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SheninFrancis

Discerning Priesthood and Dating

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SheninFrancis    1
SheninFrancis

Hello,

So I'm genuinely confused and scared. Okay, about me. First and foremost, I'm a Catholic and I'm an Indian. 

I'm an Engineering second year student, and I did have a vocation back in High School. I haven't given a serious thought about it but every now and then, I get pretty upset because somewhere deep inside me, I feel like I'm called to be a priest. Now the problem. I am dating this wonderful woman who loves sincerely loves me and wants to be with me. I love her, and it had been going well (as in, I did not feel that my vocation is not marriage) but recently, I've been having these feelings and thoughts within me which tries to convince me that I have a vocation to priesthood and must leave the woman I am with. 

Now, I know Dating and discerning isn't right and I agree with it. But I also do not know if this is a genuine call or not. Note that I have spoken to almost all of the priests in and around my local parish and they gave me varied answers ranging from "Yes, you are called to priesthood" to "No, you are just too emotional." I really have no idea what I'm genuinely called for. 

Add this to the fact that I've witnessed the blessed sacrament fall on the floor from an administer's hands while in the queue for the Eucharist. It scares and haunts me, and I do feel as though it's a warning for me (like, something bad is gonna happen).

Please advice me on what to do and keep me in your prayers. :")

God Bless you! 

 

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Mr Cameron    50
Mr Cameron

I wouldn't necessarily say that 'dating and discerning' is wrong! For many men, dating is a key part of the process of discernment because the voice of God is stronger, and when He speaks to us, the pull is far stronger than the call of mankind. 

I am also discerning the priesthood, and I have passed the point of wanting to date. I spend a lot of time in silence, and I find it helps a good bit. So does the Rosary, and keeping the offices of prayer throughout the day, if one is so inclined to do that. 

Regarding your eucharistic experience, I would interpret it as a way of confirming, in fact, part of your vocation because not a lot of people would be too alarmed by a flying host, other than anyone who is particularly pious. However, it is so very okay to feel unsure! It is so okay! And the fact that you recognise the confusion in your heart is wonderful enough, because God doesn't always give us the straight-away absolute answer that we wish we could have. God's truth sometimes settles in like a slowly descending fog and disorients us, but that's what happens when we encounter the 'real' or the 'truth' far beyond what our regular senses can avail us. We often become disoriented because God's call conflicts with the desire of our flesh and mind, and the inner-struggle begins. Pray to the One who created you, because His purposes for you will become clear through conversation with our God. 

St John Vianney said to his parishioners one time, "the eyes of the world see no further than this life, but the eyes of the Christian see deep into eternity." This is especially obvious when we are so young, and I imagine we might be around the same age. To be a priest seems like a huge responsibility, and it is! The same saint said "A priest goes to Heaven or a priest goes to Hell with a thousand people behind." Therefore, we need good and solid, orthodox and devout priests. Part of discernment is figuring out if you can fill this role and be a good Christian, then a good father. 

If you want to chat, hit me up!

 
 

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chrysostom    831
chrysostom

First of all, none of us here knows you personally, so our advice pertaining to your situation can only be based on limited information. It gets said so often here because it's true, but go get a spiritual director, if you are able. Only he will be able to help give you personal guidance - and even then, it is up to you to make your decision.

Directors will also help you sort out perceived signs from real signs. Responding to your last anecdote, I once went up to receive in my first few weeks of being Catholic and the EMHC dropped the Host before it entered my mouth. I was terribly upset and sad, but I knew it was just an accident.  

You did say you have already talked to priests. I guess the difference with spiritual direction is that it's not about getting a "yes" or a "no". A spiritual director will help you become more holy, and will help you to understand yourself and to understand the hand of God in your life. And those things will help you make your own "yes" or "no".

Here's my own very unfinished story: last year I was in a limbo. Religious life was something I recognized a desire for but I also had a natural desire for love and companionship in a relationship that could lead to marriage. Having experienced neither, I was a little bit ambivalent. I recognized my own free will but also that I didn't really know what I wanted entirely. What did God want? Well I didn't know for sure. Anyways when I hit it off with a woman I went all in for it. We dated for a while.  She was a lovely and godly Catholic with whom I connected in every way. A short few months in - a point where we would begin to seriously evaluate our long-term future - I was at Eucharistic adoration with her. And I suddenly felt anew the call that first got me thinking about religious life - that call to adore, to offer my life totally to God, to prefer nothing to Christ every hour of the day. It was then that I knew it would never go away until I had tried religious life seriously. I mean, I was in a great relationship with a beautiful woman, and I STILL wanted to be a religious? Well, I agonized about it for a short space of time but I knew at that point my heart would be divided, and continuing as I had before would be unfair to both of us. So I brought it up to her without delay and we ended the relationship. In my case it was luckily amicable - I had done my best to communicate the entire time and be honest with her, and again, it was still not too long into the relationship and we had treated each other with prudence and chastity. Now I still had feelings for her to get over, but there was no bitterness. And I was happy - it doesn't mean that I'll be a religious for sure, but I'm free to pursue it with all my heart. And as far as "signs" go, I would consider that intense calling while in the midst of a great relationship a big one in terms of knowing my innermost desires and, perhaps, of discerning a supernatural calling. We shall see. I am visiting a community early next year and will see what happens next.

So find that spiritual director. And pray that you may know your vocation. And stay chaste. Actually, pray for those last two things every day...an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be before bed for those intentions. It helps! Passing that one down from an old SD of mine.

Also, great comment from Mr Cameron above. And always follow Padre Pio: "pray, hope, and don't worry."

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Mr Cameron    50
Mr Cameron
1 hour ago, chrysostom said:

First of all, none of us here knows you personally, so our advice pertaining to your situation can only be based on limited information. It gets said so often here because it's true, but go get a spiritual director, if you are able. Only he will be able to help give you personal guidance - and even then, it is up to you to make your decision.

Directors will also help you sort out perceived signs from real signs. Responding to your last anecdote, I once went up to receive in my first few weeks of being Catholic and the EMHC dropped the Host before it entered my mouth. I was terribly upset and sad, but I knew it was just an accident.  

You did say you have already talked to priests. I guess the difference with spiritual direction is that it's not about getting a "yes" or a "no". A spiritual director will help you become more holy, and will help you to understand yourself and to understand the hand of God in your life. And those things will help you make your own "yes" or "no".

Here's my own very unfinished story: last year I was in a limbo. Religious life was something I recognized a desire for but I also had a natural desire for love and companionship in a relationship that could lead to marriage. Having experienced neither, I was a little bit ambivalent. I recognized my own free will but also that I didn't really know what I wanted entirely. What did God want? Well I didn't know for sure. Anyways when I hit it off with a woman I went all in for it. We dated for a while.  She was a lovely and godly Catholic with whom I connected in every way. A short few months in - a point where we would begin to seriously evaluate our long-term future - I was at Eucharistic adoration with her. And I suddenly felt anew the call that first got me thinking about religious life - that call to adore, to offer my life totally to God, to prefer nothing to Christ every hour of the day. It was then that I knew it would never go away until I had tried religious life seriously. I mean, I was in a great relationship with a beautiful woman, and I STILL wanted to be a religious? Well, I agonized about it for a short space of time but I knew at that point my heart would be divided, and continuing as I had before would be unfair to both of us. So I brought it up to her without delay and we ended the relationship. In my case it was luckily amicable - I had done my best to communicate the entire time and be honest with her, and again, it was still not too long into the relationship and we had treated each other with prudence and chastity. Now I still had feelings for her to get over, but there was no bitterness. And I was happy - it doesn't mean that I'll be a religious for sure, but I'm free to pursue it with all my heart. And as far as "signs" go, I would consider that intense calling while in the midst of a great relationship a big one in terms of knowing my innermost desires and, perhaps, of discerning a supernatural calling. We shall see. I am visiting a community early next year and will see what happens next.

So find that spiritual director. And pray that you may know your vocation. And stay chaste. Actually, pray for those last two things every day...an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be before bed for those intentions. It helps! Passing that one down from an old SD of mine.

Also, great comment from Mr Cameron above. And always follow Padre Pio: "pray, hope, and don't worry."

That is absolutely beautiful and edifying. You've got a lot of faith and courage to have handled the situation well!!! I'm sure with your admirable virtuosity that you will make a good religious! What order are you aiming toward?

Also, St Padre Pio is a wonderful, beautiful patron. He's helped so many people discern their call! His intercession is beyond any form of human expression! I love him!

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chrysostom    831
chrysostom
13 minutes ago, Mr Cameron said:

That is absolutely beautiful and edifying. You've got a lot of faith and courage to have handled the situation well!!! I'm sure with your admirable virtuosity that you will make a good religious! What order are you aiming toward?

Also, St Padre Pio is a wonderful, beautiful patron. He's helped so many people discern their call! His intercession is beyond any form of human expression! I love him!

I'll message you. And I've got loads of baggage so it'll be great if they let me in but hoping I can put that brokenness at the foot of the Cross you know!

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Mr Cameron    50
Mr Cameron
Just now, chrysostom said:

I'll message you. And I've got loads of baggage so it'll be great if they let me in but hoping I can put that brokenness at the foot of the Cross you know!

Okay! And, the ground at the foot of the cross is level, remember that!

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Antonella    33
Antonella

I think that the first thing you need to do is... relax. Don't be so worried about the future and don't see everything that happens as a sign from God that something bad will happen - it may lead to superstition. God doesn't speak to us in panic attacks. His voice is gently and sweet but in order to hear it we have to be able to hear it. The only way is in silence and prayer. If you can take a break from your daily life, go on a retreat, visit a  monastery or just go for a long walk in nature. Or wake up 30 minutes earlier and spend that time in silence. You will never know if the call you feel is a genuine call if you don't try to listen to it.

The fact that you are in love with an amazing girl does not mean that you are not called to priesthood. Many religious have been in a relationship and had to break it off because the call to religious life was getting to loud to ignore it. In my opinion you have here two options: 1. you take a break from your relationship and try to discern more seriously the call to the priesthood or 2. you ignore the said call and continue to date your girlfriend. But I warn you that ignoring the call is futile. If it is a genuine call it won't give you peace. You can run but you can't hide. :) Be brave! Try to explain to your girlfriend the situation and maybe she will understand. It's better to get dumped or be on a break than to live with somebody who always ask himself if he made the right decision or not.

I would also recommend to find a steady Spiritual Director. It helps to be able to talk to somebody about this, especially with somebody that went through the discernment process. Find somebody around whom you feel comfortable and stick to them, don't go and speak to 10 priests because you will probably get 20 opinions and it will make you more confused.

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SheninFrancis    1
SheninFrancis

Thank you for your generous replies!

Well, regarding the advice to find a Spiritual Director, I couldn't find one. You see, I live in Dubai, the church I go to is a bit far away from my residence (it takes up to an hour and quarter on regular days) and I'm told that the Parish I go to is one of the largest in the world, in terms of the attendance. As a result, the priests are always busy with one thing or another. I did try to contact a few priests at the parish but they couldn't find time to talk about it and advised that I talk to someone I'm acquainted with. 

Now, I spoke to two priests briefly and both of them thinks I should go into seminary, since they believe I have a vocation to priesthood. Even though at the moment I feel convinced about it, I go back on it later, and I feel as though I'm unworthy of even stepping onto that Altar. I guess I'm not quite sure where I stand. 

Thank you, Chrysostom for sharing your story. Good luck with your discernment! My prayers are with you. :') 

Also, Antonella, l won't ever be able to be at peace if I ignore this call. I've tried! I'll weigh my options wisely. Thank you. 

God bless! 

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Sister Leticia    398
Sister Leticia

Hello Shenin Francis

Welcome and thank you for sharing! I just have a couple of comments, which I hope are helpful.

In your first post you said you have spoken with several priests and received different answers from each one. That's not surprising. While getting a second opinion on something can be a good idea, getting a fifth or tenth one isn't! There is a danger in talking to too many people, in that you can then find it hard to objectively sift through all the different responses and opinions you will inevitably receive. There's also the temptation of hoping or looking for the answer we would prefer to receive, and maybe in the process rejecting some other, very good advice.

You say you have now spoken briefly to two priests, which may mean you haven't had a long, in depth conversation with either of them, in which you share your relationship with God, and your relationship with and feelings for your girlfriend, as well as your anxieties. Really, the person you need to be talking to - at some depth - is the diocesan vocations director. That's what he's there for. He will be accustomed to talking to young men at all stages of considering a call to priesthood - not all of whom will end up in the seminary, much less being ordained. Contacting him might seem like a big step, but really, it doesn't mean that tomorrow you're going to be in a seminary! It just means that you - like many generous and devout young men - are open to considering this as a possibility, and would like to talk about it and get help with discernment.

And in the meantime, you also need to find the courage to be honest with your girlfriend and tell her this is something you feel you need to consider. If you're torn or conflicted she will notice, and if she suspects you're not being honest with her she will, of course, jump to conclusions which could lead to misunderstanding and pain.

You also said the priests you've just spoken with think you should go to seminary. Please remember that you do not decide whether you should go to seminary - and neither do these priests. Your decision is whether to DISCERN. This may (or may not) then lead to a decision to APPLY to the diocese for seminary training - a decision which will need to be supported by the VD or whoever the diocese asks you to discern with. Your application (which may involve lots of forms, references, evaluations etc) is then considered by the bishop, rector, whoever they consult etc - and they are the ones to decide whether or not you should go to seminary.

This means that your possible vocation is tested and considered by the VD, bishop and several other people. It isn't down to you, in the end, but them - and this can sometimes be a reassuring thought, if we're likely to feel self-doubt or unworthiness.

Blessings on your discernment and your ongoing journey!

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