Sunday, March 16, 2008

VINCENTIANS (VC) WELCOMES YOU!

Jesus is calling you: Just listen and do what he says.



video
It is a video presenting the value of a true vocation.
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This page contains some scanned information of the Marymatha Province of the Vincentian Congregation, Kerala, India। Please excuse me for the language। It is in Malayalam। Thanks.
(Please click on each picture to get it enlarged and readable)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

FOUR TYPES OF VOCATION

God's first call for every person is to simply follow Him. You were created to be in relationship with God, and that is His greatest desire for you. As your relationship with God grows, He will continue to draw you deeper into this relationship, and call you to become more like Christ, to love Him more, and to love others through service. In all these things, you will experience God calling you to a particular vocation.

The Catholic Church recognises four main vocations: Priesthood, Religious Life, Marriage and Single Life. God calls everyone to follow Him. Here is a brief outline of the four vocations:

Priesthood: A Catholic priest is a male ordained minister of the Church. Because they give their lives in total service to the Church, priests embrace the gift of celibacy and commit to a life of prayer. They proclaim the Good News, teach the Catholic faith, minister the Sacraments, work to build up their local faith community and lead their faith community in worship. Most priests will minister in a parish setting, while others may serve as chaplains to universities, hospitals, prisons, the armed forces and other industries.

Religious Life: A religious priest, brother or sister (nun) commits his or her life to sharing in the life and mission of their religious community. Religious priests, brothers and sisters embrace the call to poverty, chastity and obedience, and nurture their call through a life of celibacy, faith, prayer and service. Religious priests, brothers and sisters serve in areas such as education, health care, parish, youth ministry, aged care, spirituality, pastoral ministry, social work, amongst the poor and as a contemplative, and many will serve as missionaries in other cultures. Depending on the religious order, they may dress in 'normal' clothes or in a habit.

Marriage: A married person lives a vow of faithful love to a spouse through the sacrament of marriage. Husbands and wives share a self-giving, love-giving and life-giving relationship with their spouse, and are committed to helping their spouse grow to human and Christian maturity. They seek to form a family home, and are together the first teachers of their children in Christian faith and values. Married people may serve in their parish community or in the Church in a number of different ways.

Single Life: A person called to single life comes to believe that remaining single is the true and right way to faithfully live his or her baptismal call. Single men and women embrace the gift of celibacy while living alone, with a family or with others who are single. They are able to devote time and energy in service of others, and may serve in their parish community or in the Church in a number of different ways.

In each vocation, the person lives a life of faith and prayer to continually grow in relationship with God. The Church recognises that each vocation is equal in the sense that no vocation is better or less then any other. However, because God calls you to a particular vocation - whether marriage, priesthood, religious life or single life - that vocation is the best one for you, and the one that will 'fit' you best and make you the most happy.

PRIESTLY VOCATION

Priestly Vocation
What are the signs of Priestly Vocation?
The vocation to the priesthood is seen in 3 principal signs, St. Alphonsus tells us.

1st, Purity of Intention- the intention above all to serve God and save souls for the glory of God, and not to please men, or gain the esteem of others, for “God hath scattered the bones of them that please men: they have been confounded, because God hath despised them.” (Ps. 52:6), that is, who pleased men apart from or contrary to God’s good pleasure.

Secondly, there is need of the necessary talent and learning, a talent and learning so as to understand and communicate the faith, “For,” Holy Writ declares, “the lips of the priest shall teach knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth.” (Mal 2:7). A teaching ordered toward the love of God, which aims not only at enlightening with truth but which is truly pastoral as well, exposing and condemning error, which is the ruin of souls. As Pope Pius XI said: “The first and obvious duty the priest owes to the world about him, is service to the truth, the unmasking and refutation of error in whatever form of disguise it conceals itself."

Lastly, yet most importantly there is needed goodness of character, both due to the fact that the priest must become the guide of others in the way of holiness, and, most of all, because he stands in the very Holy of Holies and holds the Body of Christ in his very hands, consecrated for this sole purpose. Thus not only his hands but his whole soul must be consecrated and set apart for god, which the Church sums up in a most beautiful phrase in the ordination rite, “Imitamini quod tractatis” Imitate what you handle; that is Sacrifice yourself as Christ sacrifices himself for the glory of God and salvation of souls. Live the Mass!

How to discern one's vocation?
The Magi (in search of Child Jesus) did not simply trust in their own discernment of the call, but rather consulted the priests. This is a very important point, for no man is a good judge of himself and we often deceive ourselves through an excessive or deficient estimation of what talents the Lord has given us, when we would simply do better to ask a priest of many years experience what is needed and to open our soul to him, and let him judge. For in the end, the call to the priesthood is one of the Church through her appointed pastors, a call which takes place even in the ordination rite itself, to which the “priest-to-be” can only respond like Samuel, “Adsum” Here I am O Lord.

The criteria
You are worthy, because God finds so! St. Pius X, says “Do we imagine that God is influenced by any inborn or acquired excellence of ours, to make use of our help for the extension of his glory? By no means; for it is written: God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world God has chosen to confound the strong… the humble and contemptible things of the world God has chosen…” For by ourselves we can do nothing. But with Christ all things are possible. And thus St. Thomas says “God does not destine men to such or such a vocation without favoring them with gifts at the same time, and preparing them in such a way as to render them capable of fulfilling the duties of their vocation; for as St. Paul says, ‘Our sufficiency is from God who also hath made us fit ministers of the New Testament‘ ” (2 Cor. 3:5).”

Be true to your search of God
We must like the Magi, simply set out in faith, following the star in the midst of the dark night, uncertain where it will lead, yet confident that it is God who guides who cannot lead astray. And we must have great generosity toward God, and a prompt obedience to his calling, especially in our day for as St. Pius X said “to bring about the reign of Jesus Christ in the world, nothing is more essential than a saintly clergy who, by their example, their preaching and their learning will be the guides of the faithful; an old proverb says that the people will always be like their priests: Sicut sacerdos, sic populus.” For how they shall hear unless one is sent, as the Magi return today with the good news of salvation.

Let us promot Vocations
Since holy priestly vocations are the life of the Church, and salvation of the world it falls to each one of us to do what we can to promote them, and for young men to be generous in discerning this call. It behooves parents, especially the father, in the holiness with which they live, as one can notably observe the great benefit in formation that seminarians have received who enter the seminary from holy families. The priestly vocation must be something held in great esteem as well, and seen as the greatest honor for a family. And to the contrary, if parents discourage a priestly vocation in their son (or a religious vocation in their daughter), when they appear truly interested in it, it is a mortal sin, according to St. Alphonsus and the common teaching. St. Bernard goes so far as to call such parents murderers. The Council of Trent also condemned the opinion of Luther, who held that one should obey parents who object to their religious calling, as we must always obey God before men. May we be inspired by the very moving tradition in which a newly ordained priest gives to his mother the cloth with which his anointed hands were wrapped, and to his Father the stole of his first confession, which are placed on them at their death, that they may appear before God as the blessed parents of a priest for all eternity.

Some thing for Christ
A generosity, which is simply a response to the generosity of God, who freely chooses to save man, and to choose men to participate in his own work. “As the Father sent me (the Son of God!) so I send you,” for the salvation of the world, the ONLY end, which matters after this so-called life, which lasts but for the blink of an eye. Christ came down from heaven and died the most shameful death for love of you. What have you done for Christ, what are you doing for Christ, what will you do for Christ.

Monday, January 21, 2008

1. Catholic Vocation

1. What can you do?
 Make praying for vocations a part of your daily family prayer.
 Choose five priests or religious whom you know and make a lifetime commitment to pray for them.

 Encourage discussions and reflections about priests and saints in the
family.

 Help young people and children to meet and be inspired by priests and religious.
 Support young people in helping them to discern their call and say ‘yes’.

2. Let the youth be challenged!

Let the young people being challenged today by parents, teachers, priests, and those in the consecrated state to consider the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood and/or to the consecrated state. We must not assume today that young people—and not so young—have already been challenged, or that there is no need to do so. Long gone are the days when almost every unmarried Catholic, at one time or another, gave serious thought about a vocation and were encouraged to do so.In view of this, should we not take it upon ourselves to go out of our way frequently to suggest to individuals that Our Lord may indeed be calling them to Holy Orders and/or the consecrated state? If we neglect to do this, how many vocations will go unheeded?

3. Some basic principles to discern a possible vocation

1) It is Our Lord who initiates the call. "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." – John 15:16
2) It should be realized that a vocation involves a lifetime commitment of total surrender or self-sacrifice.
3) A vocation is not intended to serve oneself, but primarily to serve Our Lord and then others for His sake.
4) If one believes he (she) might have a vocation, he should seek the counsel of someone in Holy Orders or the consecrated life who is noted for orthodoxy, sanctity and learning.
5) If a possible vocation is discerned, then where it is to be realized must be discerned as well; for example, in the diocesan priesthood or in an institute of consecrated life.
6) Ultimately, it is not the individual himself who has the final say in the discernment process. Rather, it is a Bishop or a superior in an institute of consecrated life.

4. Some guidelines to seriously consider and reflect upon:

1) Frequent prayer is a must to help a person further clarify a possible vocation and to remain faithful to it. Our Lord will not fail to respond.
2) A lifetime of daily prayer is expected in the fulfillment of a vocation.
3) A deep desire for self-sacrifice and sanctity should be present.
4) Do I accept without qualification all of the Church's teaching as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
5) Am I committed to obey at all times those whom Our Lord will place over me?
6) Do I desire the salvation of souls, i.e., all souls?
7) A true vocation does not imply a call to escape trials and difficulties. Be assured that there will be trials and difficulties as well for those in Holy Orders or in an institute of consecrated life.
8) Good physical and emotional health is a prerequisite.
9) Do I generally get along well with others? Can I charitably put up with "difficult" people?
10) Am I free from family or other obligations? A person with a vocation is to leave everything and follow Christ.
11) Do I deeply desire to forsake with God's help "the world, the flesh and the devil"?
12) Do I believe I have a vocation to the celibate state and that it is not simply a burden I must bear?
13) Am I convinced that Our Lord will not only provide the grace to live a celibate life faithfully, but joyfully as well?

While these principles and guidelines are in no way exhaustive, they do provide helpful, concrete suggestions for proper discernment. Above all, it is essential to work closely with a qualified spiritual director, one who can help a person to objectively search one's heart and soul. A spiritual director will assist a person considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life to honestly answer the above questions.
Also it must be said that a close union with Our Eucharistic Lord and a tender love for Our Lady will greatly assist an individual in the discernment process and later help in remaining faithful to his or her own vocation.

2. Three "Calls" from God

Is God Calling? Learn to Discern

The following article offers practical solutions to finding God's will concerning a vocation in one's life.

Determining God's Call for Your Life
The quest for discovering God's call for your life should be paramount. Nothing is more important. There can be no doubt that a person's earthly fulfillment and ultimate happiness greatly depend on properly discerning God's will, especially in terms of the particular vocation a man or woman may choose.

Your God-given Vocation
Deciding upon one's specific state in life is not the same as merely choosing a career or picking a profession. While they may be closely connected, discerning your God-given vocation will greatly influence your response to the Christian call to holiness and it could even affect your eternal salvation.

Without a doubt, all that Almighty God requires of us is the faithful observance of His Commandments. And strictly speaking, it is possible for a believer to be saved under every circumstance and in every situation, since sufficient grace to keep God's Commandments will never be denied a person. Yet a Christian who turns a deaf ear to the specific call of the Lord may expose himself or herself to eternal ruin-or to say the least, runs the risk of never reaching the heights of spiritual perfection, unless he or she embraces the grace of one's particular calling in life.

Seeking Divine Guidance
It is important to remember that discovering one's vocation is a supernatural work, and is impossible without the help of Divine grace. This being the case, it is absolutely necessary to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, to enlighten our minds and to touch our souls. With regard to our own personal activity on the matter, we must be careful to fully cooperate with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
To do so, it may be most beneficial to discern your call in life by employing time-tested and proven steps of vocational discernment. St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises originally proposed this simple three-step method. It has been adapted and updated to meet the needs of young people today.

The Method of Discernment
A young person about to embark upon a career faces endless choices and challenges. The many opportunities for education or training can at times cloud one's ability to determine what particular vocation or state in life God is calling you to follow. Is it to be married and raise a family? Perhaps the Lord wishes you to be a priest or religious? Does God want you to be a missionary or possibly to serve Him as a cloistered nun or monk? Is He inviting you to be a leaven in society as a member of a secular institute or perhaps as part of a society of apostolic life? Does being a hermit or consecrated virgin for the Lord attract you?

Whatever the call, rest assured that if you are truly open to God's will in your life, the Almighty will manifest His desire in regards to your particular vocation. Either your calling will be made known in some altogether unusual manner, or else with extraordinary clarity as expressed in some ordinary ways of His Providence.

To Know With Certainty
For whatever reason, perhaps known only to God, should He not make known your call in either of these ways, you can draw upon your intellect and heart. These gifts from God will assist you to determine properly the path in life to follow. In this way you can know with certainty how best to serve the Lord and lead many others, including yourself, into a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. This is your Divine destiny.

St. Ignatius was given special spiritual gifts to share with others, including the ability to shed light on discerning one's vocation. In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius identifies three specific situations, which he calls "times" or circumstances favoring a good choice. His doctrine is as follows:

I. "First Time": A Miraculous Vocation
"The first time," says St. Ignatius, "is when God our Lord so moves and draws the will that without doubting, or even being able to doubt, the pious soul follows that which is shown it."

Almighty God, does at times, speak thus directly to a soul, or else sends an angel or a saint to convey His will in explicit terms. Such was the case of St. Paul when he was struck to the ground on his way to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:1-18); or Matthew and the other Apostles when He called them. Many of the saints throughout the history had similar experiences.

At other times God's grace is so strong that a man is drawn toward the priesthood or a woman to the consecrated life almost irresistibly. In these particular circumstances, he or she sees things in such a light that it is impossible to entertain any doubt that he or she should embrace this particular state of life. Such cases are rare, and may be classified with miraculous vocations and extraordinary graces.

II. "Second Time": Vocation by Attraction
God typically does not speak in the manner as described above. But He does make His will known either by certain lights and attractions of ordinary actual grace, or through the inspiration of His holy angels whose primary mission is to lead and guide us to our eternal destiny.

Interior Consolations
And so, "the second time," St. Ignatius says "is when a soul receives much light and knowledge by means of the interior consolation it experiences, as well as through the discernment of spirits."

It is not rare to find a young person who for a long time-months and even years-has felt drawn the priesthood or consecrated life. They have felt a certain inclination or strong urge to give themselves entirely to God. Some are even overjoyed at the thought, and yearn for the day when they may enter the seminary or begin religious formation. Others, on the contrary, feel a great repugnance at the idea of giving up all things to follow the Divine call that has been ringing in their ears for a long time. Some even try to ignore any or all thoughts of a priestly or religious vocation as though they were temptations, yet they fail to do so.

How are we to account for this light, inclination, or attraction-whatever it may be called-which is almost unnatural, haunting a person for years? It is to be attributed entirely to grace or to the watchful angels, according to the teaching of many noted spiritual writers.

Attractions of Grace
Such movements of the soul cannot be explained in any other way except that they are the attractions of grace. Surely such thoughts, attractions or inclinations do not come:

From the devil-for devoting oneself to the service of God means working against the rule of Satan;
Nor from human passions-which are properly integrated for a higher purpose in the priesthood or consecrated life;
Nor yet from the world-for most people fail to appreciate or understand these sublime vocations.

An objection could be made that it originates by suggestion from some priest or religious but the mere suggestion of a vocation cannot, of itself, explain the persistence of the thought or inclination. God's grace sustains such persistence, even if the birth of one's vocation may have first emerged from the encouragement of another.

Even St. Thomas Aquinas acknowledges that while the suggestion to enter the vowed life or priesthood may have originated from a source other than the Lord, he teaches "the resolution to enter is always from God, no matter who may have inspired it."

According to St. Ignatius, a person whose vocation is made manifest by attraction should remain steadfast in his or her initial inclination. For in moments of fervor and consolation, the person feels drawn to God. Yet as soon as he or she lapses into lukewarmness or falls into sin, all pious sentiments take to flight.

How are these opposite states to be explained? In the first case, it is a good angel who speaks to the fervent soul and draws it according to the will of God. In the second instance, it is the evil spirit who is leading the tepid soul into the broad and easy path.

Struggle for Mastery
There is one other sign of a vocation, which, though less manifest, is nevertheless considered morally certain. A young person feels a struggle, as it were, going on within, while he or she looks on as a mere spectator. Regardless of his or her soul's state of fervor, the young person feels drawn now toward the world, now toward the priesthood or consecrated life. Here may be seen the action of good angels and evil spirits, as they struggle for mastery. Wisdom and prudence will naturally demand that everything be weighed and considered very seriously before coming to any definitive vocational decision.

This, then, is what St. Ignatius calls the "second time." Those who experience these signs of the first or second "time" may have what is called a "special vocation." It would seem that Almighty God is so desirous of them in His service, that He pursues them with His grace. He is ever at hand with light and strength, repeating the invitation, "Come follow Me!"

III. "Third Time": Vocation Through Reason
"The third time is an hour when the soul is calm," writes St. Ignatius. "Then, first of all considering why man has been created, which is to praise God our Lord and to save his soul, and moved by the desire of sustaining this end, one chooses as a means thereunto a state or kind of life sanctioned by the Church, in order to do better work in the service of our Lord and for the salvation of one's soul. I call that time an hour of calm when the soul is not under the influence of either good or evil spirits, and makes use of its natural powers freely and quietly."

A Five-Step Method
The "election" or choice, according to the third "time," is made as follows:

1. "I must first of all," continues St. Ignatius, "place before my eyes the end for which I have been created, which is to praise God our Lord and to save my soul. I must, moreover, be in a state of perfect indifference, and be without any unreasonable desires, so that I am neither inclined toward, nor desirous of choosing one state of life more than another, keeping a perfect balance and ever ready to choose that state which will seem most proper to procure the glory of God and the salvation of my soul."

2. Then, St. Ignatius suggests: "I shall ask of God our Lord to deign to move my will, and to Himself suggest to my soul whatever I should do in regard to the choice which I am engaged in making, for His greater praise and glory."

3. Next, ask with all sincerity to know what state of life you should embrace, with the view of more surely attaining the end for which you have been created-the glory of God and the salvation of your soul.

4. To do this in a really practical manner, take a sheet of paper and write the heading, "Life in the World." Then divide the page in two columns and write down on one side the advantages to be gained by living in this state; on the other, all the disadvantages, which may come to mind.

Do the same in regards to the priesthood and/or consecrated life. Jot down all your reasons-spiritual and temporal-and anything else there may be worth noting, always keeping the same end in view-your eternal salvation and the glory that you must procure for the Divine Master.

5. When this is done, draw the conclusion. Weigh each side with its reasons very attentively, considering and comparing each vocation accordingly. Once you have done this, you will be able to see just which one is best for you. Before coming to a final decision, be careful not to be led away by natural inclinations or by passion; let cold reason be your sole guide.

A Three-Fold Consideration
St. Ignatius himself suggests a means to avoid being deceived by passion or one's own inclinations. It is the following three-fold consideration:

(a) Imagine that a young person in precisely the same position as yourself came to you, to seek your guidance before choosing a particular calling. Having studied the matter, you would certainly say to that person: "Everything is quite clear. Because of such and such reason, you must choose such and such a vocation." This being the case, do the same yourself, as you would advise a stranger to do under similar circumstances. To do otherwise would be unreasonable.

(b) Having decided upon your vocation, ask yourself, "How would I feel about this on my deathbed? Should I be pleased, or should I suffer remorse of conscience?" If I see that the latter would be the case, there is something wrong somewhere. Review your reasons once again.

(c) Finally, picture yourself at your own judgment. Will all the work that you have been doing just now in coming to your decision, show forth as that of a conscientious person? Or, will you realize on the contrary that you have been trying to cheat yourself by marshalling up silly reasons, dictated by human nature and passion? If such should really be the case, start over again, and this time, go about it more earnestly.

Finally, a few important points must be insisted upon. Before starting to write anything, pray earnestly to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment, beg for the grace to know God's will and the strength to do whatever the Almighty desires of you.
Recall Jesus' words: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?"

Since you must always keep eternity in mind, ask yourself these two questions:
Where must I go to save it more surely?
Where shall I do better work for the greater honor and glory of God?


Is not this, however, asking a little too much? No. It is only reasonable that you should employ the very best means to save your soul and to assist others to do the same. Ask yourself frankly then, "In which vocation would I most securely work out my salvation?" Will it be in the world as a layperson, as a secular priest, or in the consecrated life? Go about your work seriously then, in the presence of God. Weigh all your reasons carefully and then decide.

The next thing to do is humbly to submit everything-reasons and conclusions-to your spiritual director, make haste to offer our Lord the choice you have just made, begging Him to receive and confirm it, if it be in conformity with His greater service and glory.

If you are really convinced, and feel within yourself while praying, that your offering is pleasing to Almighty God, resolve immediately to remain faithful to it, and to carry out your decision at the earliest possible moment. Embrace this special grace after learning to discern!

This resource was excerpted and adapted from the booklet, Choosing Your Career by Rev. J.I. D'Orsonnens, S.J. It was originally published by The Paulist Press (1951).