothetical) degree in Theology. If anything, I know this program is probably the one that has to do the most with just trusting God's will and just taking things as they come, relying on your faith to know that it will all work out. I've always had a feeling that I should get involved in social work, but that's not what I KNOW I want to do...all I feel is a calling to serve, and I haven't yet been able to interpret how I must respond to it. The idea of studying Theology seems incredibly attractive to me because I want more than what I've experienced this far...I want, not just a spiritual approach to God, but a more intellectual one, too. I want to really immerse myself in the teachings of Jesus Christ...I thirst for that knowledge!

Having said that, I still have the second half of this year to figure things out. Today I quit my job, and the sense of relief is wonderful. My boss is a great man, and he talked to me for 2 hours, giving me a lot of pointers and just encouragement to go out there and give in to whatever the future may hold for me.

As for yoga, I never intend to stop teaching :) It's always been a wonderful way for me to just put myself in the hands of God and allowing Him to use me as a tool to get through to my students. But I've always felt yoga is something secondary in my life. I don't want it to be the priority...I feel, I know God has something else in store for me. We'll see what happens in the next 6 months :)

Thanks again!! And I will check out the authors that Joannm suggested. Great way to get started and see if this is the direction that I'm supposed to take. One way or the other, I know that it'll be ok, and that I'm walking down the path God intends me to walk down (Yup, I can definitely sense a lot more peace in my heart after quitting my job!)

Thank you all and God bless!


#6

*............All my life all I have known for certain is that I have a very strong calling to serve. When I was very little I wanted to become a nun and go work with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.........
*

Hello,

I feel you should follow your heart and at least check out this calling to serve. God works in mysterious ways and these feelings you may be experiencing could be God asking you to live your life like Mother Teresa.

My father always thought he had a calling to the priesthood all through his teen years and into his 20's. He spent three years in the Seminary and one night he had this overwhelming feeling that this was not his calling. He prayed to God that night and asked him to guide his heart since he has always been convinced this was his calling. The following day, he was convinced without a shadow of doubt that his calling was to be a Dad.

My point in telling you is, if he had never entered the Seminary and given his calling to God, he may never have truly known what his true vocation was supposed to be.

I will pray for you and you vocation (whatever God has in mind for you).

May God Bless you today and always!


#7

Do you get paid for teaching yoga, or is it a volunteer situation?


#8

Hey Leap of Faith :) That's a really cool story about your dad! But I'm not sure...in my case is weird because while I feel that really strong calling to serve, I definitely feel a very strong calling to married life. My boyfriend and I have talked about it, and it's definitely on his mind too (though, in any case, not for another couple of years, until he's done with his Masters). But yeah, I've always dreamt of being a mom...so I'm not sure I should do the same your dad did! :p However, this is something my boyfriend suggested, actually - he said that, at some point, I should go over to Calcutta and volunteer with the Sisters of Charity for a while (though he clearly stated he wasn't suggesting I should become a nun, hehe). I think I might...being a full-time volunteer for a while is most certainly on my before-I-get-married to-do list. And, like I said, it's actually something I wanted to do even as a little kid. But, I don't know, I feel like I'd like to do that for a while after I'm done studying. And right now I don't even know *if/what *I should study!! ...yeah, it's a mess dealing with my mind. Drives me crazy at times!

As for Ahimsa's question - nope, I get paid for it. I definitely make a LOT less just teaching (quit my job as the studio administrator yesterday), but it's the one job I have now (and, thank God, actually enjoy!) and it's pretty much how I'm gonna manage to save some money for school. I better start teaching a lot in the next few months, hm.. (PS Cool screename :) )

Thank you all for your prayers! Though I feel a lot calmer after quitting my job (it was making me SO unhappy..), I certainly feel tough times are ahead. Oh, the wonders of discerning one's vocation..

Blessings to all!


#9

I think you should consider getting a degree in Social work; and take Theology courses as electives. Basicaly this gives you the best of both worlds. Good luck and pray; God will never lead you wrong if you just listen to your heart. :thumbsup:


#10

Lauralh4, some people know exactly what they want to do, others need to grope around a bit more. I think that's okay. You seem torn between many things and it seems to me it would be prudent to see where you're interests really are.

Begin by volunteering--help at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. If there's a religious order that serves the community, see about volunteering there. As for the course of study, look for inexpensive ways to wet your whistle, so to speak. If you have iTunes, you can find "courses" for around $50 USD that would be self study. I'm sure there are lots of other free or inexpensive things like that on the internet.

Talk to social workers, and by all means, check out Mother Teresa's order. You may not have to go all the way to Calcutta--they're all over the world now, and may be in your own back yard.

Call a social worker and ask her if you can ask him/her some questions about his/her job, maybe even shadow him/her for a day. In other words, take some practical steps to "try out" different things.

Follow these three steps: Pray. Act. Repeat. God will lead you.:)


#11

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