By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: What Shall I Be? - A Chat With Young People
Author: Cassilly, Francis Bernard, 1860-1938
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Shall I Be? - A Chat With Young People" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: Christ and the rich young man]

If thou wilt be perfect go sell what thou hast and give to the poor,
and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven and come follow Me.
                           --Matt. xix: 21.



  "And every one that hath left house, or brothers, or sisters, or
  father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My name, shall
  receive a hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." (Matt.
  xix: 29)


           A. J. BURROWES, S.J.
                   _Provincial Missouri Province_


                   _Archbishop of New York_



            Louvain, le 23 février, 1914.

Mon Révérend Père: P. C.

Votre petit livre me plaît extrêmement. Il expose une doctrine très
solide avec une merveilleuse clarté. D' une lecture agréable, il
intéressera la jeunesse des écoles, et l'encouragera à faire un choix
généreux d' état de vie. J' estime que, traduit en flamand et en
français, il ferait également du bien à nos collegiens de Belgique.

                   Votre dévoué en N. S. et M. I.
                           A. Vermeersch.


My Reverend Father:

Your little book pleases me exceedingly. Its doctrine is very sound
and set forth with wonderful clearness. It makes pleasant reading, and
will interest the young of school age, and encourage them to make a
generous choice of a state of life. In my opinion, a Flemish and
French translation would also be profitable to our college students in

Devotedly yours in Our Lord and Mary Immaculate,
                 A. Vermeersch.



In this little book the writer has aimed to present, in brief and
simple form, sound principles which may assist the young in deciding
their future course of life. The subject of vocation, as it is called,
has suffered much, during the last two or three centuries, at the
hands of rigorist authors, who so hedged the approach to religious
life with difficulties and restrictions, as to frighten or repel many
aspiring hearts from it.

Great stress was laid by these writers on the special interior
attraction, by which God was supposed always to manifest His call, so
that no one might legitimately enter the state of perfection, unless
he felt this unmistakable impulse from within. And on the other hand,
given this evidence of the Divine predilection, to disregard it was a
sinful preferring of one's own will to God's, which, in all
likelihood, would be attended with grave consequences for this world
and the next.

Spiritual writers of the last decade have been rereading the Fathers
and great Theologians upon this subject, and as a result the cobwebs
of misconception are being swept away. The Reverend A. Vermeersch,
S.J., of Louvain, deserves the gratitude of all for his lucid and
convincing treatment of religious vocation, in his "De Religiosis
Institutis et Personis" (Vol. II, Supplement III; also Vol. I, P. 4,
C. I), where he clearly shows from Scripture, the writings of the
Fathers and leading theologians, the true nature of the invitation to
the evangelical life. The reader is also referred to the article on
"Vocation," by the same author, in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Another document throwing light on the subject, is the Decree of July
15, 1912, framed by a special commission of Cardinals appointed to
examine the work of Canon Joseph Lahitton on "La Vocation
Sacerdotale." This Decree, approved by the Holy Father, contains the
following passage: Vocation to the priesthood "by no means consists,
at least necessarily and according to the ordinary law, in a certain
interior inclination of the person, or promptings of the Holy Spirit,
to enter the priesthood. But on the contrary, nothing more is required
of the person to be ordained, in order that he may be called by the
bishop, than that he have a right intention, and such fitness of
nature and grace, as evidenced in integrity of life and sufficiency of
learning, which will give a well-founded hope of his rightly
discharging the office and obligations of the priesthood." This Decree
does away, at once, with the special spiritual attraction, always and
essentially required by so many for vocation to the priesthood.

It may not be rash to conclude, in a similar way, of a religious
vocation "that nothing more is required of the person who is a
candidate for religious life, in order that he may be admitted to the
novitiate by the lawful superior of an order, than that he have a
right intention, and such fitness of nature and grace required by the
order, as will give a well-founded hope of his rightly discharging the
obligations of the religious life in that order."

The present treatise aims at no more than putting in form suitable to
the young the sound conclusions of such reliable authors as Father
Vermeersch, Canon Lahitton and Rev. P. Bouvier, S.J.

As to the advisability of priests, parents and teachers fostering and
developing in the young the desire of a religious life, the words of
St. Thomas are positive: "They who induce others to enter religion,
not only commit no sin, but even merit a great reward." (Summa, 2a,
2æ, Quæst. 189, art. 9.)

And the Third Council of Baltimore, urging priests to develop
vocations to the priesthood, says: "We exhort in the Lord and
earnestly entreat pastors and other priests diligently to search after
and find out, among the boys committed to their care, those who seem
suited and called to the clerical state. If they find any boys of good
disposition, of pious inclination, of devout and generous minds, and
able to learn; who give promise of persevering in the sacred ministry,
let them nourish the zeal of such, and sedulously foster these
precious germs of vocation." (Paragraph 136.)

Priests, teachers, confessors and others who have dealings with the
young, will find it very practical to have at hand several copies of
some reliable booklet on the priesthood and religious life, which they
may give or lend, as occasion offers, to promising boys and girls.
Such books will, at least, make their readers think, and God's grace
frequently acts through the medium of the written or spoken word.

_Creighton University, Omaha,
     Easter Sunday, 1914._


     I Getting a Start
    II Aiming High
   III The State of Perfection
    IV Who Are Invited?
     V Does Christ Want Me?
    VI I Feel No Attraction
   VII Suppose I Make a Mistake?
  VIII The World Needs Me
    IX Must I Accept the Invitation?
     X I Am Too Young
    XI The Priesthood
   XII The Teacher's Aureole
  XIII Showing the Way
   XIV The Parents' Part
    XV A Parting Word



Youth is the dream time of life. It views the world through the prism
of fancy, tinting all with rainbow colors. It lives in a creation of
its own, where it rules with magic wand, conjuring into its realm the
beautiful, the heroic and the magnificent, and banishing only the
prosaic and commonplace. To the youthful dreamer, every ruler is
all-powerful, every soldier brave, every fire-fighter a hero, and every
editor a wizard, at whose nod the news of the world flies to the huge
cylinder presses, and then flutters away in white-winged sheets
through town and country.

But gradually, the stern realities of life forcing themselves on the
maturing mind, it realizes that it must choose from the various
activities that make up the sum of human existence. The thoughtful boy
and girl then begin to ask the question, "What shall I be?" or "What
shall I do?" The various walks of life spread out before them like a
maze of tracks in a railway station, all leading away in dwindling
perspective to the witching land of the unknown.

An ambitious boy views with delight the various professions, and
pictures to himself in turn the great deeds and triumphs of the
soldier, the statesman, the lawyer, the physician, the architect, and
finally perhaps the electrician, who plays with the lightning and
harnesses it to the ever-extending service of mankind. All these are
votaries of noble avocations, and he who excels in any one of them is
a hero, and a benefactor of his kind. Every occupation which is useful
to the human race, which contributes to the sum of man's comfort and
happiness, is laudable and worthy an intelligent being. St. Paul was a
tent-maker by trade, and he gloried in the fact that, even during the
days of his apostleship, he was not a burden to others, but supported
himself by the labor of his hands.

Life pursuits rank in dignity and worth, according to the perfection
or benefit they bestow upon the worker himself, and his fellow-man.
Far above the artisan or husbandman, who occupies himself with the
material needs of his neighbor, with providing him food, raiment and
shelter, rise the teacher, writer and professional man, who minister
to the needs of the mind. And highest, perhaps, of natural callings is
the conduct of the government, which gives peace, order and happiness
to entire nations.

But not every pursuit is suited to all dispositions, nor can any one
hope to excel in all trades and professions. The strength of body and
skill of hand required of a mechanic may be lacking to a professional
man, and the long years of study and experience demanded of a
physician are possible to but few. Nature destines some for a life of
action and adventure, for the command of armies or the conquering of
the wilderness; others it dowers with literary tastes, or the power to
thrill an audience or guide a State.

No one is necessarily tied down to any special occupation of life.
According to your disposition and character, your ability and
inclination, education and training, you are free to select any sphere
of action within your reach and opportunity. But this very freedom of
choice sometimes leads to mistakes. One without the proper temperament
or ability, lacking in patience and sympathy, and unable to make a
diagnosis, aims to be a physician, and he becomes only a quack. Many a
one, who aspires to direct the destinies of the State, achieves only
the station of a political subordinate or spoilsman. And one whom
nature destines for the free and independent life of a farmer, often
sentences himself to life imprisonment behind the "cribbed and
cabined" desk of a counting house.

Perhaps the most frequent mistake of young people is to tear
themselves away from school, where they have the opportunity to
prepare themselves for the higher positions of life, and by so doing
deliberately limit themselves to a life of mediocrity. They have an
ambition, but a false one. Eager to enter, though unprepared, the
arena of life and accomplish great deeds, they lack the student's
patience and industry, which would crown them in after years with the
laurel of success.

Be ambitious then, my young friend, aim high in life; endeavor to
achieve something great for yourself and for mankind. You will have
only one life in this world, then make the most of it. Take advantage
of your opportunities. Attend school as long as you can, because
generally the greater your knowledge and learning, your training and
preparation, the higher and wider the career that will open before

All legitimate pursuits of life have been illustrated and adorned by
numberless Christian heroes and heroines, who served God, sanctified
themselves, and brought glory to the Christian name by their fidelity
to duty. Would you be a soldier? Could there be more glorious names
than those of St. Sebastian and St. Martin; the Crusader, Godfrey de
Bouillon, and the Grand Knight of Malta, de la Valette?

Do you long to ride the ocean waves, and brave the tempest? What more
heroic predecessor would you have than the great "Admiral," the
navigator and discoverer, Columbus? If your ambition be to sit in the
councils of State, to steer your country safely through breakers and
shoals, fix your gaze on Sir Thomas More, Daniel O'Connell, Windthorst
or Garcia Moreno--Christian heroes all.



In a garden are flowers varying in hue and form and size. The roses
blow red and white and pink, scenting the air with their myriad
petals, the lilies lift up their delicate calyxes to the wandering
bee, the perfumed violets hide their modest heads in beds of green,
and the fuchsias sway from their stems in languid beauty. But varied
as are the flowers in charm, each is perfect of its kind. No artist
could improve their tints nor trace truer curves; no carver chisel
more delicate or finished forms.

And God's Church is a spiritual garden, where bloom souls varying in
every virtue, charm and grace, and all breathing forth the good odor
of Christ. In it are school-boys, gentle maidens, devoted mothers and
fathers of families, rich and poor of every nation and clime, of every
station and calling. God made them all; He loves them all, and on each
He has grafted the bud of faith, which will blossom forth into all
supernatural virtues.

God also wishes each one in His garden to be perfect of his kind.
Jesus, sitting on the Mount of the Beatitudes, and teaching the
multitudes that were ranged on the grass about Him, bade them "be
perfect as also your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt. v: 48.) [1]
This, then, is the perfection Christ expects us to aim at, the
perfection of God Himself, in Whom there is nor spot nor wrinkle. He
will not be satisfied with us, so long as low aims, imperfect motives,
disfigure our souls and stain our conduct.

As St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, God chose us before
the foundation of the world to be "holy and unspotted in His sight."
(Eph. i: 4.) In fact, St. Paul, whenever he addresses the Christians,
calls them "saints" because every Christian man, woman and child, is
expected to be holy, holy in the grace of God, in conduct, in thought
and act, at every time and place. Every Christian must be sacred, a
shrine wherein dwells the Divinity, and whose doors must be closed to
everything profane. "Know you not, that your members are the temple of
the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not
your own?" (I Cor. vi: 19.) Your soul, then, my child, is holy,
consecrate to God, and into it must enter nothing defiled, nothing
savoring of the world, its maxims and principles. Keep your soul pure
as the roseate dawn, clear as starlight and bright as the sun.

"Every one of you," said Christ Himself, "who doth not renounce all
that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple." (Luke xiv: 33.) This seems
a hard doctrine, for who would be able to give up all he has, parents,
home and possessions? There are occasions when the love of God and the
love of creatures come into conflict; and when this occurs the true
disciple of Christ will not hesitate. He will fearlessly sacrifice
everything, even life itself, rather than forsake his Creator. The
martyrs did this. St. Agnes gave up suitor, home and wealth, and laid
down her innocent young life, to become the spouse of Christ. The boy
Pancratius faced the panther in the arena, and the yells of a
bloodthirsty mob, rather than abjure his faith; and so won a martyr's

Perfection then is our destiny. In heaven we shall attain to it, and
in this life we should begin to practice it. If we would have God's
love in its fulness, if we would always be worthy to nestle in His
bosom, to feel the arms of His affection drawn close about us, we must
never sully our conscience with the least taint of sin. For all the
world we would not offend our parents, and God is to us in place of
father and mother and all. He is the infinitely perfect; He is love
and beauty and tenderness itself, and His absorbing desire is to
reproduce similar qualities in us.

But how are we to be perfect? By always doing His holy Will, as we see
it and know it, to the best of our ability. Christ issues the clarion
call to all Christians, to take up their cross daily and follow Him.
He who always does his best, and, obeying the dictates of conscience,
walks by faith and charity in all his actions before God, and conducts
himself in all circumstances of life according to the principles of
faith and reason, is living up to the Divine call, and striving after

"But are there any such persons in the world?" some one may ask. "They
say that there is nothing perfect under the sun, and this time-honored
adage, no doubt, applies to persons as well as to things." It is true
that very few are perfect in the sense that they sojourn in the world,
unmoved, like the angels, by the least ruffling of passion. But there
are many, very many, pure, holy souls, who aim constantly at
perfection, and who attain to it substantially; for day by day, year
in and year out, they keep themselves from the guilt of serious sin,
and delighting to carry out God's will in all their actions,
frequently draw nigh the Tabernacle to commune in heavenly raptures
with their Love "behind the trellis."

Nor is the number of these elect souls limited to any one calling or
profession, for they are found in the seclusion of home, in the
crowded mart, in the stress of business and professional life. When
the week-day Mass is over in the parish church, and the little band of
devout worshippers descend from the church steps, would one not say
that there is a look of heavenly peace upon their countenances, a
peace that overflows to their features from the deep well-springs of
charity within? No legitimate walk of life, then, is alien to
perfection. All Christians are urged to it; and many attain to it.
They use the things of this world "as though they used them not,"
their hearts are free from undue attachment to the possessions of
earth, and they go through life as pilgrims to their final home; and
should God be pleased to reward their constancy by sending them trials
and sufferings, they will come forth from the ordeal like pure,
refined gold.

[1] While this text refers primarily to the perfection of forgiving
enemies, it is applied also by commentators to perfection in general,
for the reason that it is closely connected with the preceding and
following exhortation of Our Lord to many and various virtues. And
even if the text were limited expressly to one virtue, the fact that
God's children are urged to the perfection of this virtue because it
is found perfectly in their Heavenly Father, would seem to imply that
He, so far as imitable by creatures, is the measure and standard of
their perfection, and hence, as He is the All-Perfect, that they too
should strive to be perfect in all virtue.



Speaking one day to the multitude, Our Lord likened the Kingdom of
Heaven "to a merchant seeking good pearls, who, finding one pearl of
great price, went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
(Matt. xiii: 45-46.) What is this precious pearl that so charmed the
merchant as to make him sacrifice all he had to gain possession of it?
It is doubtless the true Church, or faith in Christ, but theologians
apply the parable also to the highest union with God by charity, or
Christian perfection. Perfection, then, may be called this lustrous
pearl, more precious and radiant than any which gleams in royal
diadem. You may buy it, but the price is the same to all. You must
offer in exchange all that you have, keeping nothing back. Are you
willing to make the bargain?

There have been many Christians throughout the centuries who were
enamored of this perfection. They sighed and longed for it, but, alas!
the conditions in which they lived, the temptations that lay about
them, the cares of raising a family and struggling for a livelihood,
so engrossed their attention and seduced their affections, that they
almost despaired of living entirely for God, and thus attaining
perfection. A young man of high aspirations one day came to Jesus, and
asked Him what he must do to gain eternal life. The Master replied,
"Keep the commandments." But the young man was not satisfied with
this; he wished to do something more for heaven, as we learn from his
reply, "All these have I kept from my youth; what is still wanting to
me?" Then Jesus spoke the memorable words that have echoed down the
ages, "If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to
the poor . . . and come, follow me." (Matt. xix: 21.)

The questioner, so the Scripture records, went away sorrowful, for he
had great wealth. He was willing, no doubt, to give alms and
bountifully, but to sacrifice all his possessions and live in
poverty--this was beyond his generosity. Christ's advice, however, has
not fallen by the wayside. Theologians tell us that in His brief words
Our Lord indicated the evangelical life, which He elsewhere explained
more fully, bidding the youth become poor and then come and follow
Him in perfect chastity and obedience (Suarez, "De Religione," lib.
iii, c. 2).

The teaching thus presented by Christ has never been fruitless in the
Church. Myriads of chosen souls, more magnanimous than the young man,
have heeded the Saviour's admonition and hastened to sacrifice all for
His sake. The nature of the evangelical life--so called because taught
in the "Evangelium," the Latin word for Gospel--consists in the
practice of the three counsels, voluntary poverty, perfect chastity
and obedience. And why is the exercise of these three counsels so
excellent? Because by them a Christian parts with everything that is
most pleasing to mere nature. By poverty he renounces his possessions
and the right of ownership; by perfect chastity, the pleasures of the
body; and by obedience, his free will. Could one do more than to give
up everything he owns, and then complete the renunciation by
dedicating his body, aye, his very soul, to Christ? Nothing is left
that he may call his own. He is a stranger in the world, without home,
parents or family, money or earthly ties; he is all to God, and God is
all to him.

While a person may be in the _way_ of perfection, by observing the
counsels privately, with or without a vow, if he takes perpetual vows
in a religious order or congregation approved by the Church, he is in
what is called "the _state_ of perfection," or "the religious state."
The vows give a final touch to the holocaust in either case, since by
them he offers all he has and is and forever, so that it becomes
unlawful for him to retract his offering. He who exemplifies all
Christian virtues to a high degree of excellence, according to his
condition of life, may be called perfect, and to this perfection all
Christians are called. But, religious, that is, they who live in the
religious state, bind themselves by _profession_ to aim at living a
perfect life. They have heeded Christ's invitation, "If thou wilt be
perfect," and engaged themselves, under the sanction of the Church, to
the obligation of striving for perfection.

No one could claim that all religious men and women are actually
perfect; but they are in the state of perfection--that is, by virtue
of their state and profession they are bound to the observance of
their vows and rules, which observance, in the course of time, will be
able to lead them to the attainment of such perfection as weak
mortals, with God's grace, can hope to acquire in this life. In
response to Christ's exhortations, we find throughout the world to-day
a great army of religious men and women, white-robed Dominicans,
brown-garbed Franciscans, followers of St. Benedict, St. Augustine,
St. Alphonsus, St. Vincent de Paul, and St. De la Salle, the Blessed
Madeleine Sophie Barat, Julie Billiart, Jean Eudes, and of numerous
other saints, who, under the standards of their varied institutes,
march steadily in the footprints of the lowly Nazarene, Who had not
whereon to lay His head.

The ambitious Christian boy and girl, then, will aim at doing their
best, and must, if they desire close companionship with Christ, strive
after perfection, for such is the Master's desire. But should a youth
have further ambitions, and say to himself, "I desire to distinguish
myself in God's service, to lead for Him a life of action and
achievement, wherein my exertions will bring amplest returns for
eternity," will he refuse to consider the life of the counsels? Will
he not rather ask himself whether this manner of life is practicable,
and possibly even meant and intended for him? Choose then, my young
friend, your sphere of life but deliberately and carefully,
remembering that on your decision will largely depend your greater
happiness in this world and the next.



The boy or girl who is deliberating on a future career will naturally
ask, "Who are invited to the higher life? Is the invitation extended
to all, or limited to the chosen few?"

Let us try to find out the answer to these questions. One day the
disciples of Our Lord having asked Him (Matt. xix: 11-12) whether it
were not better to abstain from marriage, He replied, "All men take
not this word, but they to whom it is given. . . . He that can take
it, let him take it." St. Paul also writes to the Corinthians (I Cor.
vii: 7-8), "I wish you all to be as myself, . . . but I say to the
unmarried . . . it is good for them, if they so continue, even as I."

Now, let us examine these passages, according to the interpretations
of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, so that there will be no
danger of reading a wrong meaning into them. There is question in both
texts of abstaining from marriage, of advising the unmarried not to
marry, which, of course, is equivalent to advising them to practice
perpetual chastity. St. Paul says clearly and forcibly that he would
desire all to remain unmarried like himself. However, in the next
verse he exempts from his advice those who do not control themselves.
What does he mean by this? There are some who have strong passions, or
who by self-indulgence have so strengthened their lower nature and
weakened their will-power, that lifelong continence seems beyond them.
Such persons, therefore, who know from experience that they will not
overcome temptation and sin, or who find the struggle too hard to
continue, he advises to marry.

We may now inquire whom Our Lord meant by those "to whom it is given."
Does He mean that the power of practicing virginal chastity is given
only to the selected few or to the many? St. Chrysostom, interpreting
His words, says that this gift of chastity "is given to those who
choose it of their own accord," adding that the "necessary help from
on high is prepared for all who wish to be victors in the struggle
with nature" (M. P. G., t. 58, c. 600). [1] St. Jerome tells us that
this gift "is given to those who ask it, who wish it and labor to
obtain it" (M. P. L., t. 26, c. 135). St. Basil explains that "to
embrace the evangelical mode of life is the privilege of every one."
(M. P. G., t. 32, c. 647.) To the sophistical objection that if all
persons practiced virginity marriage would cease, and so the human
race would perish, St. Thomas (Summa, 2a 2æ, Quæst. 189, art. 7)
gives the reply of St. Jerome, "This virtue is uncommon and desired by
comparatively few"; and then adds, "This fear is just as foolish as
that of one who hesitates to take a drink of water, for fear of drying
up the river."

Can it be said, then, that every boy and girl, with the exception
noted by St. Paul, is advised and exhorted to preserve virginal
chastity throughout life? To understand aright the answer to this
question, we must remember that there are two general courses of life,
the married and the unmarried, open to all; every person necessarily
being found in the one or the other. And each individual of the race
is privileged to make a free and voluntary choice of either condition;
no one having the right to interfere with this personal liberty, by
forbidding or prescribing wedlock to any properly qualified person.

Both these states have been created by God, and both are His gifts to
man. The nuptial tie, elevated to the dignity of a sacrament, is
likened by St. Paul to the union existing between Christ and the
Church. "A prudent wife," says the Book of Proverbs (xix: 14), "is
properly from the Lord." Whoever marries "in the Lord" performs a
virtuous act, and the Church, to show her appreciation and approbation
of it, invests the wedding contract with a rich and hallowed
ceremonial. They, then, who wed do something pleasing to God; but they
who, for virtue's sake, forego their natural right of marrying, make
an offering still more grateful to Him.

This is the doctrine in the abstract. But in its application to
individual cases we find some so situated, so hampered by their own
temperament and disposition, or by actual conditions about them, that
a life of perfect continence seems impracticable for them. One, for
instance, who yearns for the safety and seclusion of the cloister, and
yet sees its doors closed against him for some reason, feels himself
constrained to take refuge from the storm and stress of the world in
the sanctuary of marriage. On such persons the Creator does not impose
a burden above their strength. Wishing us to be happy and content even
in this life, as well as the next, He asks of us here only a
"reasonable service."

Guided by these principles, the great majority of the faithful in all
ages have deemed it prudent and expedient for them to marry. And the
wisdom and prudence of their choice God approves and commends. For His
Providence manifests itself to us in all the events and circumstances
of life, dwelling alike in the fall of the leaf and the roll of the
wave, and speaking to our hearts by the voice of all creatures. While,
then, external or internal impediments may prevent some from
hearkening to Christ's call, and their own will may deter others, His
invitation of _itself_ does not exclude any; it is general, ever
waiting for those able and willing to accept it.

But does not a person have to feel a special call before binding
himself to perpetual chastity? To answer this let us suppose that one
is considering the advisability of daily attendance at Mass or of
total abstinence from intoxicating liquor. In themselves these are
good works and under proper advice a person might engage himself to
their performance. Grace would be required for them, as for every
other act of supernatural virtue, but no one would say that to assume
such obligations a special call from heaven is prerequisite. Now,
chastity is governed by the same laws as other virtues, by the same
laws as mortification, alms-deeds and works of charity. Every virtuous
act requires two things, the grace and the will to cooperate with the
grace; and these two are also the only requisites for the exercise of
continence; a special inspiration being no more necessary for it than
for perpetual abstinence from meat or spirituous liquors.

Lifelong virginity is, of course, a higher, nobler and more
far-reaching virtue than the others mentioned, but it involves no
special personal call. If this were required, in addition to the
general invitation of Scripture, the doctrine of the Fathers that all
are invited could scarcely be true. If all are invited, then he who
wishes must have the power to accept the invitation. If two calls
are necessary, one general and the other particular, he who has only
the first may be said to have only half an invitation, which seems
very absurd, and certainly is contrary to the practically unanimous
teaching of the Fathers.

St. Thomas tells us: "We should accept the words of Christ which are
given in Scripture as if we heard them from the mouth of Christ. . . .
The counsel (to perfection) is to be followed by each one not less
than if it came from the Lord's mouth to each one personally. (Opusc.
17, c. 9.) And even granted that the devil urges one to enter
religious life, it is a good work, and there is no danger in yielding
to his impulse." (Opusc. 17, c. 10.)

Taking these words of the Angelic Doctor for our guidance, we realize
that the invitation and exhortation of St. Paul is general, that it
embraces all unmarried persons who feel the well-grounded hope within
them that with God's grace they can live up to it.

We may go further and say that, as St. Paul was speaking not his own
doctrine, but the doctrine of Christ, which is unchangeable, it
applies equally to-day. So one who is convinced that no obstacle,
except his own will, prevents his acceptance of the Apostle's advice,
can readily imagine Christ standing before him and saying, "My child,
you should be more pleasing to Me were you to remain unmarried for My
sake." If Jesus Christ really stood before you, dear reader, and thus
addressed you, what would be your reply? There can be no doubt that it
would be prompt and in accordance with His wish. You would say, "If
God so loves me as to make a suggestion to me, as to sue for my
undivided heart, I shall be only too glad to give Him all I have, to
make any sacrifice for His sake." But God does speak thus, through the
mouth of the Apostle, to all who are "zealous for the better gifts."

Now, what says your heart? Will it reject the special love Christ
offers? He says, "I give you the choice of two gifts, matrimony or
virginity; virginity is by far the more precious--but take which you
wish." Will you be so irresponsive as to reply, "Give me the lesser
gift; Thy best treasures and best love bestow on my companions"?

Speak thus if you are so minded. God will love you still; but can you
be surprised if He cherish other generous souls more? Take or reject
virginity as you like. It is yours for the taking, but if you reject
it do not say, "I have no call, no invitation to the higher life." You
have the invitation now, in common with other Christians; and the
great-souled ones are they who accept it, for "many are called, but
few are chosen."

It may now be asked whether what has been said about the observance of
chastity applies also to poverty and obedience. Spiritual writers tell
us that the full and entire evangelical life includes all these three
counsels, and that the principles on which one rests are common to
all. Christ in His call invites those who are not hindered by
insuperable obstacles, to follow Him in the practice of all the
counsels, the reason for all being the same, namely, to sacrifice
everything for His sake. It is evident, however, that there may be
more hindrances to the observance of all three counsels than to the
keeping of only one. Some religious orders, for example, on account of
their special work, may demand from applicants health, or youth, or
talent, or learning, or other qualifications, which every person does
not possess. For community life, too, a peaceable temper and agreeable
manners are usually necessary. Moreover, one may be so bound by
obligations of justice and charity to his parents or others, that he
cannot leave them. [2] The general principle, however, is fixed and
sure, that the clarion call to the practice of the counsels is in
itself general, and applicable to all who are not hindered by
circumstances or impediments from accepting it. No further special
invitation is necessary. You who are free have the invitation--take it
if you wish.

[1] This and similar references are to the Migne edition of the Greek
and Latin Fathers.

[2] It may still be possible, however, for a person who is prevented
from entering community life, to practice the counsels while living in
the world.



Said a boy one day, "How in the world does a person ever know he is to
be a priest?" This little lad was a budding philosopher: he wanted to
know the reason of things. But many an older person has been puzzled
by the same question. Some boys and girls, having a distorted notion
of the nature of a vocation, imagine that Almighty God picks out
certain persons, without consulting them, and destines them for the
priesthood or religious life, whereas all other persons he excludes
from this privilege. In other words, they think God does it all.

Of course, we know there is an overruling Providence, Who watches over
all His creatures, and particularly over His elect, distributing His
graces and favors as He wills, and bringing all things to their
appointed ends. If, for instance, a boy is blind, and for this reason
no religious congregation will accept him, it is apparent that God
does not design him for the religious life, though even for him the
private practice of the counsels might still be open.

But we must not imagine that God settles everything in this world
independently of our free will. He wishes us not to steal, but we may,
if we choose, become thieves. Two boys of the same qualifications, let
us say, have the general invitation of the Scripture to a life of
perfection; they both have the same grace, which one accepts and the
other rejects. What makes the vocation in the one case? The action of
the boy himself in choosing to follow the invitation. And why has not
the other boy a vocation? Because he declines to correspond with the
grace. God does His part; He issues the call to all who are free from
impediment and hindrance. Any one who wishes can accept the call and
thus, in a sense, make his own vocation, for God's necessary help is
ever ready to hand for those who will use it.

We may here remark that, while the practice of all virtue comes from
man's free will, it also springs in a higher and greater degree from
God, the author of grace. Without Him we can do nothing. "Who
distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received?"
asks St. Paul (I Cor. iv: 7). God's grace must necessarily precede and
accompany every supernatural action. In a very true sense, while a
religious may say: "I am such voluntarily of my own free choice," he
must also admit, "I am a religious by the grace of God, Who prepared
me, aided me by external and internal helps, enlightened my mind and
strengthened my will to embrace the life He designs for me."

In much the same way, a daily communicant may say: "It is of my own
accord and wish that I receive daily, but it is God's predilection
that has prompted me to this design, given me the opportunity and
strength of purpose to carry it out, and keeps me faithful to it, so
that it is by His grace and Providence that I am a daily communicant."
Countless others could adopt the same practice, were they not too
sluggish or indifferent to ask for or correspond with the grace of
doing so.

Most ordinary vocations have several stages of development. Very many
persons, with all the qualities required for the evangelical life, and
unimpeded by any obstacle, begin to consider, under the influence of
grace, the advisability of embracing that kind of life. This may be
called the remote stage of a vocation. One who finds himself in this
condition of mind, if he prays for light and guidance, is faithful to
duty and generous in the service of God, may be enabled by a further
enlightenment of grace to perceive that this life is best for him, and
consequently that it will be more pleasing to God for him to adopt it,
and finally he may decide to do so. Such a one has a proximate
vocation, the only further step required being to carry out his
purpose. This decision, be it observed, is the result of the action of
his free will, aided by efficacious grace, which is a mark of God's
special love.

A little illustration may assist us to get a clearer idea of the
matter. Suppose Christ were to walk into your class-room, how would He
act? Would He pick out four or five pupils and say, "I wish you to be
religious, the others I do not want, and I forbid them such
aspirations?" Do you think our loving, gentle Redeemer would speak in
this harsh way? And yet some good, but ill-informed Christians think
this a faithful representation of God's method of action in this
important matter.

How, then, would Christ really address the class? He would say, "My
dear children, I want as many of you as possible to follow closely in
My footsteps, to become perfect. I should be glad to have all of you,
who are not prevented by some insuperable obstacle, such as
ill-health, lack of talent, home difficulties, or extreme giddiness
of character. I hope to have a large number of volunteers." How many
children in that class-room, do you think, would joyfully hold up
their hands, and beg Him to take them?

Now, this is truly the way God acts with the individual soul. He comes
to it perhaps not once only but repeatedly, and makes the general
offer, using for this purpose the living voice of His minister, or the
written page, or a prompting impulse from within. And when God's
desire is so manifested, all that the soul needs is to cooperate with
grace, if it will.

That this interpretation of the general call of Scripture to a higher
life is in accord with sound doctrine, we can perceive from St.
Thomas, who says that the resolution of entering the religious state,
whether it comes from the general invitation of Scripture or an
internal impulse, is to be approved. And in his "Catena Aurea,"
commenting on St. Matt. xix, he quotes St. Chrysostom, who holds that
"the reason all do not take Christ's advice is because they do not
wish to do so." The words "to whom it is given," according to this
Greek father, show that "unless we received the help of grace, the
exhortation would profit us nothing. But this help of grace is not
denied to those who wish it."

This is also the teaching of St. Ignatius in his "Spiritual
Exercises," where he designates three occasions in which to elect a
state of life: the first, when God appeals to the soul in some
extraordinary way; the second, when grace moves the heart by
consolation and desolation, and the third, when the soul without any
special motion of grace, "that is, when not agitated by diverse
spirits, makes use of its natural powers" to elect the state of life
which seems best suited to the praise of God and the salvation of
one's soul. Evidently a vocation decided in the last-mentioned time,
implies no special call beyond the general scriptural invitation and
the determination to accept it.

Some one may ask how it is then that so many virtuous boys and girls,
endowed with all needful qualifications, prompt and ready to respond
to the suggestions of grace, yet have no efficacious desire of the
higher life. It is not for us to search into the secrets of hearts,
nor to penetrate into the mystery of grace and free-will. The Spirit
breatheth where He wills, and God distributes to each man his own
proper gift. But, at least, one thing seems certain, that many fail to
recognize God's will, because they expect it to be manifested in some
extraordinary or palpable manner. Perhaps, too, they have
prepossessions against it, they have already marked out their own
career, they never think about the counsels, or pray for guidance. If
all our young people only realized that Christ's invitation is general
and meant for them, provided no impediment exist, and they wish to
embrace it; if at the same time they kept their hearts free from
worldly amusements, and applied themselves to prayer and self-control,
volunteers in greater number would rally to Christ's standard.



Some boys and girls, with hearts of gold, have often said: "I feel no
attraction for the higher life. I appreciate it, admire it, and yet I
fear it is not for me, as I have no inclination to it. If God wanted
me, He would so perceptibly draw me to Him that there could be no
mistaking His designs."

Almighty God is wonderful in His ways, and He "draws all things to
Himself," but by methods varying as the temperaments and
characteristics of the human soul. Sometimes He speaks to His chosen
ones in thunder tones, as when He struck down St. Paul from his horse,
on the road to Damascus, saying from heaven, "Saul, Saul, why
persecutest thou me? . . . It is hard for thee to kick against the
goad." (Acts ix: 4.) Again He speaks in gentle accents, as to St.
Matthew, the publican, when he sat at his door taking customs, saying
to him, "Follow me!" At other times He seems silent and indifferent,
standing quietly by, letting reason and conscience argue within us,
and point out our line of action.

There is what is called vocation by attraction, and also such a thing
as vocation by conviction. Some of the great saints from earliest
childhood felt a strong, irresistible charm in the higher life; they
were drawn by the golden chain of love to the cloister. "I have never
in my life," said a boy, "thought of being anything but a religious."
Some young people have no difficulty in making up their minds to
follow Christ, their whole bent of thought and character being for the
nobler life. Like Stanislaus, they ever say, "I was born for higher
things." It was such a precocious disposition of heart that led St.
Teresa to foreshadow her saintly career when, as a little girl, she
ran away from home to become a hermit.

But feeling is not always a trustworthy guide, either in temporal or
spiritual matters; reason, slow but sure, is generally much safer. You
feel the fascination of worldly things, of company and society, fine
clothes, luxuries and comforts, the dazzling stage of life with its
applause of men. Is that a sign God destines you for worldly vanities?
Quite the contrary, for all Christians are warned against the
seductions of the world and the flesh; and the life of the counsels is
essentially a constant struggle with nature and its allurements. "The
kingdom of heaven," we are told, "suffers violence, and the violent
bear it away."

If the following of Christ were easy and agreeable to the senses,
where would be the merit and reward of it? Just in proportion as it
involves effort and the overcoming of natural repugnance, does it
become high and sublime. "Do not think," says Our Lord (Matt. x: 34),
"that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but
the sword. For I came to set a man at variance with his father, and
the daughter with her mother. . . . He that loveth father or mother
more than me, is not worthy of me."

Natural antipathy then to the higher life, far from indicating that
God does not want us, merely shows that the inferior powers of the
soul are striving against the superior. In fact, when this aversion
becomes pronounced, it is sometimes evidence of a keen strife going on
within us between nature and grace, which could scarcely happen unless
grace were endeavoring to gain the mastery by winning us to Christ.

"But," it may be objected, "if nature rebels, does not God always give
a counter supernatural attraction to those whom He calls, so as to
smooth the way before them?" Certainly God gives the necessary grace
to perform good actions, but grace is not always accompanied by
sensible consolation. Suppose a boy is chided by his parents for a
fault and he is tempted to deny it; but overcoming the suggestion he
admits his wrong-doing and expresses sorrow for it. In this he acts
bravely and with no sense of accompanying satisfaction, since the pain
of his parents' displeasure is so keen as to overcome for the moment
any other feeling. His action is prompted simply by the conviction of

Accordingly, if a young man knows and clearly sees that he has every
qualification for the religious life, and has even been told so by a
competent adviser; if he has sufficient talent and learning, a steady
disposition and virtuous habits, and the persuasion that the duties of
this state are not above his strength; in short, if he is convinced
that there is no obstacle, save his own will, between him and the
higher life, can he truly say, "I feel no inclination to such a
career, and therefore, I have no vocation"? Such a person, of course,
is free to say, "I will not enter religion," because there is no
obligation incumbent upon him to this state, but he cannot justly say
that God withholds from him the opportunity or invitation to do so. He
has already what is called a remote vocation, as was explained in the
fifth chapter, and what he needs is a clearer vision and alacrity of
will, which he may have good hope of obtaining by earnest prayer and a
generous and insistent offering of self to the disposal of the Divine
good pleasure. For Our Lord Himself tells us: "All things whatsoever
you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall
come unto you." (Mark xi: 24.)

Remove then, my dear young friend, from your mind that false and
pernicious notion, which has been destructive of so many incipient
vocations, that because you feel no supernatural inclination or
sensible attraction, you are not called of God.

In general, it is sufficient that the aspirant to religious life be
free from impediments, and be desirous of entering it. For eligibility
to a particular religious congregation the applicant must be fit, that
is, he must have the gifts or endowments of mind, heart and body which
that institute demands; his desire to enter must be based on good and
solid motives drawn from reason and faith, and he must have the firm
resolve to persevere in the observance of the rule. When to this
subjective capacity is added the acceptance of the candidate by a
lawful superior, his vocation becomes complete.

The requisites, then, are three, two on the part of the applicant,
namely, fitness and an upright intention, and one on the part of the
superior, the acceptance or call. Nothing more, nothing less is
required. If any one of these three essentials is wanting, there is no
vocation to that particular institute.

It is worthy of observation, however, that these qualifications of the
applicant need be fully evident only towards the end of the novitiate,
when the time comes for taking the vows and assuming the obligations.
To enter the noviceship, as a rule, much less is required, though even
for this preparatory step a person must have the serious intention of
trying the life and discovering whether it is suitable to him, and
there should be a reasonable prospect of his developing the needful

For spiritual directors, then, to regard a vocation as something
exceeding rare and intricate, to subject the candidate and his
conscience to searching and critical analysis, to harassing
cross-examination and prolonged tests, as though he were a criminal
entertaining a fell project, to endeavor to probe into the secret
workings of grace within him, is only to cloud in fatal obscurity an
otherwise very simple subject.

A high-souled youth or maiden may still be deterred by the thought, "I
now see that I have all the necessary qualifications for the higher
life, and hence may embrace it if I choose, but I fear it will be too
difficult for me to carry the yoke without sensible devotion or
consolation." In answer to this, we must remember that a hundredfold
in this world and life everlasting in the next are promised to those
who leave all to follow Christ. In this hundredfold are included many
privileges and favors bestowed by God upon His chosen spouses. Make
the effort, overcome nature, decide to embrace God's offer, and you
will find yourself overwhelmed by a deluge of spiritual consolations,
which God has been withholding from you to try your generosity and
courage; you will experience the truth of Christ's words, "My yoke is
sweet, and my burden light." Sensible consolations, in fact, nearly
always follow the performance of a virtuous act, but seldom do they
precede it. A hungry person, before sitting down to table, may feel
cross and out of humor, but as soon as he begins to partake of the
generous viands a feeling of genial content and satisfaction with all
the world steals over him.

It would, of course, be an error for any one to think that of his own
natural powers he could observe the counsels; since this, being a
supernatural work, demands strength above nature. But he who feels
helpless of himself, should place his entire trust and confidence in
God's grace and assistance, saying, with the Apostle, "I can do all
things in him who strengthened me" (Ph. iv: 13).

Come, then, to the banquet prepared for you by the great King. Regale
yourself with the spiritual viands set before you, and not only will
you be strengthened to do God's will, but transported beyond measure
with spiritual delights.



A young man once exclaimed to a friend, "Suppose I make a mistake! I
could not bear the disgrace of leaving a religious order after
entering it." Having wrestled with this thought for some time, he
finally determined to try the religious life, with the result that
after taking the habit, he was too happy to dream of ever laying it

However, it is not wrong, but highly prudent, for any one to consider
whether he has the courage and constancy to persevere. Religious life
is not a pathway of roses. It is meant only for true men and valiant
women, not for soft, languid characters, nor for fickle minds, which
change as a weather vane. Marriage also is a serious step, for it
brings much "tribulation of the flesh," and so he who would enter on
it must earnestly consider whether he can live up to the obligations
it entails. But because marriage has many cares and responsibilities,
is that a prohibitive reason against embracing it? A soldier's life,
too, is hard, and a farmer's; in fact, all pursuits and vocations in
this world have their sombre side. But he who would win success in any
career must be ready "with a heart for any fate" to meet and overcome
all the trials and hardships that await him.

On one occasion Our Lord made use of the following parable (Luke xiv:
28): "Which of you having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit
down and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have
wherewithal to finish it: lest after he hath laid the foundation, and
is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him, saying,
'This man began to build and was not able to finish'?" This parable
Our Lord seems to apply to those who have the call to the Faith, and
He concludes with the words, "So likewise every one of you that doth
not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple."

But His advice is also applicable to one who contemplates a closer
following of Christ by the pathway of the counsels. Certainly, by all
means, deliberate before taking any step of importance in this world.
Never act on inconsiderate impulse in any matter of moment, but weigh
carefully the obligations you are to assume, and consider whether you
have sufficient strength of character to persevere in any good work
you are undertaking.

Still, when all is said and done, it remains true that timidity is not
prudence, nor cowardice caution. Nothing great was ever accomplished
in this world without courage. Prudence and caution may be overdone,
and easily degenerate into sloth and inactivity. In a battle he who
hesitates is lost, and life is the sharpest of conflicts. Had Columbus
wavered, he would not have discovered America. Close followers of
Christ must be brave and noble souls, willing to risk all, to
sacrifice all in the service of their leader. If you are excessively
timid and fearful of making a misstep in your every action, it is a
fault of character, and unless you overcome it you will never do great
things for yourself or others.

When reason and conscience point the way, plunge boldly forward,
trusting to the Lord for all the necessary helps you may need to carry
out your designs. He will never desert you when once you enlist under
His flag. When it comes to "supposing," there is no end to the
dreadful things that _might_ happen, but never _will_. Little children
have a game called "supposing," each one making his supposition in
turn, but even they do not anticipate that their creations of fancy
will ever prove true. A man once said: "I have lived forty years, and
have had many troubles, but most of them never happened," meaning that
he had often anticipated and dreaded evils which never came to pass.

Let us, however, grant that occasionally a novice leaves his order: is
that such a disgrace? By no means; he, at least, deserves credit for
attempting the higher life. He is far more courageous than many
Christians who are too timorous even to try. After all, what is a
novitiate for, if not to discover whether the candidate has the
requisite qualities? And judicious superiors will be the first to
advise a young man or woman to leave, if he or she has wandered into
the wrong place.

There is, moreover, a danger on the opposite side that wavering souls
often fail to take into account. What if they make a mistake by not
entering religious life? Is it better to err on the side of generosity
to God, or on the side of pusillanimity? If one make a mistake by
entering religion he can easily retrace his steps before it is too
late, but once he commits himself to worldly obligations, he can
seldom break their fetters; and many a man, when overwhelmed with the
cares and anxieties of life, has regretted, when all too late, that he
had not hearkened to the voice of grace that invited him to the calm
and peace of the cloister.

St. Ignatius thus forcibly expresses the same thought: "More certain
signs are required to decide that God wills one to remain in the
secular state, than that He wishes him to enter on the way of the
counsels, for the Lord so openly urged the counsels, while He insisted
on the great dangers of the other state." (Directory, c. 23.)

The devil, who employs every ruse to wreck a vocation, has one
favorite stratagem, which unfortunately succeeds only too often. When
he cannot induce a person to give up entirely the idea of following
Christ closely, he frequently induces him, under a variety of
pretexts, to postpone its execution. If he can get the person to wait,
to delay, he feels he has scored a victory, for thus he will have
ample opportunity to lure his victim to a love of the world, to
present the vanities of life in such enticing colors, as finally to
withdraw him altogether from his first purpose. This disaster,
unfortunately, is only too common, and many a one finds out, to his
cost, that unseasonable delay has destroyed in him the spiritual
savor, and made shipwreck of his vocation.

If, then, you see clearly it is best for you to tread the pathway of
the counsels, go boldly on without delay or hesitation, and if
difficulties loom big before you, they will fade away at your
approach, like the fog before the sun; or, if they remain, you will be
surprised at the ease with which you will vanquish them, for when the
Lord is with you, who will be against you? You will be guarded against
possible rashness in choosing the higher life by consulting a prudent
director or confessor, at least, so far as to get his approval of the
step you propose to take. For the knowledge such a one has of the
secrets of your conscience gives him a specially favorable opportunity
to judge whether you have the virtue and determination of character to
persevere in the pathway of the counsels.



Some young people endeavor to persuade themselves that as the world
needs good men, they can better serve Church and State by remaining in
the secular life. The world, of course, does need good men and women,
and it has them, too; but even if there were a dearth of good
Christian laymen, is that any reason for you to refuse God's
invitation and sacrifice your own spiritual advancement and happiness
in order to help others? Our first duty is to ourselves. Are we to be
so enamored of benefiting others as to forego God's special love, and
to rest satisfied with a lower place in heaven? God invites you to
Him, and you turn away to devote yourselves to others, who perhaps
care little for you, and will profit less by your example.

And, moreover, once absorbed in the business and cares of life, you
may find yourself, like most others, so preoccupied in your own
personal advancement, in providing for yourself and those dependent on
you, that scarce a thought remains for the interests of your neighbor.
And thus your initial high resolve may soon sink to the low level of
beneficent effort you see in others. Selfishness, to a large extent,
rules in the world, and how can you promise yourself that you will
escape its grasp? He certainly is rash who thinks he can,
single-handed, contend against the world and its spirit.

No doubt many men and women of the world are devout Christians, and in
a thousand ways spread about them the good odor of Christ. Countless
brave Christian soldiers, upright statesmen, kings and peasants,
matrons and maids, are the pride of Christianity for what they have
done and dared in behalf of their neighbor. All honor to the virtuous
laity throughout the world to-day, who by their edifying lives, their
sacrifices for the faith, their unwearying industry, and fidelity to
Mother Church, are sanctifying their own souls, and assisting others
by example, counsel and charitable deed.

But for every layman that has distinguished himself by heroic devotion
to the welfare of his neighbor, many religious could be mentioned who
have done the same. We have all heard of Father Damien, who banished
himself to the isle of Molokai, where the outcast lepers of the
Sandwich Islands had been herded to rot and die; and there taking up
his abode, soon changed the lepers, who were living like wild beasts,
without law or morality, into gentle and fervent Christians. Having no
priest as a companion, he on one occasion rowed out to a passing
steamer, which was not allowed to land, to make his confession to a
bishop aboard. And while he sat in his row boat, because forbidden to
climb into the vessel, and shouted his sins to the bishop on the deck
above, the passengers looking curiously on, he certainly must have
been a spectacle to men and angels. And his sacrifice became complete
when he contracted the leprosy from his people, and thus gave up his
life for his flock.

Nor is this a solitary instance of such magnanimity. A short time ago,
when a Canadian bishop entered a convent and called for volunteers to
start a leper hospital, every nun stood up to offer her services. You
have heard of the great Apostle of the Indies, St. Francis Xavier, who
is said to have baptized more than a million pagans. St. Teresa, the
mystic, was not prevented by her cloister and her ecstacies from
helping her neighbor, for she founded a large number of convents, both
for men and women. Blessed Margaret Mary was only a simple nun in the
Visitation Convent of Paray-le-Monial, yet God chose her to make known
and spread the great devotion of the Sacred Heart, a devotion which
has brought more comfort and consolation to sorrowing humanity than
the combined philanthropic efforts of a century. God took a gay
cavalier, whose only ambition was to wear foppish clothes and thrum a
guitar, made him into a friar, and bade him found the great Franciscan
Order, whose glorious works for mankind cannot be enumerated.

And if we ponder the nature of religious life, the marvels
accomplished by simple religious cease to astonish us. One who devotes
the major portion of his time and attention to a definite object will
certainly attain great results. Now, most religious seek their own
sanctification in concentrating their energies on the welfare of their
neighbor, in ever studying, working, planning for his betterment. The
love of God, as shown in charity to others, is the absorbing purpose
of their life. On the other hand, the man of the world must generally
care first and foremost for himself and family, and only the time he
has left, incidentally as it were, can he bestow upon others.

This point is thus forcibly expressed by St. Paul (I Cor. vii: 32-34):
"He who is unmarried is solicitous for the things of the Lord, how he
may please God. But he who is married is solicitous for the things of
the world, how he may please his wife; and he is divided. And the
woman, unmarried and a virgin, thinketh on the things of the Lord,
that she may be holy in body and soul. But she who is married,
thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

The works of the religious orders are varied and numerous. Some care
for the outcasts of society, some for the sick or the old, the orphan
and the homeless; others, leaving the comforts and conveniences of
modern life, cheerfully face the danger and hardships of remotest
lands to bring the light of the Gospel to pagan nations. More than a
million Chinese to-day are fervent Christians, and to whom do they owe
their faith under God? To religious missionaries. The Benedictines of
old spent their lives in the pursuit of learning, and in teaching
barbarous tribes the art of husbandry. The glorious Knights Templar
were a militant order; and the members of the Order of the Blessed
Trinity for the redemption of captives, the first to wear our national
colors of freedom, the red, white and blue, sold themselves into
slavery for the release of others. Scarcely a want or need of the
human race has not been provided for by some religious body.

But probably the most common pursuit of religious bodies in our day is
teaching. Hundreds of thousands of religious men and women, in all
lands whence they are not banished, spend their lives in the
class-room. And the reason for this preference is the extraordinary
demand for schools in every direction. The young must be taught, and
Holy Mother Church knows only too well that religious training must
be woven into the fibre of secular learning if we would not have a
conscienceless and irreligious generation. So she issues her stirring
appeal for volunteer teachers, and a vast multitude of religious have
responded in solid phalanx. Some one has said that if all the
sisterhoods were taken out of our schools in the United States, we
should soon have to close half our churches.

Religious, then, are carrying on vast and important works for the
benefit of the Church and society. Many other services which they
render might be mentioned, such as preaching and hearing confessions,
the publication of books and periodicals, the cultivation of the arts,
science, literature and theology. But enough has been said to show
that they are leading a strenuous life, and that boy or maid, who is
emulous of heart-stirring deeds, could scarcely find a more propitious
field of action than in the religious state.



It is not the purpose of the writer to exaggerate, to frighten or
coerce persons into religious life, by holding out threats of God's
displeasure to those who refuse, or by citing examples of those whose
careers were blighted through failure to heed the Divine call. It is
His desire rather to imitate Christ's manner of action, portraying the
beauty and excellence of virtue, and then leaving it to the promptings
of aspiring hearts to follow the leadings of grace.

Christ, all mildness and meekness as He was, uttered terrible
denunciations against sin and the false leaders of the people; but
nowhere do we read that He denounced or threatened those who failed to
accept His tender and loving call to the life of perfection. To draw
men's hearts He used not compulsion, but the lure of kindness and

Our Lord sometimes commanded and sometimes counselled and between
these there is a difference. When a command is given by lawful
superiors it must be obeyed, and that under penalty. God gave the
commandments amidst thunder and lightning on Mount Sinai, and those
commandments, as precepts of the natural law, or because corroborated
in the New Testament, persist in the main to-day, and any one who
violates them, refuses to keep them, is guilty of disobedience to God,
commits a sin. But when Christ proclaimed the counsels, He was merely
giving advice or exhortation, and hence no one was obliged to follow
them under pain of His displeasure. Suppose a mother has two sons, who
both obey exactly her every command, and one also takes her advice in
a certain matter, while the other does not; she will love the second
not less, but the first more. So of two boys, who are both favorites
of God, if one accept and the other decline a proffered vocation, He
will love the latter as before, but the former how much more tenderly!

Moreover, God loves the cheerful giver. By doing, out of an abundance
of charity and fervor, what you are not obliged to do, you gain ampler
merit for yourself, since you perform more than your duty, and at the
same time you give greater glory to God, showing that He has willing
children, who bound their service to Him by no bargaining
considerations of weight and measure. But if, through fear of threat
or punishment, you make an offering to God, your gift loses, to an
extent, the worth and spontaneity of a heart-token.

Some think that not to accept the invitation to the counsels, is to
show disregard and contempt for God's grace and favor, and hence
sinful. But how does a young person act when he declines this
proffered gift? He equivalently says, with tears in his eyes, "My
Saviour, I appreciate deeply Thy invitation to the higher life; I envy
my companions who are so courageous as to follow Thy counsel; but,
please be not offended with me if I have not the courage to imitate
their example. I beg Thee to let me serve Thee in some other way." Is
there anything of contempt in such a reply? No more than if a child
would tearfully pray its mother not to send it into a dark room to
fetch something; and as such a mother, instead of insisting on her
request, would only kiss away her child's tears, so will God treat one
who weeps because he cannot muster courage to tread closely in His
blood-stained footsteps.

The young have little relish for argumentative quotations and texts,
but it may interest them to know that Saints Basil, Chrysostom,
Gregory Nazianzen, Cyprian, Augustine and other Fathers all speak in a
similar strain, holding that, as a vocation is a free gift or counsel,
it may be declined without sin. [1] The great Theologians, St. Thomas,
Suarez, Bellarmine and Cornelius a Lapide also agree on this point.

But putting aside the question of sin, we must admit that one who
clearly realizes that the religious life is best for him and
consequently more pleasing to God, would, by neglecting to avail
himself of this grace, betray a certain ungenerosity of soul and a
lack of appreciation of spiritual things, in depriving himself of a
gift which would be the source of so many graces and spiritual

Do not, then, dear reader, embrace the higher life merely from motives
of fear--which were unworthy an ingenuous child of God--but rather to
please the Divine Majesty. You are dear to Him, dearer than the
treasures of all the world. He loves you so much that He died for you,
and now He asks you in return to nestle close to His heart, where He
may ever enfold His arms about you, and lavish his blandishments upon
your soul. Will you come to Him, your fresh young heart still sweet
with the dew of innocence, and become His own forevermore? Will you
say farewell to creatures, and rest upon that Bosom whose love and
tenderness for you is high as the stars, wide as the universe, and
deep as the sea? Come to the tender embraces of your heavenly spouse,
and heaven will have begun for you on earth.

[1] The hypothetical case, sometimes mentioned by casuists, of one who
is convinced that for him salvation outside of religion is impossible,
can here safely be passed over as unpractical for young readers.



Many a young person, when confronted with the thought of his vocation,
puts it out of mind, with the off-hand remark, "Oh, there is plenty of
time to consider that; I am too young, and have had no experience of
the world." This method of procedure is summary, if not judicious, and
it meets with the favor of some parents, who fear, as they think, to
lose their children. It was also evidently highly acceptable to
Luther, who is quoted by Bellarmine as teaching that no one should
enter religious life until he is seventy or eighty years of age.

In deciding a question of this nature, however, we should not allow
our prepossessions to bias our judgment, nor take without allowance
the opinion of those steeped in worldly wisdom, but lacking in
spiritual insight. Father William Humphrey, S.J., in his edition of
Suarez's "Religious Life" (page 49), says: "Looking merely to _natural
law_, it is lawful at any age freely to offer oneself to the perpetual
service of God. There is no natural principle by which should be fixed
any certain age for such an act."

Christ did not prescribe any age for those who wished to enter His
special service, and He rebuked the apostles for keeping children from
Him, saying, "Let the little ones come unto Me." And St. Thomas
(Summa, 2a 2æ, Quæst. 189, art. 5), quotes approvingly the comment
of Origen on this text, viz.: "We should be careful lest in our
superior wisdom we despise the little ones of the Church and prevent
them from coming to Jesus." And speaking in the same article of St.
Gregory's statement that the Roman nobility offered their sons to St.
Benedict to be brought up in the service of God, the Angelic Doctor
approves this practice on the principle that "it is good for a man to
bear the yoke from his youth," and adds that it is in accord with the
usual "custom of setting boys to the duties and occupations in which
they are to spend their life."

The remark concerning St. Benedict recalls to mind the interesting
fact that in olden times, not only boys of twelve and fourteen became
little monks, but that children of three, four or five years of age
were brought in their parents' arms and dedicated to the monasteries.
According to the "Benedictine Centuries," "the reception of a child in
those days was almost as solemn as a profession in our own. His
parents carried him to the church. Whilst they wrapped his hand, which
held the petition, in the sacred linen of the altar, they promised, in
the presence of God and His saints, stability in his name." These
children remained during infancy and childhood within the monastery
enclosure, and on reaching the age of fourteen, they were given the
choice of returning home, if they preferred, or of remaining for life.

The discipline of the Church, which as a wise Mother, she modifies to
suit the exigencies of time and place, is somewhat different in our
day. The ordinary law now prohibits religious profession before the
age of sixteen; and the earliest age at which subjects are commonly
admitted is fifteen. Orders which accept younger candidates, in order
to train and prepare them for reception, cannot, as a rule, clothe
them with the habit. A very recent decree also requires clerical
students to have completed four years' study of Latin before admission
as novices into any order.

Persons who object to early entrance into religion seem to forget that
the young have equal rights with their elders to personal
sanctification, and to the use of the means afforded for this purpose
by the Church. It is now passed into history, how some misguided
individuals forbade frequent Communion to the faithful at large, and
altogether excluded from the Holy Table children under twelve or
fourteen, and this notwithstanding the plain teaching of the Council
of Trent to the contrary. To correct the error, the Holy See was
obliged to issue decrees on the subject, which may be styled the
charter of Eucharistic freedom for all the faithful, and especially
for children. As the Eucharist is not intended solely for the mature
or aged, so neither is religious life meant only for the decrepit, or
those who have squandered youth and innocence. Its portals are open to
all the qualified, and particularly to the young, who wish to bring
not a part of their life only, but the _whole_ of it, along with
youthful enthusiasm and generosity, to God's service.

How many young religious have attained heroic sanctity which would
never have been theirs had religion been closed against them by an
arbitrary or unreasonable age restriction! A too rigid attitude on
this point would have barred those patrons of youth, Aloysius,
Stanislaus Kostka and Berchmans, from religion and perhaps even from
the honors of the altar. St. Thomas, the great theological luminary of
the Church, was offered to the Benedictines when five years old, and
he joined the Dominicans at fifteen or sixteen; and St. Rose of Lima
made a vow of chastity at five. The Lily of Quito, Blessed Mary Ann,
made the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience before her
tenth birthday, and the Little Flower was a Carmelite at fifteen. And
uncounted others, who lived and died in the odor of sanctity,
dedicated themselves by vow to the perpetual service of God, while
still in the fragrance and bloom of childhood or youth.

"What a pity!" some exclaim, when a youth or maid enters religion.
"How much better for young people to wait a few years and see
something of the world, so they will know what they are giving up."
This is ever the comment of the worldly spirit, which aims to crush
out entirely spiritual aspirations, and failing in that, to delay
their fulfilment indefinitely. And yet the wise do not reason
similarly in other matters. One who proposes to cultivate a marked
musical talent is never advised to try his hand first at carpentering
or tailoring, that he may make an intelligent choice between them. Nor
is a promising law student counselled to spend several years in the
study of engineering and dentistry, to avoid making a possible
mistake. Why then wish a youth, of evident religious inclination, to
mingle in the frivolity and gayeties of the world, with the certain
risk of imbibing its spirit and losing his spiritual relish? "He who
loves the danger," says the Scripture, "will perish in it."

"Yet a vocation should first be tried, and if it cannot resist
temptation, it will never prove constant," is the worn but
oft-repeated reply. As if a parent would expose his boy to contagion to
discover whether his constitution be strong enough to resist it; or
place him in the companionship of the depraved to try his virtue and
see if it be proof against temptation. No, the tender sprout must be
carefully tended, and shielded from wind and storm, until it grows
into maturity. In like manner, a young person who desires to serve
God, should be placed in an atmosphere favorable to the development of
his design, and guarded from sinister influence, until he has acquired
stability of purpose and strength of virtue.

There was once in Rome an attractive Cardinal's page of fourteen who
possessed a sunny and lively disposition. On a solemn occasion his
hasty temper led him to resent the action of another page, and
straightway there was a fight. Immediately, the decorous retinue was
thrown into confusion, and the Cardinal felt himself disgraced. Peter
Ribadeneira, for this was the page's name, did not wait for
developments, he foresaw what was coming and fled. Not knowing where
to go, he bethought himself of one who was everybody's friend,
Ignatius of Loyola, and with soiled face, torn lace and drooping
plume, he presented himself before him. Ignatius received him with
open arms, and placed him among the novices. Poor Peter had a hard
time in the novitiate, as his caprices and boisterousness were always
bringing him into trouble. But when grave Fathers frowned, and the
novices were scandalized, Peter was ever sure of sympathy and
forgiveness from Ignatius, who, in the end, was gratified to see the
boy develop into an able, learned and holy religious. Peter's vocation
was occasioned by his fight, certainly an unpropitious beginning, but
he must have ever been grateful that, when he applied to Ignatius, he
was not turned away until he had become older and more sedate.

Parents or spiritual directors, who, under the pretext of trying a
vocation, put off for two or three years an aspirant who seems dowered
with all necessary qualities, can scarcely justify themselves in the
eyes of God, such a method being calculated to destroy, not prove, a
vocation. To detain for a few months, however, one who conceives a
sudden notion to enter religion, for the purpose of discovering
whether his intention is serious, and not merely a passing whim, is
only in accordance with the ordinary rules of prudence. In connection
with this point, the words of bluff and hearty St. Jerome, who never
seemed to grow old or lose the buoyancy of youth, are often quoted.
Giving advice to one whom he wished to quit the world, he wrote, "Wait
not even to untie the rope that holds your boat at anchor--cut it."
(M. P. L., t. 26, c. 549.) And Christ's reply to the young man, whom
He had invited to follow Him, and who asked leave to go first and bury
his father, was equally terse: "Let the dead bury their own dead."
(Luke ix: 60.)

In a booklet entitled "Questions on Vocations," published in 1913, by
a Priest of the Congregation of the Mission, the question is asked,
"Do not a larger percentage persevere when subjects enter the
religious state late in life?" And the answer is given: "No; the
records of five of the largest communities of Sisters in the United
States show that a much larger percentage of subjects persevere among
those who enter between the ages of sixteen and twenty, than among
those who enter when they are older. When persons are twenty years of
age, or older, their characters are more set; their minds are less
pliable; it is harder to unbend and remould them. The young are more
readily formed to religious discipline."

In concluding this chapter on the appropriate age for entrance into
religious life, it may be said that, after reaching the prescribed age
of fifteen, the sooner an otherwise properly qualified person enters
the nearer he seems to approach the ideals and traditionary practice
of the Church, and the better he will provide for his own spiritual

[1] It would seem that for the space of two centuries, this freedom of
choice was not offered them.



The High Priest of the New Law, St. Paul tells the Hebrews, is Christ.
And the Christian priesthood, which He instituted, is a participation
and extension of His office and ministry. The commemoration of the
same sacrifice which was once offered upon the cross for the sins of
the world is daily renewed on our altars from the rising to the
setting of the sun. The Christian priest, in the language of spiritual
writers, is "another Christ," taking His place amongst men,
perpetually renewing, as it were, the Incarnation in the Sacrifice of
the Mass, preaching the word, and applying the fruits of Redemption
through the channels of the sacraments.

In common estimation, the dignity of a man is reckoned by the
character of the office he fills or the duties entrusted to him.
Judged by this standard, no worldly dignity can compare with that of
the priesthood, whose authority comes from God, and whose powers,
transcending earth, reach back to heaven. "Speak not of the royal
purple," says St. Chrysostom, "of diadems, of golden vestures--these
are but shadows, frailer than the flowers of spring, compared to the
power and privileges of the priesthood."

And whence arises, we may ask, this incomparable dignity of the
priest? First of all, from his power to roll back the heavens, and
bring down upon the altar the Majesty of the Deity, attended by an
angelic train. "The Blessed Virgin," St. Vincent Ferrer informs us,
"opened heaven only once, the priest does so at every Mass." Exalted
is the sovereignty of kings who rule a nation, but more sublime the
power which commands the King of kings, and is obeyed. Who could
conceive, did not Faith teach it, that mortal man were capable of
elevation to such a pitch of glory? No wonder St. Chrysostom was
betrayed by this thought into the rhapsody: "When you behold the Lord
immolated and lying on the altar, and the priest standing over the
sacrifice and praying and all the people empurpled by that precious
blood, do you imagine that you are still on earth amongst men and not
rather rapt up to heaven?"

The second great prerogative of the priest is to forgive sins. Christ
having one day said to a paralytic, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee"
(Luke v: 20), some of the bystanders marvelled, thinking within
themselves, "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Yea, truly is this
a Divine power, but these critics failed to comprehend the Divinity of
Christ, and that all power was given to Him in heaven and on earth.
And His power to remit sins has descended to the priest, in the
imposition of hands. At Christ's will lepers were cleansed, and once
more felt the pulsation of health tingling through their veins; but
more wondrous still the word of the priest which causes the scales of
the leprosy of sin to fall from the stricken soul, and restores to it
the pristine vigor and beauty of sanctifying grace. As keeper of the
keys, the priest stands warder of heaven, locking or unlocking its
doors to the dust-begrimed pilgrims of earth.

Sublime, then, is the priestly dignity, even beyond human
comprehension. But one thing we realize, and the saints with clearer
vision perceive, that high virtue is demanded of him whose life is
spent in the antechamber of heaven. St. Catharine of Sienna, in a
letter to one newly ordained, tells him, "The ministers whom the
Sovereign Goodness has chosen to be His Christs ought to be angels,
not men . . . they in truth discharge the office of angels." "What
purity," says a Father of the Church, "what piety shall we require of
a priest? Think what those hands ought to be which perform such a
ministry; what that tongue which pronounces those words." No sanctity
or purity of soul, then, is beyond the aspirations of one whose
heaven-born privilege it is to enter the Holy of Holies, to dispense
the mysteries of faith, and exercise the "ministry of reconciliation."

A most important function of the ministry is the care of souls.
Christ's mission was to save; He was the Good Shepherd, who traveled
about preaching to the people, who were like "sheep without a
shepherd." And to His Apostles and their successors He gave the solemn
charge "to feed His lambs." And this injunction of the Divine Master
has been held sacred by the Church throughout its existence. Wherever
in the world to-day dwell true believers, there are to be found
priests to care for them.

The priest is truly the father of the people committed to him. He must
become all things to all men, rejoicing with the joyful, and weeping
with the sorrowful. The infants he must receive into the Church,
generating in them the life of grace, guarding them as they grow up,
and instructing them in doctrine and discipline. To him the bridal
couple come for the nuptial benediction; and when sickness and trouble
and want invade the household it is to their father in Christ the
faithful look for support and encouragement. He is the consoler of
all, and he bears the burdens of all. And when the angel of death
hovers over his charge, the priest repairs to the bedside of the
departing one, to strengthen him for the last journey; and, finally,
when the soul has departed, he commits the body to hallowed ground,
there to await the resurrection.

The priest, then, must be of heroic mould to satisfy the demands made
upon him; he must be ready to endure hunger and cold and weariness,
contradictions from within and without, labors by night and day. But
the Lord is his inheritance, and for His sake he is willing to endure
all the crosses and trials that bear upon him. How splendidly the
clergy of our country have responded to their responsibilities is
attested by the flourishing state of religion, by the magnificent
churches, the well-developed Catholic school system, and the numerous
other Church activities about us. Every thoroughly organized parish or
mission means the life of at least one priest sacrificed in its
formation--the commingling of his sweat and labors with the cement
that binds together its material and spiritual stones. But could a
life be better spent? What more fitting monument could be left to
posterity than a spiritual structure built on Christ and enduring as
the foundation on which it rests?

Who, then, may aspire to the glorious career of the priesthood? Is it
open to all, or must one await the striking manifestation of the
Divine Will inviting him to it? Should he not say, "The priesthood is
too exalted for my weakness and unworthiness"? While humility is
laudable, it should not bar any one who has the requisite virtue and
talent, together with an upright intention, from entering this high
estate. Everything depends on one's qualifications and motives. Others
will pass judgment on the qualifications, but each one must scrutinize
his own motives. If a youth desires the priesthood for natural
reasons, to lead an easy life or one honorable in the eyes of men, to
attain fame or station, his motives are wrong, or at least, too
imperfect to carry him far on the rugged road before him. But if he be
swayed by supernatural desires, such as the service of God, his own
sanctification or the help of his neighbor, his ambition is
praiseworthy. One who is conscious, then, of rectitude of purpose and
hopeful with the divine assistance of living up to its obligations,
may aspire, without scruple, to the priesthood, the highest of
dignities and the greatest of careers open to man.

One day our Lord, instructing His disciples before sending them to
preach His coming, said: "The harvest, indeed, is great, but the
laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he
send laborers into his harvest" (Luke x: 2). And this has been the cry
through all the ages--"Send laborers into the harvest!" The Church has
always needed good spiritual laborers, men and women, who would be
willing to work for God and their neighbor, to extend the Kingdom of
God, and this is true to-day of our own beloved country. A host of
spiritual laborers is scattered over our land, but the cry is ever
repeated, "We need more, the work is too great for our efforts, and
all the harvest is not being garnered."

Will you, dear reader, make one more worker in God's field, one more
reaper of His harvest that is ripe and falling to the ground because
there are none to gather it?



As the acquaintance of young people with religious is frequently
limited to their teachers, they are sometimes inclined to identify in
their minds the profession of teaching with religious life. And since
some feel a diffidence or repugnance in committing themselves to a
teaching career, they extend this aversion to the religious state
itself. We have shown, however, in a previous chapter that there is
great variety and diversity of occupation in religious orders, so that
all tastes and inclinations can find congenial exercise in them.

Still, it is probably true, that the great majority of religious men
and women are found in the class-room, and this for the good and
sufficient reason that Christian education is the paramount need of
the day, and the work on which the future of the Church chiefly
depends. The young who, perhaps, are tempted to look upon teaching as
an obscure employment and a monotonous grind, will do well to reflect
that in our time it is considered so honorable a profession that
hundreds of thousands, even of those outside the Church, deliberately
choose it as the best and most favorable career for the play of their

The professors of our noted universities command the respect and
deference of the community, and to them the public look for the
solution of the constantly arising civic and social problems. They are
regarded as the natural leaders of thought, and are expected to guide
and direct popular movements affecting the well-being of society. And
this public esteem, is extended in due proportion to all who are
engaged in education, for it is universally realized that the standard
of morality and intelligence, which is to obtain in the commonwealth,
will depend largely on the training given to the young. The teacher is
directly employed in the making of good citizens, which is a more
important business than the extension of manufactures or commerce. He
is setting the ideals according to which the Republic must stand or

And, for persons of refined or intellectual tastes, the instruction of
youth must be a pleasurable employment. It is inviting to deal with
the young and innocent, who are eager to learn, ambitious to excel,
and who in return for their instructor's solicitude, give him
unstinted affection and gratitude, and render him loyal obedience and
respect. In the teacher's hands is the moulding and shaping of
character, the direction of talents which may illumine society. And
can any sphere of action be more elevated, more grateful than this?

And then, too, the educator is constantly engaged in the things of the
mind, in study, and the discovery of new truths or new applications of
old ones, and in imparting his knowledge to fresh, bright
intelligences. Nothing is so fascinating to a person of intellectual
bent as the pursuit and attainment of truth, and this is the steady
occupation of the teacher. Is not the outlook of such a life
infinitely wider and more refreshing than the dull routine of
business, the noisy rumble of a factory or the sordid dealings of

But it is principally from the spiritual point of view that education
is considered by the Church and religious congregations. The mandate
of Christ, "Go ye forth and teach all nations," laid the charge of
teaching upon His Church; and on the pastors it devolves to see that
the faithful are instructed in Christian doctrines and obligations. To
rightfully carry out its mission, the Church has always felt obliged
to insist that the education of its children be permeated with
religion, and in fulfilment of this duty it has established parochial
schools throughout our country, where the young, while acquiring
secular science, can at the same time be grounded in the faith and
trained to virtuous lives.

It can be said, then, that the religious who conduct these schools
share in the apostolic mission of the Church. Every catechetical
instruction, every word of exhortation or encouragement to right
living and doing which is given in the class-room, is a participation
by the teacher in the pastorate of souls, in the announcing and
preaching of the Gospel, in the spreading of the Kingdom of God.
Without the aid of the school, the pastor ordinarily could not
properly teach the young their prayers and catechism, prepare them for
the sacraments, and equip them for the manifold exigencies of life.

"Religious education is our most distinctive work," says Archbishop
Spalding, of Peoria. "It gives us a place apart in the life of the
country. It is indispensable to the welfare and progress of the Church
in the United States, and will be recognized in the end as the most
vital contribution to American civilization. Fortunate are they, who
by words or deeds confirm our faith in the need of Catholic schools;
and yet more fortunate are they who, while they inspire our teachers
with new courage and zeal, awaken in the young, to whom God has given
a heart and a mind, an efficacious desire to devote themselves to the
little ones whom Christ loves. What better work, in the present time,
can any of us do than foster vocations to our Brotherhoods and
Sisterhoods, whose special mission is teaching?"

And Brother Azarias assures us that "There is not in this world among
human callings a more sacred one than that of moulding souls to higher
and better things."

Bishop Byrne, of Nashville, has well said: "The office of teaching has
an advantage in some respects over the priesthood. The teachers are
constantly with their pupils, shaping their souls, coloring them,
informing them, making them instinct with life and motives, and giving
them high ideals and worthy aspirations. In all this their work is
akin to that of the confessor."

The need of more teaching Brothers and Sisters is particularly urgent
and pressing, as the number of pupils is increasing proportionately
faster than the number of religious subjects, and the dearth of
teachers prevents the opening of new schools in many places where they
are demanded, and also hinders the development of the existing
schools. This is the opinion of Bishop Alerding, who wrote: "The
Church is being hampered in her work of educating her youth because
the number of teachers, Brothers and Sisters, is inadequate." And
Bishop McQuaid did not hesitate to say that, "the most pressing want
of the Church in America at the present time is that of Brothers to
assist in teaching our boys."

In this connection we may observe that some virtuous and self-effacing
souls, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi, have a dread of
assuming the responsibilities of the priesthood, and there are many
others who are debarred from aspiring to that dignity by insufficiency
of education. Young men of either of these classes have a splendid
opportunity before them to serve God by joining a teaching
congregation of Brothers.

Finally, as an encouragement to Christian teachers in their glorious
apostolate, let them remember the great reward awaiting their
unselfish labors. The Book of Daniel (xii: 3), tells us that "They who
instruct many to justice shall shine as stars for all eternity." The
inspired writer compares teachers to the stars of heaven, for as the
latter illumine the darkness of night, so they who instruct others
dispel the darkness of ignorance by shedding the rays of wisdom and
knowledge into the minds of their disciples. But there is a deeper
meaning in this text, for according to the interpretation of
theologians, it contains the assurance to those who teach others their
duty, of a special reward or golden crown in heaven, called the
Doctor's or Teacher's Aureole. The exact nature of this privilege,
whether it is a special gift of loving God or a distinctive garb of
glory, we do not know, but as the martyrs and virgins have their
special aureole, so will teachers have theirs.

Father Croiset exclaims: "Oh! the beautiful and rich crowns which God
prepares for a religious who inspires little children with a horror of
vice and a love of virtue! . . . What sweet consolation will be
experienced at the moment of death by the religious when he beholds
coming to his aid those souls whom he has helped to save." And we may
faintly conceive the transport of one who enters heaven accompanied by
the resplendent retinue of those whom he has brought with him from

This chapter would not be complete without a word of encouragement to
those young men and women whose education is so deficient that they
feel incompetent to teach, and so turn away in sadness from the
portals of religion, thinking there is no room for them within. Such
persons should know that any one who is skilled in a trade, such as
that of carpentering, painting, tailoring, or sewing, can be of the
greatest utility and acceptability to a community. And there are many
offices of a domestic nature, such as that of porter, sacristan,
refectorian and steward, which require little preparatory training and
can be filled by any one of intelligence and good will.

Nor should persons engaged in such duties entertain the notion that
they will not share in the full spiritual privileges of the Order; for
by the assistance they give to the other members they are contributing
to the end and aim of the Institute and communicate in all the good
works performed by it. An edifying incident, illustrative of this
point, is told of a famous preacher who moved hearts in a wondrous
fashion, and when he was tempted to self-complacency in his success,
it was revealed to him that the results of his preaching were due, not
to his own eloquence or zeal, but to the prayers of the unobserved
lay-brother, who always sat at the foot of the pulpit, telling his
beads for the efficacy of the sermon.



When young people read or hear of persons entering religious life,
they are apt to say, "Oh, it is easy for them, because they are holy;
but it is impossible for me who have so little virtue!" But, as a
matter of fact, these religious have the same passions and temptations
to overcome, the same flesh and blood, as ourselves, and it was only
by conquering themselves, and struggling with their lower
inclinations, that they obtained the victory.

A boy was standing one day at a country railway station in the United
States, when he met an older boy with whom he engaged in conversation.
His casual acquaintance confided to him that he was going off to
college to prepare for entrance into a certain religious Order; and he
urged the younger lad to accompany him for the same purpose. But the
latter replied, "Oh! they wouldn't have me, for I am poor, uneducated
and every way unfit." The other insisted, however, and finally
prevailed on him to board with him the incoming train. They repaired
to the superior of the religious Order, who received them kindly, and
sent them both to a boarding school. After a short time the senior
student was caught stealing, and dismissed from the college. His
whilom companion, however, persevered in his good design, achieved
honors in his studies, and finally becoming a religious and a priest,
he is today doing effective work in the vineyard of the Lord.

A story is told of a religious who gave a letter to a young man, in
which he recommended him as a suitable candidate for his Order,
bidding him present the letter to the superior, who lived at a
distance. The young man, desirous of joining the Order, started on his
journey with a companion named Mathias, who had no notion of becoming
a religious. On the way, the would-be religious changed his mind, and
abandoning his project, gave the letter to Mathias, who was ignorant
of its contents, requesting him to bring it to the superior. The
superior read the letter, and thinking the recommendation referred to
Mathias, said to him, "Very well, you may go to the novitiate, and put
on the habit." Mathias wondered, but obeyed, entered the novitiate,
and became a holy religious.

St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, and the foremost man of his age, was
so handsome and attractive in youth, that the evil-minded laid snares
against his chastity. To escape their wiles he determined to enter the
Cistercian monastery of Citeaux. His father and brothers endeavored to
dissuade him from his purpose, but instead, by his fervid
exhortations, he induced four of his brothers and others, to the
number of thirty, to enter with him. As the party was leaving home,
little Nivard, the sole remaining boy of the family, was at play with
some companions. Guido, the eldest of the brothers, embraced him and
said, "My dear Nivard, we are going, and this castle and lands will
all be yours." The child, "with wisdom beyond his years," the
chronicler tells us, "replied, 'what, are you taking heaven for
yourselves, and leaving earth to me? The division is not fair.'" And
from that day nothing could pacify the boy, until he was permitted to
join his brothers.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, who is said to have always preserved his
baptismal innocence, was so brilliant a student that at the age of
sixteen he had obtained two degrees in the University of Naples.
Entering on the practice of the law, he one day in a trial before the
court, by an oversight, misstated the evidence. His attention being
called to his error, he was so overwhelmed with shame and confusion at
his apparent lack of truthfulness, that on returning home he
exclaimed, "World, I know you now, Courts, you shall never see me
more." And for three days he refused food. He then determined to
become a priest, and in the ministry he attained great sanctity. He
founded the well-known Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer,
commonly called the Redemptorists; and for his voluminous doctrinal
writings, Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the universal Church.

The story of the entrance of St. Stanislaus Kostka into religion reads
like a romance. His father, a Polish nobleman, had placed him and his
older brother, Paul, at the Jesuit College in Vienna. When Stanislaus
was fifteen years of age he applied for admission into the Jesuit
Order, but as he had not the consent of his father, the superior
feared to take him. An illness supervened, and the Blessed Virgin came
to cure him, and giving the child Jesus into his arms, said to him,
"You must end your days in the Society that bears my Son's name; you
must become a Jesuit."

Notwithstanding the vision, poor Stanislaus was again refused by the
Jesuit superior. Not knowing what other step to take, he thought that
by traveling four hundred miles to Augsburg, in Germany, the Jesuit
Provincial of that province, who at the time was Blessed Peter
Canisius, might receive him, for his jurisdiction seemed beyond the
influence of Senator Kostka. If again rejected in Augsburg, he was
determined to walk eight hundred miles farther to Rome, where he felt
sure of securing his heart's desire. Accordingly, one August morning
he rose early and telling his servant that he was going out, bade him
at the same time inform his brother Paul not to expect him for dinner.
With light and joyous heart he started on his journey, and at the
first opportunity exchanged his fine clothes for the disguise of a
pilgrim's staff and tunic.

When Paul awoke and learned that Stanislaus was gone for the day, he
was surprised, but attributed it to some new pious freak. But as the
day wore on, and the shades of evening gathered, with no tidings of
his brother, consternation seized Paul, for he realized that his
irascible and powerful father would hold him responsible for the
safety of the younger boy, whom he loved with a passionate and
unbounded affection. Accordingly servants were dispatched in every
direction to seek for the truant, but no tidings could be obtained.
The conclusion gradually forced itself upon all that Stanislaus had
fled, and Paul determined to pursue him and bring him back. For some
reason, suspicion was aroused that the runaway had taken the road to
Augsburg, and a carriage with two stout horses was ordered for early
dawn on the morrow.

Along the highway to Augsburg flew the equipage containing Paul and
three companions. Meanwhile, little Stanislaus was trudging bravely
along, putting all his confidence in God, when he suddenly heard the
rapid beat of horses' hoofs behind him. Suspecting what it meant, he
quickly entered a by-lane, and the occupants of the carriage rushed by
without seeing, or at least, recognizing, him in his disguise.

Stanislaus continued his pilgrimage in peace, begging his way, for he
had no money, and after two weeks, he saw, with inexpressible joy, the
roofs and spires of Augsburg gleaming in the setting sun. At last he
had reached the haven of rest, and with a bounding heart, the weary
boy knocked at the door of the Jesuit college. But alas, for all his
hopes! the provincial had gone to Dillingen. The Fathers urged him to
stay and rest with them until the provincial's return, but Stanislaus
would brook no delay. At once he wended his way toward Dillingen,
which he soon reached, and when he knelt at the feet of Blessed
Canisius, two saints were face to face. The superior pressed the boy
to his heart, and kept him in the college for a few weeks. But as both
the elder and younger saint thought Germany still too near the
influence of his father for safety, Stanislaus, in company with two
religious, set out on a further exhausting walk of eight hundred miles
to Rome, where he was received as a Jesuit novice by the General of
the Order, St. Francis Borgia.

The angelic boy had at last finished his long pilgrimages, he had
entered the earthly paradise for which he had yearned, and for which
he had forsaken home, rank and country. But the happiness of religion
he soon exchanged for the joys of heaven, for before completing his
eighteenth year, and while still a novice, he closed his eyes on this
world to open them in company with Mary and the angels on the Beatific



The home is the nursery of vocations. Most religious can trace the
beginnings of their resolve to leave all to the influence of saintly
parents and a Christian home. If the parents cultivate faith, charity
and industry the fragrance of these virtues will cling round the walls
of their dwelling, and perfume the lives of their children.

Every Christian home should be a convent in miniature, filled with the
same spirit, productive of the same virtues. It should be a cloister,
forbidding entrance to the world and its vanities, and harboring
within gentle peace and happiness. Poverty should dwell there, not in
the narrower meaning of distress and want, but in the wider
acceptation of simplicity, frugality and temperance as opposed to
extravagance, display and ostentation. Purity, too, should reign as
queen of the hearth, regulating the glance of the eye, the
conversation, and even the thoughts of the occupants. And union and
harmony of wills, without which the idea of home is inconceivable, can
come only through obedience which binds the children to parents, wife
to husband, and all to God.

But, unfortunately, this is not always the case. From many domiciles
peace and tranquillity have fled, giving place to frivolity, vanity
and worldliness and all their attendant train of vices. How many
parents, deceived by the wisdom of the flesh, seek their own
gratification in all things, and denying their children nothing that
luxury or extravagance craves, pamper and spoil them by indulging
their every whim. To train up the young to the steady and
uncompromising fulfilment of duty is the only means to produce a hardy
and sturdy generation of men and women, whose fidelity can be relied
on in the trials and emergencies of after-life.

But some fathers and mothers, when their children call for bread,
reverse the parable by giving them a stone, and when they ask for an
egg, give them a scorpion. We can imagine with what righteous
indignation Our Lord would have denounced such a mode of action.
Foolish parents even of limited means dress their girls in expensive
and gaudy apparel, which not only offends against taste and economy,
but sometimes transgresses the laws of modesty and decency.
Familiarity between the sexes is permitted and encouraged by doting
and foolish mothers, who introduce their sons and daughters to
juvenile society functions, receptions, parties and unbecoming dances;
so that children who should be at their lessons or playing healthful
games with suitable companions, are taught to affect society manners
after the most approved fashion of their silly elders. Persons of this
stamp may prepare for a rude awakening, for the day of reckoning for
themselves and children will be sure and terrible.

Many parents, while indeed quite solicitous according to their lights,
for the temporal good of their offspring, training them to a trade or
profession, or settling them in marriage, devote but little thought to
their spiritual welfare. They dread a vocation in their family as a
catastrophe. It would be well, indeed, for persons of this character
to ponder the words of the Pastoral Letter of the Second Council of
Baltimore: "We fear that the fault lies in great part with many
parents, who instead of fostering the desire so natural to the
youthful heart, of dedicating itself to the service of God's
sanctuary, but too often impart to their children their own
worldly-mindedness, and seek to influence their choice of a state of
life by unduly exaggerating the difficulties and dangers of the
priestly calling, and painting in too glowing colors the advantages
of a secular life."

How much better it were for parents to propose to the young the
promise of Our Lord, "And every one that hath left house, or brothers
or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my
name, shall receive a hundredfold, and possess life everlasting."
(Matt. xix: 29.) Many a one, whose wayward child has brought dishonor
and shame to the family, realizes when all too late the happiness that
might have been his had such a child only elected the religious state.

Instead of throwing obstacles in the way of a vocation, those who are
appreciative of spiritual things feel honored that God has chosen one
of their family circle for His special service. Persons whose sons
obtain high position in the army, court or government employ, take a
just pride in the distinction thus attained, but such temporal honors
cannot be compared with the singular privilege of serving in God's own
courts, and dwelling within His sanctuary. Bishop Schrembs, of Toledo,
aptly advises pastors "to teach young parents that the service of God
is even more glorious than that of country, for as St. Jerome says,
'Such a service establishes ties of relationship between the family
and Jesus Christ Himself.'"

Nor do parents, as they sometimes fear, lose a son or daughter who
enters religion. One who marries is in a certain sense lost to the
parent, for the responsibilities of his new state of life so absorb
his energies as to leave him but little opportunity to concern himself
about his old home. And frequently distance entirely severs his
connection with it. But one who enters God's house does not contract
new family alliances, his heart remains free, and though separated
from parents, his affection is always true to them, he thinks of them
as in his childhood days, and he never ceases to importune the
blessings of heaven upon them.

In fact, we may say that a vocation is not strictly an individual, but
rather a family possession. A call to God implies sacrifice on the
part of the family, as well as of the individual, for while he gives
up parents, brothers and sisters, they, too, must part with him. And
as they share in the renunciation, they participate also in its merit
and reward. In God's household the religious represents his family, he
works and prays by proxy for them, and they share in his graces and
good deeds. Is it not a matter of daily experience that the family of
a religious, particularly the parents, receive abundant graces, that
God leads them in various ways to greater fidelity in His service, to
a love of prayer and higher perfection? Parents of religious
frequently become religious themselves at heart, and though not
clothed with the habit, they share in the "hundredfold" promised to
the child.

"It is the glory of a large and happy Catholic family to produce a
vocation," says Rev. Joseph Rickaby, S.J. "A sound Catholic is glad to
have brother or sister, uncle or aunt, or cousin or child, 'who has
pleased God and is found no more' in the ordinary walks of life,
because God hath taken and translated him to something higher and

Parents and teachers, then, who do not hesitate to incline the minds
of children to a professional career, should have no fear also to
direct their thoughts to higher things. To praise in the family circle
the priestly or religious life, to express the hope and desire that
one or more of the children may have the great happiness of such a
profession, to offer them daily in prayer to God, to train them to
piety and devotion, these are all praiseworthy in a father or mother,
and if faithfully practiced in all families would doubtless greatly
increase the number of God's chosen servants.

Anything approaching coercion or excessive urging should, of course,
be avoided, because moral violence should not be done to the child's
will. But the remark sometimes made by well-meaning mothers, "O, I
would not say a word to influence my child towards religion, for fear
of interfering with God's work," shows a lamentable ignorance of the
nature of a vocation. One might almost as well say, "O, I am careful
not to contribute to the building of a church, because if God wants it
built, He will not need any help." If all persons thought thus, such a
church would be long in building.

Most of God's works require our cooperation. He designs them and we
must carry them out. Many a great project has depended on a timely
word, or on the exertions of some man who rose to the occasion. Andrew
and John were sent to Our Lord by St. John the Baptist, and they
became apostles; and if Andrew had not "found his brother Simon and
brought him to Jesus," who knows whether Christ would not have found
it necessary to appoint another head of the Church in place of Simon

To parents, then, belongs the singular privilege of training their
children to tender piety, of directing their thoughts to spiritual
things; and fidelity to this trust will give us a glorious generation
of men and women ready to risk all, to sacrifice all in the service of
their Creator.



Now, dear reader, that you and the writer have kept company thus far,
he is reluctant to part from you. But if you perceive within you the
germ of a vocation, he begs you not to crush it. If in your heart
there is a spark of that celestial fire, which may be fanned to a
consuming flame of divine love, keep it burning.

Preserve your soul, oh! so perfectly from the slightest touch of evil,
remembering that the least deliberate venial sin stains it more than
we can comprehend. Above all, cherish holy purity, that exquisite
ornament of youth, which, like a polished gem, may so easily lose its
lustre. Guard the avenues of your soul, your sight and hearing and the
other senses, through which contamination from without is always
seeking to enter and defile the beauty of God's handiwork. About us is
an atmosphere of worldliness, which we imperceptibly breathe in from
the words of companions, from the printed page, and the example of the
careless. Shun companionship with the frivolous, vanity of dress, and
that indiscriminate reading which only feeds an idle curiosity. The
theatres of our day are especially dangerous to virtue, and he who
stays away from them entirely, will consult his own advantage, as well
as please God.

In this soft and luxurious age the popular trend is to
self-gratification in all its forms. But the true Christian must ever
strive against corrupt nature, if he would not be carried away by the
stream of voluptuousness. Self-denial is the watchword of
Christianity. All are called to the practice of penance in some shape
or form, the best usually being the exact performance of duty. The
young of school age will find a strong shelter from temptation in the
scrupulous and enthusiastic performance of their daily tasks and
lessons. That small boy had caught the true spirit, who used to rise
early, to prepare himself, as he said, for the "missionary" life, to
which he aspired.

A material help for boys to prepare for future life, is to serve at
the altar. He who sacrifices his morning sleep, overcoming sloth, to
minister to the priest at Mass, is already, by a privilege, fulfilling
the functions of one of the minor orders, that of the acolyte. The
devout server at Mass shares in its graces next to the celebrant, and
more than the ordinary faithful who assist at it; and many an
altar-boy, as he glided about the sanctuary, mingling with the
invisible angels who hovered around the Victim of sacrifice, has felt
the seeds of vocation sprouting in his soul.

Devotion to the Mother of God should also be a characteristic of
youth. She sympathizes with us, as only a mother can, in all our
difficulties and trials. She fully appreciates what we have to contend
with, she sees our weakness, the strength of our passions, the
temptations we encounter, and she is eager to throw about us the
mantle of her protection, if we will only ask her. Never a day should
pass without our commending ourselves earnestly to her motherly heart,
for she is even more interested in our welfare than we ourselves. She
is powerful to aid us, since all good things come to us through her;
and she will choose for her devout clients the career in which they
may best serve God.

By a strange perversion of mind, we often seek to unravel the
perplexities of life, without recourse to prayer. When involved in
business anxieties, men spend days of worry in wrestling with them,
without perhaps asking the Father of Lights for guidance. And the
young also, who must settle for themselves their future career,
frequently strive to do so, without the help of heaven. They perhaps
consult human advisers, but fail to consult God, the best of
counsellors, Who alone can see behind the veil of the future, and
infallibly tell what is best for us.

In coming to any important decision, light and strength are needed,
light to know the pathway of duty, and strength to follow it. On
account of the obscurities and half-lights of our intellect, we
perceive but dimly, and often fail to discern the true from the false.
The illumination of the white light of Truth is needed to flood the
dark recesses of the mind. And even when the truth stands clearly
revealed, we are often too indolent or enervated to embrace it; we
need the tonic of resolution and courage, which can be infused into us
only from on high.

The trustful child of God should, day by day, commend his future into
the hands of his heavenly Father, praying Him to shape his life and
career. Each one has his own talents, one or many, but he cannot hope
to trade or barter with them in a fruitful way unless the Giver of
them bless his efforts. Our constant prayer, then, should be for the
fulfilment of God's will in our regard, with the lively faith that
whatever we ask will be granted.

And of all prayers and devotions, can any be more efficacious or
salutary than the frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist? Our Holy
Father, Pius X, desires the boys and girls of the whole world to be
nourished daily, from the tenderest years, with the Bread of Life,
that they may wax strong in the spiritual life, and grow up virile
Christians. One Holy Communion, received fervently, should be
sufficient to sanctify a soul and awake in it the desire of closest
union with Christ, of self-immolation on the altar of Divine Love.

Then what of the soul which is daily nourished with the "Wheat of the
Elect and the Wine that springeth forth Virgins?" (Zach. ix: 17.) Holy
Communion has been styled the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb," wherein
Christ caresses the soul, communicates to it sweetest secrets, and
touching it with the ardent flames of His own Heart, purifies it from
attachment to creatures, and sets it aglow with the white heat of
charity. The frequent communicant, then, is surest of knowing and
doing God's will.

In conclusion, the writer may be allowed to indulge the hope that more
than one reader may be impelled to aspire to the virgin's aureole, the
special privilege of joining the one hundred and forty-four thousand,
whom St. John, in the vision of the Apocalypse, saw following the
Lamb, whithersoever He went, and singing a canticle that none else
could sing, "because they were virgins."


Go now, little book, fly away to some perplexed soul who is anxious to
discover the secrets of the Divine Will; and whisper it a message of
peace and consolation, telling it that, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear
heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath
prepared for them that love Him." (I Cor. ii: 9.)


O Thou, the God of wisdom and counsel, Who dost perceive in my heart a
sincere desire of pleasing Thee alone, and of conforming myself
entirely to Thy most holy will in the choice of my state of life,
grant me, I beseech Thee, through the intercession of the Blessed
Virgin, my mother, and of my patron saints, especially St. Joseph and
St. Aloysius, the grace to know what state of life I should choose,
and when known to embrace it, so that I may seek and spread therein
Thy glory, work out my salvation, and merit that reward in heaven
which Thou hast promised to those who fulfill Thy divine will. Amen.


An indulgence of three hundred days, once a day, for the above prayer,
granted by Pope Pius X, May 2, 1905.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Shall I Be? - A Chat With Young People" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.