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MarysLittleFlower

"fallback" vocations

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MarysLittleFlower

We often hear how we shouldn't choose a vocation as a fallback vocation in case another doesn't work out... But let's say someone believes they are not called to marriage and they are trying to discern if their vocation is religious life or consecrated / dedicated life in the world. 

 

The only way to really know for sure seems to be visiting convents and seeing what its like there...  Is it fine to then think - "I'll visit some communities and if I don't feel called there or my applications are rejected, I will discern if my vocation is consecrated life in the world". The reason is, I don't see how else discernment can happen ordinarily? Is this different from seeing it as a fallback vocation? Its not like something you wouldn't want... You just have to start actively discerning somewhere.

 

I know there are also Saints who wanted to be nuns but that wasn't working out so they made private vows in the world. Examples include St Gemma and St Kateri. There are other Saints who just knew their vocation is actually in the world like St Catherine of Siena who saw that God was specifically calling her to the 3rd Order of St Dominic. But in the case of those who wanted to be nuns - it seemed all they wanted is just to belong fully to Jesus so when they couldn't enter a convent, they did the thing they could do which was making vows in the world. 

 

Any thoughts? 

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puellapaschalis

From my understanding and from following the discussions, it seems to me that it's not so much the process itself (which you outlined) as the attitude the discerner has to it. Certainly there have been people who've lived all manner of sinful lives in the world who subsequently repented and as part of that repentance entered religious life - and persevered too. Where there is a sincere desire and a certain stubbornness, I honestly think God will move mountains.

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Maggyie

I agree with pp. It's all in the attitude. "well since I know I can't have x vocation, I will do y vocation." You want to pursue the vocation because of its own merits not just because your preferred option is unavailable.

Basically after discerning and getting ready to take the next step, ask yourself, "if my original desired option x suddenly became possible would I abandon my present course for it?"

Now of course one vocation may present itself for consideration because others are just clearly not possible. That's no issue at all. It's all just about discerning with sincerity.

 

 

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Credo in Deum

As one priest told me, "be open to the will of God.  Pray to desire what you need and not need what you desire.  Acknowledge that God knows what you need better than you do, and pray for the grace to accept this with humility and love.  Follow where you feel called and if you find out you do not have a vocation there, then pray to be open to recieve God's direction to contiue on."

This advice has helped me greatly.  I used to say "I could never be married", but know I say I can do all things with God and if He knows marriage is the best place for me then I want this.  If He wants me as a priest then I want that.  If he wants me as a religious then I want that as well. 

Receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, Thou hast given me. I return it all to Thee, and surrender it wholly to be governed by Thy will. Thy love and Thy grace grant unto me, and I am rich enough, and ask for nothing more.

 

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4LoveofJMJ

Sometimes we can be so set in our own ways without realizing it that the only way God can reach us is by slamming enough doors in our face that we can finally see his will for what it is. Call it a spiritual 2x4 upside the head. Trust me, it's very effective.

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totustuus20

The Lord does not promise us gold and give us silver. I feel like the problem arises when we think of vocations as "fallback" vocations. It is quite possible that the Lord has something in mind for us which is different from what we thought we were called to, however, this does not mean that it is a "fallback." The key is to be open to the Lord's Will, whatever it is.

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Gabriela

I'm really glad someone finally brought this up. It seems the phrase "fallback vocation" gets tossed around here a lot, especially with regard to consecrated virginity. I don't think there is such a thing as a "fallback vocation". If it's your vocation, it's what God called you to. We don't choose our vocations: We accept them as gifts. So the phrase "fallback vocation" is an oxymoron.

We should stop using it.

That being said, I see what people are getting at with it: the tendency for people to say, "Well, I guess this is my vocation," with no real positive draw or desire to that state of life. They do it because they put up artificial, willful barriers to other states of life: I don't want that because I can't stand people telling me what to do; I don't want that because kids are too demanding; I don't want that because I hate being alone; etc. The fear and selfishness such thoughts derive from can drive one away from one's true calling, and towards a vocation that looks like the least worst of all the possible options, just because you're not open to what GOD wants, which is for YOU TO CHANGE. That "selfish 'vocation' " is what I think people mean when they refer to a "fallback vocation". But it's not a vocation at all, cuz for that, one needs a call.

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MarysLittleFlower

Thanks for the replies! :) I agree we should be open to anything that may be God's Will. I think for me I'm trying to be open but the usual way to know seems to visit communities and see if you're called there or not, and if not then a vocation in the world would be more clear. I agree we should accept any vocation joyfully and with gratitude :) God gives each person a specific mission that is unrepeatable. This thought has helped me to be more open than I used to be.

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nunsense

It's my personal opinion but I don't think of fallback vocations in terms of God. I know that vocation means something different in a secular way, such as a teaching vocation, nursing vocation, etc,  and in these cases I think it might be possible to have a 'fallback' vocation, especially if a physical disability makes the first choice impossible, say for example, a ballet dancer who ends up in a wheelchair might then decide that although dancing in her first love and vocation, since she can no longer do this, being a choreographer or dance teacher would at least keep her involved in her passion. It won't replace it, but it can help her to deal with the loss, while also being of use to others.

But in a religious vocation, I think it is more about one's relationship with God,  - about responding to Him rather than pursuing a particular 'line of work' of 'style of life'. We do have preferences of course, just as the dancer does, but since it isn't only about us, if we can respond to God's love without feeling that we are 'settling' for a 'fallback' vocation, then we know that where we are at any point in time is just where we are meant to be, for reasons that may be unknown to us, but not to Him.

 

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oremus1

I think there is a difference between, for example, someone who wants to give their live to God and tries a few convents but it doesn't work out, then they positively investigate and discern life in the world as a CV, do they feel attraction to it? can they give their life to God in that way? etc

Or the other hand, a complacent - "I cant do X therefore I suppose Y" "If I am not married by X age I will do Y" "I don't want X, Y Z therefore Y" without any positive discernment or effort to give their life to God.

However, another point is, how can we ever really know? A person can take all the right steps, look good outwardly, but inwardly they could have selfish reasons for ANY vocation. Only they and the Lord will know.

It is true that this is more of an issue with CV, with, ordinarily, no external sign of change apart from wearing a ring, and often, very poor discernement and preparation processes

 

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Gabriela

I think there is a difference between, for example, someone who wants to give their live to God and tries a few convents but it doesn't work out, then they positively investigate and discern life in the world as a CV, do they feel attraction to it? can they give their life to God in that way? etc

Or the other hand, a complacent - "I cant do X therefore I suppose Y" "If I am not married by X age I will do Y" "I don't want X, Y Z therefore Y" without any positive discernment or effort to give their life to God.

However, another point is, how can we ever really know? A person can take all the right steps, look good outwardly, but inwardly they could have selfish reasons for ANY vocation. Only they and the Lord will know.

It is true that this is more of an issue with CV, with, ordinarily, no external sign of change apart from wearing a ring, and often, very poor discernement and preparation processes

 

​I agree that, from the outside, an "authentic" vocation and a "fallback 'vocation' " can look exactly the same. And that's another thing that bothers me about the term "fallback 'vocation' ": It seems all too often to be used to judge the authenticity of another's vocation. Which is impossible and haughty and none of our beaver dam business.

And that's another reason I think we ought to stop using the term...

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oremus1

​I agree that, from the outside, an "authentic" vocation and a "fallback 'vocation' " can look exactly the same. And that's another thing that bothers me about the term "fallback 'vocation' ": It seems all too often to be used to judge the authenticity of another's vocation. Which is impossible and haughty and none of our beaver dam business.

Another reason I think we ought to stop using the term...

​But in that case, is there any real need for checking if a candidate is joining an order or vocation for 'right reasons' and 'right motivations'?

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Nunsuch

​But in that case, is there any real need for checking if a candidate is joining an order or vocation for 'right reasons' and 'right motivations'?

​Absolutely!  At issue is not only the vocation of the individual but also the entire community which s/he is attempting to join. This is why training and expertise are required. We are long past the days (thank God!) when "I want to save my soul" was sufficient to "qualify" someone for religious life. I am a firm believer in rigorous discernment, including psychological and personality screenings. One or two unstable individuals can do serious harm to a community. And this is ESPECIALLY true, in my opinion, in small houses or newly emerging communities with only a handful of members.

Terminology is not the issue here. And, yes, some people discover their true calling only after trying and/or eliminating others that may initially seem attractive. But people qualified to help an individual differentiate between deciding and "settling" are really important.

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oremus1

​Absolutely!  At issue is not only the vocation of the individual but also the entire community which s/he is attempting to join. This is why training and expertise are required. We are long past the days (thank God!) when "I want to save my soul" was sufficient to "qualify" someone for religious life. I am a firm believer in rigorous discernment, including psychological and personality screenings. One or two unstable individuals can do serious harm to a community. And this is ESPECIALLY true, in my opinion, in small houses or newly emerging communities with only a handful of members.

Terminology is not the issue here. And, yes, some people discover their true calling only after trying and/or eliminating others that may initially seem attractive. But people qualified to help an individual differentiate between deciding and "settling" are really important.

​But as Garbiela said "

​I agree that, from the outside, an "authentic" vocation and a "fallback 'vocation' " can look exactly the same. And that's another thing that bothers me about the term "fallback 'vocation' ": It seems all too often to be used to judge the authenticity of another's vocation. Which is impossible and haughty and none of our beaver dam business.

Another reason I think we ought to stop using the term..."

Why does it mater? I can see why one shouldnot have a vocation if they are mentally disturbed etc . but if they are settling, or shoosing their 'last option' vocation, why does it matter? and how would you ever know?

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Nunsuch

It matters because Religious life is a *calling.* It is not what it looks like "from the outside" that matters. What matters is how it is lived, and loved, from the inside.

Look, there is a certain romanticism to following Jesus in a "special" way (all ways of following Jesus are special if it is the right one for a particular person). But religious life used to attract far too many people who did it as a last resort, or because they didn't want to live in an abusive marriage such as that of their parents, or because it would give them an education or because they thought it would make them important or transmit a certain status. Too many of them *survived* in religious life, but didn't thrive. They were not easy to live with. They were not happy or at peace. Thank GOD there are now many ways that people can live and serve and be holy (there always were, of course, but now it's better understood and appreciated). Religious life should be grounded in LOVE, not in tolerance.

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bardegaulois

I would truly wonder if a "fallback vocation" in the manner that it is commonly construed can actually exist. I've known men who have considered becoming deacons or brothers after washing out of seminary--and then realizing why they washed out of seminary. The criterion becomes not serving God as He desires, but only in serving God as a priest, even if they can only get into what they might see as a quasi-priestly function. I don't know whatever became of those men, but if their motivation was so glaringly obvious to me, one can certainly bet that it was so to their formators as well.

Thoughts like this have come to my mind as well on occasion. On writing a letter of interest to a clerical society about considering their seminary, I received a letter back informing me that I was past their age cut-off, but inviting me to discern life as a brother (or brother-esque type person through them) with them. I considered this for a time, but eventually came to the conclusion that any interest I might show there is not due to an interest in the vocation to brotherhood itself, but due to a strong affinity for the priesthood. Thus I was likely thinking the same way as the men I described above, and had to step back and see that this wouldn't really be a benefit to me, because I was not interested in what was offered to me for its own good, but rather as a backdoor way to become a quasi-priest. I really doubt that I'd have made it a year with them, and probably would have eventually made it the long way home frustrated, tormented, and ashamed. If the thought of a certain state of life--in itself, bear in mind, not as a means to an end--does not bring on a state of consolation, it's probably a good idea to re-evaluate why it's under consideration.

This is of course not to deny that someone might go through a novitiate or suchlike and then realize while they are there that they are truly being called elsewhere, or to be dismissed and to let it go and then find their true calling elsewhere after embracing it wholeheartedly on its own merits, but that's not really a "fallback," but more of a providential surprise, the likes of which are perhaps a little more common than we might think.

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