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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The timing of vocations

Talking with a priest last week and a young person this week on the importance of timing in discerning vocations, let me share with you some thoughts.

Firstly, a young person who does not have a clear idea of whether God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life, should discern this before they get into courtship.

Now, I do not believe in dating for entertainment. Dating is for finding a mate. And, a better word would be courtship. This is an old idea revived by many of us home schooling parents in the 1980s and 1990s, which now is a happy topic on Catholic radio, to which I do not have access, but so people tell me.

One does not date in order to discern a vocation. That is bad advice if one receives that from a priest.

If one has a strong attraction to the priesthood or religious life, a young person should seek out the vocations director of a diocese or the head of the monastery or convent in one's area and discern by looking and staying.

Secondly, if one has a vocation, it is wrong to lead someone of the opposite sex astray by dating. This is deceitful. Now, I had a friend a long time ago who had a vocation to the priesthood and wanted to go to concerts and stuff and wanted a safe friend with whom to go. I was it. I had no intentions of getting married and as we had a mutual understanding, it was fine. If a person knows themselves well enough, then this may be ok but I would not recommend it.

Go out with friends of the same gender, in groups; but do not get into exclusive dating

Thirdly, there is a timing for discerning vocations and I am convinced of this. I have seen this over and over. Sometimes vocations are lost through procrastinations and hemming and hawing-not taking the risk or even foolish fear of family reactions.

There is a time when God knocks at the door and asks someone to follow Him totally. If you are a young person and feel this could be true in your case, but you are hesitant, hesitate no longer.  God stands at the door and knocks but we all have free will.

If you follow this blog, you all know I recently lived in a monastery for two months discerning a late vocation. I had to do this. I had to put a niggling idea to rest one way or the other. Thankfully, God helped me discern that He wanted me, one in the world, but two, having a life of meditation and contemplation in the world.

This is hard but not impossible. God makes all things possible.

Fourthly, if you are a young person and you are not discerning and do not know, do so. Your entire life of happiness and peace is at stake.

Fifthly, it would be very wrong for a young person to know they have a religious vocation or a call to the priesthood and date. It would be equally wrong for someone to sense that the person they like has a call and date that person. Be a real friend and help them by encouraging them to get a spiritual director and figure it all out now!

Lastly, if your parents are against you following a vocation, think clearly. They may be wrong, or they may be right. But, 50% of the priests ordained in 2010 in America, said that they had no support from their families--on the contrary.

Be careful and be holy. Listen to the Holy Spirit and do not run away from God.