EXAMINING A VOCATION
WHAT IS IT? In order to examine it, one must first of all know what it is.
It is an act of mysterious love of predilection on the part of Jesus towards a soul whom He calls to the priesthood or religious life
The vocation is made up of these three elements:
1º) That the young person has a right intention, which consists in being convinced that to him, the religious state or the priestly life will lead him better, more perfectly and surely to the attainment of his ultimate goal. Consequently, he will choose the religious or priestly status for supernatural reasons not for reasons of material or natural interest.
2º) That it be adorned with those intellectual, moral, and physical gifts necessary to the state that he wants to embrace.
3º) That he is admitted by the superior of the diocese or of the religion in which he wants to enter. Nothing else seems to ask for Canon Law which, in Canon 538 says:
“Any Catholic who is free of impediments, who is moved of right intention and who is suitable to satisfy the obligations of religion can be admitted to the religion” (that is, who is able to observe the rules, penances and other duties) .
The suitability of the candidate is judged by those who have the power to admit him to the religion or the diocese, that is, the superiors.
It is not a question, therefore, of feeling but rather of understanding with the intellect, enlightened and elevated by grace, that, for me, with all my defects, weaknesses, demands, spiritual desires, character and circumstances, religious life is the most suitable to save me, to be holy or to live a life worth living.
We can conclude by affirming that: you have a vocation when you are convinced (morally) that religious life is the life that will best lead us to the end for which God created us, provided that we have the required conditions and are admitted by the superiors.
Other conditions, gifts necessary for those who want to consecrate themselves to God:
1) Intelligence gifts: That he is able to do the studies required by the Order he wants to embrace. An ordinary intelligence may suffice; at most it can be asked to be a little higher than mediocrity. Demanding more would not be fair. Good common sense is often worth more than a lot of intelligence.
2) Willpower: It is not necessary to focus exaggeratedly or exclusively on intelligence. What is more valuable is the will, the good nature of the youth, his spirit of sacrifice, the strength to conquer oneself, the victory of human respect, docility in obedience, the sincere esteem of its nullity. These qualities are a good sign of a serious character and show a set of spiritual maturity that is a sure guarantee of perseverance and seriousness in future priestly work.
If a boy is docile, has the will to study (even when it may cost him), he has a good character, he is sincere, he has a true spirit of prayer, he influences his peers, he knows how to do the apostolate, he offers sacrifices to God and for his spiritual life ,he is pure … all these gifts gathered in a rather mediocre intelligence will obtain an optimum religious.
It is not easy to give an accurate judgment of the intelligence of a young man of about sixteen. It is not uncommon that his intelligence has not yet fully developed. On the other hand, the will can be judged with a little more certainty. It is enough to know the boy, hear about him, see him while he plays or while he does the ordinary to find out if his personality is suitable.
3) Physical gifts: In general, it can be said that ordinary health, that is, that enjoyed by young people who “are well”, is enough. It is not necessary a very special robustness, an absolute command of the nerves, a nature completely free from any physical weakness. No matter how healthy you are, some small anomaly, some predisposition, some defect in the organic functions, will almost always be found.
What should be looked at carefully is that the young person is not admitted if he is not yet well developed not only physically but also morally. In other words, it is necessary for the young man to be a young man and not a child; that he has a slightly mature judgment, that gives a true guarantee of understanding the step he takes and what he renounces. He needs to understand how much energies he is capable of and take the step knowingly, not with his eyes closed. I do not mean to say that he knows or has experienced evil. Youth does not manifest itself only in sin or in certain dangerous impulses, but in many other things that give the individual even more vivacious a certain seriousness and maturity. It is not a question of age. In some places, boys at thirteen are already young; on the other hand, in others in the same region at sixteen they are still children, both physically and morally.
These young people thus prepared will know how to overcome the temptations of the novitiate, they will understand the importance of those years of formation and will be capable of personal formation; they will not marvel at the defections of other companions; They will not be artificial or external in their formation and they will certainly not come out with that bland phrase in which those who have lost their vocation often take refuge: “I never had a vocation! I didn’t know what a vocation was! ”
BUT NOT ENOUGH: What has been said so far is not enough to give us security in a vocation. It is still required that he, knowing his state and convinced of the Will of God, sustained by divine grace, freely and consciously with an act of will, say: “I want to!” Jesus does not impose himself by force, but he wants volunteers, he wants them to be generous that they follow him out of love and not by force or because they cannot do otherwise.
Those who work for vocations should always be careful not to directly influence the will of the young person. He can enlighten him, remove the difficulties that arise from any error of judgment, lead him step by step throughout the entire period of his decision, but at the decisive point the young man must be left alone with God. He must have the conviction that it is he who decides that the vocation he owes it only to God and to his will. This is how his vocation will be, not the vocation of such Father or such Brother.
Jesus, eternal Shepherd of souls, hear the prayer that we address to you for priests. For them you feel the most affectionate and most delicate love of your Heart, that deep love in which all the intimate ties that bind you to souls seem to meet.
Look mercifully at all that multitude of ignorant souls, for whom the priest must be light; to all those slaves at work, who are looking for someone to free them from deception and to save them in your name.
Think of all those children, all those young people, who are looking for a guide capable of leading them to you.
Think, Lord, of so many creatures that suffer and need a heart that comforts them and takes them to your Heart.
Think of all the souls who could reach perfection if they found the help of a holy priest on their way.
Make your priests lead to you all this Humanity that succumbs to weakness, so that the whole earth may be renewed, the Church may be exalted, and the kingdom of your divine Heart may be established in peace.
O Immaculate Virgin Mother of the eternal priest, who had John, the beloved priest of Jesus, as the first adopted son, and who, in the Upper Room presided over the meeting of the Apostles as Queen, a continuous Pentecost reaches the Church of your Son, incessantly renewed. So be it.
Prayer: Heart of Jesus, who instituted the Catholic priesthood on the evening of supper, as the expression and fruit of your immense and gentle love; Deign to give us loving priests like You, of souls, of the poor, of the Cross; Priests who, following your example, go about doing good wherever they pass, and sowing peace and forgiveness of sins among men.
Loving Heart of Jesus, deign to hear the fervent prayer with which your people ask for the sanctification of their shepherds. Heart full of love, teach them to love you as you wish; make them holy, spotless, prudent, wise. Have everything done to everyone according to your example.
They are the guardians of your sacred Body and Blood; make them, therefore, faithful to such a holy order; infuse them with the reverence due to your Body, and a burning thirst for your Blood, so that, tasting its sweetness, they may be satisfied, strengthened and purified in the fire of divine love.
Accept, Lord Jesus, our humble supplications; look with your divine eyes f
rom heaven at your priests; fill them with burning zeal for the conversion of sinners; keep without stains those anointed hands that daily touch your immaculate Body; seal with holiness those lips stained with your precious Blood; keep pure and superhuman that heart marked with the glorious mark of your sublime priesthood; bless their labors with abundant fruit, and make all those for whom they work on earth, one day be their joy and their crown in heaven.
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, model of priestly hearts, grant us holy priests!