Dear Friends and Benefactors,
I have already given the
principles that parents must follow in advising their children at the time of
making important decisions that will affect their whole life. I would now like
to address a few elements about a vocation itself, so as to help the youth make
that choice. I would therefore like to explain the elements of every religious
or priestly vocation, as well as the signs of a true vocation. May they help and
be used to make a good choice!
The first element of a
vocation is an interior call.
God inspires a desire or an acceptance of a religious or priestly life. It is a
supernatural inspiration coming from God and, at the same time, an act of the
will accepting the call from God. It is what we call the right intention,
created by these two things: a supernatural desire joined to a human acceptance.
If thou will be
perfect…come, follow Me.
There is usually, but not
always, a natural attraction towards a state of life. This attraction, however,
is not that important; sometimes it is even deceiving. What is important is a
supernatural attraction, that is, something which develops for supernatural
motives: the desire to save souls; to save one’s own soul; to belong entirely to
God; to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass for the greatest glory of God; to
expiate, by a life of sacrifice, the sins committed in the world; to consecrate
one’s life to God. These are not purely emotional attractions. They are founded
in supernatural motives.
The second element is
the presence of moral and physical qualities,
which we call the aptitude to the priestly or religious life. In order that an
interior call might be true and founded, it is necessary that the required
aptitudes be met. For instance, those who would like to become priests cannot
have deformities. The Church also requires some moral aptitudes or virtues. A
certain disposition to the necessary virtues or the ability to acquire them is
therefore necessary. If there is no good will to make the necessary efforts to
acquire them, or if there is an impossibility to practice them, then it is clear
that the interior call or desire—to
become a priest, for instance–is not supernatural and is not from God.
The priest who gives advice
will have to discern if some weaknesses are already acquired vices, difficult to
overcome, and therefore an impediment or an obstacle to consecrated life, or if
these are just faults or imperfections that can be corrected. The lack of
aptitude can be many different things: it might be a moral problem, a difficulty
studying for the priesthood, or a lack of judgment. These obstacles are signs of
not having a vocation and are determined by the superiors.
On the other hand, there are
positive signs of a vocation, like an attraction towards the Church at a young
age, a disposition to pray, a horror of sin, an attraction to serve God, to make
sacrifices, a willingness to accept discipline, and so on. These are positive
signs of a potential call from God. Once again, to enter religious life or a
seminary does not require one to be perfect. But it does require a certain
desire to do more, to work on perfection with the grace of God. It supposes a
desire to lead a more perfect life, a complete generosity corresponding to this
divine love of predilection.
I have loved thee with an
everlasting love; therefore, have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee.
The third element is an
that is, the acceptance of the person by a religious institute or seminary. A
sanction from the Church confirms the interior call. If there is no possibility
of being received, or if one’s request for admittance is refused absolutely,
then it is a sign that God does not want that person to become a priest or a
religious. Some have a very personal approach to their vocation; because they
think they have a vocation, it must be so. This is not right. God governs
through the Church, and the Church has to confirm and approve the vocation by
that acceptance. There is a subordination of the interior call to the Catholic
You have not chosen Me, but
I have chosen you.
We can therefore desire,
want, and decide to become a religious, but no one has a confirmation of his
vocation until being accepted by an ecclesiastical or religious institution.
How can young men and women
know whether they have a vocation? Young children sometimes ask if the call to
become a priest comes from a special visible revelation. There are exceptions
like St. Paul on his way to Damascus, but usually it is not so. It is not a
phone call or an e-mail from heaven! It is an interior communication, a whisper
in the soul. It can be a direct inspiration from God, which comes with a great
peace and joy, a disposition to offer that sacrifice. That interior call is a
great sign of a vocation even though the discernment is not easy. It will need
the enlightenment of a priest.
Most of the time God uses our
own intelligence. It is a rational choice. After meditating and reflecting it
becomes clearer and clearer that to save our soul God wants us to follow Him on
this way. This process is fragile, and many things can disturb our following of
this divine call. That is why we should not expose it to temptation, taking the
risk of losing it. A certain perseverance is needed, and sincerity might have to
be tested, but we should be careful not to expose ourselves to unnecessary
Thou shalt not tempt the
Lord thy God.
As we enter into the month of
June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us commit the need of
vocations to Him. We will pray with more regularity and fervor, asking our Lord
to help the youth make the right decision according to God’s will. We will ask,
as our Lord entrusts it to us, to send many laborers.
The harvest indeed is
great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,
that he send forth laborers into his harvest.
For the perseverance of those
who have been called and in order that the Lord’s call be well received, as a
good preparation for the upcoming ordinations in our seminaries, let us pray, in
particular at the end of our daily rosaries, for many holy vocations.
O Lord, grant us many holy
priests, grant us many holy religious vocations!