The Family

Monday, August 06, 2007

As I have mentioned before, I come from a middle-class family from Minnesota, and while I love them very much, my parents and some of my siblings seem rather lukewarm in their support of my discernment of a religious vocation. They don't oppose the idea outwright, but they seem to be discouraging the idea, and encouraging me to become a professor of philosophy, theology, or Catholic studies instead. I do enjoying teaching, and feel pulled towards both academics and the priesthood, but if I had to choose between being a professor or being a parish priest, I would choose the latter, and I don't know how to tell my parents that. I've told my Biology advisor when I left the Biology major for a double major in Philosophy and Catholic Studies about the call I felt to the priesthood, but telling your parents, even strong Catholics like my parents, is hard. I've just stopped talking to them about my discernment anymore, so that they don't think I'm not keeping my options open, but in reality I'm 75% sure that God's calling me to be a priest, so, although I'm open to other plans God may have for me, I'm growing increasingly confident that the call I feel to the priesthood is authentic, and my spiritual director seems to feel the same way.
Eventually, though, when it comes time to visit religious communites for "Come and See" weekends, I'll have to once again talk with my parents about the call I feel to the priesthood, since two of the three communities I am looking at are located outside the Twin Cities metro area, and the headquarters of the third is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, although their novitiate is located in Saint Paul, and only about a mile or two from the college I'm attending.
So, currently, with regards to my parents and my discernment, I'm sort of in a "damned if you tell them, damned if you don't tell them eventually" situation. They know of my discernment of the priesthood, but, since their support seems to be lukewarm (they are even a little disappointed that almost all of my closest friends are SJV seminarians), I've stopped talking about my discernment with them. I know they want what's best for me, but so does God, and if God's calling me to the priesthood, I have to pursue a priestly vocation. Otherwise, I'll be unhappy for the rest of my life, and I'll feel eternally guilty for having disobeyed God's calling of me to serve His Church as a priest.
Discernment is tough, and the hardest thing about it so far for me is the knowledge that sometime within the next two years I will have to bring up the subject of my calling to the priesthood again with my parents, and I have no idea whether or not I'll be able to hold my own in the conversation, or whether my parents' viewpoint will have changed since last October, when I first told them about my calling to the priesthood. They were concerned that I hadn't given the married life enough consideration, since I've only ever seriously dated one girl, and wanted me to keep my options open. Hearing those words from the people I trust the most next to God felt like being branded with glowing hot iron.
Friction between family members is painful, especially if it's between a person and their parents, and I don't know why my parents seem to be lukewarm in their support of my possible vocation. They're practicing Catholics, and they're in full agreement with the magesterium of the Roman Catholic Church. You'd think they'd be as excited as I was when I told them. Instead, they seemed "so-so" about the news last October.
I don't know how God wants me to handle my parents' cool support of my discernment of the priesthood, but I know it's a cross He wants me to bear, and I am willing to pursue a priestly vocation, if I have to, but hopefully my parents will come around in the end.

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