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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Responsibility

I've often said that I don't have a "biological clock" like so many other women seem to have. In my adult years, I've never had a desire to have children, and actually, have been made to feel very badly about that; as if I was lacking something "normal."

I was once told, by a priest, upon learning that I wasn't interested in getting married and having children, that without that desire for biological motherhood, I could not be a good religious sister.

I'd be lying if I said that his comments did not have a detrimental effect on my vocational discernment.  From that very moment, I think I stopped really discerning, because if what he said was true, then it was not possible for me to be a religious. It was a slammed door that left me in limbo.

I didn't understand at that time what "spiritual motherhood" was, or that the intuition that I was not called to be a mother in the biological sense was actually not a sign of "not being good enough" for Jesus, but should have been a sign to both me and that priest to look more deeply into God's designs.  Instead, for a couple years, I walked away, certain that, since I didn't want children, I couldn't possibly be wanted by Jesus Himself. I went away sad, thinking that something was very, very wrong with me; so much so that God Himself would reject me if I truly sought Him.

Now, to be fair to the priest, he came from a different culture, and I honestly believe that his own cultural experience and perhaps faulty formation, or even lack of ability to communicate what he really meant was not adequate to address what I was really seeking at that time. It is years later now, and I don't think badly of the priest, nor should any of you. But that doesn't change the fact of my experience and what went through my head, my heart, and straight to my soul at that time...and in the years following that terrible and destructive  conversation.

I suspect that this has happened to other women, perhaps to be blamed upon the confusion brought about by radical feminism which has done so much damage to so many souls.  There is a huge difference between a woman who senses from her very soul that she is not called to motherhood versus a woman who outright rejects motherhood for selfish reasons.  For my part, I was once one of the latter, but when I finally began seeking God, even though I didn't think I wanted children, I told God over and over again that I would trust in His decision for me. At that moment, I opened to life, if called to marriage.

I do not at heart think, even now, that I am called to marriage. I have no interest in marriage, nor in dating. I am not looking for "a partner" of any sort.  That's not to say I'm not attracted to men! On the contrary! Gosh, every so often I meet a guy and lose about a hundred IQ points, and in the most RANDOM of places!  This is actually a sign that I am actually a very normal woman!

However, though, along with that lack of call to marriage, I also am not bothered by the fact that I will never have children. I love children, and they seem to love me, but I don't mope around pining for a little bundle of joy or the pitter-patter of little feet. Now, when I hear people in certain camps suggest that women who don't sense that draw are somehow disordered, I look more closely at the source, and find that their beliefs don't line up with Catholic teaching on the nature of Vocation.

We are all called to something. Because of that, it means, obviously that we are NOT called to other things.  Not every woman is called to be a biological mother. Not every man is called to be a biological father.

None of this is new for the faithful Catholic who prays every day, or even every week, for Vocations to the priesthood and/or religious life.  This is one of the most beautiful teachings of the Church; that God calls us all out of eternity to fulfill a particular mission with regard to Salvation of souls, and as part and parcel of that Mission He calls us to a specific Vocation with which to live it out and find our way to Him ourselves.

It took me a long time to really understand that spiritual motherhood has its own call, one separate, but which is an important counterpart to the other call to biological motherhood.  Each facet supports the other. One cannot be a true spiritual mother and support abortion. One cannot be a biological mother and reject spiritual motherhood.

This evening, though, I think I finally found the words to articulate the no-man's land that I inhabit as a single woman, and it reveals WHY just being a mere "Single" is not a Vocation:

As created beings, we have within us the desire to reproduce, to co-create with God. We all have this creative force within us, this incredible creative ability. Especially as women, we recognize that, if called to biological motherhood, God  touches us at a very certain point and creates new life. Not just a combination of DNA, but an entirely new SOUL to infuse the DNA, imprinting upon it His own likeness and image! It is a miracle, it is a tender moment begotten out of the Divine love of God!

Ah, yes, procreation is a beautiful thing! Only our Salvation through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ is more stunning!

For me, though, although I appreciate the beauty of new life, I do not desire it for myself. Every so often I experience a twinge of regret and anew, search my soul for the meaning of this, looking for defect. Unfortunately, I find many defects, and it is very discouraging.

What I forget to look for is the beauty in my own state in life, and the beauty of, as a friend put it once, "being set aside".  In the Bible, many women were "set aside". Not out of ignorance, but for a special purpose. It's not an occasion of  Pride, but rather a recognition of something different, something particular for which they  have been created. In my case, it doesn't matter that I don't yet understand what that is. What matters is that I realize there are legitimate options, and those options do not depend upon me, or come from me, or glorify me. No. They all glorify God.

Tonight I was watching a random TV show, and I admit I felt a twinge when considering the family and children on the show. It wasn't a twinge of jealousy or the sense of that proverbial "biological clock."

Instead, it revealed to me the nature of Vocation, fully in union with the Mission of the Church. In that moment, I understood what the Single life is lacking and why it isn't a Vocation, and can never be so.

I've said before, and I say it now, drawing from solid Catholic resources:  a Vocation involves a formal Consecration, a Vow. Anything that floats around without an anchor is just a temporary state.  The Church, for this reason, recognizes only Three Vocations:  Priesthood, Marriage, and Religious Life (Consecrated Life).  There are some forms of Consecrated Life that do not involve living in community, and I suspect this is why some people mistake it as a "Single Vocation". It is not. Consecrated Virgins and Eremitics are not "Single" in the Vocational sense; they are formally espoused to Christ Himself.

They are not dangling participles. That's what I am, and I hang out with question marks.

The Consecration of each Vocational state in life is linked to permanency, and thus, a certain responsibility.  Something, or more commonly, someone in their charge. It had a particular charism, and a specific Apostolate, or in the case of the Priesthood, a ministry.

A parent is confirmed in their Vocation through their children, who were co-created by them and depend upon them. They are responsible for them.

A Priest is the spiritual Father to a congregation, and even beyond. He is a spiritual Father to any soul that comes his way...any soul.

A Religious, be it Sister or Brother, or Consecrated Virgin or Hermit, likewise; there is spiritual parenthood present within their area of responsibility.

I know that what is lacking in my life is that area of formal responsibility. We all desire, inherently, even unconsciously, to leave a legacy. For some that is biological, which implies also the spiritual. For others, it is simply spiritual, and when the focus is on that, it is still just as important, if secondary to biological life.

Tonight I looked around and realized that I am lacking because I am not directly responsible for anyone. I have a house, I have stuff, I have a dog. Anyone can pay for 4 walls and care for a dog. Although I pray for priests, and have "adopted" a few, that doesn't mean I'm Consecrated to that purpose. I've made no formal vows. I don't have any formal obligations outside of those of any other person in the secular world.

I'm not directly responsible for another human life, or by extension, their soul.

That is at the heart of a Vocation;  Responsibility. Chosen and accepted responsibility. It is a calling, only to be followed by a choice; to reject or accept.

For now, I am in waiting, and I accept that fact. I see this sign of desiring to be responsible as a mark of Grace. That is not to say I am immature for my age (although that may be quite true!), but rather, a sign that in the order of grace, in the order of God's plan for Salvation, that I have been  in formation under His hand and perhaps am nearing the next level.

No one becomes a parent from infancy.

Do not take these thoughts as dogma, but only the musings of a woman who once thought she had the world in her hands, only to realize the joke was on her.
*

30 comments:

ck said...

I often think how sin can ruin vocations, even when the person knows what they are called to. There is a 28 million man surplus in China right now. Millions of them are called to the vocation of marriage, but they have no one to marry. Millions of men are called to marriage in the US, but if men are conditioned to use women, then why should they ever stop playing video games in their mom’s basement and take on the responsibility of a family? That leaves millions of women unable to fulfill their vocation even if they want to.

I used to think subconscious conditioned responses were bunk until I experienced one myself. I think the contraceptive culture has conditioned women to subconsciously think: pregnancy = angry man who will leave me. I’m not saying any of this is you, just that I see it in my girlfriends/family all the time.

Adoro said...

ck ~ I agree with you. I think there are a lot of single people out there who know they are called to marriage...but have no one to marry. Sin indeed has an effect, and we are reaping what has been sown by contraception and abortion.

There's a lot more men called to the priesthood, too, but they aren't responding.

There's a lot of men and women called to religious life, but they've never been taught to ask the question, "What does God want for me?"

Big tragedies going on in our culture...worldwide. :-(

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing so honestly. I am a married Catholic woman who has never felt called to Motherhood - and who has been made to feel abnormal and guilty about that by my church. I have no desire for babies, to be around children, etc. That can be normal too. We need to know what GOD wants for us not what others think we should have or be.

Adoro said...

Anon ~ Thanks for your comment, but please, if you comment again, sign some kind of a name/ initials to ID yourself. (see comment policy on the sidebar)

I understand what you are talking about, but know that what's important is that you are open to life. Which means no use of contraception within your marriage. The natural ends of marriage is procreation. I don't know your circumstances, (and will not jump to any conclusions!) but am making this comment for the benefit of those who may come across it and think that what you are saying is an endorsement of contraception.

So, for those who don't know:

Use of contraception/sterilization is an objectively grave evil and is therefore a mortal sin.

Now, that doesn't mean that if a couple is open to life and simply never conceives that they are using contraception. There are some people who will make that assumption, and, Anon, as you say, it's not up to other people to decide how many children you should or should not have. Nor should anyone be privy to your medical or biological issues!

Incidentally I've written on that before. I'm shocked at how people will go around telling people to "have more children!" and equally shocked by people who condemn others for having kids at all! It blows me away!

And some circles will condemn people who simply haven't been blessed with children, even though they may have tried so hard and desire them greatly. How awful!

Anonymous, one of the signs I know that I am not called to marriage, and thus one of the points I'm making in this overall blog post is that I do not desire children. However, should I be mistaken and end up getting married (which I highly highly doubt), I will be faithful to Catholic teaching and will be fully open to life; as many children as God does or doesn't send.

As you say...it's all up to God and what HE desires. All you and I have to do is surrender to His will, for He knows what would truly fulfill us.

Denise Fath said...

Such an interesting post - especially in regards to responsibility being the heart of vocation.

I've often wondered what the future holds for me and thought that being single would be ok. But you raise some really interesting points. Guess I'm not getting off that easily! ; )

Adoro said...

Denise ~ Nope! You're definitely not getting off easily! lol I did used to hold to the position that was popular in some places that want to say single is a vocation.

But...as I have learned, they are wrong. The fact that many people are single doesn't make it a Vocation; it makes it a consequence of something else. As CK brought up earlier in the comments, it's a result of sin in the world. Some singles are called to this or that, but for some reason, can't live it out, don't get the opportunity, or, tragically...never ever ask God what He wants. Or they ignore their Call.

Melody K said...

Anonymous, yes, it's strange how other people always know what you ought to do! Mothers of small families sometimes get the same vibes; that they're slacking off (funny how that stuff is usually aimed at the female half of a couple!). They assume you're doing something illicit, because everybody knows NFP doesn't work very well (which incidentally is not true). As Adoro pointed out, one needs to remain open to life; but maybe a little discussion of what that means is in order. The bottom line, I believe, is that if a pregnancy happens, whether intended or not; one is willing to have the baby and commit to doing the best job possible (with the help of God) of loving that child and being a parent.
On a personal note; as a young married woman I struggled with the idea of motherhood because I was not really a "baby person", I thought that if we had not been able to conceive I wouldn't have been very disappointed. But we did, and I did a lot of self-talk during the pregnancy; such as "I can't have unrealistic expectations, this relationship will take time and work, I won't feel like a mother for awhile, etc." I was praying, too, because I was really kind of scared. So when I held our son for the first time, I don't know what I expected. Certainly not love at first sight. But I looked at him, and discovered that he was the most beautiful, lovable child I had ever seen! I could almost hear God laughing at me. That son and his younger brother are still the most beautiful, lovable children, even though they are in their 30's. (Good thing they're not reading this!)
I guess I'm saying that whatever happens in our lives, we need to see the hand of God in it. And I do think God is capable of alternative plans for us if the original one for one reason or another doesn't happen. After all, the Redemption was an alternative plan, the original one being of course for sin not to happen in the first place.

angelsteph said...

Thank you so much for your post. I have been struggling with my vocation as well and also feel no want to wed or have children. This is complicated by the fact that I am also in a serious relationship and although he wouldn't force me into anything, it's there. You articulated many things that I have thought about so thank you for that.

Adoro said...

Angelsteph ~ tough spot to be in. You say you're in a "serious relationship" and in Catholic-speak that tends to mean "headed for marriage." Yet if you're not headed for marriage...what DO you want in that relationship? Maybe, for you, that is the place to start. Does he want to get married? If you don't, and he does...that's a massive problem.

I'm to the point that since I don't believe I'm called ot marriage, I won't even "date". Why would I? That scene is ordered to marriage.

We live in such a culture that tries to define to us that we always have to be "dating" if we're single. I think that's how some end up in such bad relationships; they think they're doing what they're "supposed to" even though they have no interest in being there. (Not saying you're one of those! I'm just rambling as usual!)

So..keep asking God your questions, He'll lead you when it's time... (I say the same thing ot myself!)

Mrs Doyle said...

I used to worry about not knowing what my vocation in life is(I'm 26!) and I used to tie myself up in knots thinking that by now, I should know.

Instead, I've realised, through prayer and study that this isn't what God wants from me. He doesn't want me worrying for the future. Instead, He wants me to be open to whatever is His plan, in His time, on His terms!

I am one of those people who believe that the Single life can be a vocation.
It is not a state of suspension and endless indecision.
Whether it is confirmed and directed to God by a vow of celibacy, is in itself a Vocation - a Call and a Response.

I have had this confirmed by many good and holy priests, and I have seen the Single life made holy and good within my own family.

I use my own parents as examples.
Each of them pursued their own education and each thought that if they were not called to marriage, then they would go to the Missions and use their nursing training to care for the sick.
Then, they met! They married, and for 8 years they prayed for children. They even went so far as to fill out adoption papers. Then I came along!
At each step in their lives, my parents wanted only what God wanted. Not what was expected of them, and not something that would follow a formula.

Being single does not mean that you endlessly date or go out on the town every weekend (I certainly don't!), instead it is my duty to live out my life as I find it with an open heart for God's will, whatever that might be in the future.

If it continues to be as a Single person - all well and good! If it is to be married - then I'm sure God will provide!

I have numerous good Catholic girlfriends who are in a state of absolute turmoil because they know that they are 'called' to be married. Yet every relationship they enter into, they almost always ruin it with being over-zealous on making sure that their boyfriend will become their husband as soon as possible.

I think it's interesting to ask why we expect women especially (do we have the same opinions about men and the Single life?) to be called to either married life or to a religious Vocation.
Isn't it that until recently, women had so few options available to them in society, they had to choose?
If they didn't and remained single - they were invisible and considered as spinsters! Nice!

I just don't think that God has such a narrow path for any one of us to follow. Each one of us is so unique and precious to Him, that the most important thing for us is to live every day as a faithful son or daughter of Him, no matter what our state is.

I know that you will disagree with me Adoro, but there it is.

Melody K said...

Mrs. Doyle, you make a lot of sense.

Adoro said...

Mrs Doyle ~ I understand what you are saying and I used to share that opinion, but I don't anymore. Officially, the Church does not recognize the Single life as a Vocation in and of itself, and the reason being what I wrote in my post.

However, as we've also been discussing in the combox, we also see a lot more singles in this day and age because of sin in the world. There are people who are SUPPOSED to be here...but aren't because they've been flushed down toilets and ripped from their mother's wombs. Of course there are consequences from that. For men AND women.

The fact that Single isn't a vocation doesn't mean that singles can't lead holy and dedicated lives. I'd never say that! Ever! But that is two different questions, isn't it?

It's not logical to say that "you can be holy as a single" thus "single is a vocation". It doesn't follow.

Nor am I saying in this post that people who remain single are just "endlessly dating". I really really hope you didn't take that from it. I've never said such a thing. Why would I? I'm single and I haven't gone out on a date in YEARS and don't care.

All I'm putting forward is Church teaching on what a Vocation is, and what it isn't. Now, God works with whatever circumstances we're in. Some are called to marriage and for some reason, it never happens. Their intended was aborted. Or didn't discern marriage and married someone else. Or just decided to hang out in mom's basement eating Fritos and playing dungeons and dragons and never grow up. Sin causes a lot of things. Does God punish the single who intends His will? No. God works within that to lead that person to holiness, and grants them that sense of peace as they do all they can with what they have.

God's grace overcomes all things. But that still doesn't make it a vocation. And if someone is not able to live out the vocation God originally intended for them, their own holiness is not hindered as long as they continue to sincerely seek God's will.

Sarah said...

Wow, you articulated my struggle during my single years SO WELL here. I am on the other end... I strongly desired marriage and children... and guess what? People like to make you feel bad for that too. "You should feel fulfilled no matter what." "Don't put your hopes and dreams in a man." "You're better off single." "Don't be so old-fashioned/needy." "You should get a graduate degree, stop thinking about marriage."

Very few understood that I wasn't "needy" but I struggled with feeling like a "dangling participle." I longed to make that vow, to get started on that lifelong journey. I did not always handle my frustrations perfectly, but at the heart of it all, I do believe my experience was a more deep "knowing" of what my vocation was and due to the sin of this world that make it so much tougher to answer God's call (immaturity, sexual impurity, secularism etc) it was delayed for awhile - and that hurt.

Sarah said...

Oh just another thought on dating... I did date quite a bit as a single woman. I felt strongly that I was called to marriage and was very open to dating (and men were very open to asking me on dates too!). I used to get a lot of criticism for it. Again, people misinterpreted it as "needy" or "desperate" (meanwhile, most of these situations were initiated by the men!). The biggest struggle for me was that even good, Catholic men these days have some serious obstacles to overcome. Several men I dated ended up having serious, marriage-hindering issues that needed to be dealt with before making vows.

But I ask that neither camp "judge." Those who don't date and those who date a lot. I actually do not think I ruined *any* relationships just because I felt a strong call to marriage. I dated a lot but was not out to just marry anyone nor do I consider myself desperate. I just felt it was my role, as someone who was pretty sure God had designed me for marriage, to be actively discerning. The beauty of being Catholic and pursuing chastity is that you can do this without leaving huge, gaping scars on your soul!

Btw, I am engaged now to a wonderful Catholic man who felt a very strong call to fatherhood from an early age! :)

Adoro said...

Sarah ~ Oh, yeah, I grew up with that attitude! Finding fulfillment in career...who wants marriage and kids? EW! And of course, it's the propaganda position of the radical feminists. Still happens to people! I'm always hearing people telling young people who want to get married to delay it, to not have kids, to get careers on track, etc. Drives me nuts! God calls when He does on His time and no one else's!

So much damage has been done.

Adoro said...

Sarah ~ Just saw your second comment and...well said!

Sarah said...

Adoro - Thanks, and yes the feminist attitude is SO ingrained these days. I've also seen single men receive a lot of questioning and pressure on all sides... especially to delay marriage... or even to become priests (and I hope that pressure doesn't turn them away!!). It's a difficult culture right now. Thankfully God's graces are a lot bigger than all the set-backs we encounter.

Mrs Doyle said...

Thanks Adoro - I totally respect where you're coming from, but I beg to differ in regards to the Church's pronouncements on what is, and what isn't a vocation.
I'm sorry if my suggestions about dating or a single person not able to be holy seemed to respond to you, it certainly didn't! However some people see the single life as a cop out or as a failed discernment or some sort.

It seems that the Single life is seen as a legitimate calling from God, and even if it seems to others that it is a 'default' setting - ie. we are all born single and actively choose to alter it through marriage or the religious life, that's where I think people become confused and start to think that a Single person is one who was meant to be married but never came across the 'one' - or missed the boat in 'discernment'.

Now, I happen to think of the way God works, quite differently. I'm not so sure it's as simple as we try and make out.

If we again see a Vocation as a call and and answer, we can see that the first Vocation we all have is to Life.
We make a respond to that every time we get out of bed! It's saying that we make an active choice to live as best we can as a child of God.

When I think about specific vocations, as we've mentioned, I think of an added calling, to do something EXTRA to what we are already doing, day to day, minute by minute.
That may well be as a wife, hopefully a mother (which doesn't always follow for many couples), or as a religious sister, or a consecrated person.

It may also be that due to a person's career, God wills them to use their skills and commit their lives to Him through that.
Think about people who have incredibly demanding roles to play in all areas of life.
Perhaps being married isn't going to allow them to respond to the important work they're doing.

This doesn't mean that by not making an extra commitment before God, they cannot be Saints! Or that they've missed their call.
Perhaps by remaining Single and carrying out their work they ARE responding to God's call.

I just think we've been thinking about particular vocations in a very narrow way and causing souls to become very distressed by thinking that they should be called to one of them listed.

We need to remember too, that no pronouncement has been made by the Church about this - and I think it's to do with the fact that we don't understand that we all have our first Vocation to live out, and some of us may have a second one on top of that.

A book I have found very enlightening has been 'Called to Life' by Fr Jacques Phillipe.
In fact, ALL of his very short books are truly enlightening - I highly recommend them all.

Adoro said...

Mrs. Doyle ~ First, can you clarify this sentence: "I'm sorry if my suggestions about dating or a single person not able to be holy seemed to respond to you, it certainly didn't!"


I keep reading that over and over and I think I'm missing something but I have NO IDEA what you're saying in that sentence! Sorry!

I think that you're falling into a very common trap we see today, of re-defining words or using them in a context that takes it away from the context we're discussing. Words are very important, and in how we use them. For example, I often see the term "vocation" used to mean "career". That can be true in the secular world, but here we are not discussing mere career and we understand each other to be talking about something that isn't a career, but a form of being. We have to be careful to use the term precisely or communication is lost. That is what has happened in the Church and in the world. (Example: the word "ministry". That's even more abused than "vocation"!)

You say that our first vocation is life. That doesn't actually make sense. We have a Vocation BECAUSE we have life. And each and every soul is called to a vocation. "Single" is NOT a default, and I think that is also what you are saying. Every soul is given a mission in life, is called to something...is called into being. Our Vocation is the way to holiness, to complete fulfillment. For example, if someone is called to be a religious, but decides instead to get married, he or she may at some point recognize that they missed the boat, because that "Call" will remain with them. Can they still be holy in marriage? Certainly! However, they may not reach the level of holiness they would have reached in religious life, for God designed that very soul to be happy and fulfilled in religious life.

You're right in that this topic has not be dogmatically defined, and so there is room to discuss and disagree about it without dissenting or becoming a heretic. However, the Church as been trying to be careful with language and her use of terms, a problem that has become very very squishy in the last 50 or so years. So if we are to discuss this intelligently, we should be looking to the dominant teachings on this, which consistently refer to 3 states in life as a Vocation.


Now...if we want to be REALLY specific: in Canon Law, the ONLY state in life referred to as a "Vocation" is the Priesthood. Religious Sisters and Brothers and other religious lay-states don't make the cut. Only those in Holy Orders are referred to as having a Vocation.

Isn't that interesting?

Yet at some point the Church began to refer to religious life and marriage as Vocations. I haven't researched it but I would be interested to find out how this development in language began. (But not until I finish my current degree!)

Think about this: At Mass, when we pray for Vocations (if your parish has this practice), we aren't praying for people to be called to the Single life.

We're praying for them to be called to the Priesthood and religious life, and in some places, to marriage. (Marriage is indeed in crisis and people need to be called to discern it!). But we don't pray for people to be called to be Single.

We do pray for those who are Single to live holy lives and follow God's will for them. But we don't pray for someone to be called to the state. That says a great deal.

On Fr. Phillipe ~ I'm familiar with him, have a couple of his books and really enjoy them. :-)

Sarah said...

I think the word "vocation" is being confused with the phrase "God's will." We are all called to do God's will in our lives, day to day. God's will (in the particulars of life) can change depending on the circumstances we're in. One day it may be his will for me to be a writer and an editor (what I do now). Next month it may be to work somewhere else or use those skills in a different capacity.

The term vocation in the strictest sense is a permanent vow. It doesnt' change... indeed it cannot change. No matter the circumstances, a priest is a priest, etc. A vocation leaves an imprint on the soul (of the priest, religious, or spouse). To break that vow would be as spiritually harmful as jumping off a building would be physically harmful.

Yes, careers can be very important. Yes, they can even be callings. But I don't think they can be vocations in the strictest, spiritual sense. Like Adoro said in the original post, there is no permanent vow to her career. She can walk away at any time with no mortal sin weighing on her. Can't do that with a vow.

I don't know about fulfillment or about God having one vocation for every soul. I'd have to read more about that. It seems like some souls KNOW they are called to a particular vocation yet desire the other and struggle with discontent in their call. It seems other souls are given a choice of a vocation and God seems totally "okay" with whichever path they choose. It seems some souls experience delirious, unquestioning happiness while others incredible suffering. I don't always fully "get" how God does the whole "calling" thing or why some never end up with a "vocation" - desired or not - but I do know God is faithful to us and helps us become holy in spite of it all!

Sorry to ramble on... this topic fascinates me!

nazareth priest said...

As a male, celibate and monastic priest, may I offer a thought, here, dear ladies (and I am not being paternalistic at all:<)!)?

Both men and women are meant to be spiritual parents, spiritual mothers and fathers; whether by married life where children are also biological or by dedicated/consecrated virginity/ celibacy.

Pope John Paul II in several of his writings has made this very clear: we are by nature, meant to be be spiritual parents.

How and in what circumstances this happens, is according to our vocation.

Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr, in their teachings on the states in life in the Church, say that there are two states in life: marriage and celibate/virginal consecration. One may live out a dedicated/consecrated life in religious life, a secular institute, consecrated virginity/hermit life and in a private vow/commitment to chastity...but there must be a definitive commitment to one or the other; a "floating" single life of a Christian, not committed to either marriage or celibacy is not in fact, a "state in life"; a vow/pledge/oath of some kind is required in order to bring about the graces, stability and "Cross", if you will, that unites the person to Jesus.

That is not always something easy to discern or to do. But some kind of commitment, at some point, needs to be made, in order for the person to be able to "cleave" to Jesus.

That's just a point to ponder.
Bless you all in your discernment.

Adoro said...

Sarah ~ Thank you so much...you've articulated perfectly what I was trying to say but couldn't seem to convey! Yes, that's the distinction, exactly!

Some careers ARE callings. As a former cop, as a former firefighter, I can testify that those careers come about as close to a "vocation" as one can find in the secular world, for those in those fields live their professional lives even in their personal ones. A marketer goes home from the IDS Tower every night, but a cop goes to dinner with his family and ends up arresting an armed robber. A firefighter or paramedic present at the same place, there, with their families, enacts those same roles.

But those aren't Holy Vocations.

Maybe what I've done in my post and comments is left out the word "Holy". That word is key. It separates the wheat from the chaff.

But still, it doesn't satisfy, does it? What makes a Priest a Vocation, but a Firefighter just a guy with a special Call? (or woman...as I am a woman. Sorry. I just don't "do" Political Correctness. I find it nauseating.)

Anyway...

It IS fascinating how God calls souls. Sometimes it is to a temporary place. St. Francis of Rome is a great example.She desired religious life, was denied and forced into marriage, ended up beginning an institute with her husband who converted because of her, and in the end she became a religious. She was called to more than one Vocation...but each in its own time and for its own purpose, by God's designs. Vows for both.

I don't understand how God works, either...thus my own suffering on that end and my own struggle with this very issue. I am arguing for now what I used to argue against, and it's ALL on record on my very blog. Line up all the posts...they conflict.

God is mysterious, but He allows us, in His goodness, to discern His will and thereby know Him more personally and more completely and in so doing, welcome Him in more personally and more completely. Thus is discernment...to any vocation.

Adoro said...

Nazareth Priest ~ Thank you for chiming in, and even if you are being "paternalistic", it's welcome in this discussion. Who are we without a Father? Any of us?

You have stated very clearly what I was trying to get to in my actual post..that need for consecration. That's what makes it a Vocation. I am right now just a single woman. That's it. My entire life seems to be revolving around and dedicated to the Church, but...no one is here to hold me responsible for it. I'm not formally responsible. I've take no vows.

The fact that I am not dedicated formally leaves me empty; this state in life is unnatural, never intended by God. I often pray the prayer of St. Esther: "Help me God for I am all alone and I have no one but Thee."

At some point, I will have to make a decision. I know that. I'm certain I am not called to marriage, and I am discerning religious life. In any case, I know without a doubt that living Single is not natural, is not my Call and at heart and soul, I'm miserable.

Miserable!

It took a long time to come to this point...and I sense there is yet a long ways to go, but what I do know is this: Single is NOT a Vocation. Without dedication, without a Vow it's just a cop-out from real life and what God really intends.

I've been a Cop, and a failed one at that. I'm not willing to live my life as a cop-out from eternity.

Adoro said...

Mrs. Doyle ~ A late comment, hope you see this before you reply - in your most recent comment, you seem to be putting Vocation at the service of Career. Why? It is the other way around. The second Vocation comes AFTER career, it reveals a soul in turmoil with priorities that are contrary to God's will but in favor o the pride of the soul.

That's probably not what you intended..but it's what you said. You actually stated that "due to a person's career, God...etc etc etc"

If you INTENDED what you said, then, quite clearly, there is disorder in your thought process.

Can you re-read what you typed and maybe clarify?

Sarah said...

Adoro - you're not alone in feeling like a cop out! Those who know me in "real life" would probably be surprised to find out that the girl who seems to have had a clear vocation since age 10 (to marriage) and who has diligently sought that out, is terrified of commitment. Terrified!!! Even I am surprised at that fact, but it's true. While I've never ruined a relationship in an attempt to fulfill my calling to marriage, I *have* hurt relationships with my subtle commitment-phobia (disguised as holiness and perfectionism). Even now, as an engaged woman, I find my emotions untrustworthy as I tend to romanticize the options that come with open-ended singleness.

If it weren't for coming to a deep place of misery and knowing that singlehood is not natural for me, as you put it, I would probably not be brave enough to get married!

Adoro said...

Sarah ~ Oh, yes...it is that "deep place of misery" that is key. It took me a long time to realize and accept that the life I am living cannot possibly be a vocation.

I even remember the moment. Walking my dog, realizing that this is not natural. This state in life is not intended by God, has no precedent in history, and makes no theological sense.

If we try to make it make sense, we fail..there is no logic to it. If we TRY to justify it, we only reveal our own woundedness of soul, our rejection, our confusion, and in some cases, how enamored we are with our own opinions and ideals. (This last describes me to a T!) We want to make Vocation match our ideals instead of seeking God's true will for us in consecration to Him through the venues He determined at our very conception.

All in His timing.

I think that often people reject the formal teaching on this not out of willful dissent by any means, but out of fear that perhaps God has nothing for them.

God knows that I have expressed this very fear in different ways on my blog.

It's very real to many of us. And often overwhelming.

Adoro said...

Nazareth Priest ~ In case your email filter rejects me..I just sent you an email regarding Ave Maria. :-)

Sarah said...

Adoro - Oh gosh, opinions and ideals wreaked havoc on me as well. And I agree, fear of what God might - or might not - have in store plays a huge role in wanting things "our way."

For me, God apparently wanted to make absotutely sure I "got it" by giving me an identical twin. Who married right out of college. There's nothing like having a human mirror held up to you to give you perspective! I watched the Sacrament transform her and her husband. I watched 3 new little lives come into the world. All this unfolded while I was immersed in a very Christian career and doing lots of good things with my life. None of my activities (all of which I do believe were God's will for me and my unique gifts) were equal to a vocation.

Hidden One said...

I think that a number of discerners, particularly older ones, make one or two of the following mistakes:

1. I think that God wants me to be single right now and in the very near future therefore God wants me to be single right now and in the very near future.
2. God wants me to be single right now therefore God has 'called' me to be single.

I also think that a great many people, myself included, routinely make or at least have made the following far broader error:

It sits well with me, therefore it is true.

Adoro said...

Hidden One ~ that's a great insight!