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Q & A with Father Anthony



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Sometimes I get angry that He took the love of my life away from me. If you could give me any advice I would appreciate it.

Stephanie asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I read many of the other situations online that were similar to mine, but I feel as though I need a bit more guidance. I am 23 years old and seriously dated a guy until a year ago when he told me he was called to the priesthood. We both come from good Catholic families, and my great aunt is a nun, so I am not a stranger to the religious life or the Church at all. We were friends all through Catholic high school and then dated for four years before his startling revelation (which apparently began very early into our relationship). I am happy for him and I try to be supportive but after a year I am still quite upset! I thought he was going to be the father of my children and no matter how I try, I am having the worst time letting go. I feel a bit mislead by him even though I know he didn't think his call to the priesthood was real nor did he want to even consider it at first. I believed he really loved me as much as he says he did. I try to offer my suffering up to God, and pray about this, but in a sense I feel guilty for being so selfish. I can't seem to stop being sad. I go through the motions of day to day life. I know that God has a plan for me, but sometimes I am angry that He took the love of my life away from me. I know that is a terrible thing to say so I try not to think that way. I still attend Sunday Mass and I try to pray, but I usually end up angry or depressed or both. Do you think I need help? I don't know what kind of counselor would be able to help me through this situation. If you could give me any advice I would appreciate it. Thank you so very much, Father.

Dear Stephanie,

I don't think you need any special counseling, in the sense of therapy. I think you just need some spiritual reinforcement. Overall, I think you have all the principles you need but sometimes it takes a little bit of prodding and support to bring those principles down to earth and handle the consequences.

You are happy for your boyfriend, but at the same time you are still quite upset. The happiness that you are talking about is a spiritual happiness; one that expresses both your desire for what is best for him (which is real love) and your faith which tells you the best thing that can happen to a person is to know what God wants him to do and follow it. I think you need to apply some of that to your own situation. Your sadness, as you explain, comes from holding onto the hope you had that he would be the father of your children, and that sadness becomes anger when you dwell on God having taken the love of your life away.

There is a lot about God that we do not understand, Stephanie, and even when we do understand it by faith it still hurts. Just like when someone we love dies, especially if they are young, a young parent or a child; all we can see is a promising future destroyed when suddenly God takes them away, and we impulsively react as if God didn't know what he was doing, or hadn't thought it through well enough. We find it hard (and impossible without faith) to accept that our plans and hopes are not always the best for us or for others. These shocks and disappointments, and the re-examining they make us undertake are in reality very good for us. They take us back to the fundamentals of life. They make us question where our treasure is and where our hearts really are.
It is tough when God reminds us that everything in this life is of no consequence when compared with our true home, and that our true purpose in life goes far beyond the most attractive things this world has to offer, human love included. The hard lesson is this: Everything, absolutely everything we have, possess and love that is not God himself will be taken away from us. Inevitably, even in the spiritual life, God strips away everything that is not himself, so that pure faith and hope and love remain, which means that we have Him, the source and purpose of all, the only one who can give us true, everlasting happiness. We think he does so mercilessly, but it is really his mercy and kindness at work. Without this, we would probably never get around to using this life as God meant us to, and insuring our entrance into eternal life, with his Grace.

So, what are some pointers that might help you in your present situation?

We don't usually overcome the type of problem you are experiencing by thinking about it all the time in prayer, in the sense of going to God and asking him why, why, why, over and over again. I think this is a good opportunity for you to emphasize your trust and love and to strive to make these the tenor of your relationship with God your Father. One thought I find very consoling when up against things that are harder to understand and accept, is the struggle Jesus himself went through in Gethsemane; for it means that when we come to him with the problem that we would rather have something else other than what the Father has in mind, he understands us perfectly. He's "been there and done that". Repeat his prayer, "not my will but yours be done" and you will see how, over time, peace returns to your soul. Tell him, "I know, you know what is best for me." And offer up the prayer; "Now that you have closed one door, what do you want me to do, where do you want me to go?"

God bless,

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