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Sunday, December 17, 2017
The Theology of Religious Vocations
Here's the still-unsurpassed guide to discernment, grounded in the theology of Aquinas. On the question of religious vocation, all are agreed: A candidate must be called by God. But how God calls, and how one knows He has called, are questions that receive widely differing answers. Errors are costly: A false vocation can harm both the Church and the man or woman who was not truly called. A vocation missed means a life's full potential unrealized and perhaps an incalculable loss to souls.

Which is why this book by Fr. Edward Farrell, OP, received such high praise from reviewers, educators and pastors alike when it first appeared in 1952. Father Farrell's aims:

1) to lay down practical, workable principles, as immediately proximate to action as possible, which can be used profitably by confessors and spiritual directors in their task of guiding prospective candidates for the religious state; and 2) to order, crystallize, and make explicit a body of Thomistic doctrine on religious vocation.

In fact, Fr. Farrell succeeded in doing even more: As several reviewers pointed out, his guidebook was no less indispensable to young men and women considering religious life, and their parents, than to pastors and counselors. The reason? Sound advice and reliable answers on topics like:
- Three principal signs of a religious vocation
- Nine secondary signs
- Step-by-step, how the candidate should examine his qualifications and suitability for religious life, and then decide
- Four material factors that establish the suitability of a person for the religious life
- What role does individual nature play in the determination of a vocation? What qualities or characteristics does God bestow upon His favored children?
- Two indispensable conditions of divine vocation and the personal habits and dispositions that contribute to them
- Four basic human qualities that any prospective candidate for the religious life should have
- Inward impediments to the religious life; e.g., sensuality and spiritual sloth and their remedies
- Six factors that contribute to religious vocation by positively influencing the exercise of virtues indispensable to it
- The family's role in vocation. Dangerous attitudes that grow like weeds even in the minds of good, Catholic parents, according to Pope Pius XI
- The role of priests, and other special influences
- Guidelines for priests in preaching and counseling about vocations; Is God's call something internal, a grace infused into the soul? Or external, an invitation of a legitimate superior to embrace the religious life?
- What is the internal call St. Thomas speaks of? Just as important: What is it not? Why is it necessary? How may it be discerned? St. Thomas' specific, practical norms on the nature and discernment of vocation
- Two principles of Thomistic teaching on grace and predestination that apply specifically to the question of vocation
- Religious vocation defined with theological precision, stripped of the confusions and ambiguities of popular usage
- The one statement of Our Lord which contains an epitome of Catholic doctrine on the nature of the religious state and its relation to the common Christian life
- The virtue of religion: how it supplies the power that carries the candidate across the threshold of a new life
- The virtue of magnanimity: how it functions as the special and proper cause of the intensity of the act of devotion which is religious vocation
- The virtue that will always be found wherever a vigorous religious life prevails, supplying to religious the fullness of heart and courage necessary to keep them plodding along the great and difficult road to perfection
- Why greatness is inseparable from the religious life
- How the essence of the religious state is found in the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience
- How one can cultivate the seeds of religious vocation


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