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Formation – Can we influence by forming the environment, without danger of touching freedom and spontaneity?, Fr. E. Busuttil, S.J.



From what has been said so far, we can understand what the atmosphere is, so to speak, of vocations and the supernatural air that those who are called to religious life breathe.

I priest, I educator, I teacher, certainly, I can help young people to get to know their vocation by preparing and forming an environment in which they can easily understand, feel, like, develop and maintain and then follow their vocation if God deigns give it to him.

The activity of grace varies according to individuals, but we can establish a certain process of convictions and desires that, based well on the young person, make him apt and sensitive to the touch of grace as soon as God wants to call him.

Here, then, is our job as educators and caretakers of vocations defined.

It is necessary that in the environment of our class, association or school, reigns:

1) The conviction of the vanity of the things of the earth.

2) The desire to do great things for God and for the Church.

3) The admiration for the heroes but giving well to understand that the true heroes are the martyrs, the saints and those who sacrifice themselves for others.

4) Affection and esteem for things that look to God and souls.

5) Apostolic zeal, especially missionary.

6) Frequency of Sacraments.

7) Healthy environment in all that refers to purity, decency and Christian modesty.

8) Combative Christian formation, according to the phrase of the Imitation of Christ: Isn’t the life of man on earth a military force?[i][1]

But to get to this it is not necessary to limit oneself to specialized talks or courses; It is necessary to work in this direction little by little, taking the occasion of the simple events of daily life.

For instance:

1) A boy strives to do a duty well. But he can’t and is given a bad point. He is called! “Look, we are poor men and we have to judge from the outside. God has seen your effort and will reward you. Do you see how the religious are right to abandon this world so unjust in judging and serving God who knows how to see and reward? ”

2) The prayer is said and some of them are distracted. It is called! “We really are lucky! So many and so many children who do not even know that Jesus has come to save ourselves and we who have the true faith despise it thus. Let us pray well and offer our prayers for unfaithful children”.

3) Orient some class topics in that sense. “What feelings do you feel when a friend dies?” “After a worldly fun (cinema, theater or dance), what do I think, what do I feel?” “What is, according to you, is true greatness?” “What heroism do you wish you had done?” And so, on other things, well understood about “ne quid nimis”2[2]

4) Correct ideas when the Anthologies talk about heroes who have nothing heroic and present the true heroes: the martyrs who do not bow down to the tyrant, the saints who knew how to fulfill their duty even at the cost of their lives, missionaries who selflessly dedicate themselves to the good of others. The Christian educator will not lack examples of true heroes.

5) Have the boys been good all the time? Then it is necessary to give them a prize, telling them anything. What will we choose? Anyone who wants to work for vocations has no need of my suggestion. There are many episodes of adventures in the lives of saints, martyrs, missionaries and militant Catholics.

6) A boy is betrayed by a friend of his. How many times it happens! What a magnificent occasion to instill the idea of ​​the vanity of the things of the earth! Even friendships fail! So that we can see how great is the ingratitude of men towards the Heart of Jesus! So that we instill the love of God, who is the true Friend who does not know how to betray!

“Do you see why the religious are happy? Because they have found the Friend ”.

7) Let’s not limit ourselves to talking only about the saints or about people who lived many years ago or are very far from us; We must also speak of any priest, bishop or religious that the boys know and make known to them the apostolic side of his life, his generosity with God, his heroism for souls.

“Hey, you know Fr. X.. . I want to tell you a little about how his day passes … what he does for the poor … how much he preaches, confesses, etc … ”

In this way the young man knows the priestly and apostolic ideal, alive, latent, and every time he sees that Father, he will remember … and he will feel something in his heart.

8) If a vocation has already matured among the young people, if any of them have already worn the religious habit or the seminarian cassock, it would be very appropriate to encourage them to make mutual visits (not frequent), organize a small evening in their honor, invite him to give a talk about his vocation and to explain to them how he heard the voice of God, the difficulties he had, his decision, and so on. . .

9) Put the young person in the apostolate. And for this it is not necessary for him to belong to any Association, because more than anything it is about doing the apostolate from soul to soul, the personal one.

“You’re a friend of X … Why don’t you tell him that it is better to be in the chapel?” “Look, you are good and I am very happy that Z … is your friend, I recommend him and I hope you transform him. We’ll see if you get it; I will help you when you encounter any difficulties ”.

And that young man will go to work and will keep us up to date on what he is doing, the answers they give him and the progress he makes, and while we, educators, have continuous opportunity to make him see the joy of the apostolate, the ugliness of the sin and religious indifference into which those who live too long according to the maxims of the world fall, and so on.

10) Above all, the educator must love his own vocation; Let them see externally his happiness, his gratitude to the Lord who has granted him the immense grace of calling him to his service. And don’t forget to express these feelings on every occasion that comes your way. However, keep in mind that everything has to be done naturally and with the utmost sincerity.

11) And in the meantime, let’s study the boys and see if in them we can find any of those signs of vocation that we have talked about. They don’t need to have all of them. Two or three will suffice and sometimes even just one. Nor is it necessary that they have them in such a perfect degree as I found them in the young people to whom I have referred.

Found the young person or young people with such signs we can go forward with the almost certainty of hitting the target. And let’s not be afraid to speak up. But we will say other things about this later.

12) The end of this work will not be that all the boys in the class or Association will become religious by force, as any malicious person will be tempted to say, but the following:

He who has a vocation, that is, he who is called by God, will easily feel his voice and will find no difficulty in following it; On the other hand, the one who is not called will obtain the benefit of being seriously and deeply formed in the true spirit of Christianity, which is a spirit of contempt towards the world, of generosity towards God, of apostolate and of heroic combat.


[1] Job, 7,1.

[2] locución latina que puede traducirse como ‘nada en exceso’ o ‘nada excesivo’, aconsejando moderación, mantenerse en el justo medio.