Vocation er... problems (Warning LONG!)


#1

OK… so here are our problems…

***Very Basic Background: ***For sometime, I have been feeling a strong call to the priesthood (not necessarily religious or diocesean… just being a priest in general). I am currently in spiritual direction with my priest as my director to help me in discerning.

***Question 1: ***At my last session, the said priest suggested that I get my parents involved actively in my discernment process… So, I sat down with them and went about carefully explaining the feelings I was having. There is a catch though, neither of my parents are extremely Catholic people (my dad is deeply religious… but not really devoutly Catholic in all definitions of the word) and my mom is protestant. They are not opposed to my possible ordination someday, but they feel I should not be occupying myself with serious discernment right now. They say that any serious decisions should be put off until after college. They also say that they would be totally opposed to me going to a college seminary for my College I - IV and are a little nervous about me majoring in philosophy if I were to go to a normal school.

Their advice is not bad per say… I know they are just trying to keep my options open so if I discern out I can go somewhere from there. Its just I don’t think they understand how strongly I do feel called… I have tried discussing it with them, but for one thing trying to explain a vocation is close to impossible, and for another they are not totally excited about discussing these kinds of things… WHAT TO DO???

***Question 2: ***Now for something a little more spiritual… S, as I said I am feeling called to the priesthood… not sure what kind of priesthood. So, I have been looking around at the different options open, diocesean and religious… My spiritual director has suggested that I look into the religious orders given what he has observed in previous sessions. So far I have gotten quite excited with the Benedictines (Mt. Angel Abbey, OR to be exact). They have beautiful spirituality and an amazing way of life that I will always admire. The problems we have with Benedictines are the totallity of the isolation… When I look at what I feel I want to be as a priest, I want to be the kind of person who is a spiritual father to the people, the one who lives among his flock and gives the guidance and sacramental peace that priests have given me throughout my short lifetime. This seems to manifest itself in the diocesean priesthood. Also, I feel like I can’t bring myself to give up all that I was before monastic life… my family, my friends… Yet, I am in wanting for that deep and beautiful liturgy and spirituality that the Benedictines offer. I am also a big supporter and admirer of Tridentine liturgy. I have looked at FSSP but they don’t seem to be right for some reason… Other orders I have interest in are Norbertines and Trappists.

So, your advice on this? I will be meeting with my spiritual advisor sometime in the next week or so and it would be interesting to bring to him some of your ideas for discussion…

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:


#2

A). Most major seminaries require only 2 years of philosophy, so you can major in something else, such as biology or pre med and minor in philosophy.

B). Keep praying until you discover your spirituality. If you go to a solid catholic college (or at least a secular college with a good chaplaincy) this should come with the help of a spiritual director. You can decide on which order or diocese God is calling you to from this.


#3

[quote="gtwolcott, post:1, topic:222401"]
**Question 2: **Now for something a little more spiritual... S, as I said I am feeling called to the priesthood... not sure what kind of priesthood. So, I have been looking around at the different options open, diocesean and religious... My spiritual director has suggested that I look into the religious orders given what he has observed in previous sessions. So far I have gotten quite excited with the Benedictines (Mt. Angel Abbey, OR to be exact). They have beautiful spirituality and an amazing way of life that I will always admire. The problems we have with Benedictines are the totallity of the isolation... When I look at what I feel I want to be as a priest, I want to be the kind of person who is a spiritual father to the people, the one who lives among his flock and gives the guidance and sacramental peace that priests have given me throughout my short lifetime. This seems to manifest itself in the diocesean priesthood. Also, I feel like I can't bring myself to give up all that I was before monastic life... my family, my friends... Yet, I am in wanting for that deep and beautiful liturgy and spirituality that the Benedictines offer. I am also a big supporter and admirer of Tridentine liturgy. I have looked at FSSP but they don't seem to be right for some reason... Other orders I have interest in are Norbertines and Trappists.

So, your advice on this? I will be meeting with my spiritual advisor sometime in the next week or so and it would be interesting to bring to him some of your ideas for discussion...

Thanks in advance! :)

[/quote]

Remember that being called to a Religious life is a completely different calling than the priesthood. If you were to enter a Religious community, you enter it to live the charism that they live. The priesthood may be a eventual second vocation, or it may not come at all (unless your looking at an order/congregation that ordains all it's members, it's no guarantee). If you want to be a Benediction (or any monastic community) then you should love the idea of being a monk first. It would be the same idea if you were thinking Franciscan, you should primarily want to be of service to the poor (that's a bit of an oversimplification though).

As jetpack_joe said above, Seminaries don't require a degree in philosophy per se, just a certain amount of credits in philosophy and theology (I can never remember what the number is). A degree in philosophy is probably the "easiest" way to fit that, but with a little creativity an planning in a degree it wouldn't be too hard to fit it in to many Arts or Science degrees, even if it takes an extra year (The chaplain here has a degree in Engineering, and another great priest I know has a degree in Mathematical Physics :whacky: ).

Remember also that it's not a race. A little extra time taken is not going to hurt you; more than likely it will only help you mature in spirituality, holiness, and understanding.


#4

Thanks for the advice.

I will clear something up with the monastic vocation here first… The idea of a monk is what attracts me first in formost… the contemplation, silence, peace, and environment is all amazing… I do however, also feel a call to the priesthood, though this may be unrelated… I do not know. It is my hope that the two vocations may become one… but, as always, may it be done to me as the Lord my God wishes, not as I wish.

I was not totally aware of academic requirements… only that philosophy majors are recommended for ordination.


#5

[quote="gtwolcott, post:4, topic:222401"]

It is my hope that the two vocations may become one... but, as always, may it be done to me as the Lord my God wishes, not as I wish.

[/quote]

It is possible for Benedictines to become pastors of churches as well, but yes, continue to pray about it.

I was not totally aware of academic requirements... only that philosophy majors are recommended for ordination.

The Program of Priestly Formation requires 30 credit-hours of philosophy (which yes, is probably a major) and 12 credit-hours of religious studies, along with latin and now (in the US) spanish highly recommended. All in all, that comes to about 50 credits; the school will probably have about 30 credit-hours of general education courses; about 120-130 credit-hours is required for graduation at most colleges. This leaves you with about 40-50 credits free, which if you play your cards right can be turned into a double-major.


#6

[quote="jetpack_joe, post:2, topic:222401"]
A). Most major seminaries require only 2 years of philosophy, so you can major in something else, such as biology or pre med and minor in philosophy.

[/quote]

The current requirement in the United States is 30 credits of philosophy (which is a major) and 12 credits of theology. Both should be done within an accredited Catholic institution.

You should talk with your spiritual director about how things went with your parents.

You must remember that with some religious institutes you join that order as a member of the order and then later might be ordained. The Benedictines would be such a group. You would join as a monk and if the superior and community then you would be sent for schooling and later ordination, but it would not be a given.

This is something you need to discuss with your spiritual director, that while you might feel a, sort of calling, to religious life that you feel a calling to the priesthood so communities that are non-clerical might not be a good choice for you to discern with.

This is also something you need to discuss with vocation directors as you enter into discernment with these communities are open to this or not.


#7

My only suggestion based on what you've written is, don't put the cart before the horse. In other words, I wouldn't get bogged down in details as if you've been offered a job, before you have time to just live with the idea and discern.

Good luck with everything and my prayers.


#8

[quote="gtwolcott, post:1, topic:222401"]
OK... so here are our problems...

**Very Basic Background: **For sometime, I have been feeling a strong call to the priesthood (not necessarily religious or diocesean... just being a priest in general). I am currently in spiritual direction with my priest as my director to help me in discerning.

**Question 1: **At my last session, the said priest suggested that I get my parents involved actively in my discernment process... So, I sat down with them and went about carefully explaining the feelings I was having. There is a catch though, neither of my parents are extremely Catholic people (my dad is deeply religious... but not really devoutly Catholic in all definitions of the word) and my mom is protestant. They are not opposed to my possible ordination someday, but they feel I should not be occupying myself with serious discernment right now. They say that any serious decisions should be put off until after college. They also say that they would be totally opposed to me going to a college seminary for my College I - IV and are a little nervous about me majoring in philosophy if I were to go to a normal school.

Their advice is not bad per say... I know they are just trying to keep my options open so if I discern out I can go somewhere from there. Its just I don't think they understand how strongly I do feel called... I have tried discussing it with them, but for one thing trying to explain a vocation is close to impossible, and for another they are not totally excited about discussing these kinds of things... WHAT TO DO???

**There are several good points that I think you could raise to disarm some of your parents' concerns.

Firstly, four years in a college seminary program is not a 'professional death sentence'. Even those college seminaries which issue the vaguer, dubious major of 'Liberal Arts studies'.

You can remind them that if you had majored in any of the Liberal Arts or Humanities--History, Philosophy, Literature, Writing, Religious Studies, Theatre, or any of the Fine Arts--you would probably be equally marketable, leaving the college seminary. Even some of the 'harder' degrees: Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, and Biology, would not necessarily give you a step up in the job market.

The only degrees that would really position you optimally for a lifelong career in-the-subject-you-receive-your-baccalaureate-in** are the professional and technical degrees: accounting (with a guaranteed certification component, or something), engineering, pharmacy, information technology, &c. Everything else that we consider 'hard-core': Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Psychology--would build the foundation for an academic career in the subject, but the same can be said for any of the Humanities fields I mentioned--except for Psychology, one of the few fields where a PhD is both terminal academic degree and professional degree. I don't know if your parents are pushing toward any major in particular, but I know that some people have this automatic respect for technical majors like engineering--"Do something useful for your education". :rolleyes:

Except, that rather than going to a gigantic state university where your professors really only knew you for the last couple semesters--if that!--you were in a smaller, more insular program where everybody knew everyone else. People pay TOP DOLLAR for an education like this, where there is higher teacher-student ratios, and more face time--part of the 'Liberal Arts school' category, as rated in the US News school ranking, is based on this style of education. Plus, you instantly demonstrate--even if you wind up having completely misinterpreted God's will, and realize that you never had a vocation in the first place--that you're a person who is willing to 'take the plunge', sacrifice your own ambitions for what you believe in, and possess a strong will to help others.

As for the two most respected professional fields here in America: law and medicine. Theology majors, I believe (not that the college seminary offers Theology majors, ironically), score among the highest on the LSAT, ~160/avg. They also score unusually high on the MCAT. If your parents have high hopes for you as a potential physician, many universities offer post-graduate programs that cater to would-be medical students who either have not earned all of the requisite courses... which are not that many, at all... or need to retake some of these courses to demonstrate 'improvement'.

Finally, they probably wouldn't have to pay for it.

**Question 2: **Now for something a little more spiritual...

Thanks in advance! :)

Have you considered the Mendicant orders?

[/quote]


#9

As was said above, I would strongly agree that you spend some prayerful time discerning your vocation (calmly, God doesn’t want you to stress yourself out, one’s vocation brings peace!) and not worry about specifics just yet.

Just to give you some specific information about formation for the diocesan priesthood, it is not simply 30 credits of philosophy, but there is a curriculum from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (which consists of 11 classes, so technically it would be 33 philosophy credits, plus 12 credits of theology and 6 in Latin):
*
The philosophical curriculum must include the study of the history of philosophy
(ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary), logic, epistemology,
metaphysics, philosophy of nature, natural theology, anthropology, and
ethics.*

From the PPF page 68, full document here

I have heard that some dioceses are more loose than others, but here in the Diocese of Bridgeport, these are all requirements before one enters major seminary. Just keep this in mind as you continue to discern, because as you go through college you may want to take some philosophy that covers the Program for Priestly Formation.

Again, don’t stress, because a diocese will likely place you in pre-theology (should you discern a call to diocesan priesthood) and fill in any classes you need for the PPF requirements.

You sound like you are discerning prayerfully, and have the assistance of a good spiritual director, so trust that God will lead you in the right direction. And continuing to involve your parents is good, but don’t be discouraged if they are not 100% supportive. Many of the men at the college seminary here have had all kinds of reactions from their parents, from delighted to horrified and angry. I (and it seems you as well) are very blessed to have parents who are accepting the possibility of a vocation.

Please feel free to message me with any questions or just to talk. I will keep you and all here on Catholic Answers who are discerning in my prayers.

In Christ,
Frank


#10

The PPF states quite clearly that the requriements are at least 30 credits of philosophy and 12 credits of theology. No credit requirement is listed for language.

The PPF also spells out no curriculum, just a list of what areas of philosophy should be covered.


#11

Um, I guess the 30 credit hours of philosophy is the only mandatory section of the PPF document? Read page 68-69 of the PPF document I had cited, perhaps this is just a strong recommendation and not an absolute requirement for major seminary?

From what I’ve heard, major seminaries are becoming more strict about covering each of the particular philosophical subjects listed there on page 68, rather than just any 30 credits of philosophy. Anyway, in my diocese all 11 subjects listed in the PPF are requirements before major seminary.

In Christ and Mary,
Frank


#12

[quote="Cominghome89, post:11, topic:222401"]
Um, I guess the 30 credit hours of philosophy is the only mandatory section of the PPF document? Read page 68-69 of the PPF document I had cited, perhaps this is just a strong recommendation and not an absolute requirement for major seminary?

From what I've heard, major seminaries are becoming more strict about covering each of the particular philosophical subjects listed there on page 68, rather than just any 30 credits of philosophy. Anyway, in my diocese all 11 subjects listed in the PPF are requirements before major seminary.

In Christ and Mary,
Frank

[/quote]

The 30 credit hours comes from the pages you listed.

You diocese might require it but a major seminary only has to require 30 credit hours of philosophy that they accept. Not all undergraduate philosophy will be accepted.

My main experience is with the theologate I attend and my order and what it makes the pre-novices get before moving on in formation. I was grandfathered in under the previous rules of 24 credit hours of philosophy and 9 credit hours of theology.


#13

Thank God Almighty! Something simply wonderful has happened regarding the second question!

Yesterday, I got a chance to speak with the director of monastic vocations (who is also the subprior, Novice Master, Junior Master, and Director of Postulants.) at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon. He answered all of the questions I had about isolation and priesthood in the Benedictines (specifically Mount Angel). He said that they community would, if I desired, be happy to place me in formation and have me ordained. In fact, the run a seminary there and would have me study there. Also, they stressed that they did not seek to totally isolate me, they allowed monks to communicate freely with parents and even make occasional visits...

Also, the abbey does parish work nearby and assists the archdiocese when they are needed.

This has removed everything that has made me nervous about monasticism and it has made me think I may have a serious calling to possibly being a member of Mount Angel. Though my discernment is by no means over, this is a big step forward...

THANKS BE TO GOD FOR THE ANSWERING OF MY PRAYERS FOR GUIDANCE!!!! :D


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.