What if someone feels called to a vocation, but is unable to do it?


#1

Heres a bit more clarification. I was reading the wonderful book "To Save a Thousand Souls" because I have always thought about the priesthood (currently though I'm more open to it in a way, I feel more called to be a father or a religious brother, not a priest unless God hits me with a lightning bolt and tells me i better get to seminary :))

Anyway, my question comes from a part of the book where the author, Fr. Brett A. Brannen, met a man who wanted to become a priest really bad, and father brannen thought he'd be a good one. Well eventually it was found out that this man had dropped out of high school and in spite of having what looked like to be the characteristics of a good priest, this man had a lot of academic deficiencies that would have made it almost impossible for him to get through even minor seminary.

My question is, why would God allow someone to experience this call to the priesthood if they are unable to be a priest. I'm not saying God is playing tricks with this person, but why would God (unless its satan, which I find hard to believe) give them this desire? It seems rather cruel to want something your whole life and then find out you can't do it. I understand thats life, but to me it seems harsh, and i know if I were in this situation, I would feel like i was tricked by something or someone.


#2

I think we need to avoid creating a dichotomy in situations like this. It's not a choice between either A) God is instilling a desire in someone he cannot ever fulfill; or B) Satan is tricking him by leading him to experience such a desire just to mess with his head.

Vocational discernment isn't always clear cut. Perhaps God is calling him to some other life of service for the Church and the man is interpreting it as a call to priesthood because that's the first thing that occurs to him. Perhaps it is through these feelings that God is choosing to teach him some important lessons about humility, obedience, and sacrifice. Or perhaps one of a hundred other reasons. I wouldn't venture to guess unless I was the man's spiritual director.


#3

I would say, if it were really impossible, then they were obviously not being called. They might have sincerely desired to be a priest, but desire is not a calling. I have even heard women say they feel called to the priesthood. They're not. They might desire it, but God is not calling them. God does not call us to the impossible, that would be cruel. But if it's just our own desires, God cannot be blamed for those.


#4

Many people are attracted to a vocation to which they are not called. One's feelings alone do not indicate God's will. A man may feel attracted to the priesthood but ultimately discern that he is called to marriage. Or a man may feel attracted to marriage but realize that, since he's unable to fulfill it's essential requirements, he must not be called to that vocation.

In short, there are three basic ways to know you are called to a particular vocation:

1) Your attraction to that vocation.
2) Your ability to perform the duties required of that vocation.
3) The Church's acceptance of your vows and vocation.

If any of those are lacking, you're not called.

As an aside, Blesseds Zelie and Louis Martin both felt a strong desire to become religious and both were denied for various reasons. They married and had five daughters who all became nuns, including St. Therese of Liseiux.


#5

You're missing a third option: The person is misinterpreting their calling.

I know people who desired to be married and felt it was their calling, but now they are content and feel it is their calling to be single, and I knowing them, I would agree.


#6

[quote="WildCatholic, post:1, topic:336755"]
My question is, why would God allow someone to experience this call to the priesthood if they are unable to be a priest. I'm not saying God is playing tricks with this person, but why would God (unless its satan, which I find hard to believe) give them this desire? It seems rather cruel to want something your whole life and then find out you can't do it. I understand thats life, but to me it seems harsh, and i know if I were in this situation, I would feel like i was tricked by something or someone.

[/quote]

The calling to any life, religious or secular, is actually a combination of many things. The inward emotional desire is only one part of it. Other parts of it are the ability to lead the life you seek and, in the case of religious, an opportunity for that life allowed by the Church. No one is considered by the Church to have a true vocation, if they are not able to pursue it. Either because of their own circumstances, or because the Church doesn't allow/desire them to live it.

For example, a man truly desires to be a priest, but due to some cause he is unable to complete his seminary training. His desire is not a true vocation.

Or a woman believes she is meant to be a nun, but her parents are ill and need her care. After they have died she discovers that no order will take her due to her advanced age. She does not have a true vocation to be a nun.

Examples of this are many. A man truly believes he is called to be a husband, but is unable to find a woman to marry. A woman feels called to be a schoolteacher, but isn't able to pass the necessary classes to get her teaching certificate.

It isn't always God implanting the desire for a particular life. Any desire is an emotion and emotions can be a result of the directing of God or of ones own self. It could also be the temptation of the devil. I know it sounds strange that the devil would tempt someone to enter the religious life. But if that life is not where God really wants you to be then the desire for it could both blind you to your real vocation and make you miserable at the same time.


#7

[quote="bzkoss236, post:5, topic:336755"]
You're missing a third option: The person is misinterpreting their calling.

I know people who desired to be married and felt it was their calling, but now they are content and feel it is their calling to be single, and I knowing them, I would agree.

[/quote]

True, I know this happens a lot, and The book does mention that Fr. Brannen and this man worked together to find religious communities that might accept him, so I hope he became a religious brother or at least discerned what his true calling was. I guess it just seems like discernment is so hard.

In response to your post bzkoss, Can a vocation happen to someone who doesn't desire it? Also, can someone hate the fact that they are called to a certain vocation, but do it anyone. Like for example, if someone hated the idea of being a priest, but went along with it, would it be okay if that call came from God. I always thought that we were happiest in our true vocations? Granted what is happiness (thats for another post:shrug:)

Also, i guess to me its just sad. Its one thing for woman to have a desire (i think that woman with that desire are just troublemakers. They know its wrong), but how could this man be denied. I mean I've heard stories about St. John Vianney not being very smart or well spoken, but he was a priest. Would a vocation director reject him today?


#8

[quote="WildCatholic, post:7, topic:336755"]
True, I know this happens a lot, and The book does mention that Fr. Brannen and this man worked together to find religious communities that might accept him, so I hope he became a religious brother or at least discerned what his true calling was. I guess it just seems like discernment is so hard.

In response to your post bzkoss, Can a vocation happen to someone who doesn't desire it? Also, can someone hate the fact that they are called to a certain vocation, but do it anyone. Like for example, if someone hated the idea of being a priest, but went along with it, would it be okay if that call came from God. I always thought that we were happiest in our true vocations? Granted what is happiness (thats for another post:shrug:)

[/quote]

Desires can change, so yes, someone could be called to something they don't (yet) desire.


#9

[quote="WildCatholic, post:1, topic:336755"]
Heres a bit more clarification. I was reading the wonderful book "To Save a Thousand Souls" because I have always thought about the priesthood (currently though I'm more open to it in a way, I feel more called to be a father or a religious brother, not a priest unless God hits me with a lightning bolt and tells me i better get to seminary :))

Anyway, my question comes from a part of the book where the author, Fr. Brett A. Brannen, met a man who wanted to become a priest really bad, and father brannen thought he'd be a good one. Well eventually it was found out that this man had dropped out of high school and in spite of having what looked like to be the characteristics of a good priest, this man had a lot of academic deficiencies that would have made it almost impossible for him to get through even minor seminary.

My question is, why would God allow someone to experience this call to the priesthood if they are unable to be a priest. I'm not saying God is playing tricks with this person, but why would God (unless its satan, which I find hard to believe) give them this desire? It seems rather cruel to want something your whole life and then find out you can't do it. I understand thats life, but to me it seems harsh, and i know if I were in this situation, I would feel like i was tricked by something or someone.

[/quote]

[FONT=Arial]There can be a couple to things which can be at work. The man could have had a vocation to the priesthood but did not have confidence in God to test such a calling by entering the seminary regardless of his deficiencies. One can quickly think of Christ picking fishermen to be His Apostles and would soon realize the only man out of all of them who had the academic talents for the job was Judas and look how that turned out.

The other situation is maybe he did not have a calling. This also falls under the lines of the man misinterpreting his true vacation. Either way no man truly knows their vocation is to be a priest until the Bishop lays his hands on their head and consecrates their hands. :)

[/FONT]


#10

Not everyone who ends up a nun or priest feels a big emotional desire,

I remember that one of the saints (I think it was St Teresa of Avila) had a hard time deciding between becoming a nun and getting married. She finally chose to be a nun for a combination of reasons - her mother's bad marriage for one. And she thought it would be the safest place for someone as sinful as she was (or thought she was).


#11

[quote="elizaveta01, post:10, topic:336755"]
Not everyone who ends up a nun or priest feels a big emotional desire,

I remember that one of the saints (I think it was St Teresa of Avila) had a hard time deciding between becoming a nun and getting married. She finally chose to be a nun for a combination of reasons - her mother's bad marriage for one. And she thought it would be the safest place for someone as sinful as she was (or thought she was).

[/quote]

True there are many things which lead a person to their vocations. Some think the only people called to the priesthood are those who cannot find a date or someone to marry them. Most never realize that there are a number of priests who have sacrificed well-paying careers and very good relationships with their fiancé or girlfriend, in order to follow God's calling to the priesthood or religious life.


#12

[quote="Credo_in_Deum, post:11, topic:336755"]
True there are many things which lead a person to their vocations. Some think the only people called to the priesthood are those who cannot find a date or someone to marry them. Most never realize that there are a number of priests who have sacrificed well-paying careers and very good relationships with their fiancé or girlfriend, in order to follow God's calling to the priesthood or religious life.

[/quote]

It's like people believing that nuns are the plain girls who can't get a date. Not true. If anyone brings it up, I just ask them to explain Mother Dolores Hart.


#13

[quote="WildCatholic, post:1, topic:336755"]
Heres a bit more clarification. I was reading the wonderful book "To Save a Thousand Souls" because I have always thought about the priesthood (currently though I'm more open to it in a way, I feel more called to be a father or a religious brother, not a priest unless God hits me with a lightning bolt and tells me i better get to seminary :))

Anyway, my question comes from a part of the book where the author, Fr. Brett A. Brannen, met a man who wanted to become a priest really bad, and father brannen thought he'd be a good one. Well eventually it was found out that this man had dropped out of high school and in spite of having what looked like to be the characteristics of a good priest, this man had a lot of academic deficiencies that would have made it almost impossible for him to get through even minor seminary.

My question is, why would God allow someone to experience this call to the priesthood if they are unable to be a priest. I'm not saying God is playing tricks with this person, but why would God (unless its satan, which I find hard to believe) give them this desire? It seems rather cruel to want something your whole life and then find out you can't do it. I understand thats life, but to me it seems harsh, and i know if I were in this situation, I would feel like i was tricked by something or someone.

[/quote]

St. John Baptist de LaSalle said that whenever he had an inspiration, he let God make the first move to make sure it was indeed God doing the talking. This method never failed him.

Blessings,
Cloisters


#14

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