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Anna Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have been in the Catholic Church my whole life. For many years now, my family and I have been part of the Neocatechumenal Way in my country. We recently attended the (WYD) World Youth Day in Rio with the Pope and the vocational meeting with Kiko and Carmen, the starters of the Neocatechumenal Way.

During this trip I met a guy who I became interested in and we started a brief relationship but during this vocational meeting he felt the calling of God. When we talked later, he told me he wasn't sure what he wanted. He said he felt equally drawn to priesthood as he did to marriage (and he once mentioned marriage with me). He is currently attending frequent vocational meetings with his catechist in the city's Redemptoris Mater seminary.

I later discussed this with one of the bishops that was with us at the time and he advised I seek God through prayer and he would guide me through this. He said this was a choice he (the guy
I started dating) had to make on his own but I should still be a kind friend and sister to him.

I am very divided on this. I cannot see God's purpose or plan in this history he is making for me.

  • How can he present me with this person that I am willing to love but take him away when
    I get close?
  • What does the Catholic Church advise in these cases?
  • Am I
    • too naive to think this can work? or
    • standing in his way?

Thanks,

Anna

  { How can God bring this man into my life, just to take him away for the priesthood? }

Mike replied:

Dear Anna,

Thanks for the question.

The bishop is correct.

We all have various callings and vocations in life. One of the things we are called to do is discern that vocation. Seeing you just met your new friend at World Youth Day, you have to give him the necessary prayer time to discern his vocation.

If it is truly God's providence that a longer lasting relationship develop between the two of you, it will happen over time. By your question, it appears you have discerned your call as a Catholic mother and that is great!

You have to give your new boy friend the time to discern his vocation — no matter how long it takes.

You said:
I am very divided on this. I cannot see God's purpose or plan in this history he is making for me.

  • What about the purpose or plan He is making for your new boyfriend?

Your confusion on God's purpose or plan in bringing him into your life can be de-confused by one phrase:

  • the importance of having good friends in our lives.

Even though St. Thomas Aquinas tells us marriage is the highest form of friendship, if he chooses not to pursue the married life, you still have a good friend. Thank the Lord for this and know that He will provide another life-time male mate for you in the future.

You said:

  • How can he present me with this person that I am willing to love but take him away when I get close?
  • What does the Catholic Church advise in these cases?

He can present you with this person as one of many friendships to build on.

He may be interested in you, but you have to allow him to discern his vocation, as you have discerned yours. This is what the Church teaches.

What I can say is your new boyfriend is acting very normal. In discerning a vocation for our life, many times we can come across, what I call, vocation envy. Vocation envy is when someone discerning a vocation, sees the great things they would like to do in each vocation.

Take me. I am a single, lay Catholic who has chosen to combine my technical background, (which included a B.S. in Computer Science and two Web certifications), with my knowledge of Catholic Apologetics, to help clear up misperceptions about the Catholic faith on the web.

  • Do I envy/like, certain aspects of the ministerial priesthood? <Sure!>
  • Do I envy/like, certain aspects of being a physical father, fatherhood, and being married to a wife who loves my body and our children? <Sure!>

I think there is a little vocation envy in all of us but, through prayer, we have to discern the best way to serve the Lord and His Church in our chosen vocation.

You have to let your boy friend discern as well.

You said:

  • Am I
  • too naive to think this can work? or
  • standing in his way?
No, you are not standing in his way. You are actually a great aid in his discernment — but he, not you, has to decide his vocation.

It might interest you that St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things and St. Anne, Our Blessed Mother's mother, is the patron saint of relationships. Praying to both of them may bring more fine Catholic men into your life.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Anna replied:

Hi Mike!

Thank you so much for this response. You have no idea how much it helped. I think you are right in the part about building a friendship with him. Love can be expressed as friendship too; not just in a loving, [boyfriend/girlfriend] relationship.

I purposely did not mention his feelings because I think at this point they don't really matter.
He's Brazilian and for them saying I love you does not have the same connotation as it does for other cultures (mine included). He once mentioned this must be love, but I know he meant it in the bigger sense: like friends, brothers, sisters, fellow pilgrims, etc. Any ways, if he does love me like I want him to, he won't mention or act on it due to his compromise with the Church, God, and discerning his calling first. He told a friend he would not leave this quest (of vocation) for any woman.

I would also like to share with you is another experience I had while in Brazil.

We went to the basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida on our way to Rio for the WYD meeting with Pope Francis. I remember saying a quick prayer when we were worshiping a statue of Our Lady of Aparecida. I remember taking pictures and being in awe. People were rushing by us to go to the basilica. It was full of pilgrims and everyone wanted to have a moment there. In the rush of the moment I said a quick prayer, and the first thing I thought was, If this (our relationship) is meant to be, please make it easy. I did the same thing when visiting a small crypt to Our Lady of Aparecida at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio and then when he stood up in the Vocational gathering I thought that the Virgin had betrayed my prayers — that she purposely did not make it easy.

One day I was trying to discern my path and feelings with God and in the issues started to become clear. Maybe she made it difficult because it's not meant to be.

  • Do you think this is so?

I understand I can't know for sure, but maybe this is my answer. After thinking about this I feel different. I feel more at ease with the reality of my story (and his). I can be friends with him selflessly but I still think he pulls away out of fear of the whole situation, since it's complicated.

  • Do you think the Virgin works like that? <So mysteriously.>
  • Can she alter our story, or was that God as well? <Acting by her intercession.>

Thank you so much.

You have no idea how much this helps!

Specially knowing who I can pray to.

Thanks again,

Anna

Mike replied:

Hi Anna,

Thanks for the follow-up question.

There are few charitable corrections I have to make as a Catholic who knows the faith fairly well.

You said:
I remember saying a quick prayer when we were worshiping a statue of Our Lady of Aparecida.

Catholics do not, nor have ever, worshipped statues. Who ever taught you that was not teaching you the Catholic faith. We honor statues because they remind us of the holy saints we strive to imitate, like Mary.

We worship God alone, in the person of Jesus Christ, the savior of mankind.

This is so important to because many Protestants have visited our web site asking why, as you said, we worship statues.

We do not!

Cultural differences are not an issue here: We do not worship Mary or statues of her.

We do honor her and ask for her help and her prayers in the same way any Christian would ask another Christian for prayers.

You said:
In the rush of the moment I said a quick prayer, and the first thing I thought was, If this (our relationship) is meant to be, please make it easy.

Hmmm. <Scratching my head.> Christian marital relationships involve sacrifices on both spouses part. It sounds like you are saying I want this loving relationship but without the Cross that it comes with.

  • Did Jesus ask for this from the Father?

You should never date someone you also wouldn't consider marrying. It appears your boy friend has his mind set on the priesthood. If that is the case, thank the Lord for a good friend but pray to Him that other male friends, one being your future husband, will come into your life.

On Our Blessed Mother.

First having a devotion to Mary is good, very good, and Our Lord would approve of it very much but many times Catholics can tend to have such a hyper devotion to Our Blessed Mother that they forget what she tells us at the wedding feast in Cana: Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you.
(John 2:5)

Yes, without Mary, we could never say the word Jesus. For this reason we call her the
Co-Redemptrix with Our Lord but Mary is only human; she is not a divine person like Jesus.

Jesus does the redeeming and saving from our sins, not Mary, so while I admire your devotion to Mary I would encourage you to keep a health Catholic balance separating the Head, Jesus, for the Body of Christ, which includes Our Blessed Mother.

Also, try not to get too caught up in Marian apparitions that are unapproved. I once did until I thought about the issue and asked myself:

  • Have I been learning anything about the teachings of my faith while I've been caught up in these apparitions?

You said:
One day I was trying to discern my path and feelings with God and in the issues started to become clear. Maybe she made it difficult because it's not meant to be.

  • Do you think this is so?

and later you said:
I understand I can't know for sure, but maybe this is my answer. After thinking about this I feel different. I feel more at ease with the reality of my story (and his). I can be friends with him selflessly but I still think he pulls away out of fear of the whole situation, since it's complicated.

  • Do you think the Virgin works like that? <So mysteriously.>
  • Can she alter our story, or was that God as well? <Acting by her intercession.>

My personal opinion is sometimes God or Mary in some way speak to us, or guide us in ways only we can understand, so if you think this is so, it may be. Go to an Adoration Chapel and let the Lord put some thoughts on your mind.

Finally, remember Mary's ways are always God's Ways. What Satan divides, Mary unites because she does it In Union with Her Son, Jesus.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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