TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF
LOUIS VIGNAT, S.J.
MATTHEW L. FORTIER, S.J.
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
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Analysis of Contents and Preface
I. “Jesus Christ and the Religious Life.”
Our Lord opposes as an antidote to the threefold concupiscence of the world the three substantial vows of religion. These vows constitute a state of life: the religious life. This state has Jesus Christ for author, for having established it by His example and teaching, He made it possible to our weakness by the shedding of His blood on Calvary.
II. “The Call of Jesus Christ.”—Most frequently, vocation is the ordinary action of the Holy Ghost that urges us to embrace the good and moves us even to the greater good. This supernatural movement of grace is now more, now less, lively; now more, now less, persistent. It must be controlled by external authority. The Holy Ghost prompts and excites; the Church approves and puts into execution. It is the confessor who in this acts in the name of the Church, but he must be a prudent and experienced confessor
III.”How the Divine Call is Made Manifest.”—The first reason for becoming a religious is to secure one's salvation at any cost. Next, the love of God urges us to imitation of the life of Jesus Christ. Sometimes the desire to make the best use of one's life and to spend it in the service of righteousness manifests the divine call. The emptiness of human joys and the trials and difficulties of life are also means which divine goodness makes use of. Finally, good example and the grace of a good retreat often determine vocations.
IV.”The Struggle for a Vocation.”—To correspond with God's call difficulties arising from repugnance, anxieties, doubts, and unreasonable apprehensions must be overcome. Barriers, put in the way by even Christian families, must be broken down. The heart, as well as the mind, must make its defense—the latter by freeing itself from sophisms, always refuted, but forever springing up again; the former by severing the cords of too natural a tenderness.
In these short pages it was not the author's intention to dispense theologians from reading the treatment of this question by such authors as Saint Thomas, Suarez, Platus, Lessius, and Saint Alphonsus Liguori; but in thus summarizing the teaching of the masters he has done great service to the good of those souls who are seeking their own vocation, and who will therefore read these counsels with much profit.
“If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor and come follow me,”1 the special message of Eternal Wisdom to a soul of predilection is the Gospel truth of which “In Thy Courts” would give us an exposé.
It is to point out in Revelation a Scriptural warrant for the special call, to give some definite notion of its nature, to describe some of the many forms of its manifestation to the individual soul to speak a word of warning to the unwary amidst the difficulties of the struggle in faithfully following the Savior's invitation to a religious life voiced in love ineffable, that Father Vignat, a scholarly priest of the Society of Jesus, has written this booklet. It is especially timely since it appears as a guiding ray of light in the dark, troublesome storm now hovering over and disturbing dear old France, when Satan's shafts have been directed against the Church and with special violence against her lovely Child—the Religious. Never was such a booklet more useful than now to help with its mite in directing the many vocations which on every hand manifest themselves in France —the Mother of Missionaries—as well as in other countries, a striking proof that “the Church persecuted is the Church triumphant.”
In these fruitful and immense gardens of the Church — our own dear America—the spirit of religion has taken firm root and put forth a vigorous growth in the many phases of Catholic and religious life. Hence, I welcome this little work in its English version and new title “In Thy Courts,” the work of an American Jesuit teaching in the Archdiocese. While I willingly bless his efforts, I gladly and earnestly commend this book to the Catholic and non-Catholic public, and especially to the youth of our country who are desirous of knowing and of studying, and may be of heeding, the Master's Call.
J. Card. Gibbons.
Baltimore. Md., May 1, 1907.
United States of America.
1811 Biltmore Street,
Washington, D. C.,
April the 19th, 1907.
Reverend and dear Sir:
“In Thy Courts,” a translation of Father Vignat's little gem on the call of Christ to a life in Religion, already approved by your Superiors, cannot fail to be of great service to English-speaking youths who in their doubts and aspirations are seeking light and counsel in that most important subject of Vocation.
Its treatment of the sources of the religious life in revelation, the nature and manifestation of a call to such a life, and the struggle of the soul in yielding obedience to the voice of the Lord is particularly timely and helpful in these practical days, when men give so sparingly to God and Religion.
Hence, whilst I praise your zeal and bless your efforts, I earnestly recommend “In Thy Courts” to all those who wish to form an accurate idea of Vocation to Religion, and especially to those youths whose hearts are receiving the first impression of that calm, sweet Voice of the Master. Praying God to shower down upon you His choicest graces, I remain
Most faithfully yours in Xt,
Reverend Matthew L. Fortier, S. J.
Is a short, solid, comprehensive study of “The Call of Christ to a Life in Religion” vouchsafed by the Master to His chosen followers in Evangelical perfection, translated from the French of Louis Vignat, priest of the Society of Jesus, and Rector of the French Theologate, Hastings, England, by Matthew L. Fortier, priest of the same Society.
The translator wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness and to express his cordial thanks for encouragement, help, and revision of manuscript to
Rev. Edward I. Purbrick, S. J., Instructor of Tertians, at St. Andrew-on-Hudson ;
Rev. Timothy Brosnahan, S. J., Prefect of Studies and Professor of Ethics at Woodstock College;
Rev. Aloysius P. Brosnan, S. J., late Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Woodstock College and at present Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University ;
Rev. Francis T. McCarthy, S. J., Saint Aloysius Church, Washington, D. C.
1St. Matthew 19:17