So let’s get real about your future. God has a plan for you and your future. But what does that future look like? As Catholics, we believe there are 3 types of vocations: married life, single life, and the priesthood & religious life. Let’s take a detailed look at 4 components of each vocation: commitment, sex, joys, and hardship. Click on the links below:
1. The Married Life
One of the greatest comforts in marriage is being committed to one another.
- As Catholics, we firmly live the vows spoken at the altar: “Till death do us part…In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or worse.” It’s romantic to say when everything is perfect at the wedding, but it is a challenge to live those vows every day.
- Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same commitment that God calls us to. Half of all marriages in America end in divorce. Divorce is extremely painful for everyone–spouses, children, and grandparents.
- Many people make a habit of dating, dumping, dating, dumping… In the back of their mind, they have an “exit strategy” for when things don’t work out perfectly. In marriage, you have to break that habit of thinking. For some this is easy, for others it is very difficult.
- Grass is greener? Once married, you must break the habit of “shopping around” with the opposite sex. After years of dating, this is not as easy as it seems. When you exchange rings, that does not prevent you from being attracted to the opposite sex. There will always be more handsome men and more beautiful women.
A great joy of marriage is giving yourself to your spouse by making love! The Catholic Church believes this is entirely good! God expects married couples to make love. Often. But…
- Many men have unrealistic expectations of sex in marriage. Marriage is not an endless love-fest. You must respect, love, and adore your wife, even when she does not want to have sex.
- Learning to sexually please one another takes time and patience.
- For medical and health reasons, the two of you may not be able to have sex for long periods of time.
- When you are first married, you are both young and attractive. But as the both of you grow older, your bodies change. This is a humbling realization for the husband and the wife.
- Patience: if you need to wait to have children, then you should practice Natural Family Planning (NFP).
- Though all married couples have sex, not many have intimacy. Sex can distract a couple from deeper issues that separate the two, preventing authentic intimacy.
Although priests and religious, single, and married people share common joys, the married life offers unique joys.
- Selflessly giving yourself to another person every day
- Making love
- Pouring yourself into the lives of your children
- Sharing your children with your brothers and sisters and your parents
- Watching your children grow up
- Growing old with a friend
Many young Catholics think that you get married >> have sex >> live happily ever after. Yes, you get married, you have sex, but living “happily ever after” takes a lifetime of work and dedication. And sacrifice! It’s not the direct result of wearing a wedding band.
- Living with another person is not easy! Have you ever been on a weeklong vacation with your best friend? Your spouse may suffer from emotional or physical problems, and you must patiently stick by their side through it all.
- Children are a joy, but raising children is not easy. In your child’s young years, there are many sleepless nights. Throughout school, there’s always something going on. Junior high and high school is a trying time for everyone. Consider what you and your parents have been through in just the past year. There’s pain, frustration, and heartache.
- Some people grow apart over time. This is why courtship is so important. You have to be sure you marry someone who will grow with you.
- When you marry your spouse, you also marry the family. Your spouse’s parents become your children’s grandparents. This is often a joy, because your in-laws are an extension of the goodness of your spouse. But, in-laws become a real part of your life.
- Having a family is a financial commitment. How you spend your money changes drastically. Some of the “toys” from your single life have to go (fast cars, expensive clothes, newest gizmos, etc.)
- As a parent, life ceases to be about you and becomes about them. Children are always needy. You may have to let go of your own ambitions to take care of your children. Many people will say that raising children is the most rewarding ambition, but others are not ready to let go of their self-focused lifestyle.
2. Single Life
- You are not committed to a spouse or any of your children, so you can commit your time to whatever you’d like. But, this freedom from commitment also means that no one is committed to you. You have to be comfortable with living solo.
- You will remain committed to your family: brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, cousins, etc.
- In the single life, it is immoral to have sexual or physical relationships with others.
- You focus your sexual energy on serving God and His church more.
- You give when and where a married person cannot: time, money, and attention. A married person is bound to serving their family.
- As a single person, you have a unique independence that married people do not.
- If God calls you to serve elsewhere, you are free to travel.
- Although you may not have any biological children, you can have many kids by staying involved in your church’s youth ministery, religious education, or in local sports teams.
- As your parents age, or as a relative becomes ill, you will be able to help them in ways that married siblings cannot.
- Since you don’t have your own family, you’ll need to find positive ways to find company and spend your time.
- Most of your friends will eventually get married and they’ll wonder why you aren’t doing it too. You have to find confidence in your vocation and be ready to explain it to people who don’t understand.
3. Priesthood and Religious Life
Many priests, brothers, and sisters will tell you the most difficult part of their vocation is obedience, not chastity.
- This is a life-long commitment!
- You must humbly accept where your director takes you.
- You are called to be obedient to Church teachings, regardless of you personal opinions.
- You must be obedient to your bishop.
- If you are a diocesan priest, you are a committed member of a team. You must support other priests in the diocese and the work of the bishop.
You are called to live a life of celibacy. That means you vow to not have sexual relationships for the rest of your life. I know this sounds like bad news, but consider this…
- There is no taking the place of a marital sexual relationship, but as a priest, brother, or sister, you are able experience deep intimacy with God and others. Many people have sex but never have intimacy.
- You focus your sexual energy on serving God and His church.
- “Usually we have this thing, ‘if I only had the right girlfriend, if I only had the right spouse, if I only had this, if I only had that, I wouldn’t be lonely anymore and my life would be perfect,’ and that’s not true. That’s an illusion because you can’t cure loneliness by anything except embracing it with faith and giving it to God. So that’s part of what I think priestly life is about and celibate life is about. That’s part of the whole reason for it.” – Fr. Tim Hepburn, Atlanta
- Independence! Without a family to take care of, you are able to go wherever God calls you.
- Working with people
- Knowing that every gift you have will be used for the glory of God.
- Having many children! As a parish priest, you have an entire parish that becomes your family.
- Job security!
- Although you gain a new family, you sacrifice having your own family.
- You are called to a life of chastity, poverty, and obedience. These are blessings, but they are difficult.
- You might be the only person from your group of friends who chooses the path to priesthood or religious life. Your peers will grow up to be working professionals and maybe get married and become parents. You have to be okay with the fact that your life will not be symmetrical to their lives.