Thinking about religious life upsets me?


#1

I can’t shake off my anxiety about my vocation. I’m 21, and I’m dating a wonderful Catholic young man with whom I was friends for several years before dating. I feel that we bring each other closer to Christ and we have a good relationship. I could definitely see myself marrying him someday if I am called to marriage. The problem is, I am hesitant to give my all to this relationship and truly discern marriage because I am afraid God is calling me to be a sister. I don’t feel particularly called or drawn to that life, but I have always been worried that God would call me. In some ways, I wish that I wanted religious life, because I feel like we should all want that because it is better. But I desire marriage so much, and I want to have a large happy family with lots of kids for me to homeschool. But I can’t get the fear out of my head that maybe that’s not what God wants. I feel as though I’m always trying to figure out or decipher God’s will. Anything in my life that seems like it would make me a good fit for consecrated life, I freak out about. And I am always searching for reasons why I would be better at marriage than religious life. Any mention of nuns upsets me, and if I see a consecrated person out and about, like at the grocery store for example, I feel simultaneously drawn to talk to them (I really do love nuns!), but then I worry that feeling drawn to them means I have a vocation to consecrated life. I am really scared of ruining my relationship with my boyfriend over this, but I am so afraid that I’m doing something wrong in discerning marriage with him. Am I crazy? Has anyone else experienced anything like this? I know I need to look for a spiritual director, but due to traveling nonstop for work for the next couple months, it really isn’t possible until the fall.


#2

religious need the support of the laity, and for married couples to appreciate the religious life in case one of the children has a vocation.

since youre traveling, i wouldnt worry about it until you can settle down some. read about the religious life as you travel, and see if anything attracts you.

dont go out with anyone you wouldnt consider marrying, anyway. the church needs good solid homeschooled faithful.

blessings,
cloisters


#3

Thanks Cloisters! You’re probably right, there’s nothing I can do right now so it’s probably not worth the worry :slight_smile:

I’ve read a bit about religious life in the past, and have been somewhat attracted to it at times. A couple times I even decided I wanted be a sister and was at peace with that, but that kind of went away after a couple days. Not sure why, maybe i was just trying to get rid of my anxiety? Overall, my desire for marriage is stronger. In some ways that upsets me because it is a lesser calling, but I suppose if that’s what God is calling me to, it is for His purposes! As St. Therese said, some of us have to be the blades of grass :smiley:


#4

I think you would benefit from some spiritual direction. Your reaction seems to me more out of guilt and worry than a true calling to religious life. Please try to find someone to speak with on this issue. But maybe the first step would be to relax, you don’t have to convince God that you’re not suited to a religious vocation, He knows if He’s calling you, or not!

:wink:


#5

You’re not crazy. :slight_smile: Finding a spiritual director for the fall is a good idea. Another possibility is to go on a “Come and See” retreat with an order you like. Here’s a recent listing.

religiouslife.com/women_retreats.html

It would give you a chance to meet other women who are discerning, talk with a vocation director, and explore whether you have a call.


#6

:thumbsup:

Love that quote!!! Where did she say that? Is it from her autobiography?


#7

You certainly aren’t crazy. I believe this happens to many people and it’s currently happening to me right now. I would rather have my heart be 100% into being a priest than not. If it’s not than I won’t be able to be the priest that I should be. Could just be my human logic talking. Pray about it and be patient.


#8

It is wise and good to be aware of the fact that God has a vocation, a special calling for each of us. It is a suggestion, not a mandatory road. If you don’t pick it, you won’t have to face the wrath of God, nor will you have disappointed the Lord.

Discernment is very necessary, and requires the help of the Church. Saint Bernard once wrote: “He who constitutes himself his own director, becomes the disciple of a fool”. And I know this is true: for I have been the disciple of one such fool for a very long time. :o Spiritual direction is something essential, especially under time of distress. If this is not an option, then just talk to a local priest! He will be glad to provide some help.

I exhort you to read this booklet in the meanwhile, which will bring some relief, or at least a greater understanding of what you are going through.

  1. “I am afraid.” Fear always comes from the spirit against Christ (collective name for the actions of the world, the flesh, and the father of lies). God does not scare someone away from something, nor does God scare someone into his vocation. Christ always says: do not be afraid! The first thing the Archangel tells the Blessed Virgin before revealing God’s vocation for her: “Do not be afraid!”. You must cease being afraid if you want to discern your vocation, for fear is ultimately rooted in distrust in God.

  2. “I am afraid / I am worried that God is calling me to be a religious”. You are afraid of or worried about a (possible) suggestion from the All Holy. Hmm.
    "There are three different levels of vocations.

  • First, the universal vocation: to know, love, and serve God in this life so that you can know, love, and serve him eternally in the next life.
  • Second, our individual primary vocation, of which there are three kinds: Holy Matrimony, religious/consecrated life (priesthood, religious life), and generous single life.
  • Third, our secondary vocation, how we use our gifts and talents in service of God and others while living out your universal and primary vocations."

It is essential to realize that our primary vocation is a recommendation, a *suggestion *from God who is of infinite wisdom and who wills the best for us. It is meant to maximize our happiness and peace. I’ve met a few people who after living a wonderful life, either generous single life or married, have told me with some latent regret: “yet, I feel I should have become a priest”. Yet they had a wonderful life! So you should not be afraid of God’s calling! Rather, be glad that He has a special path in mind for you, and realize He is not commanding you to follow it…so He will mention it gently, quietly…and you will have to find a place of peace in your heart and time to be there, and silence the voices of the spirit against Christ evoking anxiety and fear…then you will reply like Samuel: “Here I am, Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening.” But remember…you need your Eli to help you with spiritual direction…

  1. “I feel / I don’t feel / I wish / I desire / I want”. What do these expressions have in common? They are “I-centered”, not Christ-centered. Vocation is not about you, but about Christ. Feelings are never the measure for anything (it’s not about “feeling in love”, it’s about “being in love”), and second, it’s not about what you wish, desire, or want…but about what Christ wishes or wants for you: “not what I want, but what you want” was the Lord’s reply to the Father, and Our Lady’s reply was not much different: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Your word.” You must start to reject this other “voice”, the voice of self, in order to focus on Him who is graciously directing you towards true happiness - be it in Holy Matrimony, in consecrated life, or in generous single life, we don’t know that yet.

That’s about as much as I can say :slight_smile: You definitely want to be at peace, reject all feelings of fear and anxiety (s. John of the Cross would say “reject all feelings” :p) and talk to your best friends, the priests of Jesus Christ, the instruments of the Lord in helping us discern how can we be most pleasing to the Lord and do the most good in this life.

True happiness is in holiness, and holiness is in service”. You cannot attain either if you are centered on yourself - the love of Christ is unconditional, it wishes to serve rather than be served, it is more glad in giving than in receiving. Such is what our vocation fulfills :slight_smile:

I remember I used to run years ago, before my Christian initiation…I learned that in a 200m or 400m there was a moment in which I just couldn’t breathe anymore…I just could not keep running…and the key was to hold my breath, close my eyes and run…run as to win the race…and I realize now what that ultimately means: for that last, winning sprint, we must truly forget self.


#9

I never understand why people who have a clear desire for a type of life that would be fulfilling to them and in harmony with the highest Christian principles, think that maybe what they want is different form what God wants. *Who do you think put the desire into your heart? *

Being a religious is not “better” than being a wife and mom. Being happy in your life’s work is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. You’ll have plenty of challenges in whatever life you choose.

If God is calling you, you’ll want that thing. And you already know what that is. It;s okay. You get to be happy. God loves you, you know.


#10

Very well said!! :slight_smile: While it is a more “perfect” life, it is not better - the best life is the one God wants for each of us, be it a wife, a mom, or a generous single man or woman.


#11

I guess the problem I have there is that I don’t know how to figure out what Christ wants. I think I’d be able to become a sister if I knew that’s what God wanted, because I know it would make me happy. But I guess I figure that God will give me the desire to be a sister if that’s what He wants. At the same time, isn’t there something in the Bible about “let he who can accept this accept it”? Which, wouldn’t that mean that because I feel able to live that life I should do it because its objectively better? I just go around in circles! :shrug:


#12

It sounds like you are called to marriage. God puts the desire in our hearts for our vocation. If you have a strong desire for marriage and you don’t want to be a nun, you are most likely called to marriage. People who are called to the religious life desire the religious life, and it doesn’t scare them. I think you are over-analyzing.


#13

and what if god (cant capitalize or punctuate for some reason) wants her to learn something by investigating religious life?

start locally first. will there be any convents along the way in the course of your travels?

here are two websites. to which one are you attracted?

cloisteredlife.com/

nashvilledominican.org/

and when life settles down, please do seek out an sd.

blessings,
cloisters


#14

Please get a spiritual director, I think you may have a case of scruples.


#15

I wouldn’t call it a problem :slight_smile: Indeed we both agree on something: discerning one’s vocation is no doubt an inner struggle.

Such a process requires two important things. First, to approach Christ - we cannot discern God’s will for us if we are not first trying to grow closer to Christ, through prayer and the Sacraments. Second, the Church needs to be involved. Surely there is a need for us to dedicate time to the Lord, quiet time solely to meditate on discernment of our vocation…we need a more regular prayer life, not like the schedule proper for a religious, but a simple one that fits our state of life, say a few minutes in the morning and right before bed, a half hour or an hour once a week before the Blessed Sacrament or a tabernacle, a decade of the Rosary every day…this is how we dispose ourselves to trust in Christ, how we open ourselves to God’s will…we must draw away from the world in order to hear the voice of God…not run away from the world - God forbid - but rather be “in the world but not of the world”.

Once we start walking that way, we will be more recollected…only then can we discern what is God telling us…what desires He is giving us…whether your feelings are good feelings in accordance with the spirit of Christ or whether there is some degree of disorder (and there certainly is in all of us, that’s the key issue). At this point is when you come to realize that you cannot figure things out on your own…many good modern resources on vocation will mention the transition between the anonymous discernment online and the personal discernment in which the Church is involved. This is the stage in which you talk to a priest for spiritual direction, because you need a guide who will have the charism of understanding your soul and suggesting steps that will quiet down the “other” voices and allow God’s voice to resound clearly…

Mind you, this is much needed particularly if your vocation is Holy Matrimony. Marriage is not a right. It is a vocation, just like religious life. It must be discerned. Few realize this. And Christ will always confirm His vocation through the Church.

Thus the necessary step is to grow in trust of Christ by an even more committed prayer life, and to talk to a priest about spiritual direction - even if it be for just a few sessions and then you have to move to another place.

Now you mention you “feel able to live religious life”. A priori, I disagree with such a statement: I think you mean you are willing to live that life. To say “we feel we are able” is to bring up an issue of pride :wink: “We are unprofitable servants”, and all good we accomplish, be it in single, married, or religious life is through Him who gives us strength. Have you ever visited a monastery for a retreat? Have you ever tried a period of novitiate? How do you know that you can live the religious life, especially given that every order has a special charism? The life of a Daughter of St. Paul is different from that of a cloistered Discalded Carmelite, which is different from that of a Missionary of Charity (just to mention three drops in an ocean of love). I do agree: it is already a wonderful thing - of which you ought to be grateful - that you are willing to serve the Lord in the most perfect life, the consecrated life. But this most perfect life is not necessarily the best life - as someone already mentioned. The best life is the one that matches your vocation.

So the approach to discernment must become a peaceful, joyful approach…“the Lord has graciously thought about something that will make me really happy and allow me to save many souls…I think it would be so great to find out what that is!” No place for fear or anxiety here :wink:

It is not like the silver coin that we lost and must absolutely find…it is more like the balm poured over the feet of the Master…a gift of love and kindness…we can strive for sanctity and for the salvation of souls in countless ways…but to find the best way, we must look for it with trust, peace, and sheer love! One of the apostles mentioned that perhaps more good would have been done if that balm had been sold and the money used on behalf of the poor…and that isn’t an erroneous thought…we are that balm, and we can do lots of good things in many different ways…but Christ blessed the woman who was called, of all ways, to simply pour it on His feet out of love…that is our vocation! Whether it be married life, religious life, single life…whether it be to have a numerous family in prosperity or to be a missionary amidst extreme poverty…it is the desire to pour the balm of our love on the Lord just because He is…

Christ once recalled His own vocation in a private revelation to Sr. Josefa Menendez:

During thirty years I knew the hard toil of an obscure workshop, bearing the contempt and indifference of those for whom My father St. Joseph worked. Nor did I disdain to help My Mother in the humble and hidden occupations of her poor household. Had I not more knowledge than was needed for the humble trade of a carpenter, I who at twelve years of age taught the Doctors in the Temple? But such was my Father’s will and consequently it was in this way that I gave Him glory. When I swept and laboured in the workshop of Nazareth, I gave as much glory to My Father as when I preached during My public life.

Your happiness and perfection do not lie in following your attraction, nor in living known or unknown to the world, in using or hiding the talents with which you have been endowed, in being though much of or little…in having good health or not…but only and solely in embracing with love God’s will, and being in perfect conformity with it in all it requires of you for His glory and your holiness.

I so much want souls to understand this! It is not the action in itself that is of value; it is the intention with which it is done.


#16

And nine times out of ten, the religious with whom she visits will see that she has a happy relationship with a man and desires holy matrimony, and will then refer her back to her boyfriend. Doesn’t hurt to go on retreat.

blessings,
cloisters


#17

Third order?

blessings,
cloisters


#18

Hey sis :slight_smile: My name is Chris. I’m a convert to Catholicism and you sound like me. I used to do the same thing until I started realizing I had a severe anxiety disorder. I’m not saying you have that as well, you don’t have to have OCD or depression to over think stuff and question your own motives. The fact that you are examining the idea so closely shows that you are a person of good spirit and you worry that your intentions are selfish, that is a good sign.

I don’t know how this situation works for you, all I can do is tell you mine: If you’re raising children it’s good to discipline them and tell them the importance of always attending mass, being chaste, etc. But for me, I’m from such a messed up dysfunctional family that I had to relearn everything I knew not just about the faith but about life. Growing up, my fundamentalist Christian parents made me feel so awful about everything I did, ESPECIALLY sexuality that when coupled with my anxious over analyzing it just had me always feeling guilty and second guessing everything. I had to let go of the notion of going to Mass every week and learn how to just get out of bed on time and do something productive for the day. Most people don’t experience what I’ve experienced, I come from a very dysfunctional, disordered and genetically flawed family lineage. Point being that, although you have to discern sinful desire from honest desire, I have had to unlearn the guilt thing and learn to trust that God knew what He was doing when he gave me the desires I have. When I first became Catholic, before I started counseling and medication, vitamins, etc, I worried all the time about being a priest and weather I could quell my sexual AND emotional drive (I’m a songwriter and a very emotionally sensetive person, I cry during movies LOL!) enough to live the life of a priest. Now that I’m centered and I’m getting my thoughts in order and FINALLY looking to start attending Mass again, I don’t worry about it. I like the female species, I love children, I have a heavy heart for Asia, I love Martial Arts and I am working on my own Martial Arts program, as I learn the arts my self, that can be used to teach spiritual lessons on peace and meditation, the Scriptures, etc, and I’m a songwriter and I’m building my own record label. Nothing I enjoy falls within the duties of the Priesthood, for the most part. Also, when I was younger I was a Bible study leader (protestant) and I found that you can have an effect on the people around you the Church and religious leaders can’t have because you’re more approachable, people don’t put on the “Godly” for you when you’re just a friend, a mother, or a co-worker. People who live the religious life ARE IMPORTANT. But it’s us outside of the Church that nudge our friends and family toward the Church to begin with. We’re important too.

I don’t know if this helps, or if it’s even relevant to what you’re trying to describe, but I trust that God put the desire you have in your heart for a reason. God is kind of like MI6, He’s gott have people EVERYWHERE so we can keep the Kingdom growing :slight_smile:

Be at peace and keep heart. Be faithful and seek wisdom and you’ll do the right thing, I just know it.

Peace Be With You :slight_smile:


#19

Hey sis :slight_smile: My name is Chris. I’m a convert to Catholicism and you sound like me. I used to do the same thing until I started realizing I had a severe anxiety disorder. I’m not saying you have that as well, you don’t have to have OCD or depression to over think stuff and question your own motives. The fact that you are examining the idea so closely shows that you are a person of good spirit and you worry that your intentions are selfish, that is a good sign.

I don’t know how this situation works for you, all I can do is tell you mine: If you’re raising children it’s good to discipline them and tell them the importance of always attending mass, being chaste, etc. But for me, I’m from such a messed up dysfunctional family that I had to relearn everything I knew not just about the faith but about life. Growing up, my fundamentalist Christian parents made me feel so awful about everything I did, ESPECIALLY sexuality that when coupled with my anxious over analyzing it just had me always feeling guilty and second guessing everything. I had to let go of the notion of going to Mass every week and learn how to just get out of bed on time and do something productive for the day. Most people don’t experience what I’ve experienced, I come from a very dysfunctional, disordered and genetically flawed family lineage. Point being that, although you have to discern sinful desire from honest desire, I have had to unlearn the guilt thing and learn to trust that God knew what He was doing when he gave me the desires I have. When I first became Catholic, before I started counseling and medication, vitamins, etc, I worried all the time about being a priest and weather I could quell my sexual AND emotional drive (I’m a songwriter and a very emotionally sensetive person, I cry during movies LOL!) enough to live the life of a priest. Now that I’m centered and I’m getting my thoughts in order and FINALLY looking to start attending Mass again, I don’t worry about it. I like the female species, I love children, I have a heavy heart for Asia, I love Martial Arts and I am working on my own Martial Arts program, as I learn the arts my self, that can be used to teach spiritual lessons on peace and meditation, the Scriptures, etc, and I’m a songwriter and I’m building my own record label. Nothing I enjoy falls within the duties of the Priesthood, for the most part. Also, when I was younger I was a Bible study leader (protestant) and I found that you can have an effect on the people around you the Church and religious leaders can’t have because you’re more approachable, people don’t put on the “Godly” for you when you’re just a friend, a mother, or a co-worker. People who live the religious life ARE IMPORTANT. But it’s us outside of the Church that nudge our friends and family toward the Church to begin with. We’re important too.

I don’t know if this helps, or if it’s even relevant to what you’re trying to describe, but I trust that God put the desire you have in your heart for a reason. God is kind of like MI6, He’s gott have people EVERYWHERE so we can keep the Kingdom growing :slight_smile:

Be at peace and keep heart. Be faithful and seek wisdom and you’ll do the right thing, I just know it.

Peace Be With You :slight_smile:


#20

You need to study this issue person to person with a spiritual director.

You need to recognize that when this topic comes up, it’s likely to polarize people into (a) those who overtly or quietly want to urge you to become a sister, and (b) those who think it’s all a foolish waste of a life.

So I’d advise you set aside casual discussions. You need to pray, to think and feel deeply on the matter, and most of all, talk to a spiritual director.

It might be useful to talk with members of religious communities. . . you likely already have a notion of what married life is like. (It’s interesting to me that many sons of lawyers become lawyers themselves; doctors whose dads were doctors—this is because they are already acclimated to the profession: in your situation, you didn’t grow up with your mother as your sister! So get to know some nuns and sisters).

Important to keep on to the facts and realities of both religious and married life. Being married, sometimes the religious life can look awfully appealing, the old “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” phenomenon, which likely happens in both directions.


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