I am especially interested in hearing from anyone who seriously discerned a call to the priesthood or religious life, but then determined they were called to marriage.
I have been a Catholic for almost 3 years, and just turned 30. For most of that time, I have considered/discerned the priesthood and (more seriously) religious life. I’ve met with several vocations directors and priests, and have made several retreats with different religious orders. None of them has really “clicked” but I’ve kept the door open and the “investigation” ongoing. I frequent the sacraments (especially the Eucharist, at daily Mass) and pray a good chunk of the LOTH every day.
Still, my interest in the celibate vocations has declined drastically over the past several months and has been replaced with a lot more thought of marriage and family. It’s not that I am suddenly repulsed by the idea of becoming a priest or religious, but rather that marriage just seems a lot more attractive. Maybe it’s that so many people around me have been getting married and having children; or that I finally have a stable, full time salaried job; or that I’ve read so much Catholic theology regarding marriage and have a better understanding of how wonderful and sacramental it is; or that there is a particular woman at my parish that I am interested in. Maybe my original interest in religious life was just the result of my conversion zeal.
I am at the point of trying to decide whether to pursue dating. Still, I don’t know whether you need to make a “clean break” with discernment of the celibate vocations. Do I need to be able to say, with a clear conscience, that I know I am not being called to a celibate life before I date? I certainly don’t want to attempt discernment of both at the same time!
One final note–although I do not have a formal spiritual director, the abbot at one of the monasteries I’ve visited several times has somewhat served in this capacity. After several in-depth conversations, he knows a lot more about me than my parish priest. I have raised this issue with him and after reminding me of the sacrifices of married life, he said I should go for it if I ultimately feel led in that direction. He plans to discuss it with me further in the near future.
Any insights would be appreciated!