I have been attracted to priesthood for a couple of years for now, but I am still not sure about my vocation. Firstly, I don’t know if I could actually bear the demands of the priesthood. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” would accurately describe my life, and the flesh does not mean here primarily the promise of celibacy. It is more intricate than that, and I think it would at least require a great deal of work and sacrifice before I could “be to others a model of right conduct”, and I am still not sure if I could be holy enough, as that is a much greater burden than is asked of laymen.
I had thought that I was not very interested in marriage. I could not imagine myself in married life. I had decided a while ago that I was not going to pursue marriage actively, though I still interacted with women in various situations. But now that I was going to ask if I would be accepted into a seminary, I now have a woman who I am interested in and who is interested in me. Even though I were not interested in marriage in general, I am definitely interested in marriage with this particular woman. I think it would probably be a godly marriage.
I have heard and read that this kind of thing happens not so uncommonly to men who are considering seminary or who are studying there. I wonder if it is some kind of test to weed out unserious men, or if it is a sign that I am not called to priesthood and God has use for me elsewhere, or am I supposed to show that priesthood is that important for me, a pearl of great price, that I would give up someone important and be rewarded hundredfold in heaven. Pope Pius IX claimed that marriage is never a trap; it is a great sacrament, even if someone were to select it instead of a religious vocation. But if I got married, I wonder if I felt a little sad that I would never be prostrated before the altar and be “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” It is after all a more blessed part and something I have longer for. It is written: “Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, ever singing thy praise!” Everyone lives just once, so it is the wise choice to do the greatest sacrifice in this life. But even the least part among the saints is more blessed than mortal men could ever imagine, so if I could know that God does not call me into priesthood I would be satisfied with that.
On the other hand, I would not want to disregard something God has called me for. The Christian vocations on earth have been compared to warfare. “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” St. Paul teaches. You may know a common theme in romance is that a fiance is called to war, and the lovers may or may not be united in this life. So, if someone said to me that I had a woman like her, and asked why I did not marry her and became a priest instead, I could answer that I was called to war, and “no soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits”, so I just could not marry her. I would still pray that we were united in heaven with all the saints, just like Zechariah, “when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.”
Please tell me, if you have any ideas for my situation, and prayers are appreciated.