Do I have a vocation? - Ch. 6

If everyone would give himself to God, that would be the end of the world

The holy Father Berthier replies: That would be the most glorious end of the world!

But be assured, there is the “Si vis,” “If thou wilt,” and there are many who do not want it! And besides, the five signs given above exclude many.

On the other side, since our earthly pilgrimage is given to us as a means of loving and serving God freely here below and meriting to praise Him in an eternal ecstasy of contemplation and love, we should choose all that will best help us accomplish this. It is God who invites us to do this.

Is the attraction to things of the flesh an obstacle to a vocation?

St. Alphonsus becomes angry when one objects against a vocation due to concupiscence of the flesh. “Do you think,” he says, “that you will never be tempted in marriage? You will have occasions to sin, both from within and without. In the religious life, you will have many fewer occasions of sin, and many more aids. It would be a sin against hope to believe that with all of the helps which the religious rule gives, you would not be able to resist the devil.”

In fact, and this is very little known, it is relatively easy to practice chastity in the religious life! He who observes modesty of the eyes and the senses; he who follows the rule with regard to relations with the outside world; he who flees the occasions of sin; he who prays, confides in Mary, who practices a little mortification, who reveals filially to his spiritual director his faults and temptations, he who engages in a counter-attack (prayer and penance) whenever temptations approaches...

This man will easily practice perfect chastity. It is one of the graces and the most pure of the joys of the religious life.

I do not know all of the Congregations in order to choose one.

It is not necessary to know them all in order to decide, any more than it is necessary to wait to know every woman in the world before marrying, or to try on all the shoes in Paris before deciding which pair to buy.

God leads us. If He is calling you, He will make you recognize the Congregation where He wants you to go or that He wishes you to enter the ranks of the diocesan clergy.

In themselves, all of the Congregations approved by the Church can lead one to religious perfection. However, we should choose that one that corresponds best to our aspirations and our weakness, or that we understand to be of a more urgent necessity.

St. Alphonsus recommends above all that we not choose a lax community or one contaminated by false doctrine.

What should we think of those who enter without having a vocation?

St. Ignatius answers: If he has made final vows in a vocation without having the right intention, e.g. in order to please his godmother or to have a favorable position, then he should repent and force himself to lead a good life in the state into which he has engaged himself (Spiritual Exercises, n. 172). God will help him.

What about he who has doubts about his vocation?

He who has entered into a state of life, been approved by the Church with the right intention and the legitimate call of his superiors, is following the right path... “The devil is a liar” (Jn. 8:44). Such a one should neither be disturbed nor change his state of life. Let him despise those temptations. He cannot be deceived in giving himself to God. If the Enemy tries to lead him into sentiments of shallow egoism, let the elect of the Lord chase away the demon by renewing with all his heart his total consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and by having recourse to St. Joseph, terror of demons. Let him continue without dissembling to accomplish well his duties of state. And the demon will flee.

If prayer is the great means to know a vocation and to respond to it, prayer is equally the great means to persevere in a vocation. “He who prays is saved and he who does not pray is damned,” writes St. Alphonsus. And he adds: “All of the damned are in Hell because they ceased praying and they would not be there if they had not stopped praying.” And St. Bernard cried out in the face of the traps of the devil: “Ratio spei meae, Maria!” “Mary is the reason of my hope!” How could the Mother of the Church, the Queen of the Apostles, how could she abandon the “consecrated” who call for her: “In the midst of the tempest, look at the Star; invoke Mary,” repeats St. Bernard.

The perseverance of a consecrated soul is very easy if he only apply the means at hand.

“I know whom I have believed!” (2 Tim. 1:12)

God never abandons those who have confided themselves to Him.

“Non deserit nisi deseratur,” says St. Augustine. “He may abandon God, but God will not abandon him.”

“The fear of those who worry that they will not be able to reach perfection by their entry into religion is unreasonable,” says St. Thomas. And he cites the words of St. Augustine: “Why do you hesitate? Cast yourself on Him. Do not fear. He will not withdraw from you in order to let you fall. Cast yourself on Him in all confidence. He will receive you and heal you” (Confessions, VIII).

The Council as well, in Lumen Gentium, encourages souls to give themselves in this manner totally to God and to persevere in that state:

“For the counsels, voluntarily undertaken according to each one’s personal vocation, contribute greatly to purification of heart and spiritual liberty. As the example of so many saintly founders shows, the counsels are especially able to pattern the Christian man after that manner of virginal and humble life which Christ the Lord elected for Himself, and which His Virgin Mother also chose...

“Let all those who have been called to the profession of the vows take painstaking care to persevere and excel increasingly in the vocation to which God has summoned them. Let their purpose to be a more vigorous flowering of the Church’s holiness and the greater glory of the one and undivided Trinity, which in Christ and through Christ is the fountain and the wellspring of all holiness” (Lumen Gentium VI, 46 and 47).