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Q & A with Father Anthony

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Should I go full-steam ahead in discerning the priesthood even though I don't know much about it?

Kevin asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I am a senior in high school. I have found a very good spiritual director. I am very attracted to the priesthood. I don't feel a very strong calling to marriage, although some of my best friends are women (girls). I am extremely attracted to the priestly grace-filled abilities of absolution and consecration (of the Eucharist). I will begin college in the fall, planning on a major in psychology.... I am willing to go in full pursuit of a vocation in the priesthood. But, I'm afraid that doing so, I may become so focused that I miss heavenly hints to another vocation (marriage). And, I don't know much about priestly duties outside of Mass and offering sacraments. Or know much about all the different religious orders that exist. Should I go full steam ahead in a priestly pursuit, or take some time to learn more about the religious life before I dive in that direction? Thank you for your time.


Dear Kevin,

 

Your spiritual director is going to be able to give you much more pertinent advice since he knows you much better than I do.

Let me just tell you a general principle I go by. If you are interested in the priesthood, have the opportunity to follow the call, and if a prudent advisor does not see anything missing that you have to work on before being accepted into the seminary, then it is time to move, putting aside the other distractions and possibilities (there will always be dozens of other good things to do, so don't let that be the reason not to follow your vocation).

For example: you mention that you don't feel a strong calling to marriage yet you get on well with women. But you are only finishing high school, and you are probably better off at this stage not feeling that strong call - because it often becomes strong precisely when there is somebody special in mind. So you can still be a normal teenager and not feel an overwhelming attraction to marriage at this stage of your life. But if a young person is unsure of his identity, and for that reason doesn't have the normal attraction to marriage, then this is something he would have to sort out before taking a step into the seminary.

Another point to keep in mind is that if you go to college you will in all likelihood start running up debts that will afterwards make it more difficult for you to enter seminary.

It would be a very good idea for you to look into some religious order you may have heard of, and get the ball rolling. Early Summer is a good time to do this, but make sure to enroll in college as well so as not to be caught in the fall without one or the other.

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