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St. Alphonsus – don’t always seek counsel/direction of parents when pursuing vocation August 12, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Christendom, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, reading, religious, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

I found the following excerpts from Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori’s The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection very interesting.  As always, Liguori always quotes many other Saints, so Aquinas, at least, shares the opinion that parents and family are often impediments to our spiritual good, and should not always be consulted when one feels called to a religious vocation.  In fact, at times, we may have to either keep family in the dark, or even fight them, in order to do what we discern as God’s will for us.  I thought some readers might find the following helpful:

It is certain that in the choice of a state in life, children are bound to obey parents.  Thus the Doctors, in common accord, teach with St. Thomas, who says: “Servants are not bound to obey their master, nor children their parents, with regard to contracting matrimony, preserving virginity, and the like.”  Nevertheless, with regard to the state of marriage, F. Pinamonti in his treatise on religious vocation, is justly of the opinion of Sanchez and others, who hold that a child is bound to take counsel of his parents, because in such matters they may have more experience than the young. But speaking of religious vocation, the above-mentioned Pinamonti wisely adds that a child is not bound at all to take counsel of his parents, because in this matter they have not any experience, and through self-interest are commonly changed into enemies, as St. Thomas remarks: “Frequently,” he says, “our friends according to the flesh are opposed to our spiritual good.”  For fathers often prefer that their children should be damned with themselves, rather than saved away from them. Whence St. Bernard exclaims: “O hard father, O cruel mother, whose consolation is the death of their son, who wish rather that we perish with them than reign without them!”

…….If, then, following one’s vocation, it would be a great error to ask the counsel of parents, it would be greater one still to ask their permission, and to wait for it, for such a demand cannot be made without an evident danger of losing their vocation, as often as there is a probable fear that parents would exert themselves to prevent it.  And, in fact, the Saints, when they were called to leave the world, left their homes without given their parents so much as an intimation of it.  Thus acted St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis Xavier, St. Philip Neri, St. Louis Bertrand.  And we know that the Lord has even by miracles approved of these glorious flights..…..

…….Therefore, my very dearly beloved brother, if you are called by God to leave the world, be very careful not to make your resolution known to your parents, and, content to be thus blessed by God, seek to execute it as promptly as you can, and without their knowledge, if you would not expose yourself to the great danger of losing your vocation.  For, generally speaking, relatives, as as been said above, especially fathers and mothers, oppose the execution of such resolutions; and although they may be endowed with piety, interest and passion nevertheless render them so blind that under various pretexts they scruple not to thwart with all their might the vocation of their children……..

———–End Quote———–

Edifying advice as always from the Great Moral Doctor.  I have seen the above myself on several occasions, parents in particular seeking to block the vocation of their children when they become aware of it.  I have never understood that, as I would feel blessed beyond belief to be informed by one of my children that they felt called to the religious life. One of my daughters at present feels she may have such a calling, and I am enormously proud of her interest.  I just pray there will be enough spaces in traditional religious orders for her to find a spot, there being so few, and she being so drawn to the Traditional Mass!

Of course, I have also known parents who have encouraged their children’s calling to the religious life, and have been edified by their behavior.  I pray I may better emulate those parent’s virtue and piety, to provide a better example to all my children!   To think of having a child, your child, leading such a holy life, walking the path of so many Saints, and leading such a prayerful life……I can’t imagine being opposed!  It’s just unthinkable to me!  But I know many parents do interfere with their children’s call, perhaps even unintentionally, so I think St. Alphonsus’ guidance is worth meditating on and adopting if you are a young person feeling that glorious call.

It is critical to remember that our highest duty as individuals is to see to the salvation of our soul.  Anything that gets in the way of that must be rejected or overcome.



1. Noah Moerbeek - August 13, 2014

Interesting enough Saint Rita did the exact opposite, she put her vocation literally into her parents hands. Perhaps it was wrong, perhaps it was right, but it was done and it yielded good fruit.

It is sad to say but I have also seen the effect of over zealous “directors” who seem to want to drop kick people into vocations, or in their arrogance decree that a person should not pursue a vocation.

The burden lies with the person, they can also choose to let someone else pick for them, which is a choice, which can even be a choice that God could incline them to make.

I wish their was an easy rule we could apply to all circumstances but I don’t think it is so.

2. Baseballmom - August 13, 2014

Always a tough call, though I think deep down most folks know what God is calling them to – regardless of what parents or directors tell them…. Although, I often tell my kids that “God generally speaks to us through other people” – so there’s that….

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