Dear Father Angelo,
My name is…, I come from… and I am 22 years old. (I would like to remain anonymous if possible). I sporadically follow your blog but recently I have asked myself a fundamental question in my life, to which I would like to answer, and so I decided to write to you hoping to assuage my doubts a little. In the last 22 years I have not practiced my faith so much, I used not to believe at all, and it had never been a real problem for me to give myself to someone else or commit impurity, because I did not have a real goal in life and everything was very uncertain and confused. I have not made good judgments in my life, at least in the past, and I have done horrible things that I regret. All this has radically changed because I met again after years an old friend, from whom I had distanced myself for about five years because of my wrong choices that I mentioned above. It shocked me how, even after all the time and the bad things I had done, he welcomed me into his life, without passing the slightest judgment about me. He is very devout and, when we met again, I was very curious about his faith, his blind and deliberate faith in the Church and his Doctrine, and soon our friendship turned into love. Both skeptical about our relationship, basically due to prior bad experiences, we immediately understood that our relationship was a bond that was wanted by someone Greater than us. Here is where my conversion began … we go to mass together, we pray together, and have started a relationship that is based on mutual loyalty, trust, and premarital chastity (all things that I would never have thought of for myself until now). Everything is going well. But problems arose a few months ago. Since we met again a year and a half ago, my boyfriend has always suffered from an underlying anxiety that makes him unhappy all the time and prevents him from being fully happy with what is happening to him, even with me. He is perpetually dissatisfied, he suffers, and I am helpless. At first I felt bad, then I realized that I can’t even imagine to be the answer to his happiness and I began to help him as I could to make him face this need, but it is not enough. For some months now, his anxiety has become more acute and we talked about his vocation. His unhappiness is due to the fact that he does not know what place he has in the world, and above all he cannot understand what God’s will is, what God wants him to do. He doesn’t know if his vocation is for marriage (and therefore obviously with me) or for something bigger, something else. At first I was very scared of all this, but now I have come to the conclusion that whatever is good for him, even if I am not included in his plans, it is certainly what I want for him and I will accept it with joy. A little fear remains, however. I am sure of our relationship, and all the beautiful things that have happened to me, my encounter with Christ and the beauty that I savor every day, are also thanks to him. I finally gave actual substance to something that I previously refused because it was not very real for me, but this does not happen with the same linearity and clarity to him too, and for me it is inexplicable. I understood that my vocation is marriage, family, and if I think about it obviously I think I would like it to be with him, for all the reasons I have just explained to you. He does not want to leave me because he says that I am the truest thing that has ever happened to him and that without me he cannot even live his religious life. Since I became part of his life, he stopped doing many bad things that he did before, and we help each other a lot by praying together and having a really good relation. How, then, can one understand if one’s vocation is to be with a given person? When do we understand that a relations is God’s will? And how can I help my boyfriend by showing him all this and helping him to understand his path? Thank you in advance, I hope you will be able to clarify my ideas. I will pray for you, and I wish you do the same for us.
Answer from the priest
1. Unfortunately, several months have passed since you wrote to me. Your relationship will probably have been clarified and perhaps in the meantime you will have made your decisions. In the meantime, however, I am pleased with what the Lord has done inside you. You have described well your previous situation, which unfortunately is similar to that of many of people of your age. You sincerely say that “and it never was a real problem for me to give myself to someone else or to commit impurity, because I didn’t have a real goal in life and it was all very uncertain and confusing”. When God is excluded from our life, there is no other prpose in life but having fun, squandering and profaning a multitude of goods and values that only later we realize how precious they were.
2. I am answering you today, July 29, the feast of Saint Martha, sister of Mary of Bethany, whom a long tradition (not at all unfounded) identifies with Magdalene. Magdalene also was promiscuous with people of her high social class. She had become obsessed with sex. But what is worse, she was enslaved to it by the presence in her of seven demons. A situation from which it is humanly impossible to get out. But one day Jesus was there. His gaze penetrated her and illuminated her to the very bottom of her soul. From that moment she began to feel disgust for his previous life and attraction for the realities that Christ came to bring to men: the goods of Heaven. She started living her life in such a purity that, according to Saint Augustine, she became second only to the Virgin Mary.
3. Something of that sort has happened to you, too: the Lord met you through a young man who had Jesus Christ in himself. This young man, and the One who lived in this young man changed you. And, in some way, they changed you just like the Lord changed Magdalene. I think you will never forget that moment. It was Christ who was passing by and, to say it with Saint Augustine, He insufflated his “scent” over you. You breathed it and you found yourself following him. You have found Christ in what your boyfriend has become, the treasure hidden in the field. The field in this case was your boyfriend’s heart.
4. So you started a new life: “We go to Mass together, we pray together, and have entered into a relationship that is based on mutual loyalty, trust, and premarital chastity (all things that I would never have thought of for myself until now). Everything is for the best”. Yes, it could not be otherwise: “Everything is for the best”. Before, you didn’t think Christ could change you so radically. It was most likely almost insignificant to you. But now you have understood who Jesus is. You have understood who He is by what He did in you: “He is the resurrection and the life”, as He said to Martha (Jn 11:25).
5. But now a new problem has arisen: what is happening to your boyfriend. I understand your anxiety. From a point of view, it is the underlying reason for the everybody’s anxiety, because our heart is thirsty for infinity and in the end this thirst can only be quenched by God. Many do not realize it and seek in things and in people what those cannot give. This is what St. Augustine recognized when he wrote those words that have now become famous: “You have made us for you and our heart is restless until it rests in you” (Et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te, Confessions, 1 ,1).
6. The best sign that you love this person is given by the words you wrote: “At first I was very scared of all this, but now I have come to the conclusion that whatever is good for him, even if I am not included in his plans, that’s definitely what I want for him and I’ll gladly accept it ”. I think the Lord has greatly appreciated your feelings. And it may be that, after putting you to test, and realizing that you have matured an even greater and purer love for him, He has been satisfied by the intentions in your heart and has given you back your boyfriend forever.
7. But even if your boyfriend chooses the path of priesthood, he, as a future priest, in a certain way, will be yours, a priest that the Lord asked from you and that you generously gave him.
8. It remains to be evaluated whether his call is genuine. It is the so-called vocational discernment. And this can only be done by him together with his confessor or spiritual director. Stay united to him in prayer. Reinforce your prayer with a few small sacrifices so that the Lord will bring clarity in his life. Do this being sure that what is good for him will also be good for you, that good for which in any case you will have to eternally thank the Lord.
I humbly add my prayers to yours. I will also remind you in the next Masses that I will celebrate. I wish you well and bless you.