1) Remote preparation
It is not convenient to make the choice at once. Before that, the young person should know the advantages of religious life, the scope of the holy vows, obedience, chastity, etc. Know what the duties of the priest are, the beauty of that lofty dignity; He must understand a little what he leaves and also the beauty of the sacrament of marriage, which is a great sacrament full of mystical meanings and an instrument in the hands of God the Creator.
To tell him all this, there should be no rush. There is no reason to give it all at once but little by little, perhaps slowing down the young man’s rush. In this way he will have time to like, to realize, to weigh everything, and when he makes the choice, he will have already acquired a certain maturity.
2) Forthcoming preparation
Once this is done, it is good to set the date on which the election is to be made and while preparing, make a novena to the Sacred Heart or the Blessed Virgin. Much better if he can do the Spiritual Exercises in silence and recollection. Those days of preparation are to be days of prayer, spiritual reading, retreat and penance. It is about getting God to make himself heard with his grace and with his lights. It is not going to be done a material thing but a supernatural act, and if God’s help does not come, it is almost certain that we will be wrong.
Another thing to do is to put all kinds of difficulties that come his way out of his mind. The devil usually disturbs the young man and prevents him from making the right choice of state, presenting him with insurmountable difficulties so that, instead of sincerely seeking the will of God, he convinces himself ahead of time that he will never be able to be a priest or that religious life has not been made for him. “You still don’t know if God is calling you to religious life or not. First see if that is God’s will for you and then you will examine the difficulties and see if they are such that they weaken your decision.
Before making the choice, the purpose of the choice itself must be well established.
First: Am I to go the ordinary way by staying in the world or to turn away and indulge in a perfect life?
Second: Should I be a secular or religious priest? If I decide to become religious, I may be left undecided about “which Order I will choose”, and then another choice has to be made.
The capital point is the first; the others, most of the time, tend to be decided in a rather natural way and do not present great difficulty.
At this decisive and solemn moment in his life, the young man must be convinced that he cannot go on without a spiritual Father, without a disinterested expert guide who seeks his true good. Naturally this guide must be a priest or a religious. It is they, before anyone else, who receive from God the mission of directing souls and therefore are endowed with the grace of state to know the will of God. Misconceptions, exaggerations, illusions! A guide is required to make all those ghosts fall and dissipate all those clouds that seem to us storms but are nothing but soap bubbles.
Father of mercy, who gave your Son for our salvation and who strengthens us always with the gifts of your Spirit, grant us Christian communities which are alive, fervent and joyous, which are fonts of fraternal life, and which nurture in the young the desire to consecrate themselves to you and to the work of evangelisation. Sustain these communities in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding towards each one’s particular consecration. Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment, so that in all things the greatness of your merciful love may shine forth. May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus, intercede for each Christian community, so that, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, it may be a source of true vocations for the service of the holy People of God.