Radio Show

Fatherly Advice: Discerning Priesthood

A young man calls the Busted Halo Show in need of some fatherly advice regarding his process of discerning a vocation and the sacrifices he’s made to pursue it: “I recently turned down an amazing job opportunity — and also the woman I love — to go to the monastery.”

Father Dave is impressed by the caller’s commitment to discernment, but the caller isn’t so confident in his decision. While he believes that God is indeed calling him to do this, he struggles with the emotional pain of giving up his old life. “I just don’t know how I can handle this emotion to follow God or to trust in Him,” the young man says.

Father Dave asks the caller, “What was it that drew you to [monastic life and] to make that very counter-cultural and counter-to-your-life choice? What attracted you or drew you there?”

In spite of his current turmoil, the caller very clearly states: “It’s a longing that I’ve always had in my heart. But also, all of the other options [I had in my life], I was doing for everyone else. This is the only option [that I’m doing] for myself. I did a lot of prayer, I did a lot of soul-searching — I even went to the monastery a couple of times to discern with them, and [the feeling] just wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Father Dave sympathizes with the young man and talks through what he must be experiencing: “It sounds like we could say academically or on paper, ‘Well, that sounds right and of course [following your vocation is] the choice you should make!’ But you’re saying, ‘Yeah, I get that. But still, my heart’s breaking.’” The caller affirms that that’s exactly what he’s going through, and Father Dave affirms in turn that, though troubling, his experience is “healthy … and this discernment time will help clarify” what course he ultimately wants to take. Father Dave recounts his experience in formation: “Sometimes something at the very beginning of our journey and our discernment of religious life seems really clear, but it unfolds in the actual living out of the vocation that it’s not. So, I’m not saying to leave your options open … I’m certainly not saying that. But pay attention to this heartbreak now. It certainly stands to reason that right now when it happens, it’s going to hurt. But what will this [feeling] look like? Reflect on that [in the future]: How do I feel now? Am I still just as much missing her six months or a year from now as I did the week I broke up with her to go to the seminary. And if not, and I’m definitely feeling drawn into God’s call, well then, that’s different.”

In summation, Father Dave says “don’t just dismiss [the pain] off-handedly — keep it there, keep it on the backburner and keep paying attention to it … but [while] I’m sorry you’re going through that, I’m still going to affirm God’s call in your life.” (Original Air 03-31-17)

Photo credit: Stephen Yusko, a seminarian for the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., prays during a Holy Hour for vocations at St. Patrick Church in Bay Shore, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)