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Formation – Psychologically describing a Vocation, Fr. E. Busuttil, S.J.


 I will not give a definition, but I will draw a questionable but perhaps not useless description. I speak of a vocation born calmly like a pearl that forms little by little, with time, without noises or sudden pushes, and not of those instantaneous or violent ones that fall like a waterfall.

Let’s go step by step:

1) The soul begins to feel an undefined feeling of an unknown happiness. She herself does not know what she feels, but nevertheless she sees that she is not made to stick to the earth, she understands that there is other happiness far superior to that pettiness after which so many souls run eagerly.Everything that surrounds him seems small, insignificant, he does not even think about it, because he knows that he is capable of more intense joys and more heady but also purer happiness.

2) At the same time another feeling surrounds him, and it is that of not wanting to be a vulgar person, “one more” who wastes time, but wants to stand out, wants to make his personality felt, distinguish himself in something, separate himself from the common of the men to live a nobler life and to do something great. “Do well; distribute happiness”; it is the ideal cherished in moments of solitude and calm: to live a life worth living.

3) Meanwhile those thoughts and feelings, which could be the same as those of any ambitious or presumptuous, begin to unite with the thought of the martyr, the missionary, the saint.And here is our young man who feels himself a soldier of Christ, who wants to be a soldier under the banner of the Great Captain; For him the great things are not the expiration of the earth, which he already despises, but eternal things, the deeds of the Saints. That excites him and sometimes he finds himself representing himself as a martyr who courageously confesses his faith, or a hero who defends an innocent or saves by forgiving. 

4) But it does not stop in the imagination. At this moment he understands that he must pray, that he must pray more than others, that he has to give himself up to an unusual Christian life. He thinks with pleasure about the things of heaven, he is hungry for the word of God, he wants to be familiar with the priests, to attend religious functions and all the other things of the Church.

5) At the same time, an accentuated sense of contempt for everything that speaks to him of the world is taking possession of him. Riches and honors are empty and meaningless things to him. They find no place in your heart. And instead, the “search” state grows. The young man wants to find “something” that he himself does not know what it is, his soul searches (like the young man in the Gospel) and is immersed in a state of continuous anxiety. Speak to this young man of the religious and priestly ideal and ninety-nine percent will say in their hearts: “This is exactly what I was looking for! That’s what suits me!”

Let’s look at the letter of a young man who was in this psychological situation and who, in a retreat, by a word spoken unintentionally, found what he had been looking for so long.

Dearest Father, the beautiful words you spoke on the day of retreat still live in me. The vocation to be a missionary and the love for the Child Jesus grow more and more in me. I pray very much so that the Lord will give me the grace to be a missionary. I have great confidence in the Sacred Heart of Jesus because He has said: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”  “Father, I am sure that God will hear my prayer and that he will give me the grace to be a missionary so that I can be purer, love the Sacred Heart of Jesus more and preach his holy name in pagan lands.”

Most of the time these vocations born in this way are accompanied by periods full of affection and enthusiasm, full of what we usually call spiritual consolation. These young people feel the vocation and see that they have it without much reasoning. However, we cannot affirm that the young man moved by these feelings is certain of having a vocation. We are still early and perhaps remote. There is still a long way to go.Before giving an exact and concrete judgment, some more objective and solid signs must be manifested in the young man, revealing a soul capable of being called to that noble mission.