Among his disciples there were some whom Jesus called to leave everything and follow him more closely.
He now went up onto the mountain and summoned those he wanted; so they came to him. Mark 3:13
Although marriage is God’s plan for his people in general it is not everyone’s path of discipleship. In your own case, perhaps:
You are attracted to marriage and family life but feel that it would not answer the deepest desire of your heart
You have been open to marriage but your life does not seem to be moving in that direction
You simply do not feel that marriage would be right for you
You have a stronger attraction to religious/priestly life
For any of these reasons you may be wondering if God is calling you to a life of celibacy in priesthood/ consecrated life.
From the very beginning of the church men and women have set about following Christ with greater freedom and imitating him more closely through the practice of the evangelical counsels, each in their own way leading a life dedicated to God. —Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life Perfectae Caritatis, no. 1
Already dedicated to him through Baptism, those who who surrender themselves to the God they love above all else thereby consecrate themselves more intimately to God’s service and to the good of the church. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 931
Celibacy is a particular way of following Jesus. Consider why Jesus himself did not marry and have a family.
a) Since Jesus came to give his life for all people, to gather us into the one family of God, it was fitting that he should not invest himself in a family of his own. Following him, the celibate renounces the joys and responsibilities of family life in order to be free to place all of life’s energies at the service of God and his Church.
b) In his intimate union with the Father and the Holy Spirit Jesus knew love’s fullest outpouring and response; his humanity found its perfect completion in being united with the Godhead; he had no need to seek the human partnership of marriage in which man and woman complement one another and together reach as nearly as possible to the divine ideal of love. By the sacrifice of the intimate union of married love the celibate witnesses before the world that God is the full and final answer to the longings of the human heart, and that in drawing us into union with himself he will bring our limited, imperfect being to completion.
What is your understanding of priesthood/religious life?
Are there any thoughts about vocation that will not go away?
If you feel attracted to religious life, would you be more drawn to monastic, contemplative life or to an apostolic ministry?
Are you willing to follow God’s call if it becomes clear to you?
Are you single, in good health and free from debt or family obligations?
Do you have a desire for a deeper relationship with God and a life that is fruitful for others?
Are there any anxieties or fears that hold you back from freely asking God to make known his will for you?
What questions do you have about how to go forward with your discernment?
John 1: 35-51
Visit the websites of a few different religious orders (your local seminary). Notice your feelings about each. (For the UK you will find them listed here: http://www.ukreligiouslife.org/ Look under: Religious Orders)
On the same website, you might like to check out some of the videos; Communicating vocation/video resources
If you think you might be called to religious but are confused by so many religious orders and not sure what might be right for you, you might like to try Vocation Match – https://vocationnetwork.org/en/match
Prayer Father, I abandon myself into Your hands, do with me what You will. For whatever You may do, I thank You. I am ready for all, I accept all, let only Your will be done in me, as in all Your creatures: I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into Your hands I commend my soul I offer it to You with all the love of my heart. For I love, You, my God, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into Your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence, for You are my Father. – St Charles de Foucault