St. Vincent de Paul on "Vocation"


From the Virtues and Spiritual Doctrine of St. Vincent de Paul:

"A vocation is a call from God for the purpose of doing something. God says: “I wish this soul to sanctify itself in serving Me in such an occupation.”

Though His Divine Goodness often calls us by means that are unknown to us, yet He most frequently employs the strong desire which he gives us, to be received into such a state, and the perseverance we manifest in our request. After this, we must no longer doubt that our vocation comes from God; for when you allow yourselves to entertain the doubt, it is, ordinarily, because you find difficulty in the practice of poverty, of humility, and of obedience which the demon endeavors to make appear to you impossible. But God is immovable in His judgments, and the salvation of souls is not of such little consequence to Him that He does not take all the necessary care to place them in the way the most sure and most easy for them to secure it.

But we must not leave that way, for should a person who is on a long journey turn aside and leave the high road he runs the risk of meeting only by-ways that will lengthen the distance. A man, with his orchard planted with good fruit bearing trees, would incur the risk of not only gathering no fruit, but also of killing the trees, were he to change them constantly and yearly transplant them.

Judas, having been called to the apostleship and having had a participation in the graces of God, imagined he was not right when he was, and thought to better himself elsewhere. You know his history and how he was lost. Let us, then, remain where God has called us."

He gives the example of a soldier leaving his post, and being killed for desertion.

“It is the same with the soul. Faithless to its vocation, it no longer knows any rest. Far better for it would have been, had it never began, for then, at least, it would not have to answer for so many graces received and abused. On the contrary, the soul that perseveres drives the demons back into hell when it resists their temptations. And it, at the same time, gives great joy to God; for He is looking on, and takes a singular pleasure in witnessing its perseverance in what it has undertaken for His love, notwithstanding all the combats of flesh and blood, and all the wiles of the evil spirit.”


Thank you. I would like to hear more.


St Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologiae

Article 4. Whether he who has vowed to enter religion is bound to remain in religion in perpetuity?

I answer that, The obligation of a vow proceeds from the will: because “to vow is an act of the will” according to Augustine [Gloss of Peter Lombard on Psalm 75:12. Consequently the obligation of a vow extends as far as the will and intention of the person who takes the vow. Accordingly if in vowing he intend to bind himself not only to enter religion, but also to remain there evermore, he is bound to remain in perpetuity. If, on the other hand, he intend to bind himself to enter religion for the purpose of trial, while retaining the freedom to remain or not remain, it is clear that he is not bound to remain. If, however, in vowing he thought merely of entering religion, without thinking of being free to leave, or of remaining in perpetuity, it would seem that he is bound to enter religion according to the form prescribed by common law, which is that those who enter should be given a year’s probation. Wherefore he is not bound to remain for ever.

The above comments from the Summa does imply that if those who actually follow a religious vocation are not of necessity bound to remain in the life, then it follows that one’s own will comes into vital play in the matter of vocation. Since vocation is only ever an invitation, not command, one is free to follow that invitation or not to do so as the text by Fr Josef below does indicate.
One can only conclude as sure that one has a call and vocation from God after the various discernment stages and one makes a permanent commitment and in freedom of will. Aspirancy, Postulancy and Noviciate plus usually after those years, a further three years temporary vows are all discernment stages. Each stage does involve the free will of the candidate in discernment and also that of the relevant community howsoever that community will is exercised.

About Fr Josef

Consequences of Failing to Follow Vocation
Fr Josef Bolin
(Excellent comments on this blog)


And my point in posting that is this – there is a lot of spiritual warfare going on right now. Because of that, one should be very attentive to what the Holy Spirit is guiding them to do. Are you saying no, or is it temptation to rebellion? Why would God be calling you to service? Everyone is called to service, but in different ways. Some to contemplation, others to action, still others to both.

We live in a very individualistic world today. That in and of itself can negate the Holy Spirit’s efforts to bring people to vowed service. The fewer priests and religious we see on the street, the more people think God is dead. And if they think that, the Evil One is gaining the upper hand.

Discerning a vocation? Put yourself into the shoes of whomever is in need right now, calling on the Lord for help. Then realize you’re the hands and feet of Christ, and part of working out your salvation is helping Jesus take care of the world. The whole world through prayer, and your corner of the world through good works. As St. John Vianney says, Christ actually goes into our flesh and veins when we receive Him in the Eucharist. We become other Christs. With that being said, along with the “Thy will be done” in the Pater/Our Father/Lord’s Prayer, who are we to reject that which God has called us to?

I can attest first hand that those who reject God’s inspirations suffer immensely. If you don’t do as God wants, He will come after you. This is why we read the lives of the saints. What were their conversion experiences?

I encourage those feeling drawn to religious life to say yes; initiate a scheduled prayer life that you’re willing to give up should you be drawn to an actual convent; work on interior and exterior silence; attune your heart to listen; be Christ to the situations He puts you in.

(BarbTh – the “you” is not meant for you personally. Just wanted to clarify. And thank you for the links).


I would certainly encourage those that have the necessary qualities for religious life and by this I mean health in this instance, to really take it on board that God has given them the qualities for religious life and to seriously consider religious life from gratitude if nothing else.
A couple of other points are:

1 - religious vocation will ideally be about love and not fear. Creating an atmosphere of fear and anxiety is not The Holy Spirit at work. Where The Holy Spirit is at work evident are the fruits of The Holy Spirit (as per CCC) charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity.

2 - Discernment continues once one enters the life and commonly 1 year’s (or 6 months) postulancy, 2 year’s noviciate then 3 years temporary vows. That is around 6 years actually living the life in the community that has chosen you and you have chosen them to actually decide if God is calling you to religious life or if He is not.

I entered monastic life convinced I had a vocation and on the train coming home after I left became convinced I had done the wrong thing in leaving - I don’t know exactly how long I felt I had done the wrong thing in leaving but it wasn’t long enough to leave a real impact on memory. Now some 30years down the line, I know I did the right thing without any shadow of doubt whatsoever. I love religious life but I know I am not called to it, nor have I suffered unduly because I did not stay.

Perhaps I did have a religious vocation at some point in my journey, but I certainly do not have one now. Rather I rejoice in the path I have chosen and am thankful and very grateful to God for the invitation and vocation He has given to me.

Religious life is a beautiful vocation and a great honour from God - as is any invitation and call from Him. Who on earth are we that God should call and invite us personally and in particular to anything at all in the first place!

In my opinion, those who entered religious life and left and those who never entered and now feel that they should have entered - both groups suffering for not having entered - these have both spiritual and probably related psychological problems too to address.

(BarbTh – the “you” is not meant for you personally. Just wanted to clarify. And thank you for the links).

No offence was taken, Cloisters - I didn’t really notice anything until your statement above :thumbsup: Unless something is obviously addressed to me, I take it that posts are general comments on the subject as mine are.


GENEROSITY is what it all boils down to. Some old vocation brochures that I’ve seen have said, “Have I the Generosity?”

Here is a link explaining biblical/religious generosity:

There was also a video on YouTube, which I cannot find right now, where a young lady named Ami was discerning with a local convent. “I just love these people,” she said, extending her arms toward her friends who were dancing at an artists party. “I’m just going to love them a little differently.” The vocation director said she really hoped that Ami proved to have a vocation.

What Ami said hit the nail on the head. “I’m just going to love them a little differently,” was the crux of the matter.

I have to admit to some frustration today. One young black man is deceased, and two or three of this friends are in jail after a monstrous home invasion here locally. The police said it was a miracle more people weren’t killed or injured as there were “dozens” of gun shells in the upstairs hallway. I was given the inspiration for a project in that part of town 19 years ago, and these young men would have been the recipients of the apostolate, had obstacles not gotten in the way. Additionally, today is the 11 month anniversary of my son’s passing. Doesn’t seem possible, but we have grown from the experience.


Very sorry to read, Cloisters, of your son’s passing. It is a big cross indeed for parents to loose a child. Mothers who loose a child know something of the sorrows of Our Lady of Sorrows - and may she bring you comfort and consolation at this 11month anniversary. I lost my first son.

Re your inspiration 19years ago - I think you know that when The Lord closes a door, He is opening another - while we may never know the door He opened until Heaven. When things don’t go as we hope and plan, we can be assured too that God has His Good Reasons in our Doctrine of Divine Providence - sometimes easy to write but much more difficult to live by.
(Cloisters, you probably know and live by the Doctrine of Divine Providence already - nevertheless I thought it worth repeating something of a summary (excerpts) below for the benefit of readers)

Doctrine of Divine Providence:
Catholic Catechism (the whole section is worth a read 302 - 324)

313 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him."180 The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:

St. Catherine of Siena said to “those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them”: "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."181
St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best."182

Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith. . . and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time - that ‘all manner [of] thing shall be well.’"183

314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”,184 will we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil and sin - God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest185 for which he created heaven and earth.

323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.

324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.


so sorry for your loss Cloisters.

closed #9

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