Vocations Advice

Hello. I am wondering if anyone can offer me any advice, concerning discerning a vocation. Being that I am a college student with a busy schedule, it can be quite challenging, sometimes, to take time and pray about this matter. Nonetheless, I do want to be able to finish college, and so my current focus is on that. I am simply trying to take things one step at a time.

Every day, I do pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life, especially in this age, where we do have a shortage of priests. We need the sacraments to be accessible to the Catholic people at all times (in particular, the dying, but not only them), especially the Sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick, Penance/Reconciliation, and the Holy Eucharist, which neither a deacon nor a lay person can administer, I might add. No priests means no Eucharist, and no Eucharist means no Mass. Without priests, I fear (greatly) that making Sacraments accessible to the people will either not be possible or it will be extremely challenging.

I am not saying that I have a calling to the priesthood, but that is not to say that I have considered it (on and off, and I actually first started to consider it, when I was a kid). Right now, I feel as if I need more time to mature spiritually, before I can make a definite decision, and frankly, it would be wrong of me to discern a possible vocation to the priesthood, for the sole reason of the necessity of more priests.

The Church recognizes that there are four vocations: two have been mentioned already (priesthood and religious life). The other two are the vocation of marriage and the consecrated single life.

Because I have considered the priesthood, it has made me skeptical about the possibility of the vocation of marriage, since married men cannot be ordained as priests (I am a Roman (Latin) Rite Catholic, by the way).

I may discern a vocation to the permanent diaconate, if after getting married, and after meeting all of the requirements, I feel called to something more than being a lay person. However, the permanent diaconate (I know that you do not have to be married to be a permanent deacon, since a single man can be ordained to the permanent diaconate, with a vow of celibacy) is its own calling, and not to be thought of as a “second prize” kind of vocation.

In all things, God’s will be done. If anybody else on this space has been in a situation or a scenario similar to mine, or even if you haven’t had an experience like mine, could you perhaps share your stories, please, or offer me any advice? That would be highly appreciated.

Pax Vobiscum,

Herbert Cruz

With regards to the Sacraments of Healing (Penance/Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick), I do not want any dying Catholics to fear for their souls, if they are in a situation where they are dying, and there are no Catholic priests available to administer them these Sacraments. These are the two Sacraments that have an aspect of the forgiveness of sins (With Penance, it’s the principle effect, and in the right circumstances (person dying and unable to confess), with Anointing, as well).

If you are considering the priesthood or religious life, then you should have a spiritual director to help you sort things out. Make an appointment with your priest, if he can’t do it then ask him to recommend someone. You should also get in touch with the office of vocations at your diocese; they can give you all the information you need to get started in the discernment process and provide workshops and resources to make your decision.

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, direction, strength, fortitude & wisdom in your discernment.

I heartily second this. You’re not going to get too far asking the counsel of random strangers on the internet; you need to go to someone who can actually help you. Your parish priest and diocesan vocations director will be the first people you should be speaking to, and one or either of them would likely be able to recommend a good spiritual director.

Consulting one of my ancient books, I read:

The need of direction both in deciding a vocation and guiding it is palpable. St. Paul was converted by a miracle; but it did not follow that he should therefore be an apostle, or even be allowed to preach. This was to be decided by no heavenly vision, but just by human instrumentality provided by God after He had spent three days of physical and spiritual groping. “What wouldst Thou have me to do?” he begged of the Lord. And the answer was to go to a certain man’s house in a certain street in Damascus, and there wait. In due time God’s outward guidance by man was added to and blended with His inward words direct from Himself (Acts ix.). It is not otherwise with even the most powerful interior vocation. One must have it tested by God’s representatives, and that in various ways. The genuine gold of a coin is revealed not only by the familiar stamp of the mint, or the delicate touch of the bank teller, but also by weight in the hand and in the scales, the ringing music of its tone upon the counter. So must it be with the manifestation of a vocation.

The signs of a true vocation are many; but they all assemble about the main sign: joy in the prospect of being in life and death wholly devoted to God. Joy steadfast and regnant in one’s better moments and easily recalled in one’s moment’s of distraction; stretching over a notable lapse of time; hindered of its fruition (if one would quit the world) by no natural tie or duty. If this state of mind, so determined and so jubilant, is lacking or is only intermittent, and does not grow towards becoming permanent, if it is not on the whole a firm and persevering condition, then the vocation is artificial, man-made, and must be shaken off just as any other delusion.

One may distinguish between a sane, solid vocation and one that is only evanescent, a spasm of devotion, a distillation of the ferment of an enthusiastic temperament, by a simple test. Know the tree by its fruits. If these longings heavenward generate more kindly behavior at home, and more humility everywhere; a steadier observance of sound devotional customs; a sense of unworthiness quite equal to the sense of yearning for a holier state of life: then (if such conditions outlast the first month or two of their entrance into the soul) the hand of God is to be recognized. But if this sweetness of devotion is but for oneself; if it makes us lofty and censorious; if it shuns advice and resents guidance; then the vocation is a voice from the nether world, or a suggestion of one’s native vainglory, or a phantasm of a visionary temperament.

It is a hard thing to say, but wholly justified by experience, that one must be not exactly eager but yet ready to doubt the validity of these longings for entrance into a holier state in their incipient stage. Unwise and inexperienced confessors often add to the membership of communities by introducing mere intruders. Now as the inmates of prisons remember the over-indulgent parents who made them criminals by petting and spoiling them in childhood, so do religious sometimes bitterly condemn the sentimental confessors or the goody-goody novice masters who coddled and petted them into a state of life to which God had not called them.

Okay. I will speak to a vocations/spiritual director, when I get the earliest opportunity. I was not expecting to get too far from this website alone. I am also looking for any advice from people on this forum, who may have been in a similar situation as myself. I have spoken to other priests about this, and they tell me to pray about it, as some of you have already mentioned in this space, but what are some other ways, in addition to praying, to help mature spiritually. and correctly discern what the Lord is calling me to do?

Hi Herbert,

I’m not quite in the same situation as you (I’m over 40 with a post-graduate degree :wink: ) and I can’t speak to your specific situation, but I am considering a priestly vocation as well, and perhaps presenting my thought process might inform yours, in some small way.

Without going into details which would take a while, suffice to say I drifted away and then turned away from the Church and became an apostate. Through the graces of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, I have been blessed with a return to our faith; and have gone from the seed planted in rocky soil, that withered away, to the seed planted on good soil that can, God provideth, yield fruit.

I find myself now attracted to the idea of a vocation, for three primary reasons: First, I feel an obligation to give something of myself to repay (though I readily acknowledge such a debt is impossible to repay) the debt I owe our Lord and our Blessed Mother for saving me from myself. Second, I find the thought (and act) of a lifetime of studying the Bible, reading the commentaries of the Church Fathers and Doctors, very appealing and rewarding. I’ve got my Wheelock’s Latin on order as I write. Last, but not least, I believe that I might have something to offer the Church in its fight against abortion, were I a priest. What I mean by that is that years ago, just after graduating college, before I had converted to Catholicism, my then girlfriend became pregnant and had an abortion. I entreated her not to, but it wasn’t up to me and, to my ever-lasting regret, I gave up trying to convince her to change her mind, and indeed drove her to the clinic. It didn’t seem like the worst day of my life at the time, but it turns out that it was, and it changed my religion, my politics and my life., Which is to say, what I have to offer, with respect to abortion, misquoting Arthur Leff, is that if the Church needs that axe ground, I have the fury to drive the wheel.

So I think there are strong arguments for me to pursue a vocation. On the other hand, there are also arguments against a vocation.

I have always wanted a family, so I have doubts if I have the strength to hold to the vow of chastity, not in the sense of casual sex, which I could care less about, but in the sense of holding love only for Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Mother, and not falling in love with some nice, lovely woman.

Then of course there is the vow of obedience, which I like to think would be easy, but then again I know that I can be a hard-headed man with strong opinions. For example, I really don’t like the NAB and that is the approved Bible for Mass. I like the Douay-Rheims (in original or even in revision). I know their Excellencies are tremendously educated men, but they don’t seem to understand that nothing inspired ever comes out of committee.

Lastly, I still have large debts from Law School, and I certainly can’t imagine becoming a priest with them still looming over me.

Anyway, this was my big list, I know you have your own list with different criteria, as I said, only you know yourself well enough to know if you’ve got the fortitude that you need to become a priest.

As for me, as you can see, I don’t know, now. I will continue to pray and meditate on it and wait for grace from above to tell me the right thing to do.

I wish you blessings in whichever endeavor you choose.:thumbsup:

Popes do.

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