What is the difference between a vocation and an "attraction to the lifestyle" in regards to vocations?

Kind of a hard question to explain but i’ll use this anecdote as an example.

Let’s say there is a man who all his life wanted to become a priest. At 18 he talks to the local vocation director and everything checks out. The young man is living a life of grace and holiness and seems to be an ideal candidate, but its soon found out that this young man has a tough time in school and might barely be able to pass high school let alone seminary courses. This man is rejected and he doesn’t have a vocation.

Now I understand that yes their are certain requirements to be a priest or religious or married. My question is what makes the difference between having a vocation and simply being attracted to the lifestyle of a priest? If be chance he had been born with the mind of a class valedictorian the man would be allowed into seminary. Why would God allow someone to be "attracted"to the point that they go so far only to be rejected. Also why does this “attraction” feel like a calling? Are our feelings that mysterious that it leads us to do things we can’t do? I mean i’m sure a few woman priests (which btw I don’t support at all.) would say they have a “calling” (granted I think most just want to be bothersome feminist types).

I guess what it comes down to is, why would God allow someone to have attraction or feelings for something they could never have? To me it seems cruel. I know it is a fact of life (and with good reason. We need the best men to be priests and the best people to be religious brothers and sisters and to be married) but to some this can be such a crushing blow.

Kind of a hard question to explain but i’ll use this anecdote as an example.

Let’s say there is a man who all his life wanted to become a priest. At 18 he talks to the local vocation director and everything checks out. The young man is living a life of grace and holiness and seems to be an ideal candidate, but its soon found out that this young man has a tough time in school and might barely be able to pass high school let alone seminary courses. This man is rejected and he doesn’t have a vocation.

Now I understand that yes their are certain requirements to be a priest or religious or married. My question is what makes the difference between having a vocation and simply being attracted to the lifestyle of a priest? If be chance he had been born with the mind of a class valedictorian the man would be allowed into seminary. Why would God allow someone to be "attracted"to the point that they go so far only to be rejected. Also why does this “attraction” feel like a calling? Are our feelings that mysterious that it leads us to do things we can’t do? I mean i’m sure a few woman priests (which btw I don’t support at all.) would say they have a “calling” (granted I think most just want to be bothersome feminist types).

I guess what it comes down to is, why would God allow someone to have attraction or feelings for something they could never have? To me it seems cruel. I know it is a fact of life (and with good reason. We need the best men to be priests and the best people to be religious brothers and sisters and to be married) but to some this can be such a crushing blow.

Why are you assuming this attraction or feeling comes from God in the first place?

What I mean by this is that part of the discernment process is determining where the attraction comes from. While we might not readily admit it and attempt to deny it, many of our motives for doing “good things and good works” and not solely for the purest of reasons.

Let me give some examples:

  1. A person becomes a volunteer at a soup kitchen so THEY can meet other people
  2. A teenage boy going to a youth group meeting because SHE will be there
  3. Doing community service because it will look on a college application.

Now, before jumping down my throat I am NOT saying these things are bad – they are human and God works with and uses our multiple motives.

When it comes to religious life and vocations, good discernment on the part of the vocation director is to determine motive. There ARE men who present themselves to their diocesan vocation directors and religious orders who are in love with the “smell and bells” and/or think that being a priest will be a great escape from the misery and loneliness of their current living situation.

I know firsthand. In my college days, I too discerned the priesthood and both the order and I reached a mutual agreement that agreement was not the best way for me. The best words of advice came from my spiritual director at the time: Our vocation is our way THROUGH life, not a way OUT OF life.

I hope this helps you.

Attraction to or desire for a particular vocation is only one indication that they might actually be called. The other is the ability to meet the requirements of that vocation. So an impotent man cannot marry. Someone with deep-seated homosexual tendencies probably cannot be admitted to the priesthood. It’s unfortunate in the same way that it’s unfortunate that a person born lame cannot walk or a person born deaf cannot hear. God allows these people to suffer, but doesn’t cause their suffering and definitely doesn’t implant the desire to walk or hear to be cruel; it’s just a natural desire. Likewise, marriage and the priesthood are beautiful sacraments. It seems natural to me that some people might desire these vocations without actually being called to them.

I think of the story of Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin, who both desired to enter the religious life. They were rejected for health reasons and eventually married and raised five daughters. All five girls became nuns, and one of them was St. Therese of Liseux. It was their love and appreciation for the religious life within their vocation to marriage that made this possible.

But what if the young man has all the signs and doesn’t want out of life but wants to serve god. There are probably people who were rejected who wanted to serve god not just use the priesthood as an escape. And how do we know what feelings are from God?

No one knows 100% with 100% certainty. That’s why it’s called faith.

The vocation director sees hundreds of people over a lifetime. Could they make a mistake? Perhaps, but that is why in most cases it is made on a wide variety of factors.

Sometimes the person involved refuses to accept the decision of vocation directors and bang their heads against the wall for years and refuses to move on and and see all the ways God is present in their lives and is using him right now.

I know that’s blunt, and it stinks for the person involved but there’s no more I can say. Sometimes, in today’s language, we have to just deal with it. Now, the good thing – we have Jesus, the Spirit, the saints, the Eucharist, and the sacraments to help us “deal with it” , whatever **it **is.

I guess what it comes down to is, why would God allow someone to have attraction or feelings for something they could never have? To me it seems cruel. I know it is a fact of life (and with good reason. We need the best men to be priests and the best people to be religious brothers and sisters and to be married) but to some this can be such a crushing blow.

As nodito alluded to there’s a difference between a person’s internal attraction to a vocation and their own external aspects. A vocation isn’t simply a matter of ticking a box so to speak but is actually quite complex. While a man may feel an attraction to the priesthood that’s not to say that they’d be necessarily suited to missionary work or cloistered life. By the same token, a person can also be wrong about their calling (although exploring it can still be useful in helping them to learn more about themselves and what they’re called to do) and can also experience a shift in their calling. So, returning to your example, the young man in question may not be called to diocesan priesthood but may be more suited to religious life. By the same token, the valedictorian might be more suited to an intellectually rigorous order such as the dominicans or Jesuits. Ultimately, it all comes to do our individual identity (that is, who we are as a person) and, as part of that, what God is calling us to do.

Also, keep in mind that we are all to strive for some sort of poverty, chastity, and obedience in our lives whether it is as a priest, religious, or married person.

I am discerning for a vocation too. I talked with a priest about it, I asked how could we know if God really is calling me to sister/nun. Priest said “vocation of religious life” is about one’s mind of wanting to sacrifice oneself for serving God and Church, because **our mind is also from God. ** That’s what the priest said.

I guess you may have a calling from God, but due to obstacles from this world such as education or debt or age limit. So I suggest you pray to God more, so that God helps you to solve these problems first, or He finds a suitable Monastery for you. Don’t worry, if it’s God’s will, He will do everything for you and allow you to become a priest at His Time.

Oh sorry if I didn’t clarify but i’m not the one thinking I should be a priest or monk. I prayed and discerned (still am since I am a single man) but I feel that more than likely I will be single (as in single and not in a religious order) or married. But still I guess it scares me that i could make the wrong choice (I guess not wrong choice) since i’ve heard that you won’t be as happy as you could be in your true vocation from many sources. Of course this makes me wonder if my desires are correct. I wish sometimes God would just tell me in a nice clear voice that would direct me where to go. Sometimes it feels like vocationally speaking i was born blind so I don’t know where to go or who to trust and I fear I could take a wrong path or worse fall down a cliff i can’t get out of (granted that would be more of a result of sin)

Good question, as for the answer to title I guess a vocation is a calling, whereas an attraction is based on our desires. As for your question about why God would allow attraction without base, that is a great question. I wish I knew that. I guess the bigger question is the problem of pain, and that we are all still in the “valley of tears”. But I hope that, in the grand picture, our God will give us the desires of our heart, or perhaps guide us to new and greater desires that He will fulfill.

Hi!

Think about this: In your example, the young man would be in discernment. He would read and pray and talk to people and he would hopefully deepen his relationship with God, even if he never becomes a priest. That does not sound cruel to me!

In other ways, people may feel that they are being called in a direction, and then they discern that original way is not the way that God meant for them. Do you think it’s possible that, even though they may be immediately unhappy or confused, they will eventually come to the realization that it was just pointing the way to something else that will bring them joy? :slight_smile:

Maybe but I could also see it leading to a crushed spirit. Imagine if in my example the young man felt “If i’m not good enough for the priesthood, i’m not good enough for anything else”. Or it might make them feel as if God rejected them. This could also happen in marriage to. I know many men and women who feel that if they couldn’t get this one person then they couldn’t get anyone at all. Now in this case it may be stubbornness but it may also be the feeling that they were misled.

I think this is like my situation but as a woman.

When I entered the church I felt a strong desire for religious life and found an order I really wanted to join. I realized I was not called for a few reasons (such as health) and it was disappointing but I had to let go.
I would like to get married but it’s hard to imagine that happening so I just end up in the single state.
I have to trust God and I know he knows what’s best for me.

I think the story of Blesseds Zelie and Louis Martin are very inspiring though. They wanted Religious life but were both rejected and well, you know the rest!
A good example though of how God works for the best.

I do understand these kinds of feelings, trust me, I’ve been there. Unfortunately it is part of life. I could feel attracted to the lifestyle of an astronaut, but there’s no way that is my vocation! I definitely didn’t work hard enough when I was in school.

That being said, even little setbacks can feel like the end of the world, especially when you’re young, but you just have to keep searching for what it is that God is really trying to tell you. It is probably easier said than done, I know, but keep holding onto the fact that God NEVER REJECTS ANYONE; never, never, never. Sometimes it could be confusing and mysterious how he works, but don’t let the little whispers of Satan make you feel inadequate. If he’s really called to the priesthood, maybe he could work hard, get his grades up, and try again in a few years.

Pax

Maybe God is trying to direct you to something different, but still a vocation.
Check this out:

When he was ordained in 1904, seven years after becoming a novice, it was with the potentially humiliating stipulation that he would be only a simplex priest – one who could say Mass but could neither hear confessions nor preach “doctrinal sermons” without permission. It was not forthcoming.

“It was simply figured that he was not smart enough to function fully as a priest,” writes Crosby, a Capuchin Franciscan, in “Thank God Ahead of Time: The Life and Spirituality of Venerable Solanus Casey.”

I’d say God designed us for a purpose. If it doesn’t fit, it must not be meant to be. I was turned down by two congregations for mental issues. The desire and the attraction is with me. The “No” of God saddened me, but I realized that I may be called to something else…until that’s clear to me…I’ll be knocking around religious congregations…I heard a priest been turned down 7 times before he was finally accepted in his diocese…I hear many saints as well being turned down before accepted…Vocations are personal and particular for each person…so it’s really important to really pray and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance…God is also testing your patience and motives.:smiley:

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