Hello. I am new to the community but I wanted to get some advice regarding our young son. The other night when I was tucking him into bed he indicated that he has been hearing a voice in his head stating that he needs to be a Priest when he grows up. Our son will be 9 at the end of this month. I know we have some time before we see this come to fruition if this is God’s will, but what are some ways I can help my son discern God’s will for him?
I have asked him since if he has heard the voice and he said no, but that it comes and goes. Sometimes it is louder than others, but it doesn’t appear to be going away for good. Has anyone else had experience with a child hearing the call at this age?
I recall a young priest who was having breakfast with a group of men on one Saturday many years ago. Someone offered to buy him breakfast and he politely declined, explaining that he fasted on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s and could only have something to drink (he chose orange juice). Someone told him that was very admirable and asked how long had he been doing that, had he perhaps started in the seminary. He said that no, he actually started that when he was seven!
At nine years old, he has a long way to go before true discernment. He is still in his developmental years.
At this point, you need to give him an ordinary, well-rounded childhood with a good grounding in the faith. If he is being called, the pull to become a priest will not go away. But you want to make sure it is a pull from the Holy Spirit and not a push from his parents.
It is possible for someone to hear a call at such a young age. It is not current practice to accept children into seminary, however. he would have to wait for that.
Perhaps you could give him stories about the lives of saints from many walks of life (not just priests/religious). While later discernment may reveal a different vocation for your son, it is a truth that all Catholics (single or married, secular or religious) have a vocation to holiness.
What they are finding out is that there is a segment of the population that just hear their own thoughts as separate voices. Like, you have a “thought voice” that asks, “Did you lock the backdoor?”
But when some people do that, it sounds like someone else speaking. I know a woman who does this, she just thought everyone heard what she did since it started when she was a child.
What I am saying is, maybe at this stage, like a child might think “I gotta be a fireman when I grow up!” He might think about being a priest. But he hears it in his head as a voice. So, maybe it’s not an outside call. Or maybe it is.
I think if you understand about this, then if the voice changes and says other things, you’ll be able to help him more understand it’s coming from him. If it’s consistent in his life as he grows, then it might be a voice of Divine origin.
BTW, that woman I know told me she has two voices, one sounds like a man and one like a woman! I read some other reports like this in the book. Completely sane well-adjusted people, it’s just the way they talk to themselves.
Whatever happened to Samuel of the Old Testament? I’m surprised nobody has mentioned him.
If this happens again, have him respond like Samuel was advised to do: Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
The greatest thing he can do now is offer up his daily duty in a morning offering, stay close to Mary, and participate in adoration, while being a humble and holy student. You need to start praying now that he will remember this and preserve purity when puberty hits.
See and that is my thinking in helping him discern is this an internal voice or external voice. We are nurturing his spiritual life and encourage prayer, going to church and knowledge of our faith.
And I want to make sure as his parent that I let him know that he is not pressured into a life in the Priesthood, but that I nonetheless encourage it if that is what he chooses. IT’s a fine balance to strike when talking about it with him, kwim?
Well, my daughter, who is my oldest, is almost 40 now and according to her the best thing I did as a mom (and I messed up a lot, believe me) was when I would just listen and sometimes ask a question about what she thought. Sounds to me like you are right on target.
My philosophy was let them go and let them grow, while keeping the wolves at bay. If God is speaking to your son, you won’t have to do a thing but love him and give him room to explore his interest as he is led and God will take care of the rest. If he is speaking to himself and starts wanting to be a fireman … I think you just do the same thing!
He is so young…bear in mind that just because he’s hearing this “voice” say this, it doesn’t mean he’s being “called”. Children are very imaginative and sensitive and hear, see and feel all sorts of things…if you are big church go-ers, his imagination may be focusing on priesthood because he’s had a lot of exposure to them and they loom large in his mind.
Some kids think they are going to be ball players or dancers or the president-- after they’ve seen movies or heard stories or felt some sort of emotional impact about a person or the career in question.
If they look up to and idolize someone, they then want to be like them.
I think you shouldn’t worry about it…not say too much about it…just let the kid be a kid and tell him he can be whatever he wants to be, and see what unfolds.
I think it would be good (in addition to everyone else’s suggestions) to explain the job and all it entails to him, and perhaps ask if a priest could advise him in this as he gets older. I am currently feeling like I may be called, but I’ve never been called so clearly as your son seems to be. I’m happy that you didn’t endeavor to stfle the thought, or simply take it for granted. I’m sure you will be the best of mothers to your son in his journey.
[quote="JNdoum, post:12, topic:280438"]
I think it would be good (in addition to everyone else's suggestions) to explain the job and all it entails to him, and perhaps ask if a priest could advise him in this as he gets older. I am currently feeling like I may be called, but I've never been called so clearly as your son seems to be. I'm happy that you didn't endeavor to stfle the thought, or simply take it for granted. I'm sure you will be the best of mothers to your son in his journey.
Thank you. And our prayers go to you on your journey :)
We have a friend who is a Priest (well several, lol) and a Deacon. They are all in our hometown and my husband and I had thought about speaking with them about just simply talking to him over family dinner when we come back in for a visit.
One thing I just have been thinking on lately after our discussion was that this kind of came out of left field. I mean when he was younger he play acted Mass and used to love going into the Sacristy to visit briefly with me. I think there is something to the Church looming large in his life from an early age, but since we moved away from our hometown it just doesn't have that same sense of immersion we once had in our lives.
But I am so very thankful for the wonderful advice and discussion on this thread. You never know when you hear this from a child if it could be replaced with "Astronaut!" in a few weeks. But, he just seems so sincere in his assertion of this voice. I even challenged him a bit (I know, mean Mommy, but you never know if your kids are telling you what they think you want to hear), and he got emotional and said "No, Mom, it's there. Just not all the time."
I know exactly what you mean. I remember felling a bit like that when I was around 8. I just pushed it to the back of my head and continued with my life. Several years later in 2010 I felt the call come back only much stronger and I have only now decided to approach my Parish Priest about it.
What I would say is don’t dismiss it, whilst it may just be a phase, looking back know I recall ‘hearing’ the voice and certainly in the last few years I have been feeling that their may be something more to it. Just keep bringing them up with a normal Catholic upbringing and if they are still feeling called when they are able to make a proper and informed decison for their whole life (I would say 14+ but it varys person to person) then it might be time to look seriously at it.
It is only after two years of serious private discernment and prayer that I decided that I felt that it was appropriate for me to approach a Priest. As others have said it could be no different from A child wanting to be President but the Lord calls all his Servents in different ways. Give it time and pray for your son.
I have heard several priests say that they knew that they wanted to become priests by the time they were seven. If you give your son a good Catholic upbringing, and you have a good Catholic family life, the Lord’s calling will become more apparent to him as he grow older, if, in fact that is what he is hearing. Support him in his faith, and tell him that he must study hard in school if he thinks that he might want to become a priest. If he doesn’t have a vocation, he will still be prepared to become a good husband and father some day.
Stay out of it as much as you can, if it is his vocation then it is his vocation only and not yours. I might sound harsh but I believe that to be the best approach. Having said that you still have an obligation to raise him to be the best Christian that he can be. If I were you I would consecrate him to God, but do not tell your son about that. One suggestion is for you to become a catechist and to teach in his class, to be involved with him in some social ministries at the parish. If he sees his father having a strong religious life then he can feel free to consider the priesthood. I am telling you that as a father that found himself in the same situation years ago, now my son is in high school and he his not excited at the idea of being a diocesan priest but he is attracted by the priesthood and monastic life.