Through prayerful consideration, a lot of talks with God and with my priest, I’ve concluded marriage is not something I’m called to do. Just like the seminarian who sat in front of the camera with tears in his eyes and heartbreak on his face, I sit writing this article knowing today, tomorrow, in a year, ten, twenty, I will not be married.
By Donna Caito
26 November 2019
Not long ago, I watched a documentary on seminarians. The videographer recorded several students throughout the span of a year. The soon-to-be priests often sat in front of a camera and discussed their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about Holy Orders. For a lay-Catholic, this was an outstanding view into the world of the religious life.
I was riveted by the young men who subsequently left seminary. One gentleman sat with both hope and heartbreak in his eyes as he explained although he wanted to be a priest, he wasn’t called to Holy Orders. He felt called to have a wife and children. Each person he spoke to made it clear he wasn’t to be a seminarian if he had any doubts. There was no convincing or coercion. Everyone said quite clearly it was his time to leave and find his place in the world.
As a single Catholic, my experience is quite opposite. Most Catholics, or people in general, say something along the lines of, “You just haven’t met the right man yet.” Or, “When you meet the right man, you’ll change your mind,” after I explain I don’t feel called to either married or religious life. As Catholics we must remember is marriage is just as important as Holy Orders. Marriage is not a natural or a foregone conclusion but something to deeply pray and fast about. Just as the priest was told unequivocally to leave the seminary if he wasn’t called to a religious life, we also must explain to anyone who is not felt called to marriage to not do it. We wouldn’t have said to that seminarian, “You just haven’t found the right parish yet. When you find the right parish, you’ll change your mind about Holy Orders.”
I don’t hate marriage. I think marriage is beautiful and inspiring and awesome to witness. It’s not I don’t feel the want to be married. For most of my teens and twenties, I dreamed about being married. I prayed I could find a potential spouse. I did practically everything I could think of to find a husband.
However, through prayerful consideration, a lot of talks with God and with my priest, I’ve concluded marriage is not something I’m called to do. Just like the seminarian who sat in front of the camera with tears in his eyes and heartbreak on his face, I sit writing this article knowing today, tomorrow, in a year, ten, twenty, I will not be married. It is not my will, but His will. If it is His will I am not to be married, it is imperative those around me accept this revelation without strange looks or vehement arguments on why I should marry someone. We need to respect the Sacrament of Marriage just as much as we respect the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This is not an either/or situation. This is a calling from our Lord to engage in a lifelong commitment with vows said before God. Marriage is a covenant only to be entered in with the purest of intentions and not a second-place prize if one does not enter the religious life. Moreover, it is definitely not a foregone conclusion.
Photo credit: Hisu Lee, unsplash: https://unsplash.com/@lee_hisu