Religious Vocation: An Unnecessary Mystery

Fr. Richard Butler

The book "Religious Vocation: An Unnecessary Mystery" by Richard Butler

"A true vocation is nothing other than a strong, unchanging will that the person who is called possesses, so as to want to serve God in the way and in the place where the Divine Majesty calls her."

St. Francis de Sales    

Summary of Religious Vocation: An Unnecessary Mystery

There are many persons who think about entering religious life, and even want to do so, but are afraid that they do not have a "vocation". This can sometimes cause them great worry. Fr. Butler writes: "The mystery, and consequent confusion, which has been added to the essential notion of religious vocation is unnecessary and dangerous." Fr. Richard Butler draws upon the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, the universal doctor of the Church, to show that this approach to religious vocation is actually based on a misunderstanding of what a vocation is. He traces the proximate beginnings of this misunderstanding back to the early 20th century, and finds its origin in a mistake about the way that grace works in the soul. With a correct view of the cooperation between our free will and grace, the problem is solved. Though Fr. Butler speaks primarily about vocations to the religious life, he also gives the traditional guidelines for priestly vocations, as the Church itself has described them.

According to the tradition of the Catholic Church, religious vocation is not something uncommon, strange or extraordinary, nor does it require an introspective search for some special voice or attraction within oneself, but is simply a firm readiness to serve God in the religious life, supposing that there are no insuperable obstacles, and thus that one is capable of living such a life: "Religious vocation is a divine invitation, extended to all by Jesus Christ, to the practice of the evangelical counsels in the religious state, to which a capable subject, under the impetus of grace, responds through generous devotion."

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See also these texts: Aquinas on religious vocation - Catholic Church on religious vocation

Paths of Love: The Discernment of Vocation According to Aquinas, Ignatius, and Pope John Paul II

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