Monday, November 29, 2010

Desires Vs. Callings

I am going to try to make sense with this post, but I make no promises ;)

A short time ago, I read a beautiful post by a fellow Catholic Infertile, Complicated Life, as she discerned her desires for children and tried to reconcile those desires with the plain and simple fact that God does not always fulfill those desires just because they are for an objective good. With that statement, I wholeheartedly agree. I may desire that my grandmother be cured of cancer - a very obviously "good" desire, but God may have had other plans for bringing her to heaven to be reunited with Him and her family.

However, I had to sit and think about the entire post. If I believe that God will not grant children to all those who desire them, what is it I do believe?

I began to contemplate the difference between desires and callings. Both, I believe, can change throughout our lifetimes. An example would be, as a child I may desire to live in Hawaii, but as an adult I may desire to live in Alaska. A young man may get a calling from God to become a priest. Later in life, he MAY get a call to become a family man, leave the priesthood, and get married (it happens).

While our desires may often be for objective "goods," I don't think that all desires come directly from God. We may desire these objective goods BECAUSE of our love for God and our desire to make Him happy and bring Him glory. But I think that a calling is distinctly different, in that it is coming directly from the Holy Spirit within us.

Much like a woman or man receives a calling to enter religious life, I believe many women and men are called to be husbands and wives, mothers and fathers in a physical sense. I feel so strongly about this because I feel like I have a calling to be a mother. I also believe I received a calling to adopt, and this one I remember as being even more clear.

So how does this enter in to God's plan and His will to fulfill callings as opposed to desires?

Here's how I see it: If God gives us a direct calling to do something, He wants us to pursue it. He may NOT fulfill the calling immediately, and He may not even fulfill the calling in the WAY we think He will... but I do firmly believe that IF HE CALLS US TO SOMETHING, HE WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD US TO ITS FULFILLMENT, in one way or another. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I feel pretty strongly that God wouldn't call us to something if He didn't intend for us to carry it out.

Perhaps the reason I feel this way is because I know many people who have had their callings in life fulfilled - there comes such a peace in knowing you are living out your vocation that is simply impossible to deny. Suffering may come and go within the vocation, but once that calling has been fulfilled, there no longer seem to be questions or frustrations - not in the same way, at least. Now, as an outsider, it is rather difficult to tell who has had their CALLINGS fulfilled as opposed to their DESIRES. Only the individual can make that distinction, really. But trusting that priests, for example, have fulfilled their callings, we can see that they are comfortable and at peace in their roles, despite the sufferings they may still experience.

Does this make any sense to anyone other than me?

I'm really only basing this on my own strongly-held beliefs. I can't quote any particular author or scripture passage... I just feel it in my heart. And it feels right.

I have been called to be a mother. I KNOW this. I have been called to adopt. God has called me to pursue motherhood, and He has ALLOWED me to endure the suffering of not being able to fulfill my calling in life so that my suffering can bring Him even greater glory. (I do not think God causes or wills suffering, but He allows it so that we may become closer to Him.) I still feel the calling to motherhood, and perhaps one day that will be fulfilled in the physical sense. I do think that it will, even if it means we adopt when I'm in my 50s ;) But maybe there is some other route to motherhood that I haven't even thought of, which God will reveal to me in His time. Regardless, I know my calling will be fulfilled.


God Alone Suffices said...

Thank you for posting this. I've also been thinking about that post.

My question is, how can you tell the difference between a desire and a calling? My desires are SO strong, it feels like a calling, but how can you know for sure?

Vent-ilation said...

That's really deep! It makes a lot of sense, though, how you described a calling being something we pursue, whether or not it's fulfilled in the way or time in which we'd expect. So desires, we may not actually pursue, just wish for? That's how I'm wrapping my head around the difference. Really thoughtful post!

Anonymous said...

girl were you hiding in my room last weekend?! my husband and i were talking about this same thing! i saw your comment on ACL and wanted to post up a comment but everything i came up with was like "yeah, yeah, i agree" ha, so i didn't. probably should have though.
anyways, yeah yeah i totally agree. ha! the only slight modification i would contribute is that sometimes, pursuing a calling from God will lead us down our path, but it may not have the ending we thought it would. like right now, i KNOW God is calling my husband and I to be open to life. we knew it over a year ago even though we weren't in the ideal place to have children. just because he was calling us to be open (we both felt it very strongly) it CLEARLY didn't mean he was calling us to have kids right then! i think that's a special pain that infertile women feel (i won't use that other word here on your blog...ha!) because our calling isn't answered in the 'traditional' way. does that make sense?
i think that explanation helps me realize that yes there is a purpose for things, even if the answer isn't so obvious, although I do think its also possible that our desires can get in the way too. however, when my husband and I were talking about adoption this weekend, we both KNOW that it is part of the necessary process for us to be open to life biologically and deal with this first before we are able to answer the next call. life is revealed in stages, I guess.
I hope that made sense!

Little Old Me said...

Just wondering, since I don't see it on your blog (or maybe I missed it), your thoughts/beliefs on IUI.

Meg @ True, Good and Beautiful said...

I love that you're writing about this. Obviously, it's been on my mind and heart!

It is important to distinguish between a desire and a calling and I think you did so very well. I would agree that a desire originates more within us, whereas a calling would come from God. The two aren't mutually exclusive, though, as I think we can have the desire for that to which we are called.

I do think that we can be called to different things at different times in our life, however, I don't really think that applies to vocational callings (referring to proper vocations: Marriage and the Celibate life, whether it be priesthood or religious life). I would have to disagree with your example of a man who is called to the priesthood and then is later called to marriage. A vocation is for life; whether or not we treat it that way is another story. In the same vein, I think many people are called to a religious vocation, the priesthood for example, however through internal or external factors, they do not (or perhaps cannot) pursue that vocation and instead get married. God makes the best of this and will bless the man in the path he has chosen giving him sufficient grace to live it well, but it wasn't the man's vocational calling.

I think when we're called to something (adoption, for example, since I too especially feel the call to adopt), that God definitely wants us to pursue that. And I do believe that God intends to fulfill it; it would be according to His perfect will. However, we live in a fallen world. I think it is possible for ourselves or others to get in the way of that calling. In the adoption example, maybe one spouse isn't open to pursuing it, despite the calling, out of fears or other reasons. Perhaps the social worker closes the door unjustly. Perhaps some people never end up actually adopting because children are being aborted (that's more of a theoretical example). While God INTENDS on fulfilling our calling, His permissive will allows for the possibility of human error and sin, which in a fallen world happens, which could preclude that fulfillment.

In those cases, we get to suffer and (hopefully) glorify God through our trials and our faithful endurance of them.

And of course, it could be that we discover our vocation to motherhood in another way that we didn't expect, but that perhaps was in God's mind the whole time, such as a spiritual motherhood (I sometimes feel this way in my work in youth ministry). But I think the call to spiritual motherhood would be a distinct calling from adoption, and biological motherhood is different still. We could be called to more than one. We could assume that we're called to bio motherhood, when we have really only ever been called to adoptive or spiritual motherhood. I just don't know; discernment is difficult, especially when desires are involved.

Sorry that was long; clearly I think about this a lot! Thanks for sharing all your thoughts; I love reading it. :)

Anonymous said...

Again, like a previous poster said, you can't differentiate between a calling and a desire. Both of them are essentially desires because there isn't any deity that speaks to us on a personal basis.

Think about it. You're saying God told you you are called to be a mother. Last I checked anyone who tells me that they are on a mission from god they had better be in a Blues Brothers movie. People who say that "god told them to do something" are nutcases!

Look - there just isn't a god. All the little religious blessings and chants and mantras and time in church is a complete waste of time. Sorry.

Second Chances said...

I have to agree with Complicated Life here in that I don't think our "calling", or vocation, changes. Our desires do, of course, like you said. As for the priests who leave the priesthood to marry, we can't really say what the truth is because only God knows his true calling. I think this is true for all of us, that God knows our true vocation and that, in this light, we need to seek His will. No easy task!

Little Old Me: I have a link on my website to the Catholic Church's position on IUI. Or you can email me :)

Anon: I'm sorry that you feel this way. I don't think you'll find much support for your beliefs on this blog. But I'll pray for you :) (I don't mean this sarcastically, it's just the truth)

My Heart Exults said...

Thank you.

... said...

Very thought provoking and I do like the origination distinction. I do think people are, too often, apt to describe a desire as a calling and I, for one, find it near impossible to distinquish the two in everyday life. I do not agree, however, with callings changing. Maybe once one is fulfilled another is given or even if one isn't fulfilled, a different path is laid out, but it's hard for me to accept that God would give a person a 2nd calling, the pursuit of which would directly contradict the commitments and obligations of the 1st calling.

Flipping around the priest example. What if a man felt called to matrimony and then, while still married, felt called to priesthood/celibate life. Even though he wouldn't be able to fulfill it, as you said, we are meant to pursue our callings whether they come to fruition or not. It just confuses me to think that would come from God and I'd be more willing to think a person made a misake or let desires get in the way. (BTW: That example would be different if a man was called to priesthood after being widowed.) Maybe I'm thinking too much of this, but vocations and callings, once pursued and fulfilled, generally involve lifelong commitments.

E said...

I agree a calling and a desire are different. I would think that I could change my desires much more easily than a calling. If I wasn't called to be a mother, there would have been no way I would have endured what we did to have a child. There was something aching in my inmost being that I wasn't a mother. Now that I am, the ache is gone. That would be how I expalin it. I did feel the same way about being married.

Kathryn said...

Yep, this is totally my thinking on the subject, too. And yours is a beautiful faith that can trust that He will fulfill His promise to you, even when all seems bleak.

My goodness, I am glad you have a blog, because it is going to be so beautiful to watch His plan for your life!

Rebecca said...

This is a beautiful explanation.

Lauren @ Magnify the Lord with Me said...

You expressed this beautifully. I'd been thinking about that post, too! CL- you really started something! :) I do believe that He will grant us the desires of our heart- but as a couple of you pointed out, our desires change and we live in a fallen world. You explained this all beautifully.

Two newbies to the blog, eh? Boy are they in for a treat! :)

Awaiting a Child of God:) said...

I'm not a very philosophical person but I like reading/listening to the views of those who are. Your thoughts are so beautiful:) I love your positive outlook. I have always believed that the Lord gave me a passion for a reason and that this passion will be fulfilled. I do not doubt that...why would this have been instilled in me if it would be fulfilled??

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Hm, lots of thoughts! Thank you all for sharing them.
I do hold fast to my original claim that I believe you can have more than one calling (rather than callings CHANGING as desires do). A more appropriate example may be a wonderful woman I know who was called to be a nun - after having raised 2 children and having a marriage annulled. And instead of her original call to motherhood having changed, she got a different call later in her life.
And I think Erin's comment was exactly how I had envisioned having the call to motherhood fulfilled would feel. So thanks for sharing that :)
LOM, I will post soon on my personal feelings about IUI, as well as Church teaching. Stay tuned!
Anon, it is sad that you feel that way. I'm wondering why you felt the need to share that here on this blog? You didn't honestly think your anonymous assertion that God doesn't exist would make me convert to athiesm, did you? So that leaves your motive being solely to hurt me (and many of my readers). Why?

the misfit said...

I think this is really sound. I've been thinking about Complicated Life's post a lot too. I haven't figured out 100% whether I think that you can have your VOCATION thwarted as mortification. I'm not saying I disagree with her; I'm just still thinking (and planning to ask my spiritual director for his take). And while the desires of your heart are essential in discerning a vocation, they aren't the same. You can be denied the desire of your heart. We all know this from experience.

And then there's the question, as you note, of each of us sorting out whether parenting is our deep desire...or really our vocation. And if the latter, there are so many convoluted ways we could get there. (This is awful, but you never know when a relative is going to be killed in a car accident and suddenly a houseful of children will need two parents on the spot. This is not what I'm hoping for, but if it happened, I would kind of see God having planned ahead for it.)

Meg @ True, Good and Beautiful said...


I don't mean to play devil's advocate, but in the scenario you explained (woman married with children, then annulment, then religious life) one might figure that because she received the annulment from the Church-therefore signifying that a true sacramental marriage never really existed-perhaps marriage was never her vocational calling. Perhaps it was, but how could we know? We can't assume either way. She could have just decided to get married and have children, then discover that her true calling was to the religious life. Perhaps that was her only calling all along, with no additional calling on God's part, but rather a change in her discernment and openness to His will?

Annulments make these scenarios tricky. I could wholeheartedly agree that there can be another vocational calling at another point in life in the following example: A man is married, widowed and then is called to the Priesthood. Or, for that matter, a woman is married, widowed and then is called to the religious life.

This gets me thinking about doing a post on vocations. I want to read more, but I tend to use the word vocation to mean Marriage, the Priesthood, or the Religious Life. Note that this doesn't include motherhood or fatherhood (not in the strict sense of "vocation") There are lots of less rigid ways to use the word where it would be aptly applied to being a parent, being a certain profession, etc. Might have to write about it just to clarify for myself what I mean when I say it!

Meg @ True, Good and Beautiful said...

Misfit, just to clarify, I don't think I meant to imply that God would intentionally thwart our vocation for the sake mortification, but that because of sin/human error/etc vocations CAN BE thwarted, and thus give opportunity for the offering of our suffering.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

I guess at the meat of it what I was trying to get at is that when something gets in the way of us achieving our desire, maybe that is God's way of telling us to move in a different direction, or at least to hold off FOR NOW. When something gets in the way of us achieving our calling, I don't think God wants us to give up, but rather to forge ahead and keep trying/hoping, and then to use that suffering (as He uses it) for amazing things. I believe He intends for us to continue pursuing the callings no matter what (unless/until we receive a new one, if we do).

Now the problem, as misfit better articulated than I, is distinguishing for ourselves what is a desire and what is a calling. Only the individual can do that.

Sarah said...

This post was so good and thought-provoking. Just thinking out loud... It seems God gives some people multiple callings to choose from... but of course once you choose, the calling is yours, especially if there are valid, lifelong vows involved! Others, He seems to give one, specific calling... still requires a free will "yes" but there is less ambiguity. It also seems that for some, God presents them with their specific calling right away (a specific person or religious community or child) whereas others, He presents them with their general calling (marriage, religious life, adoption), and we find ourselves wondering how on earth it's all going to play out.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Wow, Sarah... so succint and yet so perfectly said! I have to say I completely agree!

Anonymous said...


Because it's honestly very hard to see you do this to yourself. Reading your blog is like watching a train wreck.

Here's your life: Bad things happen. You get mad at god. You feel guilty at getting mad at god, so you come up with an excuse for why you are going through so much suffering. You daren't ever ask the most obvious question out there - why you are infertile, why you are suffering, why he hasn't chosen you.. instead you have to make it seem that the suffering is for a reason, because the thought that it's intentional without a result at the end is unconscionable. You delude yourself into believing that god wants you to suffer.

What kind of god is that?! What a sicko! There's a god out there that wants YOU to suffer, Amy? Ooh maybe it's because you're a really horrible person.

Now we *know* that's not true. And so on and on we watch you have another setback, get mad at god, feel guilty, come up with another excuse to somehow make it all better, to try to make the puzzle pieces fit, when in reality, they don't.

The reality is staring you right in the face and you can't even see it.

And that's why someone - anyone - needs to give you a different point of view so you can get off this pain-and-suffering-is-my-way-of-life treadmill. It's just not healthy.

If all the bad things that happened to you weren't cosmically directed at you by a god, they were just things that happened through no fault of your own, you could let go of all this internal struggling you have right now. You could let go of thinking suffering is good and necessary. You could come to a place of acceptance, where right now you really, honestly, deep down haven't because you're still reconciling in your mind that 1) there is a god, and 2) he couldn't possibly want you to be anything other than a mother, right? You had a calling!

I continue to read your blog because I hope you wake up for your own sake, because in 10 years or so when you're 40 and still on the proverbial pain and suffering treadmill, you'll still be wondering... "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

First let me thank you for confirming who I suspected you were all along. I will continue to refer to you as Anon, however, since you seem to not want anyone to know your true identity.
I'll try to address all of your "issues" with my blog (or perhaps with me personally) point by point at a later time, since I'm at work right now.
However, I did want to say that my blog is (correct me readers if I'm wrong) HEAVILY concentrated on asking those "obvious" questions that you say I dare not ask. I have spent much time in addressing the WHYs behind the suffering. Go back through my archives and see for yourself.

Instead, what I actually DARE not assume is that there is no God, and that I know everything. Way too often that is when our society falls apart - when there are no morals or ethics guided by a Higher Power and we take it upon ourselves to do whatever we want (or whatever makes us "feel" warm and cozy inside).

I have so much more to say, but I have to sign off for now. But I'll conclude by saying if you honestly believe I spend my time (and suffering) getting mad at God and coming up with excuses and reasons, then you may know me by name but you clearly don't know the real me.

Sew said...

Anon - I would hate to live in your world....You sound bitter....

Second Chances said...

Anon: I can't help but respond to defend Amy.

You said: Reading your blog is like watching a train wreck.

Then don't read! You don't have to.

You said: You delude yourself into believing that god wants you to suffer.

I've never seen evidence of this in Amy's writing. Many of us, in our suffering, question why God isn't helping us, but Amy clearly knows that God doesn't WANT her to suffer.

You said: I continue to read your blog because I hope you wake up for your own sake...

I don't think you should worry about her. Instead, focus on your own "waking up" and let the rest of us suffer with her :) We don't mind. In fact, we're comforted because many of us are going through/have been through the same suffering. Misery loves company, and us blog ladies are good company.

Little JoAnn said...

Anon: What the heck? You are stranger than strange. Come out of the shadows will you? Why are you here? Seriously, you seem like the train wreck. You seem callous, angry and nihilistic. I know it the territory of sanctity is a very foreign land to you. TCIE embodies the soul and insights of a true Saint in the Making. But, I have my hunch that you would be one of those persons that also spends time attacking Mother Theresa of Calcutta, too. I wish you made sense. I am afraid I would really have to dig in your background and talk to you for hours to find out what's up with you. I am praying for you!!!

[email protected] said...

Anon, you have a very different view of Christianity than those of us on the inside do. Apparently, Christianity looks pretty ugly to you from that side of the fence. But on this side, it's glorious, and we loooooove it. :)

Amy is brilliant and funny and kind and deep and thoughtful. I love reading this blog. Train wreck? That's the last thing I'd call it.

If you want to debate things, or talk about why you are an atheist, come on over to my blog. That's the sort of thing we do over there. And there are other atheists there. You won't feel so alone and you will be treated fairly and respectfully.

Sarah said...

Yes, visit Leila at "the Bubble" if you want to debate. :) Like others, I can't agree at all with your (anon's) assessment of TCIE's writings. To me, she seems very honest and very willing to delve deep, question, etc. And as a former agnostic who gained NO peace or sense of well-being from believing that life is mostly random, I can't agree with your advice either.

JellyBelly said...

First off, I am not going to comment on Anon's comments. Whoever she is I am going to pray for her. A Godless life is a sad, empty place.

Back to your post: I believed so much in my heart that God called me to be a mother. I believed when I was a teenager that I was being called to the sisterhood, but I believe that I heard His voice telling me that I was meant to be a mother. Since that moment, I knew that I would marry and live a life filled with mothering.

After five years of infertility, I doubt that voice that was so clear in my mind. I know that I shouldn't doubt what I heard, but it definitely is a trial to hold to that faith.

I know that I am living my vocation as a teacher and that I am blessed to be able to be a mother to my students. The little people in my class fill a void that I have had in my heart and I thank the Lord for them.

I know that it probably isn't a consolation that you're not alone. I don't know why a calling and a desire can't be one in the same.

I'm praying for you!

LifeHopes said...

And to Anonymous:

I think you are very heartless to attack TCIE's faith in such a way. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Show some class and debate Christianity in a more appropriate forum. This is a place where TCIE has come for support from people who have walked her path. She doesn't need someone tearing her down. Please, have mercy and take your bitterness and faithlessness elsewhere.

LifeHopes said...

TCIE I tried to copy and paste my comment from Complicated Life on here but it didn't work. So I guess you'll have to go over there and read it to get my take on all of this.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for taking the time to post this! I will be coming back often to "chew it over" and see what makes sense to me - probably on the weekend. I may comment more later but for now just thank you!


Anonymous said...

This all has me wondering if it could possibly be easier or in anyway better to go through a painful journey like this without faith in God's love. What difference would it make in the journey? What I'd lose in peace of mind that Christ Himself invited me to pick up my cross and follow him, I could make up for in getting what I want without any moral guidelines limiting my options. I could probably get what I want. That would bring me contentment and peace. Greater contentment and peace than can be found in NOT getting what I want.

But would it??

I suppose, for those who see nothing beyond this life and the perks this world offers, your blog must seem pitiful. On the other hand, perhaps they can appreciate that to those who do recognize a higher power, their inability or unwillingness to acknowledge it is pitiful to us.

Whatever the motives of the person who began this discussion, it is a great opportunity to consider how important our faith is in our lives, and to seriously consider where we'd be without it. God works in mysterious ways.

-big sis

C. said...


I would have a lot more respect for you and your message (although I personally don't agree and your rude, sarcastic manner makes me cringe) if you had the guts to post under your identity.

How easy it is to attack and pick someone apart when you can do so in secret. Why don't you grow a pair, go public, and subject yourself and your blog to the same kind of scrutiny?

cecilia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cecilia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

I deleted your last two comments, Cecelia, which were incomplete repeats of your original.

I've thought about it, and decided not to respond point-by-point to Anon, though it would be fun :) I'd rather spend my time being productive.

Cecilia said...

Many Thanks!

Sunshine said...

TCIE- the drama never ends in the blog world, does it?

In regard to vocation or calling, I think God creates each person for a specific reason and that we can be wrong about what He "calls" us to. God is never wrong but we can be because of our fallen nature. Also, with the messed up world we all inhabit it can be very difficult to perceive God's will for our lives.

I have thought for a long time that our deep desires for something should go along with our vocation.Or maybe they point to our vocation. And that if we have a deep desire for a good thing that that comes from God and that it would be cruel of God to not fulfill that in our lives in some way, maybe in a way we can't imagine right now. And I don't believe God is cruel. I believe He is my loving Father.

I could mull over this topic for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

So ... I am back, hopefully with more brain cells!

What I am understanding here is
1. a calling comes from the Holy Spirit within us

2. It is different from a desire, which may come from "good" motivations (or not - say, influenced by media). (questions: might desires also come from God and still not be callings ... or does it make it a calling if it comes from God ...

3. If God calls us to something, He will bring us to its fulfilment in some way (it may not be how we expect it to be)

I still need to read the comments to gather more thoughts. But I guess my burning question is: how do I know if I am feeling a calling or a desire?

I wonder if it might have to do with a sense of peace, or a sense of inevitability - both of which have come at key points in my life ..?

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

I think the sense of peace at its fulfillment is one way to determine the difference. But otherwise that's really not something I can answer for you, because each person may receive callings differently than the next.

I believe desires can come from God, but maybe not as directly as callings do. "Good" desires come from our want to please God, so in that regard it is from God (all good things come from Him).

Thoroughly confusing, isn't it? :)

Anonymous said...

Confusing and enlightening at the same time :)

By the way, did I say a great big THANK YOU and YOU ROCK! I so appreciate you taking the time to articulate your thoughts - and I think alot of other people do as well.

I also lke that (for the most part) we can share different thoughts and ideas in a respectful way and get a sense of how God reveals Himself to us in different ways.

I am going through major career stress right now and wondering if teaching is a calling, a desire, or if God perhaps intends for me to take teaching in a different path. Right now part of me just longs to give up the battle, but I don't think that is what God is calling me to do (yet, anyway). It would be so much easier to walk away, but any indication I feel I've received from God seems to tell me to keep going - despite the difficulties and stress.

So, this discussion is a real source of strength to me. Thank you for shining light in my world :)

Joy Beyond the Cross said...

Wow, very, very insightful comments. Thanks for initiating this discussion TCIE. I don't have anything to add, but much to mull over. Thank you!

Hafsa said...

Very good post and I won't try to weigh in because I couldn't even begin to explain it. Have you tried to discuss these thoughts with a spirtiual director or priest? Maybe they can point you to some things in scripture or recommend something in the way of spiritual reading.

Hafsa said...

Okay I just skimmed a few comments and seriously is there a blog ring out there bent on finding Catholic blogs and trying (but failing miserably I might add)to destroy our faith? It's getting a bit ridiculous, anon you should stick in the dark place of despair if that's where you choose to be but don't go dragging other people into your abyss.

My heart breaks for TCIE to open up to us and share a struggle very personal on this blog only to have to hear garbage. It's disgusting and the only thing to do is pray for someone like you, but honestly it's quite difficult.

The Comeaus said...

Wow. This is packed!

I believe that it is possible--though difficult--for a person to truly know God's will as He reveals it if that person is able, through prayer and guidance, to discern it. Sometimes it's just way too clear and there are many "signs" that point to it unmistakably, and sometimes we have to hope it is for the best.

I think that if God wants a man to be a priest, and that man discerns this and knows it and makes that decision, then God will not call him to another vocation that involves leaving the priesthood because the priesthood is equivalent to a valid marriage: it cannot be undone once done if it is valid. It is for life.

In fact, the priesthood goes even further than marriage because it creates an "indelible character" on the priest for eternity, not just this life, whereas marriage ends with death as we all know. I think it's important to remember the Church's teaching on this, that the priesthood goes on in heaven, not just here, just as Christ's priesthood is for eternity.

That being said, a man may feel called--and rightly so--to leave the priesthood if he knows in his conscience that something made his ordination *invalid*, like an invalid marriage. Then, I believe he has the duty to his conscience to pursue what it is God was always calling him to. But a valid ordination is for life and for eternity.

I wouldn't say we're called to only one vocation, but many "smaller" ones WITHIN one major vocation. Marriage is one, but there are many other little vocations within it, such as, oh, teaching CCD, getting involved with charitable organizations, or caring for a disabled child, which is almost a vocation all its own! But just as a validly married person will never be called on by God to abandon his marriage for the priesthood, so too would He never ask a validly-ordained priest to abandon the priesthood for marriage.

Does that make sense?

You said, "I feel pretty strongly that God wouldn't call us to something if He didn't intend for us to carry it out." Did you know that this paraphrases St. Therese of Lisieux? :) Beautiful and so true.

Anonymous, your words are like venom here. I think you are sincere in that you pity TCIE and want to see her happy, but you have a really rotten way of expressing it.

Read back in her other posts and you will see how MANY times she has questioned God and His plan for her, how many times she's been in a dark place that could be called a kind of despair. So many of us have been there. So it's very unfair for you to accuse her of not "daring" to ask painful questions. David asked painful questions like this, dared to question, dared to expose his anger to God, and so has TCIE. It's being honest with Him. Why are you so dishonest in your accusations?

I can't even put into words the horror I felt reading the words of Anonymous, TCIE, and I hope you know that although things like this sting, people like that are the ones to be truly pitied because they're missing the whole point of life and, yes, suffering. You're amazing, and I know why you're embracing your cross. Someone recently just kicked me when I was down, about something else, and I'm still reeling from it, so I can imagine how these words of Anon hurt you. I'm sorry.

The Comeaus said...

Hmmm, now 10 minutes after posting my comment I think I ought to clarify what I said about a priest having the "duty" to pursue his true vocation if he knows his ordination is invalid. An invalid ordination doesn't mean there was no calling, just as a person invalidly married CAN go through a process to have the marriage MADE valid. I suppose a priest could do the same through some kind of process?

And if he only *suspects* his ordination was invalid, I suppose it wouldn't be dishonest to continue in the priesthood anyway if he wants to, as the Church would consider any ordination as valid (like a marriage) until proven otherwise. Right? I still think he would owe it to himself, and others, to seek the Church's counsel about the whole thing.

Forgive me if I'm confusing. But what I do feel sure about is that a valid ordination is for eternity.

What a thought-provoking bunch of comments all these people write, starting with you first of all!