Saint Alphonsus


Necessity of Conforming to the Designs of God in the Choice of a State of Life
It is evident that our eternal salvation
depends principally upon the choice of ouv
state of life. Father Granada calls this
choice, the main wheel of our whole existence. If the principal wheel of a clock is
deranged the whole clock is out of order.
So it is with the business of our salvation;
a mistake with regard to our state of life,
says St. Gregory of Naziansen, will disturb our whole career.
If then, we wish to secure our eternal
salvation, we must embrace that state of
life to which God calls us, and in which
alone, God prepares the efficacious means,
necessary for salvation. St. Gyprian says: “The grace of the Holy Spirit is given according to the order of God, and not in
3’accordance with our own will/’^ Therefore St Paul writes: ^’Everyone hath his
proper gift from God/’^ This means^
as Cornelius a Lapide explains, that God
gives to every one his vocation, and chooses
the state in which He wills him to be saved. “Whom He predestinated, them He also
called; and whom He called, them He
also justified and them He also
glorified. “3
There are many in the world to-day who
give this doctrine of vocation little thought
or consideration. They think it a matter
of indifference whether they live in the
state to which God calls them, or in that
which they choose themselves. As a result we find so many leading wicked lives, and
hurrying along the road to destruction. Where there is question of eternal life
the matter of vocation is of vital importance. He who disturbs the order of
Divine Providence and breaks the chain of
graces will not be saved. St. Augustine
says to such a one: “Thou runnest well,
but out of the way”, that is to say, out of
the way to which God has called you to
3De Sing. Cler. : 21. Cor. 7. 7; 3Rom. 8, 30.
attain your salvation. The Lord does not
accept sacrifices that come merely from
one’s inclination, **But to Cain and his
offerings, He had no respect.”^ He even
threatens with chastisement those who,
deaf to His call, turn their backs on Him to
follow their own whims and caprice. “Woe
to you, apostate children,” He says by the
lips of Isaias 30, 1^ “that you would take
counsel, and not from me and would begin
a. web and not by my spirit” God wills that all men should be saved
but not in the same way. As in heaven He has distinguished different degrees of
g-jory, so on earth He has established different states of life, as so many different ways of gaining heaven. To enter into any
state of life, a divine I’ocation is necessary;
for without such a vocation it is, if not
impossible, at least most difficult to fulfill
the obligation of our state, and obtain
salvation. The reason of this is evident;
for it is God Who in the order of His Providence assigns to each one of us his
state of life, and afterwards provides us
iGen. 4, 5.with the graces and the help suitable to
the state to which He calls us.

St. Alphonsus
It is evident then that the great and only
affair which ought to preoccupy the minds
of young persons of both sexes is to know
the designs of God relative to the state of
life which they are to embrace^ and to obtain from Him the strength to conform
to it. Vocation to the Religious State The divine call to a more perfect life is undoubtedly a special grace, and a very
great grace which God does not give to
everyone. Consequently He has good
reason to be displeased with those who
despise it. Would a prince not be justly
offended, if he called a vassal to serve him
in his very palace, and the vassal would
refuse to obey? And will God not resent such conduct on the part of His subjects? He does resent it^ and even threatens such
subjects with the words: **Woe to him that
gainsayeth his maker/’ ^^ Even in this life,
the chastisement of the disobedient will be
felt in the unrest and disquiet they feel,
for Job says: ‘*Who hath resisted Him and
hath had peace? ”2 Deprived of those
^I^a. 45. 9; ^Job 9, 4,

, –
abundant and efficacious helps necessary
for a good life, they will with great difficulty, says Habert, be able to work out
their salvation, “In the body of the
Church/’ says the learned author, “he will
be like a member of the human body, out
of place. It may be able to perform its
functions, but only with difficulty and in an awkward manner/’ We find the same
teaching in the writings of St. Bernard and
St. Leo, The Emperor Maurice had published an edict forbidding soldiers to be- come religious, St. Gregory wrote to the Emperor, saying that this law was unjust
for it closed the gates of paradise to many
who would save their souls in religious
life, but lose them in the world.
Lancicius relates a remarkable case. In
the Roman College there was once a very
talented youth. Whilst making the spiritual exercises he asked his director whether
it was a sin not to correspond with a
vocation to the religious life. The director
replied that in itself it was not a grievous
sin, since this is a thing of counsel and not
of precept, but that one would expose one^ssalvation to great danger as had happened
to many others whose end was very sad. The young man failed to profit by the
advice. Though convinced that he had a
vocation, he neglected to follow the call of
•God. He went to Macerata to continue his
studies. Here he began to neglect prayer
:and Holy Communion, and finally gave
himself up to a wicked life. One night on
returning from the house of an accomplice
of his crimes, he was mortally wounded by
a jealous rival. A priest was summoned
but before he arrived the unfortunate
youth was dead. Penamonti relates in his treatise on
vocation that a certain novice who had
resolved to leave his community was
rstartled by a strange vision. He saw
Christ sitting on a throne^ and giving an
order that his name be blotted out of the
toook of life. He was so terrified by this
vision that he resolved to persevere in his
vocation. How many will be found condemned on judgment day for not having followed
their vocation! They are rebels to the
divine light for the Holy Ghost says: “They
have been rebellious to the light, they
have not known his ways.”^ Because they
would not walk in the way shown them by
the Lord, they shall walk without light in
that chosen by their own caprice. “I called
and you refuvsed ….. you have despised my counsel ….. They shall call upon me
and I shall not hear; they shall rise in the
morning and shall not find me.”-


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