Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jesuit On Discerning For The Priesthood

For those who have experience in directing souls meet many cases where it is quite clear that God has in a special manner not only prepared particular people for the priestly or religious life. but by a divinely sent attraction has made manifest this purpose of His,
But what now is clear, is that this interior impulse of the Holy Ghost need not first be ascertained before a person is allowed to begin the formative training of the clerical or religious life; by all means let him start, if he has the two essential requisites—fitness, both natural and supernatural, and an upright intention.
Whatever else may be lacking ought very soon, or at least before the irrevocable step is taken, be made apparent during the novitiate or in the seminary. In point of fact, however, one can go very near to reconciling the views of those who for some time were at variance amongst themselves as regards the constituents of a vocation. For, the " fitness" demanded by the Church is rather an extensive term. In the natural order it might well be expected to cover e. g. (i) a combination of initiative and submission to authority; a submission moreover which goes further than mere external and temporary compliance with the instructions of another: it should approach the attitude of a well-trained child toward its parents; (2) a certain stability and fixedness of purpose in departments of life other than the priestly or religious state; (3) cheerfulness of character and a disposition which enables one to pull well with others; more especially would this be the case where there is question of life in a community; (4) some degree of what, for want of a better word, may be called " spiritual-mindedness "; i. e. the consecrated life must make some sort of appeal to the person concerned; for, though the service of God does and must entail sacrifice voluntarily accepted, a distaste for the religious life cannot in itself indicate that the living of such a life is the holocaust which He demands; (5) health, intellectual fitness, and all that is covered by the word " mores congruentes " of Canon 974.
Those who would make further demands and who would say that there is needed in addition an interior drawing, or a mysterious something which is to be discerned only by the spiritual expert when examining the case in the confessional, ought really to be satisfied.
For, the presence of the qualities just enumerated would surely indicate a preparation intended and helped by God in a special manner; and the " right intention " would seem to be sufficient proof that there is the "interior drawing of the Holy Ghost"; else how account for its being there ? As we shall see later, the mere fact that one can possibly show the natural growth of a vocation is no proof that this is not from God, for He intends it to grow according to ordinary psychological principles.
Link (here) to the portion of the essay entitled, Vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life, by the Australian Fr. H.B. Loughnan, S.J.


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