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Formation – It is necessary to try the Vocations, Fr. E. Busuttil, S.J.


 The young man who, under our guidance and with our help, makes up his mind either for the religious life or for the priesthood, must not be left to himself, nor should it be believed that further work on our part in his soul should be useless. It is necessary that the vocation be assured, take deep roots of conviction, be nourished by prayer, conversation and the apostolate, and finally be tested.

We say that it must be tested finally, that is, at the end, when the vocation is no longer a tender little plant but is turning into a tree, that is, when the young person has realized what he is doing and time has given him the possibility to assimilate in his heart the whole complex of obligations, spiritual joys and sacrifices that he will have to experience in the new kind of life that he has freely chosen.

It is convenient to take things seriously and seriously from the beginning, and that can be done very well without giving the feeling that you want to influence them.

“Really? Do you have a vocation? It would be a great grace of God. I wish you that, that you can get there, because, in truth, you would be a happy young man. But, tell me, a little, how did that thought come to you? ” And so, calmly, everything goes out with sincerity and with a certain sense of friendship and trust and at the same time the case can be examined calmly. The young man will be your friend and seeing your sincerity he will open up with you convinced that by putting himself in your hands he will be well guided.


He who has a true vocation thinks to follow it not because he is obliged, but because he himself wishes to achieve his ideal as soon as possible. But the devil can assail him with strong temptations, making the amusements of the world appear beautiful and the sacrifices of religious life terribly unbearable.

If, as time goes by, he becomes convinced that his decision was made in a moment of enthusiasm and that religious life is not really for him for reasons that his spiritual Father approves, it is clear that he does not sin if he withdraws from his decision. In this case your decision put to the test appears as not well done or wrong.

The worst thing is when the young man, convinced of having a true vocation, does not want to follow it for human and futile reasons or on a whim: “I like the world! It bothers me to be religious. It seems to me that I will make a fool of myself with the habit. I don’t want to because I don’t want to”. And they are real events that happen.

* Father Iorio was therefore right in his Compendium Theologiae Moralis[1] to express himself on this matter in a quite serious way:

“He wonders if he sins and how he sins who feels called to religious life and does not follow the divine vocation.

“I answer: 1° By itself and strictly speaking it does not sin in any way because the divine counsels of their own do not impose any obligation since precisely in this they differ from the precepts.

“I answer: 2° However, one can hardly excuse any sin because of the danger of being lost forever. Furthermore, He would commit a mortal sin if he were persuaded that the only means left for him to achieve eternal life was to flee from the dangers of the world by becoming religious.

* Father Ferreres, however, expresses himself with more energy:[2]

“Does the vocation to the priesthood oblige the individual to follow it under penalty of mortal sin?

It seems to some that they have to answer affirmatively when there are certain signs of vocation and this is due to the very serious dangers of getting lost in which one will find himself who, despised the divine vocation, on his own initiative embraces any other state in the world ”.

“That is why Saint Alfonso María de Ligorio says that this vocation is of such importance that the salvation of the call and also that of many faithful depends on it.”

 And then, in smaller print, after having issued this sentence that is like his, Fr. Ferreres continues:

Yet others distinguish between an imperative vocation, with which God imposes an obligation to obey, and an invitative vocation, by means of which God invites the clerical state, but does not impose a narrow obligation. They say that the first kind of vocation obliges sub gravi, while the second does not … “

And this way of speaking of theologians will not amaze us if we consider how in practice God, many times, makes pay terribly this no, said in the tone and manner of the little rebel who pulls and despises a favor of predilection that is offered to him as a sign of immense love on the part of their Redeemer, and all this … on a whim … or because of the secret desire to enjoy life, or because what seems to be a sacrifice is not wanted.

If God punishes, it means that that not, it is not an indifferent thing to him.



[1] Vol. II,  n.154.


[2] Cf. Comp. Theol. Mor., vol. II, n.921.