Contemplating Dating

I am sure you can deduce from what I am saying that usually we should not even question putting God first. It is the natural Christian response. That is the general principle.
by Father Anthony Bannon, LC | Source:

Q. Dear Fr Anthony,

Hi! I’m 23 years old and am very interested to enter the contemplative life. I’ve read that you’ve advised someone to do something; take some actions. I wanted to join the Discalced Carmelites founded by St. Teresa; I was just so inspired and motivated when I read her writings especially the Interior Castle. I’ve heard that there is a shortage of holy priests and other religious and by giving up my life I know I can help a lot not by myself but through God’s mercy. Also, I’ve never had a boyfriend in my entire life, ever! Would it be a good idea to try dating or should I go straight to the convent first?

- Becky

A. Dear Becky,

What would be your purpose in dating? If you were going out with a young man and you really thought you loved him, would you risk losing him by telling him you have to shop around a little more before you accept the engagement ring he wants to offer you? Why do some people think that when God offers us a vocation we ought to answer him by saying that we would like to shop around a little more? If you are normal you will find someone you like - and then what will you do? Is being normal a sign that you don’t have a vocation? Quite the contrary.

I am sure you can deduce from what I am saying that usually we should not even question putting God first. It is the natural Christian response. That is the general principle. However, you are an individual, and there may be some special circumstances to your case that need to be looked into. That is why you need to have a spiritual director, a person who knows what he is about and that you really trust, to ask him if in your case there may perhaps be some substantial reason to delay your entering the convent. You also need to talk with the spiritual director about the reasons you have never dated. There can be many good and healthy reasons not to date (because you think you have a vocation, for example), but there can also be unhealthy ones (a fear of marriage, distrust of men), and these can point to areas that you need to work on in your life before committing to religious life.

God bless.

- Fr Anthony



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