Vocations and same-sex attraction; is there a place for me in the Church?


#1

I've been longing for a religious vocation for a long time now. Specifically with a Dominican community of consecrated women.

But I've also struggled, in the past, and apparently now again, with same sex attraction, which I am told could mean that I am not called to (or ready for) a religious vocation.

The thing is, as I understand it, there are really only the two main vocational options for me - consecrated life or married life. Because a vocation is a self-gift, and being single is a state of preparedness for self-gift, and not actually a self-gift, single life isn't technically a vocation.

And every Catholic is supposed to be called to a specific vocation.

But how can I be called to a vocation, if I struggle with same sex attraction? It means that I can't enter a convent, at least not until these temptations are less prevalent, and I also can't really marry because I've never really been attracted to a man in the way that a woman should be.

So what is my place in the Church? I love my faith and will never abandon it, but I feel as if I am going to be forever on the outskirts, never really a part of things.

in Christ
wayward


#2

I don't know the answer to whether a person with SSA can be called to a vocation in a religious community, but I do believe that the single life certainly can be a vocation in itself. In I Corinthians 7, St. Paul talks about how a single person can concentrate on serving God more freely than can a married person. Also, have you looked into consecrated virginity? That might also be an option for you (and someone here more knowledgable than I could tell you more about it).


#3

You should probably seek more information from a SpiritualDirector or some other person who is familiar w/Canon Law & w/all your options. Right, the Single Life is in itself a Vocation. There are canonized saints from Religious Life, Married Life & Single Life. Also
you should probably seek more information re your particular spiritual problems from a
wise4 counselor, particularly a Roman Catholic Counselor...


#4

I am no expert on the subject, but I agree with the basic principle that your vocation doesn't change based on your past sins.

I think the best way to look at this is you need to focus on becoming more holy and truly conquering your more serious sins before directly pursuing ANY vocation whether its single, married or religious.

For instance, a drug-addicted man who feels called to the priesthood should first conquer his addiction to drugs THEN proceed to fulfill his vocation.

Like the above posters said, you should get a spiritual director and possibly counseling. Support groups are a great idea too. But remember, same sex attraction will be a stumbling block REGARDLESS of what your vocation is. So focus on improving your spiritual life, then you will be able to better discern your vocation. And above all else, don't lose hope! Keep praying and keep getting back up. Brush away any thoughts of despair. If Blessed Bartolo Longo came back from being a SATANIC HIGH PRIEST, then you too can do it regardless of your sins.

You are in my prayers.


#5

There are many people who have not been called to a religious vocation and are nonetheless not married. Everyone is called to be holy, but that does not mean that everyone is called to either a religious or married vocation.

It doesn't mean that you have no place in the Church.

From Lumen Gentium, as quoted in the Catechism, "By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. . . . It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and maybe to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer." (CCC # 898, LG 31.2)

For you, your troubles with SSA may mean that you don't currently have a vocation either to consecrated life or to marriage. The troubles may be lifted from you at some point or they may not. The important thing is to be ready to accept whatever God has in store for you, spreading His love by your actions in the place where He has put you. It is difficult and can be painful to do it when you have the support of neither sisters in religion or a spouse, but you always have the support of God Himself, and He will see you through everything if you trust in Him.

God bless you,

--Jen


#6

Wayward,
We all struggle with temptation. You say 'in the past and apparently now again' you struggle with same sex attraction. The struggle with temptation and sin is part and parcel of the human condition, *regardless **of it's same sex attraction or say, an inclination to embezzle. I'm not lumping one type of temptation with all, nor one type of sin with all, **but the struggle with sin and temptation of themselves is universal. *

We all need grace in order to live a holy life -consecrated or not. And perhaps the question is, can you put your sexuality to the side? Have you heard of support groups like Courage?

Whether or not you 'have a place' needs to be discussed with your mentor/advisor priest, as many have suggested; as you reflect on your calling, you need to ask yourself: are you willing to cast aside your thoughts/words/deeds that would impede the grace that will help you live in a more holy state? (you don't have to answer :) rhetorical) It's that old 'perfect state of contrition' sort of mentality.

I like what Jen says: *"Be ready to accept what God has in store for you." *

Amen to that.

God Bless You


#7

[quote="wayward, post:1, topic:224885"]
I've been longing for a religious vocation for a long time now. Specifically with a Dominican community of consecrated women.

But I've also struggled, in the past, and apparently now again, with same sex attraction, which I am told could mean that I am not called to (or ready for) a religious vocation.

The thing is, as I understand it, there are really only the two main vocational options for me - consecrated life or married life. Because a vocation is a self-gift, and being single is a state of preparedness for self-gift, and not actually a self-gift, single life isn't technically a vocation.

And every Catholic is supposed to be called to a specific vocation.

But how can I be called to a vocation, if I struggle with same sex attraction? It means that I can't enter a convent, at least not until these temptations are less prevalent, and I also can't really marry because I've never really been attracted to a man in the way that a woman should be.

So what is my place in the Church? I love my faith and will never abandon it, but I feel as if I am going to be forever on the outskirts, never really a part of things.

in Christ
wayward

[/quote]

I always thought that being Single was a possible vocation as well - for example: those lay people that chose consecrated virginity, but remained outside a monastic order. (That is just my own understanding though - I'd be interested if someone else knows more)

Regardless, I agree with Jen's encouragement - Be ready to accept what God has in store for you.

Peace,
Joel :harp:


#8

I don't think SSA is something that will ever completely change for me... but maybe. I hold onto hope that it will, but I've been trying for a long time. It could just be resurfacing now because of family issues and stresses I've been going through...

I just found an online group for young adults in courage, and I hope it works out for me. It's frustrating when you keep wanting things that you don't want to want. I'm also studying more into what is considered a vocation - looking for something in the Catechism, but I haven't found anything specific yet, and then I'll look through different Church documents and the Summa if there's nothing specific in the Catechism.

It's just that sometimes I feel a bit out of place. Like how can I be a good Catholic when these are the temptations that I struggle with?

wayward


#9

[quote="wayward, post:8, topic:224885"]

It's just that sometimes I feel a bit out of place. Like how can I be a good Catholic when these are the temptations that I struggle with?

wayward

[/quote]

We all have temptations struggle with. If being a good Catholic meant we had no temptations then there would be no such thing as a good Catholic.

The temptations may be different but they are there and some of them can be as bad as you think yours is.


#10

I, too, have been accursed with same-sex attractions, Check my posting history and you can see that I’ve been struggling with this for a long, long time. I feel a draw to serve God at the altar, but I’m told I can’t do that because I’ve been cursed with this horrific affliction.

I still hate my SSA and would love to eliminate it, but that’s not where I am right now. Our Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow, so I thought, “what can I do right now?” I had to synthesize two things to make this something I can get behind, but I think I’ve done it.

First, I would love to serve God at the altar offering the Mass. Unfortunately, I’m not a ministerial priest and, according to some, can’t possibly ever be one. Okay, that’s not what I want to hear, but I thought of what I could do… As one of the baptized, I have a share in Christ’s life, including his ministry as priest. This isn’t the same as the protestant notion, but a Catholic understanding. I can offer all the little annoyances of my life (and believe me, they are aplenty!) in the hope that God can make some use of it. Otherwise, as far as I can see, it’s all wasted otherwise.

I also reading about how our Lady told the children at Fatima that many people end up in hell because they have no one to pray for them and then I thought of my non-Christian family. Well, they only have me to pray for them. The same for my friends. I don’t know who is praying for them, but I know that I can. I know that I don’t want them ending up in hell.

Just to be clear, I don’t see this as a “vocation.” To me, a vocation is something real and tangible, like priesthood, religious life or married life and the single state is simply the default that one starts out in. It can become part of one’s vocation in the priesthood or religious life, but it is most definitely NOT a vocation in and of itself.

BUT, while I see myself as sans vocation, probably permanently because being same-sex attracted, in my opinion, makes me absolutely useless for any sort of actual service to the Church outside the prayer closet, I can do my own little part of trying to help bring my friends and family into God’s kingdom and maybe, just maybe make heaven myself (albeit in the far out suburbs).


#11

[quote="wayward, post:8, topic:224885"]
I don't think SSA is something that will ever completely change for me... but maybe. I hold onto hope that it will, but I've been trying for a long time. It could just be resurfacing now because of family issues and stresses I've been going through...

I just found an online group for young adults in courage, and I hope it works out for me. It's frustrating when you keep wanting things that you don't want to want. I'm also studying more into what is considered a vocation - looking for something in the Catechism, but I haven't found anything specific yet, and then I'll look through different Church documents and the Summa if there's nothing specific in the Catechism.

It's just that sometimes I feel a bit out of place. Like how can I be a good Catholic when these are the temptations that I struggle with?

wayward

[/quote]

Just wanted to mention that Personal Vocation by Grisez and Shaw was helpful when I was thinking about all this vocation stuff. What I got out of reading it is that when you aren't called to religious or married life, it's just because God has better plans for you.

Also, about the difficulty of being a Catholic who struggles against these temptations, it's very easy to feel marginalized and unwanted in our (to all human appearances at least) un-accepting Church. A thought that might help you face those feelings is to remember Our Lord's teaching that the last would be first.

Hope this helps and that you'll ignore any part of it that might be incorrect! Peace.


#12

Questions that I'd have are:

Can you commit to sexual chastity and celebacy in the same way that an opposite-sex attracted woman commits to both?

Do you accept and are you able to express the Church's stand against noncelibate homosexual lifestyles and homosexual marriage?

Are you equally capable of commitment and positive personal relationships toward both the suffering and joys of females and males?


#13

Another thing you could look at as well is staying single and celibate but maybe being a lay dominican - this could remove the occasion of sin of living with other women and still allow you to serve God in vocation and explore your charisms.


#14

I have no problem committing to chastity and celibacy, and no problem with the Church's teaching on human sexuality and marriage, but as for being "...equally capable commitment and positive personal relationships toward both the suffering and joys of females and males..." - I mean, I think so, but I'm really not sure.

...I don't know... I'm not giving up or anything, but I think I have a lot left to learn and a lot of ways in which I need to grow before I'm ready for a vocation.

It's not that I've ever acted out (or ever would), but all of my crushes and fantasy life have been reflective of same-sex attraction. I tend to turn to prayer whenever I do start to have impure thoughts, but the ones I struggle with the most are impure thoughts towards other women more so than impure thoughts towards men.

In the meantime, I feel like I'm almost spiritually paralyzed as far as growing into or pursuing any vocation goes.

in Christ,
wayward


#15

Dear Wayward,
I'd like to say that there is definitely a place for you in our wonderful Church.
Part of discerning a vocation is being open to what you feel God has called you to, not your own desires, and if that is by living a chaste life for the sake of His Kingdom, then by all means discern and pray about that. Also, pray and ask the Holy Spirit for direction on which way to follow your call. One of the most important things one can do while discerning is to be open and really make an effort to listen to what the Holy Spirit leads you to.
Please know that you are in my prayers.

~ Fr. Wm. Tom Davis, OSA


#16

In my Diocese, all candidates are screened for homosexual tendencies. If a candidate is found to have this tendencies on his psych evals and screening process, he will not be admitted to the seminary. Thank you for your vocation.


#17

[quote="wayward, post:1, topic:224885"]
I've been longing for a religious vocation for a long time now. Specifically with a Dominican community of consecrated women.

But I've also struggled, in the past, and apparently now again, with same sex attraction, which I am told could mean that I am not called to (or ready for) a religious vocation.

The thing is, as I understand it, there are really only the two main vocational options for me - consecrated life or married life. Because a vocation is a self-gift, and being single is a state of preparedness for self-gift, and not actually a self-gift, single life isn't technically a vocation.

And every Catholic is supposed to be called to a specific vocation.

But how can I be called to a vocation, if I struggle with same sex attraction? It means that I can't enter a convent, at least not until these temptations are less prevalent, and I also can't really marry because I've never really been attracted to a man in the way that a woman should be.

So what is my place in the Church? I love my faith and will never abandon it, but I feel as if I am going to be forever on the outskirts, never really a part of things.

in Christ
wayward

[/quote]

My best advice to you is that the internet is a horrible place to ask advice on matters that are this serious. Have you tried talking to your pastor or the vocations director of a religious community that you are interested in? To my knowledge, a religious community won't out right reject people because they suffer temptations so just because you suffer from some SSA doesn't mean you will be outright rejected for religious life.


#18

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