Where to go?


#1

Hey everyone,

For a long while, I have been having much difficulty discerning my vocation in life.

When I was young (i.e. in High School!), I was always seen as being one of the most religious kids. My family always brought me up to be strong in the faith and I spent many a happy time as an altar boy, and I remember serving under one young priest in particular and wishing that one day, I may be able to preach like him (the fact he had a fancy car, was tall and broad and an aggressive sportsman also probably create this image of masculine perfection!). But as I got older, I gradually lost this naive and idealistic vision of what the priesthood is about, particularly when my brother applied to join seminary, and I could then see the rigorous training, the doubt and sacrifices entailed in taking Holy Orders. And naturally as I got older, I could see the role of the local priest in ministering to all, from families blighted by suicide and tragedy. Needless to say, a vocation to the priesthood became less appealing!

As I went to university, I started really to engage with the allegedly fairer sex for the first proper time :wink: And a more mature vocation began to form in my head - to enjoy a deep and loving relationship with another Catholic girl, where we could share each other’s dreams, doubts, joys, fears, successes and disappointments, and ultimately start a family who would all live together and grow with the golden gift of faith. As a student, a life of debonair nihilism and student excess, living from one pleasure to the next was not for me. I was no living saint, but my student days were lived out in contrast to the vast majority of my contemporaries, spending summers working with the sick in Lourdes, and attending mass during the week.

While at university, I took an opportunity to study abroad for a year, and I met a wonderful Italian girl. We were part of a wider group of Christian friends, and as the year wore on, I realised that she may be the one for me. We eventually we got together, and stayed in a long-distance relationship, only seeing each other once every 3 months for the best part of 2 years.

This was a particularly beautiful time for me, as we both put the faith at the centre of our relationship, and although we had the natural rows that happen in all relationships, I felt this girl was particularly sent by God as a special gift to me. That is, until we both came to live in the same country for the first time, and suddenly for some reason, the silences and the arguments began to mount, almost without warning. It was a very turbulent time and we ended up splitting up soon after, with both of us as shocked as the other as to how it deteriorated so fast.

In the aftermath, I entered a very dark period for my faith. I was living abroad in a town where Mass was not celebrated in a language I could understand, and my attendance and prayer life started to go by the wayside. It was like a pack of cards had suddenly collapsed, and all the retreats and prayers of all the years, suddenly seemed as far and distant as possible. I suddenly began to embrace the very student life that hitherto I had rejected. Alcohol and nights out began to fill the void. I never started sleeping around or taking drugs or doing anything really stupid. But it was still a very sad and tremendously unfulfilling time.

When I got my first real job last summer, the student life had to end, and one day I read a text, exhorting us to take personal responsbility for our faith. For if we don’t ourselves, who will? I reflected on the emptyness I felt without my daily and weekly Catholic rituals. Yet at the same time, I understood that if they were only rituals for me - if they did not light a fire within me, then my faith was like the salt that was no longer salty. With great effort, I have thrown myself back into a Christian life these last few months. From participating with a local Christian social action project, to spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to finding time for mass at lunchtime during my working week. It’s almost been as if I’ve been thrashing around in the dark, simply searching once again for truth. The road is hard, and there will be many twists along the way, but I have tried to abandon my life to Him each day, and let Him come into me and change my heart and mind every day.

From here, I have been reflecting on my future. I have been very blessed in life with a good education and to have secured a comfortable employment. Yet now, I wonder whether God is calling me to go one step further and consider that vocation to be His priest, particularly as I cannot seem to find a Catholic girl here who would stay with me and with whom I would like to settle. Just as I once naively conceived in childhood, but now matured by reasoned faith, the question of a special calling has arisen again. I cannot be sure that this is what God may want me to do, as to be honest, the thought of it frightens me greatly. I feel totally unprepared for it, and yet I look around the society in which I live, and, at the risk of sounding overly self-righteous, I do not see many other young men who consider so deeply the greatest and gravest matters of salvation and sinfulness. The call to a religious life should surely fill one with joy. And yet the ideal of finding a Catholic partner with whom I can construct something beautiful for God’s glory still burns extremely strongly inside me.

So I am actively considering my future, and seeing the question of vocation as a cross to bear. Could God really desire this for me? Or do I just need to be patient and wait for the Catholic partner with whom I can attempt to build a holy and loving relationship? My apologies if a subject like this should not be discussed here, but I am earnestly seeking answers to the questions that so trouble my heart.

God bless,
Irish_Wanderer


#2

All that you have written sounds like the testimonies of many priests! One thing that you may want to do is talk to the Vocations Director in your Diocese. Their job is to help young men discern their calling. They may have to visit a seminary.

I will be praying for you!


#3

See a vocations director - bingo!

Go on a weekend retreat organized by Miles Christi - www.mileschristi.org

Ask our Mother Mary for some help, guidance, and intercession.


#4

Unfortunately I’m living abroad and in Europe,so the Miles Christi retreat is not an option, curious to me as it appears. Though In August, I will be taking a week-long retreat in France organised by the Jesuits, where there will be the opportunity for personal spiritual direction.

Like I say, there’s a lot of fear inside me regarding the priesthood. A lot of me is terrified of the loneliness it would entail, and I severely doubt how I could face up to the challenges and tragedies that priests must confront, and their flocks who must be comforted. I’ve long had this beau ideal of raising and serving a Catholic family, and feel the desire and need as I said earlier to share everything in my life with a loving wife. Without that in my life, I would feel somewhat incomplete - just as I have felt since I split up with my last girlfriend. And yet like I have said, I look around and don’t really see many other young people like me who take the faith so seriously, which begs the question “what do you want from me Lord?”

I hope that the spiritual direction will help and that my prayer life will enlighten me until then. I also hope to possibly speak to a priest I know this weekend regarding what I have said here.

Thank you for your prayers and sage advice! :slight_smile:


#5

Before seeing a vocations director get yourself a spiritual director and work with them to discern where you are called to be.


#6

The advice I would give is thus,

  1. Make a good confession. I have no doubt that God hears our prayers even if we are in a state of mortal sin. I do doubt that we can recognize an answer if we have our “vision” blinded by sin. Sins really do cloud our judgement. Avoid sin and situations that can lead you to sin. This will put you in the proper frame of mind so that when God does talk you will be able to hear him. What is a sin is not a mystery. Any examination of conscience lists pretty much all the things to watch out for.

  2. Pray for guidance. But you must pray from some place deep. We spend almost all our lives living on the surface, you must pray with your heart, mind and soul. It is rare that we can pray this way. When you do you will know it.

  3. Be wary of anyone who is too quick to push you one way or another.

It is obvious that over the past few decades there are hundreds of men who became priests for the wrong reasons. It will be decades before the Church recovers from the damage they caused.

But the Church also needs real men to be fathers. Fathers who are faithful to their wives, fathers who give a good example to their children. I personally believe the Church lacks good fathers more than it lacks good priests. Just where do good priests come from if not good Catholic families?


#7

It sounds like you’re facing a difficult decision. To me it sounds like you are more called to fatherhood than (capital F) Fatherhood. And another poster was right in saying that the church certainly needs good fathers, just as much as it needs Fathers. Remember we are all part of the body of Christ, and we all have different roles. But I also wanted to point out that – you said you would be lonely as a priest, but you would not be alone! You would be with Christ!

I will pray for your discernment. I hope you find a good Catholic wife, or hear the call of the Holy Spirit. Either way, I pray for your peace and joy.


#8

I find this statement to be offensive! There is nothing wrong with being effeminate.

God bless


#9

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