The following texts are a small sampling of the texts from the Church Fathers, Doctors, Saints, and Magisterium on religious vocation, which indicate that: (1) the religious life is proposed generally to the free choice of men and women as a means for living out more perfectly their vocation to Christian love and perfection; (2) the right motivation is necessary in order to pursue and embrace religious life as a vocation. Thus a religious vocation consists primarily in the gift that produces such a right motivation, together with external circumstances that make it possible to pursue religious life.
Concerning virginity we have received no commandment; but we leave it to the power of those that are willing.1
Seeing that some make a sophistical attack on the saying, “To whom it is given,” as if those who wished to remain pure in celibacy, but were mastered by their desires, had an excuse, we must say that, if we believe the Scriptures, why at all do we lay hold of the saying, “But they to whom it is given,” but no longer attend to this, “Ask and it shall be given to you,” and to that which is added to it, “For every one that asketh receiveth”? For if they “to whom it is given” can receive this saying about absolute purity, let him who wills ask, obeying and believing Him who said, “Ask and it shall be given you,” and not doubting about the saying, “Every one that asketh receiveth.”… God therefore will give the good gift, perfect purity in celibacy and chastity, to those who ask Him with the whole soul, and with faith, and in prayers without ceasing.
Let the saying “All men cannot receive the saying but they to whom it is given,” be a stimulus to us to ask worthily of receiving; and this, “What son is there of you who shall ask his father for a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent,” etc.2
The Master of the Christian race offers the reward, invites candidates to the course, holds in His hand the prize of virginity, points to the fountain of purity, and cries aloud “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”3
Let no one think that by this saying [“not all man can receive it etc.”] either fate or fortune is introduced, for those are virgins to whom it is given by God, or that chance has led to this, but it is given to those who have asked for it, who have desired it, who have worked that they might receive it. For it will be given to the one who asks, the seeker will find, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.4
... It is in our power, whether we want to be perfect. But whoever wants to be perfect, should sell all that he has…and when he has sold, give everything to the poor.5
Having spoken then of the eunuchs that are eunuchs for naught and fruitlessly, unless with the mind they too practice temperance, and of those that are virgins for Heaven’s sake, He proceeds again to say, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it,” at once making them more earnest by showing that the good work is exceeding in greatness, and not suffering the thing to be shut up in the compulsion of a law, because of His unspeakable gentleness. And this He said, when He showed it to be most possible, in order that the emulation of the free choice might be greater.
And if it is of free choice, one may say, how does He say, at the beginning, “All men do not receive it, but they to whom it is given?” That you might learn that the conflict is great, not that you should suspect any compulsory allotments. For it is given to those who will it. But He spoke thus to show that much influence from above is needed by him who enters these lists, of which influence He who is willing shall surely partake.6
Go on in your course, and run with perseverance [in the unmarried state devoted to God], in order that ye may obtain; and by pattern of life, and discourse of exhortation, carry away with you into this same your course, whomsoever ye shall have had power. Let there not bend you from this earnest purpose, whereby ye excite many to follow, the complaint of vain persons, who say, How shall the human race subsist, if all shall have been continent? As though it were for any other reason that this world is delayed, save that the predestined number of the Saints be fulfilled, and were this the sooner fulfilled, assuredly the end of the world would not be put off. Nor let it stay you from your earnest purpose of persuading others to the same good ye have, if it be said to you, Whereas marriage also is good, how shall there be all goods in the Body of Christ, both the greater, forsooth, and the lesser, if all through praise and love of continence imitate? In the first place, because with the endeavor that all be continent, there will still be but few, for “not all receive this word.” But forasmuch as it is written, “He who can receive, let him receive;” then do they receive who can, when silence is not kept even toward those who cannot. Next, neither ought we to fear lest haply all receive it, and some one of lesser goods, that is, married life, be wanting in the body of Christ. For if all shall have heard, and all shall have received, we ought to understand that this very thing was predestined, that married goods already suffice in the number of those members which so many have passed out of this life. ... Therefore all these goods will have there their place, although from this time no woman wish to be married, no man wish to marry a wife. Therefore without anxiety urge on whom ye can, to become what ye are; and pray with watchfulness and fervor, that by the help of the Right Hand of the Most High, and by the abundance of the most merciful grace of the Lord, ye may both persevere in that which ye are, and may make advances unto that which ye shall be.7
There are also vows proper for individuals: one vows to God conjugal chastity, that he will know no other woman besides his wife: so also the woman, that she will know no other man besides her husband. Other men also vow, even though they have used such a marriage, that beyond this they will have no such thing, that they will neither desire nor admit the like: and these men have vowed a greater vow than the former. Others vow even virginity from the beginning of life, that they will even know no such thing as those who having experienced have relinquished: and these men have vowed the greatest vow. Others vow that their house shall be a place of entertainment for all the Saints that may come: a great vow they vow. Another vows to relinquish all his goods to be distributed to the poor, and go into a community, into a society of the Saints: a great vow he doth vow. “Vow ye, and pay to the Lord our God.” Let each one vow what he shall have willed to vow; let him give heed to this, that he pay what he hath vowed. If any man doth look back with regard to what he hath vowed to God, it is an evil.
...Be ye not slow, that are able, whom God doth inspire to seize upon higher callings: for we do not say these things [that failing to keep a vow is a great evil] in order that ye may not vow, but in order that ye may vow and may pay. Now because we have treated of these matters, thou perchance wast willing to vow, and now art not willing to vow. But observe what the Psalm hath said to thee. It hath not said, “Vow not;” but, “Vow and pay.” Because thou hast heard, “pay,” wilt thou not vow? Therefore wast thou willing to vow, and not to pay? Nay, do both. One thing is done by thy profession, another thing will be perfected by the aid of God. Look to Him who doth guide thee, and thou wilt not look back to the place whence He is leading thee forth.8
The rule of St. Benedict is proposed to every man, imposed on none. It is profitable if devoutly chosen and maintained, but if it is not chosen there is no sin. But what lies in the will of the one who undertakes it, not in the power of him who proposes it, I call voluntary, not necessary. But this which I call voluntary, if someone has one received it of his own will and promised to maintain it thereupon, he himself changes it into a necessity, nor is he free to give up what before he was free not to undertake. And so what he undertook of his will, he will maintain of necessity, since it is wholly necessary for him to render the vows his lips made, and now by condemned or justified by his mouth. But as one of the saints said, “Happy is the necessity which compels to better things.”
Greater signs from God are needed for the commandments than for the counsels, inasmuch as Christ our Lord advises the counsels and points out the difficulty in the ownership of property that is possible in the commandments.”10
Outside the Exercises, we can lawfully and meritoriously urge every one who is probably fit, to choose continence, virginity, the religious life, and all manner of evangelical perfection.11
Though I did not succeed to incline my will to being a nun, I saw that this was the best and safest state, and so, little by little, I determined to force myself to embrace it....
When I took the habit, the Lord soon made me understand how greatly he favors those who use force with themselves in serving him.12
All who want to be continent [celibate] are able to be, because sufficient help to be continent, or to obtain this grace by prayer, is denied to no one.13
A true vocation is nothing other than the firm and constant will possessed by the person called, to want to serve God in the manner and in the place where the Divine Majesty calls her. This is the best mark one could have to know when a vocation is true.14
Let the confessor test well the vocation of his penitent, asking whether the penitent has some obstacle to it, due to incapacity, poor health, or the need of his parents. And let him especially weigh his purpose, to see if it is right, i.e., in order to unite himself more closely to God, or to amend the falls of his previous life, or to avoid the dangers of the world. But if the primary end is worldly—in order to lead a more agreeable life, or to free himself from relatives of an unfeeling character, or to please his parents, who push him to this—let him beware of permitting him to enter religious life. For in that case, it is not a true vocation, and entering in this way, without a true vocation, will have a bad outcome. But if the end is good, and no obstacle is present, then neither the confessor, nor anyone else, as St. Thomas teaches, (Quodlib. 3, art. 14), should or can without grave fault impede him, or attempt to dissuade him from the vocation.15
There is a true vocation whenever the following three things concur: First, a good end, namely, to get away from the dangers of the world, the better to insure eternal salvation, and to unite oneself more closely to God. Secondly, that there is no positive impediment due to poor health, lack of talents, or some necessity on the part of one’s parents, in regard to which matters the subject ought to quiet himself by leaving all to the judgment of the superiors, after having exposed the truth clearly. Thirdly: That the Superiors admit him. Now, whenever these three conditions are truly present, the novice ought not to doubt that his vocation was a true one.16
How singular a thing it is, when there is question of entering religious life to lead a life more perfect and more free from the dangers of the world, the men of the world say that it is necessary to deliberate a long time before putting such resolutions in execution, in order to ascertain whether the vocation comes from God or from the devil.…
The saints, however, do not talk thus. St. Thomas says that if the vocation to religion should even come from the devil, we should nevertheless follow it, as a good counsel, though coming from an enemy.... [Continues, quoting St. John Chrysostom and St. Francis de Sales].17
I am very happy, my dear little sister, that you do not feel a sensible attraction to come to the Carmel; that is a treat from Jesus, who wants to receive a gift from you. He knows that it is much sweeter to give than to receive. We have only the brief moment of our life to give to the good God.21
(approving the judgment of a commission of cardinals)
The book of the eminent man Joseph Canon Lahitton, “La Vocation Sacerdotale.” is in no way to be reprobated, but rather is is deserving of outstanding praise in the following points: (1) that no one has a right to ordination antecedently to the free choice of him by the bishop; (2) that the condition to whcih the Ordinary should look, and which is called a priestly vocation, by no means consists, at all events necessarily and as a general rule, in some interior aspiration of the subject or in impulses of the Holy Spirit to receive the priesthood; (3) but, on the contrary, nothing more is required in the candidate that he may rightly be invited by the bishop, than a right intention together with a fitness based on those gifts of nature and grace, and confirmed by that goodness of life and sufficiency of learning, that afford a well-founded hope, that he would be able rightly to fulfill the priestly duties and maintain its obligations holily.
The Head of the seminary lovingly follows the youths entrusted to his care and studies the inclinations of each. His watchful and experienced eye will perceive, without difficulty, whether one or other have, or have not, a true priestly vocation. This is, as you well know, Venerable Brothers, not established so much by some inner inducement of conscience and sensible feeling, which may sometimes be absent, but rather by the right aim and intention in those who desire the priesthood, joined to those physical qualities and spiritual virtues, which make them suitable for embracing this state of life. He must look to the priesthood solely from the noble motive of consecrating himself to the service of God and the salvation of souls; he must likewise have, or at least strive earnestly to acquire, solid piety, perfect purity of life and sufficient knowledge such as We have explained on a previous page. Thus he shows that he is called by God to the priestly state. Whoever, on the other hand, urged on, perhaps, by ill-advised parents, looks to this state as a means to temporal and earthly gains which he imagines and desires in the priesthood, as happened more often in the past; whoever is intractable, unruly or undisciplined, has small taste for piety, is not industrious, and shows little zeal for souls; whoever has a special tendency to sensuality, and after long trial has not proved he can conquer it; whoever has no aptitude for study and who will be unable to follow the prescribed courses with due satisfaction; all such cases show that they are not intended for the priesthood.22
Let no one, who is unwilling, be driven to the pursuit of this kind of consecrated life; but, if one wishes it, let there be no one who will dissuade him, much less prevent him from undertaking it.23
When one thinks upon the maidens and the women who voluntarily renounce marriage in order to consecrate themselves to a higher life of contemplation, of sacrifice, and of charity, a luminous word comes immediately to the lips: vocation!... This vocation, this call of love, makes itself felt in very diverse manners... But also the young Christian woman, remaining unmarried in spite of herself, who nevertheless trusts in the providence of the heavenly Father, recognizes in the vicissitudes of life the voice of the Master: “Magister adest et vocat te” (John 11:28); It is the master, and he is calling you! She responds, she renounces the beloved dream of her adolescence and her youth: to have a faithful companion in life, to form a family! And in the impossibility of marriage she recognizes her vocation; then, with a broken but submissive heart, she also gives her whole self to more noble and diverse good 24
Qui potest capere, capiat: he that can take, let him take it, We would wish to cry out today to Catholic young men and women, taking the word of Christ in its sense of invitation and encouragement.25
Among the requisites for a genuine divine vocation there is rightly listed the free will of the candidates or a choice free of all moral pressure along with perfect knowledge of the obligations of their state.... In the recruitment of vocations everything must be avoided which could diminish the freedom of the candidates or improperly affect it. Particularly in the free acceptance of this counsel [to the religious life] there is discerned the special call from God or the movement of the Holy Spirit, who interiorly enlightens and inspires a person, who has the other qualifications, to pursue the evangelical counsels or to embrace the priesthood. For the divine inspiration required by St. Pius X in a true vocation,26 or that marked attraction for sacred duties mentioned by Pius XI in his encyclical letter, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii,27 is discerned in their right propensity and intention of mind or the choice of their free will (cf. can. 538),28 rather than in an inner urging of conscience and sensible attraction which may be lacking.29
The voice of the Lord who is calling, should not in the least be expected to come to the ears of a future priest in some extraordinary manner. For this voice is rather to be understood and judged by the signs by which the will of God daily becomes known to prudent Christians.30
Even if by virtue of the clerical state itself, the evangelical counsels are not imposed on ecclesiastics in order that they may be really able to attain this holiness of life, nevertheless, these same counsels are open to them, just as to all the Christian faithful, as the surest way to reach the desired goal of Christian perfection.31
Christ speaks about an understanding (“Not all can understand it, but only those to whom it has been granted,” Mt 19:11); and it is not a question of an “understanding” in the abstract, but an understanding that influences the decision, the personal choice in which the “gift,” that is, the grace, must find an adequate resonance in the human will.32
Jesus calls attention to the gift of divine light necessary to “understand” the way of voluntary celibacy. Not all can understand it, in the sense that not all are “able” to grasp its meaning, to accept it, to put it into practice. This gift of light and decision is only granted to some. It is a privilege granted them for the sake of a greater love. We should not be surprised then if many, not understanding the value of consecrated celibacy, are not attracted to it, and often are not even able to appreciate it. This means that there is a diversity of ways, charisms, and functions, as Saint Paul recognized, who spontaneously wished to share his ideal of virginal life with all. Indeed he wrote: “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each,” he adds, “has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Cor 7:7).33
St. Augustine does not see in this resolution [of Mary to remain always a virgin] the fulfillment of a divine precept, but a vow freely taken. In this way it was possible to present Mary as an example to “holy virgins” throughout the Church's history....
The Angel does not ask Mary to remain a virgin, it is Mary who freely reveals her intention of virginity. In this commitment is found her choice of love that leads her to dedicate herself totally to the Lord by a life of virginity.
In stressing the spontaneity of Mary's decision, we should not forget that God's initiative is at the origin of every vocation. In directing herself to the life of virginity, the maiden of Nazareth was responding to an interior vocation, that is, to an inspiration of the Holy Spirit that enlightened her about the meaning and value of the virginal gift of herself.34
Jesus does not condemn the possession of earthly goods absolutely: he is instead anxious to remind those who own them of the twofold commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. But he asks much more of anyone who can and wishes to understand so.
The Gospel is clear on this point: Jesus asks those he called and invited to follow him to share his own poverty by renouncing their possessions, however great or few they may be…
This poverty is asked of those who are willing to follow Christ in consecrated life.35
Sometimes a vocation is an obvious call from God, as in the case of Abraham, as the Book of Genesis tells us. God speaks directly to him: "Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk. . . to a land that I will show you" (Gn 12:1). And "Abraham went as the Lord directed him" (Gn 12:4). Usually, however, the Lord must wait for the person's response. He created people free and rational beings, capable of asking God the essential questions and of asking about what path to choose in life, the path of one's vocation. God wants to answer this question, but he does so as Christ replied to the young man in today's Gospel…
4. The young man speaking to the Good Master has another question, however. Considering that in his life up to this point he has observed the commandments, the young man asks: "What do I still lack?" (Mt 19:20). Why is he the one to ask such a question? In this case his heart has also been prepared by God's grace. A person can seek a better path in life, and for every question about this path Christ has an answer for each person. Therefore, the young man in the Gospel hears Christ's reply: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Mt 19:21).36
6. The call to the way of perfection takes shape from Him [Christ] and through Him in the Holy Spirit, who continually "recalls" to new people, men and women, at different times of their lives but especially in their youth, all that Christ "has said," (21) and especially what He "said" to the young man who asked him: "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" (22) Through the reply of Christ, who "looks upon" His questioner "with love," the strong leaven of the mystery of the Redemption penetrates the consciousness, heart and will of a person who is searching with truth and sincerity.
Thus the call to the way of the evangelical counsels always has its beginning in God: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide."37
In the course of the centuries so many men and women, transformed by divine love, have consecrated their own existence to the cause of the Kingdom. Already on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, many let themselves be won by Jesus: they were in search of healing in body or spirit, and they were touched by the power of his grace. Others were chosen personally by him and became his apostles. We also find some, like Mary Magdalene and other women, who followed him on their own initiative, simply out of love. But like the disciple John, they too filled a special place in his heart. These men and women, who through Jesus knew the mystery of the Father’s love, represent the variety of vocations which have always been present in the Church.38
(The following are not given so much as authorities, but are presented as illustrations of the theological positions.)
It is to be assumed that everyone – prescinding from obstacles – is per se a fit subject for entering religious life, for everyone is per se capable of the Christian perfection which is the goal of the religious life, and consequently the Counsels of perfection are addressed to all … there is no reason why we should always expect an extraordinary grace or calling of the Holy Ghost before we deliberate or consult others about this state of life. Although one does not feel any attraction or desire for the religious life, if one had any thoughts or interior movements in regard either to the dangers of the world or the excellence of the religious state, this is a beginning of a vocation.39
The invitation of Christ is addressed to each and all who can follow the call. No one is excepted. To all it is said: “He who can take it let him take it,” that is, I force no one, I invite everyone… These words are suited to all men: “If you wish to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor.” If one proposes to enter religious life with the determination to renounce the world and to maintain both interiorly and exteriorly all that religious life demands and prescribes, it may not be doubted that such vocation is from God.40
It is not just a matter of feeling, or waiting for a jab from on high; there are solid theological principles, three of them:
First: Do I want this way of life, and want it for reasons at least basically supernatural? (They may be mixed, especially early on). The reasons might be to serve and please God, or help souls, so to make your own soul safer.
Second: Do I have the needed qualities, mental, moral, physical and psychological? …
The final requirement is just as essential: Do I have a canonical call from a Bishop or Superior? Without it, none of the above count.
The following texts are an important qualification to the preceding texts. While religious life is open to the free choice of men and women, they have to really want it, and be willing to embrace it with all its trials and difficulties; otherwise they will not profit from it, and may not advance much in Christian love or be very happy in the life.
Ye virgins, be subject to Christ in purity, not counting marriage an abomination, but desiring that which is better, not for the reproach of wedlock, but for the sake of meditating on the law.41
You would find many among us, both men and women, growing old unmarried, in hope of living in closer communion with God.42
Insofar as it takes away the anxiety which arises from wealth, poverty is useful for some, namely those who are disposed so as to be occupied with better things, while harmful to those, who, freed from this anxiety, fall into worse occupations.43
God does not want each person to observe all the counsels, but only those that are appropriate to the diversity of persons, times, occasions, and abilities, as charity requires; for it is charity, as queen of all virtues, all commandments, all counsels, and in short, of all laws and all Christian actions, that gives to all of them their rank, order, time, and value.46
A true vocation is nothing other than the firm and constant will possessed by the person called, to want to serve God in the manner and in the place where the Divine Majesty calls her. This is the best mark one could have to know when a vocation is true.47
When I say “a firm and constant will to serve God,” I do not mean that from the very beginning she would do everything that is necessary in her vocation with such a firmness and constancy of will that she is free of all repugnance, difficulty or distaste in what depends upon her.... Every human person is subject to such passions, changes, and ups and downs.... We must not judge the firmness and constancy of the will for a good that was earlier embraced, on the basis of such emotions and feelings. But we must consider whether among the variety of different feelings the will remains firm to the point of not leaving behind the good that it has embraced. Even if she feels disgusted or very cold in her love for any virtue, she doesn't on that account stop using the means that are laid down for her to acquire it. So to have the mark of a true vocation, it need not be a sensible constancy, but one that is in the highest part of the spirit, one such as produces effects.48
We need not expect that those who enter religious life will be immediately perfect; it is enough for them to tend to perfection, and to embrace the means for growing in perfection. And in order to do this, it is necessary to have this firm and constant will such as I spoke of, to embrace all the means of growing in perfection that are proper to the vocation in which one is called.... If you see that she has this constant will of wanting to serve God and to grow in perfection, you may give her your vote; for if she is willing to receive the helps that our Lord will infallibly give her, she will persevere.... Consider a daughter who has strong passions; she is quick-tempered, she commits many faults; if together with this, she really wants to be healed, and wants people to correct her, mortify her, and give her the proper remedies for her healing, however much taking these things causes her anger and difficulty, you must not refuse her your vote.49
A final caution to him who wishes to enter religious life: let him resolve to become holy, and to suffer every exterior and interior pain, in order to be faithful to God, and not to abandon his vocation. And if he is not so resolved, I exhort him not to deceive the superiors and himself, and not to enter; for this is a sign that he is not called, or else what is even worse, that he does not want to respond to the call as he ought. Hence, with so bad a disposition it is better for him to remain outside, in order to dispose himself better, and to resolve to give himself entirely to God, and to suffer all for God.50
If someone chooses marriage, he must choose it exactly as it was instituted by the Creator “from the beginning”; he must seek in it those values that correspond to the plan of God. If on the other hand someone decides to follow continence for the kingdom of heaven, he must seek in it the values proper to such a vocation. In other words, he must act in conformity with his chosen vocation.51
Paul observes that the man who is bound by the marriage bond “finds himself divided” (1 Cor 7:34) because of his family duties (see 1 Cor 7:34). From this observation, it seems thus to follow that the unmarried person should be characterized by an inner integration, by a unification that would allow him to devote himself completely to the service of the kingdom of God in all its dimensions. This attitude presupposes abstention from marriage, exclusively “for the kingdom of God,” and a life directed uniquely to this goal. Otherwise “division” can secretly enter also the life of an unmarried person, who, being deprived, on the one hand, of married life and, on the other hand, of a clear goal for which he should renounce marriage, could find himself faced with a certain emptiness.52
On man’s part an act of deliberate will is required, aware of the duty and of the privilege of consecrated celibacy. It is not a question of simply abstaining from marriage, nor an unmotivated and almost passive observance of the norms imposed by chastity. The act of renunciation has a positive aspect in the total dedication to the kingdom, which implies absolute devotion to God “who is supremely loved” and to the service of his kingdom. Therefore, the choice must be well-thought out and stem from a firm, conscious decision that has matured deep within the individual.53
1Constitutions of the Holy Apostles Book IV, Sec II
2Origin, Commentary on Matthew
3St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, NPNF 2nd series, Volume VI, p. 355
4St. Jerome, Commentarium in Evangelium Matthaei, P.L. XXVI, p. 146
5Ibid., p. 148
6Homily 62 on Matthew, PG 58:600
7St. Augustine, On the Good of Widowhood
8St. Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 76
9St. Thomas Aquinas, Contra Doctrinam Retrahentium, Ch. 10
10Directoria Ignatiana Autographa, n. 9, Directoria, 72
11Exercitia Spiritualia, n. 15, pp. 152–54
12St. Teresa of Avila, Autobiography, Ch. 3–4
13Robert Bellarmine, De Monachis, in Opera Omnia, Volume 2 (Neapoli, 1857), p. 275
14St. Francis de Sales, “Les vrays entretiens spirituels,” Entr. 16; Œuvres de S. François de Sales, Vol. 6, 312
16St. Alphonsus de Liguori, “Conforto a' novizi per la perseveranza nella loro vocazione,” Opere Ascetiche, in Opere di S. Alfonso Maria de Liguori, Vol. 4 (Torino: Marietti, 1880), 439
17Counsels Concerning a Religious Vocation, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, in The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, Redemptorist Fathers, 1927, pp. 381-384
18Letter 634, in Letters of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Part I, General Correspondence, Volume II, Benziger Brothers, 1892. (I have be unable to find this letter in the Italian editions of St. Alphonsus works. - JFB)
19St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, letter to a woman deliberating about the choice of a state of life.
20St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, letter to a devout woman.
21St. Thérèse of Lisieux, LT 169, August 19, 1894; Œuvres Complètes, 507
22Pope Pius XI, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, n. 70, AAS 28 (1936), 40. See also the declaration of the Holy See in regard to the Lahitton’s work La Vocation Sacerdotale, AAS 4 (1912), 485
23Pope Pius XII, Annus Sacer, December 8, 1950, AAS 43 (1951), 31. This rule was later taken into the general statutes for religious life; see The General Statutes annexed to the Apostolic Constitution Sedes Sapientiae from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1957), Art. 32, p. 45.
24Pope Pius XII, Address to Italian Women, October 21, 1945, AAS 37 (1945), 287
25Pius XII, Allocution to Girls’ Catholic Action, April 24, 1943, The States of Perfection, p. 334
26St. Pius X, Apostolic letter, Cum primum, 4 Aug., 1913, in AAS, 5 (1913)–388; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 279, p. 331
27Pius XI, Encyc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28, (1936)–39; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, p. 510.
28In the 1917 Code of Canon Law—the corresponding canon in the 1983 code is canon 597. (Ed.)
29Religiosorum Institutio, Instruction on the Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders, Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, February 2, 1961, in Canon Law Digest, Bouscaren & O’Connor, Volume 5, Milwaukee, Bruce Publishing Company, 1963, n. 22, p. 465
30Vatican Council II, Presbyterorum Ordinis n. 11
31Pope John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, August 1, 1959, A.A.S. (Acta Apostolicae Sedis) 51 (1959) p. 551
32Pope John Paul II, General Audience of March 31, 1982
33Pope John Paul II, General Audience, November 16, 1994
34Pope John Paul II, General Audience, August 7, 1996.
35Catechesis on the Consecrated Life, John Paul II, November 30, 1994
36Pope John Paul II, Homily, June 8, 1992
37Pope John Paul II, Redemptionis Donum
38Pope Benedict XVI, Message for 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, May 7, 2006
39Suarez, de Relig., tr. 7, lib. 5, c. 4.
40Lessius, de Statu vitae deligendo, n. 28.
41St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians (Syriac version) Ch IV
42St. Athenagoras, A plea for the Christians, Chap. XXXIII
43St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 3, Ch. 133
44Directoria ignatiana autographa, n. 17, Directoria, pp. 74–76; See the Officially approved directory, nn. 148 & 171, ibid., pp. 671 & 689
45Exercitia Spiritualia, n. 172, p. 266
46St. Francis de Sales, Traitté de l’amour de Dieu, Book 8, Ch. 6, Œuvres de S. François de Sales, vol. 5, 75
47St. Francis de Sales, “Les vrays entretiens spirituels,” Entr. 16; Œuvres de S. François de Sales, Vol. 6, 312
49Ibid., 322, 323, 326
50St. Alphonsus Liguori, “Avvisi spettanti alla vocazione religiosa,” Opere Ascetiche, in Opere di S. Alfonso Maria de Liguori vol. 4 (Torino: Marietti, 1880), 411–12;
51Pope John Paul II, General Audience, April 21, 1982; See also his General Audience of March 31, 1982.
52Pope John Paul II, General Audience, July 7, 1982
53Pope John Paul II, General Audience, November 16, 1994