Unexpected love when discerning priesthood

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.

Those discerning the priesthood need to have a spiritual director who can guide them through these things.

There is more to marriage than mutual attraction. You are committing to a shared life and household, and committing to put the needs of your spouse and children above your own.

In order to discern if this relationship is a viable vocation, you must first examine your circumstances. Are you currently gainfully employed? If you married in 6 months, and became pregnant, could you support the child? If the answer for one or both of you is no, then you are not ready for marriage.

There is a two pronged approach I would recommend. The first is to schedule an appointment with your diocese’s vocations director. He will be better equipped to advice you, and would not hesitate to recommend marriage if he felt that were best for you.

I, for one, struggled mightily with lustful thoughts, especially, when I was younger. I am also extremely devout, and more than passingly considered the priesthood. However, after confessing the lustful thoughts, repeatedly, my priest recommended that these sexual feelings are a call to marriage and fatherhood.

This blew my mind! That God did not give us sexual feelings to condemn us to hell, but to call us to a life of holiness through marriage! It changed my outlook on my faith dramatically, at a moment that I was loosing hope. If you are not struggling with sexual temptation, then it is possible that the priesthood is for you…

However, and this is the second prong, I would recommend getting a complete health examination, and possibly counseling, to rule out depression or another condition. Such conditions might contribute to your feelings of inadequacy for any role that you have described. These conditions could also make marriage, holy orders, or any commitment unbearable, and the church does not ask you make these commitments while struggling.

I thus urge you to speak with your vocations director or an another priest, even informally to start, and to speak to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to pursue either marriage or the priesthood. You are in my prayers.

I agree with seeing a Spiritual Director in your diocese. One has to discern God’s will for our lives - and take the time to do so (entering seminary would be a way). There are many who are being called to a vocation but can not discern God’s will for a variety of reasons.

I have no doubt, that you could find a woman to marry and have a very happy and rewarding life. The question really is one of calling. Is this what God is calling you to do? And what is the path to discern this calling?

In my prayers for sure. Especially at adoration is tomorrow night.

PnP

Dude, I’m in a very similar situation. And I can tell you this, if you are attracted to the priesthood and feel called into it, a marriage will never satisfy you. You need to go to seminary and discern out of priesthood before trying a marriage, at least so that you know that you gave God your whole self in the discernment process.

I’ve been going through the same problem in college. I came to college to discern between marriage and priesthood and the more I realized I wanted priesthood the better the woman became that came into my life. The fact is, Satan will attempt to take you away from your vocation, especially to priesthood. Even a holy Catholic marriage won’t do as much good as a vocation to priesthood and he knows that. If you’re called, he will give you everything you desire to stay away from that vocation, which is why so many young men meet “dream wives” shortly before they enter seminary.

I’m going to seminary in January, and the temptations to say no only get stronger until you finally man up and leave this world behind.

It could be possible that God is introducing this woman into your life to show you that married life is beautiful. You mentioned that you never felt any attraction to marriage before now… I think a seminary would be hesitant to accept someone who had never thought about marriage. Marriage is a natural good-we should want it! The priesthood isn’t for people who don’t want marriage, it’s for people who are called to give up one good (marriage) for a better good (the sake of the Kingdom.)

You should talk to a spiritual director. You need to ask what God is calling you to…

I’m praying for you!

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