We can certainly pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten us and lead us to desire what God desires us. – One of the most important things to remember if you are going to date while discerning is this: the fact that you are discerning must be out in the open from day one. The priesthood is scary; no one is worthy for the priesthood of Jesus Christ, so it is only natural to feel hesitation and avoid it if you are feeling that call. If you are dating, you are discerning a possible call to marriage, and if you are dating under false pretenses you are only hurting your significant other and yourself.
You do a disservice to yourself and your partner if this is not made clear from the get-go. – You must always keep in mind that the two are happening simultaneously: you are dating while discerning, but you are also discerning while dating.
From the very beginnings of our relationship, she was well aware of the fact that I was still uncertain where God was calling me, and that the priesthood was still very much a path I was considering. Entering the seminary, while certainly a huge step not to be undertaken lightly, is not a lifelong commitment.But still, I found myself wondering: should I be doing this? In fact, seminary formation itself is designed as an extended, focused discernment process in addition to formation.My priest told me to go for it; my spiritual director said I was ready; I had always been told it was a perfect fit for me. If you are wondering whether I mean dating or priesthood, the answer is: yes.I was painfully shy and always fighting feelings of inadequacy, and was so afraid to try either one, to step outside my comfort zone.I would like to highlight several important points here in closing, as well as provide some cautions.
– We are not called to “ whether we want to get married or enter religious life.” First of all, these are not the only two options; second, and more importantly, we are called to discern God’s call for us, not simply “pick a career”.Discernment is not only for someone considering religious life – whatever our potential vocational path, be it marriage, priesthood, religious life, or devoted single life, the decision must be made God.Discernment, like all prayer, is a conversation with the Lord.The important thing is: they were actively discerning, and giving it a shot. Certainly it is an admirable thing to take your vocation so seriously, and to recognize that a commitment to marriage is a lifelong one, as is a commitment to the priesthood or religious life.But if we simply pine for a booming voice from the sky, yearn for God to inspire just author (preferably our local skywriter or billboard artist), this time with the valuable information of what God is calling us to do, or mope about the fact that we are having trouble figuring out just what it is that we are meant to spend our lives doing and being, then we are doing a disservice to ourselves and to God.– In that same vein, it is also very important that you date someone who understands your situation.