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Michael wrote:

Hello Mike,

I have a question about Catholic catechetics.

  • Is lying always a grave sin?

I read that St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas said never lie no matter what the consequences — to speak truthfully and face whatever consequences.

The problem is I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, but do not want my mother to know. I had told her but she got so stressed that it was affecting her health. She was discouraging me from this so much that it was affecting my discernment. She has also blocked me from going to prayer meetings and similar events in the past and I don't want that to happen again.

I have joined a discernment group and am considering meeting with some vocation directors or joining a prayer group. I plan on lying to my mother by saying that I got home late because of work when really I was at a discernment group meeting.

  • Is doing this a venial or grave sin?
  • Should I tell her some of the truth without revealing that I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, e.g.: by saying I was at a prayer meeting?

I am afraid it:

  • will drive her to an early grave, or
  • that she will block me going if I tell her I'm discerning a vocation or going to prayer meetings.

God bless,

Michael

  { Should I lie and hide from my mother my interest in becoming a priest despite her disapproval? }

Mike replied:

Dear Michael,

Thanks for the question and sharing your situation.

Let me first say, I totally understand where you are coming from, seeing my mother, who was an uncatechized Christian, had the same sediments when I mentioned I thought about the priesthood. (Note: 6 months before she passed, she recollected how, when growing up, her father had read Watchtower magazines, so she never had any good Catholic foundation.)

That said, Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:37-39:

37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

yet St. Paul tells us to honor our fathers and mothers (Ephesians 6:2)

  • How do we reconcile these two passages?

You didn't say how old you were, but if you are living under your parent's roof, you have to follow their rules, even though she shouldn't be blocking you from going to prayer meetings. After 18 they have to respect your decision to do what you want with your life — even if they may not like it. They have raised you to be the Christian man you are by age 18.

That said, you should not hide this from your mother because it is who you, Michael, are, and what you want to be.

If the Lord is calling you to the priesthood, you can't ignore this and for that reason I am glad you are meeting with vocations directors to aid in your discernment process. They will be able to explain all the issues involved. As you discern, remember, ultimately, the Church decides and chooses Her priests, guided by the Holy Spirit.

If things don't turn out, a vocation like a Catholic Apologist may be something to look into.
The Church always needs more defenders for the Lord's Church.

The issues you are dealing with have nothing to do with mortal or grave sin.

For sin to be mortal it has to meet all three criteria:

  1. it must be grave matter
  2. there must be sufficient knowledge, and
  3. it must be done with full consent of the will.

If just one of these conditions is missing, it is not a mortal sin.

Nevertheless, lying is always a sin and should be mentioned in Confession.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Michael replied:

Hello Mike,

Thanks for the feedback; it helps,

Strange coincidence. I was listening to an audio bible while driving and that line stood out:

38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 10:38-39

My mother was worried about me though, as I used to do a lot of fasting for Our Lady at one stage which I have since replaced with prayer.

I am 27-year-old teacher living at home.

The problem with lying is I am under no obligation to tell my mother that I'm discerning a vocation to the priesthood but I also cannot lie to her. If I reveal a little to her e.g. if I say it's a prayer group, she will question me thoroughly and find out.

If I tell her it's a discernment group she will not block me. She respects my discernment and has been letting me meet with directors, but she has been and will discourage me and it will affect her health again.

My mother got very ill from stress when I told her I was discerning a vocation until I told her I was neutral about it and might farm forever at home.

The family business is farming and both parents want me to stay farming in my free time for the rest of my life. The biggest problem is they really need me and to leave them would cause great neglect as my mother would be overworked on the farm doing physical labor in my absence — I cannot let happen. That said, I'm going to keep discerning. I could join a seminary if God is calling me there but I would have to drop out and delay things if the farming situation does not change.

I think I'll have to tell her some of the truth but I'd rather not say it's a discernment group.

God bless,

Michael

Mike replied:

Hi Michael,

Thanks for providing us with some more information.

There appear to be enough issues involved that I think receiving counsel from a spiritual director who knows all of the nuances of your situation is best.

I have to scratch my head a little when you say that your mother's health gets affected if you follow a call to the priesthood.

Let me end with a comment and advice:

Who ultimately controls your mother's health is The Same One who ultimately will, or will not, call you to the priesthood.

  • If the Lord Jesus is calling you to represent Him, in the Church, as a Catholic priest, follow that call living a daily prayer life (I recommend the Rosary) and, if possible, daily sacramental life.

Take care,

Mike

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