We are accustomed to refer to this `call from God' as a `vocation.' Actually, the word `vocation' literally means `a calling.' By the mere fact that we exist, we have been `called' by God. We were `called' into being when God joined an immortal soul to the physical being of our bodies through our parents. Our parents do not give us our soul; they only give us our body. It is God Himself Who creates the soul at the moment of conception, thus bringing into being a `human being.' That is, a special kind of being among many: A being endowed with an immortal soul.
Having been called into existence, the next important consideration is to know the `why' of it all. We answer this question of our existence very simply and profoundly: God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in heaven for all eternity.
This is the purpose and goal of every human being coming into this world.
God already knows what He has purposed for each human being. His holy will has already determined what each one of us should become. However, next to this great truth, there is another great truth: God has created us with a free will. The free will is the most powerful gift God could give anyone.
Because God's holy will is supreme and the greatest good for each individual, it behooves every person to strive to know His will for himself.
How important this is may be seen by considering the following: Unless we fulfill God's will for us, we will never attain our ultimate goal which is the Beatific Vision. There is no such thing as God's will for us and our own will independent of God. Whenever a person follows his own will, he is not drawing closer to God, but turning further away from God. It's just that simple. In the all-important choice of a state in life, the uppermost consideration must be to know God's will for us. A `state in life' is that generally fixed direction we take towards the realization of our goal. Of course, our ultimate goal is eternal happiness. This does not, however, exclude a multitude of intermediary goals which in themselves result in relative happiness.
For a moment, let us consider the subjective element of `free will' in reference to a vocation. Objectively, there is no problem: God's holy will is already set. The problem lies in the subjective sphere of each person's response to that holy will. This is the reason for entering the subjective field of `free will' to examine how `free' it really is _ or is not!
Psychologically, it all comes down to knowing whether or not we are choosing to follow God's will, our own or someone else's.
This is an area where one must be pitilessly honest. There is no room for illusion here because illusions lead to spiritual suicide. An understanding of how the will works can serve to avoid false choices.
The exercise of the free will requires certain conditions. Without these conditions, there cannot be an exercise of free will which is always a choice.
The conditions necessary for the exercise of free will are: a normal state of attention; an objectively indifferent judgment of the intellect; and, a conflict of motives that result from such an objectively indifferent judgment.
You can't make a choice based on ignorance. Attention is needed to understand the object of the choice. The will can only desire what the intellect proposes to it as a good.
Anything that interferes with the normal state of attention will interfere with the proper judgment of the intellect, and consequently, with the proper act of the will. So, attention is the first step in making a free choice.
The second element, or step in making a free choice, is an objectively indifferent judgment of the intellect. What does this mean? It means that in order for the free choice of the will may be possible, the intellect must judge that a certain object or act or situation is good under one aspect but evil under another. If the object or act or situation were judged to be completely good and therefore essential for happiness, the will would strive for it of necessity. In such a case, there would be no freedom of choice.
From the objectively indifferent judgment arise the conflict of motives. This is a condition required for the exercise of the free will. The will can only choose what is good; it cannot desire what is evil. The will must choose between two or more goods. These goods act as motives for the choice. This means that there must be a conflict of motives before there can be a choice between them.
Herein lies the freedom of the will: It has the power of self-determination in arbitrarily choosing between conflicting motives.
Free choice of the will is exercised in three distinct ways. From this we conclude to three types of freedom.
Freedom of exercise. This means that the will can choose to act or not to act, between willing and not willing. For example, a person can choose between answering God's call, or not answering God's call; between drinking alcoholic beverages, or not drinking alcoholic beverages.
Freedom of specification: The will chooses freely between one object and another object and thus also between one act of the will or another act of the will. It specifies which kind of object or act will be the goal of its choice. We decide whether we will go to church, or watch sports on TV.
Freedom of contrariety: The will chooses freely between a moral good and a moral evil. Good and evil are contrary opposites. We can choose between telling the truth, or lying; between acting chastely and acting impurely.
The will cannot act without motives. The will cannot act without some kind of motive, because it can desire an object or an experience only in so far as it has been presented as something `good.'
Basically, this is the part in us that will determine the direction we are going to take. However, what is going to motivate us in making a choice will depend greatly on other factors. If, for example, something is presented to our intellect as a `good' to be desired, but is nothing more than the clever play upon our imagination by a used car salesman, then our choice is going to be motivated by a lie that is mistakenly perceived as true and good.
If we are buying a boat, and we believe the salesman that it is a `sea worthy craft' only to discover that it leaks, we immediately conclude that we have been deceived. We made a choice based on a misrepresentation. We are stuck with a leaky boat. What can we do about it?
Well, quite frankly, what we decide to do about such a situation will depend upon another set of choices. We will choose that which we perceive as the most advantageous to the favorable solution of our problem.
Let us apply what we have learned of free will to that most important element of our lives: Conformity to God's will.
When speaking of a vocation and conformity to the divine Will, we are now on a higher level of human activity. This level is the supernatural level. On this level, all activity is initiated, carried out and concluded with divine grace. Without divine grace, there is no supernatural activity. Furthermore, it is only supernatural activity that merits reward in eternity.
The supernatural state of a soul is only possible in the Catholic Church because the supernatural state is equivalent to a supernatural life of the soul by grace. Therefore, heretics and schismatics do not have supernatural life in them. Their actions, therefore, cannot be in conformity to the will of God. As a consequence, then, there can be no talk of a `vocation' in the strict sense of the word.
The reason for this lies in the fact that a vocation is a divine call from God to a particular form of life and activity within the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. And, because _ as the Church teaches _ heretics and schismatics are not members of the Church, they are neither part of the Body nor do they have supernatural life in the Holy Ghost. Pope Pius XII clearly and unequivocally states this in the following terms: "As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And so if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered -_so the Lord commands _ as a heathen and a publican.
It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in one body such as this, and cannot be living the life of its one divine Spirit."
From this we can safely conclude that those who speak of a `vocation' or enter Religious communities not founded by legitimate Church authority cannot be said to be following the urgings of supernatural grace nor be living that supernatural life which can only come through the Holy Ghost.
How do we explain, then, all those different visible post-Conciliar organizations, whether within the Conciliar Church (Apostate New Order Church of the bogus Council of Vatican II) and those that were spawned among so-called `traditionalist' groups? Are these groups genuinely Catholic, inspired by the Holy Ghost and are their members living the supernatural life in the Holy Ghost?
According to what we know of the Church's official teachings, such groups cannot be inspired by the Holy Ghost nor can their members be living a supernatural life vivified by the Holy Ghost.
Consequently, anyone attracted to such groups or organizations cannot be said to be motivated by supernatural grace. Entering such communities would be no different than entering a Bhuddist monastery of men or women, joining the Moonies or a Hari Krishna commune.
Note that the members of the above organizations lead an apparently dedicated life, making many heroic sacrifices, practicing an almost absolute obedience to the sect leaders. One might even say with certainty that the members of these sects display an obedience rarely found in genuine Roman Catholic religious communities where supernatural grace abounds.
Are those people belonging to such sects following a genuine `vocation'? Of course not.
A vocation is a call from God, not a call from the Devil. If one may speak of a `demonic vocation,' then that is what such `vocations' are: They are inspired by the Devil and those who enter such groups or communities are following the inspirations of the Devil, and are not of God.
A genuine vocation is a supernatural gift from God. It is a call to a higher conformity to the divine Will. Therefore, the signs of a true vocation must necessarily comprise those supernatural elements that leave no room for doubt.
Conformity to the divine will, whether expressly understood or implied, is the underlying motive of a genuine vocation. It cannot be otherwise because it is the action of supernatural grace in us. It is the loving submission of our will to that of God.
From the very outset, then, it must be understood that the grace of God is not going to attract a soul to a group that is not in right order with God's holy will.
How can we know if a community or group visibly represents such a place or state?
We can know whether a community or group represents such a place or state that is in conformity with God's will by external signs.
It is obvious that if God calls a soul to a particular state in life, this call must be readily discernible. Otherwise, one can never be sure whether or not one is indeed following a divine call inspired by supernatural grace.
The first thing we must understand is how God's will is made manifest to us. Experience only too painfully provides numerous examples where souls deceive themselves into associating themselves with communities or groups that present themselves as legitimate expressions of God's will. The truth, however, is quite different.
God's holy will shows itself to us in a twofold aspect. The first is called the moral norm. A `norm' is a law. It is not something purely subjective or ambiguous. This first aspect of God's holy will shows us what we must do in virtue of His commandments or His counsels.
The second aspect under which God's divine will is made known to us is through the ruling principle that governs all things with wisdom. This governance directs all events so as to make them work together for His glory and the salvation of souls. This will is made known to us by the providential events that occur in and around us.
The first is called the signified will of God because it indicates and proclaims in clear terms what we must do. The second is commonly referred to as the good pleasure of God. This means that God's will is made known to us through providential events to which we must submit.
Practically speaking, conformity to God's will means doing God's will and submitting to His will.
St. Francis de Sales writes of conformity to God's signified will in this way: "Christian doctrine clearly proposes unto us the truths which God wills that we should believe, the goods He will have us hope for, the pains He will have us dread, what He will have us love, the commandments He will have us observe and the counsels He desires us to follow. And this is called God's signified will, because He has signified and made manifest unto us that it is His will and intention that all this should be believed, hoped for, feared, loved and practiced."
This will of God takes in, therefore, four principle things: The commandments of God and of the Church, the counsels, the inspirations of grace, and for Religious: the Rules and Constitutions.
Because God is our Sovereign Lord, He has the right to give commands. In His infinite wisdom and goodness, He commands nothing that is not conducive to His glory and our own happiness. For this reason, we must willingly and unquestionably submit ourselves to His laws. And His laws are not arbitrary or open to discussion or debate: the natural law, the positive divine law, ecclesiastical law, or a just civil law. The reason for this is found in St. Paul's statement that all lawful authority comes from God and to obey Superiors within the limits of their authority is to obey God Himself. To resist them would be to give resistance to God Himself: "Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resists the power resists the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation."( ROM. 13, 1-2).
In what may be called the `standard book on the spiritual life' _ THE SPIRITUAL LIFE by Very Rev. Adolph Tanquery _ the author states: " from the view of perfection, the more faithful and Christlike is our observance of law, the closer is our approach unto God, since law is the expression of His will. We may add that duties of state come within the category of commandments. They are, as it were, particular precepts incumbent upon us by reason of our special vocation and the special offices God has confided to us."
Furthermore, the same author states: "Sanctification, then, is impossible without the observance of the commandments and the fulfillment of the duties of our state. To neglect them under the pretext of performing works of supererogation is a dangerous illusion, a veritable aberration, for it is evident that commands take precedence over counsels."
What about those who feel themselves inspired to enter a Religious community or to engage in some extraordinary things? There are many who are the victims of their own illusions. They feel drawn to enter a Religious community and no amount of counseling to the contrary can dissuade them. Inevitably, they are drawn to some sect, rather than to a genuine approved community under the guidance of a competent spiritual director. Such as these display more readily the signs of the demonic which are obstinacy and pride, than the signs of supernatural grace which are humility and docility. Simply stated: These souls suffer from illusions.
They readily imagine themselves thinking and praying about the matter. This is something most heretics insist upon: They wish to impress those who know better that they have "thought much and prayed much" over the matter and have themselves drawn their conclusion. The problem is, however, that they have only knelt in apparent prayer and heard the devil tell them that their own will was the will of God!
This is so frequent that it is almost painful to relate. How many souls are lost because they imagine God guiding them when it is only their own hidden ambition or undisciplined passions! They fancy themselves more knowledgeable than those whom the Holy Ghost has placed over them for their safety and guidance.
The clearest sign of demonic influence on the will is obstinacy.
The Council of Trent and its subsequent Roman Catholic Catechism provide us with some deep insights into how genuine vocations manifest themselves and how we can be sure that we do have a supernatural vocation.
Although the Council of Trent was dealing mostly concerning the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the same principles apply to vocations to the Religious life.
The first thing required, obviously, is the divine call. The Catechism states: "Let no one take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God as Aaron was;1 and they are called by God who are called by the lawful ministers of His Church. It is to those who arrogantly intrude themselves into this ministry that the Lord must be understood to refer when He says: I did not send prophets, yet they ran.2 Nothing can be more calamitous to the Church of God."(Catechism of the Council of Trent, p.318-319)
Flowing from this observation is the clear indication of who determines a person's vocation. That is to say, it is the lawful minister of the Church (That is, the person's Bishop) who determines the supernatural vocation of each individual.
It is folly to think one has a vocation when a legitimate authority in the Church declares otherwise. This same is true for those called to the Religious state. An individual may, or may not, have a sensible attraction to the Religious life, but these sensibilities may be false. The only real way to know whether or not a person has a genuine vocation is when the lawful authority of the lawful Religious community declares it to be so.
There are many `prophets' who were not sent, but they circumnavigate the globe sowing their own brand of disobedience wherever they can. There are many who labor under the illusion that they have a Religious vocation, yet will not submit to lawful authority. Instead, they involve themselves with heretical and schismatic sects that have the appearance of godliness, but are filled with demonic pride and deceit.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent advises: "In every action we undertake it is of the highest importance to have a good motive in view, for if the motive is good, the rest proceeds harmoniously. The candidate for Holy Orders, therefore, should first of all be admonished to entertain no purpose unworthy of so exalted an office.
This subject demands all the greater attention, since in these days the faithful often sin gravely in this respect. Some there are who embrace this state to secure the necessaries of life, and who, consequently, seek in the priesthood, just as other men do in the lowest walks of life, nothing more or less than gain. Though both natural and divine law lay down, as the Apostle remarks, that he who serves the altar should live by the altar; yet to approach the altar for the sake of gain and money is one of the very gravest of sacrileges.
Some are attracted to the priesthood by ambition and love of honors; while there are others who desire to be ordained simply in order that they may abound in riches, as is proved by the fact that unless some wealthy benefice were conferred on them, they would not dream of receiving Holy Orders. It is such as these that our Savior describes as hirelings, who, in the words of Ezechiel, `feed themselves and not the sheep,' and whose baseness and dishonesty have not only brought great disgrace on the ecclesiastical state, so much so that hardly anything is now more vile and contemptible in the eyes of the faithful, but also end in this, that they derive no other fruit from their priesthood than was derived by Judas from the Apostleship, which only brought him everlasting destruction."
So much for the sentiments of the Church regarding those who seek Holy Orders from unworthy motives. As for those who are truly called, the Church addresses these words:
"But they, on the other hand, who are lawfully called by God, and who undertake the ecclesiastical state with the single motive of promoting the honor of God, are truly said to enter the Church by the door."
Lest a false notion be entertained by the faithful, the Council of Trent points out that ALL the faithful are called to sanctification:
"This, however, must not be understood as if the same law did not bind all men equally. Men have been created to honor God, and this the faithful in particular, who have obtained the grace of Baptism, should do with their whole heart, their whole soul, and with all their strength.
But those who desire to receive the Sacrament of Orders, should aim not only at seeking the glory of God in all things _ an obligation admittedly common to all men, and particularly the faithful _ but also to serve Him in holiness and justice in whatever sphere of His ministry they may be placed. Just as in the army all the soldiers obey the general's' orders, though they all have not the same functions to discharge, one being a centurion, another a prefect, so in like manner, though all the faithful should diligently practice piety and innocence, which are the chief means of honoring God, yet they who are in Holy Orders have certain special duties and functions to discharge in the Church. Thus they offer Sacrifice for themselves and for all the people; they explain God's law and exhort and form the faithful to observe it promptly and cheerfully; they administer the Sacraments of Christ our Lord by means of which all grace is conferred and increased; and, in a word, they are separated from the rest of the people to fill by far the greatest and noblest of all ministries."
The call to the Religious state is primarily a call to complete giving of oneself to God. This includes not only the giving up of the ownership of worldly goods and honors, but goes even further: It is the giving up of one's own will to obey God in all things.
This is the reason why, for example, in the Franciscan Rule it is stated:
"The Rule and life of the Friars Minor is this, namely, to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without property and in chastity. Friar Francis promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope Honorius and to his successors canonically elected and to the Roman Church. And the other friars are bound to obey Friar Francis and his successors."
When God calls someone, you may be certain that it is a call to mortification of one's self-love through the practice of obedience. For, the greatest gift we can give to God is our own will.
Since all vice and all virtue reside in the free will, it is here that the Devil works the hardest to pervert. A docile and ready will are signs of a genuine vocation. One who is more concerned with material comfort or great visible austerities is usually an individual whose will has not been touched by God's grace.
The proof of this lies in the fact that these kind of `vocations' readily heed the superficial suggestions of the Devil and find their way to extra-canonical, man-inspired "communities" where, sooner or later, the grace of God becomes significant by its absence.
A genuine vocation is a supernatural grace attracting a soul to a life where the evangelical councils are realized in conformity with the laws of grace and the Church.
No one is called by God to `sanctify' oneself in a heretical or schismatic institution. Because the Roman Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, it is a Church of obedience; whereas those sects deceitfully presenting themselves as `Catholic' can only represent a "Church of Disobedience".
The `Church' in a time when the Holy See is vacant, means the Ecumenical Councils and Sacred Congregations which enact ecclesiastical laws and decrees by the authority of the Pope. Likewise must be included are the legitimate Cardinals and valid Bishops throughout the world who are legitimate members of the college of Bishops. Excluded from the word `Church' are all those invalid bishops of the Apostate, Conciliar Church and all those wandering Bishops (some valid and some invalid) who promote anarchy by preaching disobedience to legitimate Bishops and the laws of the Church. In the first class are the leftist Conciliar clergy; in the second group are to be found all those who style themselves `traditionalist.'
The true Roman Catholic Church is to be found between these two extremes: There you will find doctrine and discipline supported and protected by Church law.
1 Heb.5, 4.
2 Jer. 24,2, 3, 10, 11.
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