vocation to marriage

hey all, I’m having a hard time as seeing the vocation to marriage as holy, or even how it can be holy. when I think holy, i think religious people living a consecrated life… I know God callas all of us to be holy, but a problem I’m having right now is I only see the religious life as holy, so i think thats what I have to do. But I don’t really want it, the only reason why I would want it is to be holy…I don’t know any advice would be appreciated!

Think of it this way. Who were two of the holiest persons on earth save Jesus? Mother Mary and Saint Joseph. They were married. :slight_smile:

How old are you?

Why do you see only religious life as being holy and not every day life or marriage? We are called to be holy in whatever state of life we choose to live out our vocation. Some have a vocation to consecrated religious life, and others have a vocation to family life. However, EVERY person is called to holiness, not just those who are religious sisters, brothers, or priests.

Why do you have a hard time seeing marriage as holy? Why do you see religious life as the only way to be holy?

Yea but Mary and Joseph were also both celibates…

I’m 18. And I honestly do not know, but I can’t get it out of my mind. Most of the saints lived a celibate religious life, right?

Saints Joachim and Ann weren’t celibate, they were the grandparents of Jesus and the parents of Mary!

Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah weren’t celibate and they bore the forerunner of Christ!

Since you brought up celibacy, I’m thinking you might be having some issues with sexuality. Do you think sex is “dirty” or “bad”? I know I struggled with this due to past sins, but counseling and therapy helped make my perspective more whole and complete again. :slight_smile:

This is an age of searching and maturing in the faith. I suggest you seek spiritual direction from a qualified spiritual director if you are seriously searching for what God is calling you to do.

You may have some skewed views of marriage and sexuality, or some unfounded ideas about what the Church teaches on holiness, if you believe that only religious can be holy or that only someone who is celibate can be holy. Get a Catechism and start reading.

You might also beneift from spiritual direction if you have views that only celibates can be holy.

There are some other good books for yound adults regarding vocation, such as “We’re On A Mission From God” by Mary Beth Bonacci and Personal Vocation by Grisez and Shaw. Pick up a copy.


There were **many **married saints and blesseds in our Church’s history. See this book for example.

Nope, not by a long shot. If you 're think that they were chaste, one can (and is called to be) chaste in marriage. Chaste does not mean continent. Many saints had both spouses and children.

Saint Rita and Saint Augustine wouldn’t be the best examples of conjugal love. However, there are:

  • the patriarchs and matriarchs of the OT
  • Saint Peter and his wife: icon
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary
  • Sts. Isidore and Maria Torribia
  • St. Thomas More
  • Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, and others who took the habit after being widowed after having been happily married and/or having children

Check out this blog entry, which lists husband and wife ‘teams’ of saints:

Try this book:

Or this book, which lists 200 married saints and blesseds:

Married Saints of the Church:

Marriage as a Path to Holiness:

And my personal favourites, M. & Mme. Martin, parents of St Therese of Liseaux - all of their children became priests or religious, and 3 (?) of them are saints!

The question is, do you think celebacy is the only way to be holy FOR YOU, or the only way to be holy FOR ANYONE? This is important. It may well be, for you, that God is giving you a clear sign that the only way you’ll every achieve the holiness you desire is through religious life. On the other hand, you must recognise that this is not His call for everyone, just for you. Read JPII’s ‘Love and Responsibility’ if you want to know what the specific charism of marital holiness involves.

I feel like its the only true path to holiness, for anyone, including me. I know its not true, but i’m still having a hard time knowing if you know what I mean…I posted in the vocations section with a more detailed view of whats going on with me right now, this whole thing is just one tangent that I’ve felt recently.

My wife is one of the most holy people I know, and she’s married. :shrug:

We are all called to be chaste. We are not all called to be *celibate.

*Everything in life distracts us from achieving perfect holiness. The ordained and consecrated have a different set of issues to deal with than the single or the married, but they can be just as distracting.

Think of it this way: God Himself instituted marriage, and commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. He didn’t command them to be celibate. Now don’t you think that what came out of the mouth of God, and what He instituted is Holy?

Not that being celibate for God is not holy. It most certainly is. But the FIRST thing He did was to give Adam a wife and tell them to multiply.

“Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West really made me realise more and more how holy and amazing the call to marriage is. It gave me a profound appreciation of sex that I never had before.
I think one of the biggest tragedies of the church and why we have so many nominal catholics is the opinion that only people with holy orders are/can be really holy. In such a mindset you create an elite and a group B whereas the truth of the gospel is that we are a HOLY and PRIESTLY PEOPLE of GOD.

Hope you will see marriage for what it really is. Without this understanding you can’t understand the call to celibacy either.

D_Hall, thank you for your question. Unfortunately, in the Catholic Answers forums, many people are misinformed about this issue. Let me try to clear some things up.

First of all, marriage is a path to holiness. However, celibacy is a more sure way to holiness. The Church teaches this. Marriage is good while celibacy is better. As the wise old spiritual fathers have long taught, the paths to marriage and celibacy end up at the same destination, but marriage is the more difficult path, the “long way around”, while celibacy is the “direct route”. Many on this forum will disagree, but this is the Church’s teaching (please see Pius XII’s “Sacra Virginitas” - On Holy Virginity, paragraph 32. Actually, you might want to read the whole document. The Council of Trent also declares the superiority of celibacy over marriage to be dogma - see Session XXIV, Canon 10).

Secondly, the fact that you see religious life as being holy may be because you see it as being holy for you. In other words, this may be a sign that you are called to celibacy. People who are called to celibacy would achieve holiness with great difficulty if they were to marry. So, that is food for thought.

Third, however, you must study the issue more before you can properly discern. Marriage is holy and a path to holiness, and until you come to embrace this, you should not make a vocational choice.

Right. About 98-99 percent of saints were celibate. Like I said, celibacy is the more direct route to holiness, and is more conducive to ascending the heights of perfection. See 1Cor 7:32-34a, 38.

The Patriarchs are a poor example. Most practiced polygamy as well. Celibacy was not really an “option” until the New Testament because revelation was progressive and the Patriarchs weren’t “ready” for it.

St. Peter was married before Christ called him. Tradition holds all the Apostles embraced a celibate lifestyle after becoming disciples.

Elizabeth of Hungary was promised in marriage at the age of 4. Her husband died when she was 20 and she embraced celibacy at this time.

St. Isidore and his wife lived a Josephite marriage.

St. Thomas More’s wife was somewhat worldly, and tried to get him to compromise his faith.

The parents of the Little Flower both tried to enter religious life, but were both refused. They lived as single people for quite some time. When her mother got married, she asked God to make all the daughters she gave birth to religious sisters or nuns.

Most of the married saints wanted to enter religious life, but were forced into marriage, and had miserable marriages until the female saint managed to convert the husband, at which time both entered religious life.

Everything in life distracts us from achieving perfect holiness. The ordained and consecrated have a different set of issues to deal with than the single or the married, but they can be just as distracting.

This is true to a degree, but celibacy is more conducive to holiness, and less of a distraction insofar as holiness goes. See 1Cor 7:32-34.

This is more of a Protestant response to the issue. Please see Theology of the Body, re: “original solitude”. Before Adam had a partner, he was alone before God. This was a sign that ultimately, man was created for God alone, and that marriage was simply to be a sign of that ultimate relationship. Jesus restored this “original solitude” when he established celibacy.

Michael Saint, thanks for your clearing up the issue. I am talking with a spiritual director and all that…its just hard. I want to be as perfect and holy as i can, so i look at celibacy and/or priesthood, but then again I feel happiest and have most fun when I enjoy life, play baseball, spend time with family and friends, read, listen to music, my work, play computer, etc etc. I feel like if I try to be holy and perfect, it would take away from all these things that I enjoy, and I feel like if I enjoy all these things like I have done, it takes away from my strive towards holiness, and makes it MUCH more difficult to be holy. But I don’t feel as happy when I’m praying more and doing less of my worldly activities. I’m torn and don’t know which way to go…

I agree with Amber for the most part. However, the problem with “Good News about Sex and Marriage” is that Mr. West does not give full justice to celibacy. He, like most posters here and like most orthodox Catholics in the Church today, either say marriage and celibacy are “equal” calls (which is against Catholic dogma) or, if they do admit that celibacy is a “superior” call, they tack on numerous qualifiers.

I always say to my students that the problem with Christopher West is that he makes marriage sound so good (and neglects celibacy so much) that at the end, you just want to get married, and celibacy is the furthest thing from your mind! That is not his intent, but that is what ends up happening.

It is not without reason that many prominent Catholic figures are beginning to criticize Mr. West.

also, its hard for me to be happy and content with taking “the sign”, that is looking for marriage, when I know that its just something temporal.

but the one thing I keep telling myself is, what would happen if all Catholics really tried to be holy, and all became celibates/religious? we would have no Catholic children…so then it brings me back to whatever God calls us PERSONALLY to do is our personal easiest path to holiness…but then I start judging everyone who is married as not as holy as celibates/religious. My mind is spinning its wheels and I don’t know what to do.

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