Dispelling Fear

Perhaps the priesthood or Religious life has crossed your mind, but there’s some fear in your mind or heart. Maybe some fears include:

  • My friends would laugh at me if they knew I was thinking about the priesthood or Religious life.
  • My parents would be shocked. Will they support me?
  • Or what if they support me too much?
  • If I apply to the seminary or convent, am I still free?
  • Can I change my mind?
  • Will the priesthood or Religious life be enough for me?
  • Will the priesthood or Religious life be enough for me?
  • I don’t like speaking in public.
  • I’m not holy or good enough for the seminary or convent.
  • I’m not sure if I could live without a spouse or sexual activity.
  • I’ll be really lonely.
  • Seminary or the convent will be too hard for me.
  • It seems priests and Sisters live really boring lives.

These fears are very common, even for men and women who are already in the seminary or convent. Literally, thousands of men and women who have had similar fears and concerns, went on to have very positive experiences in the seminary and convent. Some went on to become ordained or take solemn vows, and live as very holy and effective priests and Religious Sisters.

In facing fear, the first principle to remember is that God does not speak through fear. Fear is a tactic of darkness to keep us all away from pursuing God’s will. Fear is like a bite of an animal that paralyzes us to keep us from moving. A person who allows fear to fill them will find it very difficult to move toward God’s will.

How can we overcome our fears? Here are four ideas:

  1. Reflect on God’s love. It’s worth remembering basics truths: God is infinite in power and loves you infinitely. There is no snatching you out of his hands. God will never send you where his grace cannot sustain you. If he asks you to so something, he is with you. Remembering these basic truths can bring a foundation to our decisions and help us to cast out fear.
  2. Turn your fears into concerns. You may have some legitimate concerns about aspects of the priesthood or Religious life, but that is not the same as being afraid. Rather than feeling fear, look at the requirements of the seminary and convent in themselves. Deflate things that may have become too large in your mind or heart. Look at things clearly, and consider each step in itself. Don’t exaggerate things or get ahead of yourself. Take each step for itself, and remember that the purpose of the seminary and convent is active discernment and formation. Entering the seminary or convent is just one step that might lead to others.
  3. Look to the Scriptures for consolation. Among the many great accounts that show us to cast our fear, recall that when Jesus called Peter, our first Pope, Peter replied, “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinner.” Jesus then assured him that there was nothing to fear in following him. Likewise, Jesus knows you and your difficulties and weaknesses. If you trust the Lord, he will show you his will.
  4. Entrust your fears to the Blessed Mother. Rely on her maternal strength and guidance. Ask her to teach you how to love and follow Jesus without fear.