Thursday, 5 January 2012

On the Restoration of All Things In Christ

Pope St Pius X's landmark encyclical unsurprisingly contains a large section dedicated to priests and seminarians, I have pasted the relevant section:



Encyclical of Pope St Pius X On The Restoration of All Things In Christ

As to the means to be employed in attaining this great end, it seems superfluous to name them, for they are obvious of themselves. Let your first care be to form Christ in those who are destined from the duty of their vocation to form Him in others. We speak of the priests, Venerable Brethren. For all who bear the seal of the priesthood must know that they have the same mission to the people in the midst of whom they live as that which Paul proclaimed that he received in these tender words: "My little children, of whom I am in labor again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. iv., 19). But how will they be able to perform this duty if they be not first clothed with Christ themselves? and so clothed with Christ as to be able to say with the Apostle: "I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me" (Ibid. ii., 20). "For me to live is Christ" (Phlipp. i., 21). Hence although all are included in the exhortation "to advance towards the perfect man, in the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ" (Ephes. iv., 3), it is addressed before all others to those who exercise the sacerdotal ministry; thus these are called another Christ, not merely by the communication of power but by reason of the imitation of His works, and they should therefore bear stamped upon themselves the image of Christ.
This being so, Venerable Brethren, of what nature and magnitude is the care that must be taken by you in forming the clergy to holiness! All other tasks must yield to this one. Wherefore the chief part of your diligence will be directed to governing and ordering your seminaries aright so that they may flourish equally in the soundness of their teaching and in the spotlessness of their morals. Regard your seminary as the delight of your hearts, and neglect on its behalf none of those provisions which the Council of Trent has with admirable forethought prescribed. And when the time comes for promoting the youthful candidates to holy orders, ah! do not forget what Paul wrote to Timothy: "Impose not hands lightly upon any man" (I. Tim. v., 22), bearing carefully in mind that as a general rule the faithful will be such as are those whom you call to the priesthood. Do not then pay heed to private interests of any kind, but have at heart only God and the Church and the eternal welfare of souls so that, as the Apostle admonishes, "you may not be partakers of the sins of others" (Ibid.). Then again be not lacking in solicitude for young priests who have just left the seminary. From the bottom of Our heart, We urge you to bring them often close to your breast, which should burn with celestial fire -- kindle them, inflame them, so that they may aspire solely after God and the salvation of souls. Rest assured, Venerable Brethren, that We on Our side will use the greatest diligence to prevent the members of the clergy from being drawn to the snares of a certain new and fallacious science, which savoureth not of Christ, but with masked and cunning arguments strives to open the door to the errors of rationalism and semi-rationalism; against which the Apostle warned Timothy to be on his guard, when he wrote: "Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called which some promising have erred concerning the faith" (I. Tim. vi., 20 s.). This does not prevent Us from esteeming worthy of praise those young priests who dedicated themselves to useful studies in every branch of learning the better to prepare themselves to defend the truth and to refute the calumnies of the enemies of the faith. Yet We cannot conceal, nay, We proclaim in the most open manner possible that Our preference is, and ever will be, for those who, while cultivating ecclesiastical and literary erudition, dedicate themselves more closely to the welfare of souls through the exercise of those ministries proper to a priest jealous of the divine glory. "It is a great grief and a continual sorrow to our heart" (Rom. ix., 2) to find Jeremiah's lamentation applicable to our times: "The little ones asked for bread, and there was none to break it to them" (Lam. iv., 4). For there are not lacking among the clergy those who adapt themselves according to their bent to works of more apparent than real solidity -- but not so numerous perhaps are those who, after the example of Christ, take to themselves the words of the Prophet: "The Spirit of the Lord hath anointed me, hath sent me to evangelize the poor, to heal the contrite of heart, to announce freedom to the captive, and sight to the blind" (Luke iv., 18-19).
Yet who can fail to see, Venerable Brethren, that while men are led by reason and liberty, the principal way to restore the empire of God in their souls is religious instruction? How many there are who mimic Christ and abhor the Church and the Gospel more through ignorance than through badness of mind, of whom it may well be said: "They blaspheme whatever things they know not" (Jude ii., 10). This is found to be the case not only among the people at large and among the lowest classes, who are thus easily led astray, but even among the more cultivated and among those endowed moreover with uncommon education. The result is for a great many the loss of the faith. For it is not true that the progress of knowledge extinguishes the faith; rather is it ignorance, and the more ignorance prevails the greater is the havoc wrought by incredulity. And this is why Christ commanded the Apostles: "Going forth teach all nations" (Matth. xxviii., 19).
But in order that the desired fruit may be derived from this apostolate and this zeal for teaching, and that Christ may be formed in all, be it remembered, Venerable Brethren, that no means is more efficacious than charity. "For the Lord is not in the earthquake" (III Kings xix., II) -- it is vain to hope to attract souls to God by a bitter zeal. On the contrary, harm is done more often than good by taunting men harshly with their faults, and reproving their vices with asperity. True the Apostle exhorted Timothy: "Accuse, beseech, rebuke," but he took care to add: "with all patience" (11. Tim. iv., 2). Jesus has certainly left us examples of this. "Come to me," we find Him saying, "come to me all ye that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you" (Matth. xi., 28). And by those that labor and are burdened he meant only those who are slaves of sin and error. What gentleness was that shown by the Divine Master! What tenderness, what compassion towards all kinds of misery! Isaias has marvelously described His heart in the words: "I will set my spirit upon him; he shall not contend, nor cry out; the bruised reed he will not break, he will not extinguish the smoking flax" (Is. xlii., 1, s.). This charity, "patient and kind" (1. Cor. xiii., 4.), will extend itself also to those who are hostile to us and persecute us. "We are reviled," thus did St. Paul protest, "and we bless; we are persecuted and we suffer it; we are blasphemed and we entreat" (1. Cor., iv., 12, s.). They perhaps seem to be worse than they really are. Their associations with others, prejudice, the counsel, advice and example of others, and finally an ill-advised shame have dragged them to the side of the impious; but their wills are not so depraved as they themselves would seek to make people believe. Who will prevent us from hoping that the flame of Christian charity may dispel the darkness from their minds and bring to them light and the peace of God? It may be that the fruit of our labors may be slow in coming, but charity wearies not with waiting, knowing that God prepares His rewards not for the results of toil but for the good will shown in it.
It is true, Venerable Brethren, that in this arduous task of the restoration of the human race in Christ neither you nor your clergy should exclude all assistance. We know that God recommended every one to have a care for his neighbor (Eccli. xvii., 12). For it is not priests alone, but all the faithful without exception, who must concern themselves with the interests of God and souls -- not, of course, according to their own views, but always under the direction and orders of the bishops; for to no one in the Church except you is it given to preside over, to teach, to "govern the Church of God which the Holy Ghost has placed you to rule" (Acts xx., 28). Our predecessors have long since approved and blessed those Catholics who have banded together in societies of various kinds, but always religious in their aim. We, too, have no hesitation in awarding Our praise to this great idea, and We earnestly desire to see it propagated and flourish in town and country. But We wish that all such associations aim first and chiefly at the constant maintenance of Christian life, among those who belong to them. For truly it is of little avail to discuss questions with nice subtlety, or to discourse eloquently of rights and duties, when all this is unconnected with practice. The times we live in demand action -- but action which consists entirely in observing with fidelity and zeal the divine laws and the precepts of the Church, in the frank and open profession of religion, in the exercise of every kind of charitable works, without regard to selfinterest or worldly advantage. Such luminous examples given by the great army of soldiers of Christ will be of much greater avail in moving and drawing men than words and sublime dissertations; and it will easily come about that when human respect has been driven out, and prejudices and doubting laid aside, large numbers will be won to Christ, becoming in their turn promoters of His knowledge and love which are the road to true and solid happiness. Oh! when in every city and village the law of the Lord is faithfully observed, when respect is shown for sacred things, when the Sacraments are frequented, and the ordinances of Christian life fulfilled, there will certainly be no more need for us to labor further to see all things restored in Christ. Nor is it for the attainment of eternal welfare alone that this will be of service -- it will also contribute largely to temporal welfare and the advantage of human society. For when these conditions have been secured, the upper and wealthy classes will learn to be just and charitable to the lowly, and these will be able to bear with tranquillity and patience the trials of a very hard lot; the citizens will obey not lust but law, reverence and love will be deemed a duty towards those that govern, "whose power comes only from God" (Rom. xiii., 1). And then? Then, at last, it will be clear to all that the Church, such as it was instituted by Christ, must enjoy full and entire liberty and independence from all foreign dominion; and We, in demanding that same liberty, are defending not only the sacred rights of religion, but are also consulting the common weal and the safety of nations. For it continues to be true that "piety is useful for all things" (I. Tim. iv., 8) -- when this is strong and flourishing "the people will" truly "sit in the fullness of peace" (Is. xxxii., 18).
May God, "who is rich in mercy" (Ephes. ii., 4), benignly speed this restoration of the human race in Jesus Christ for "it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Rom. ix., 16). And let us, Venerable Brethren, "in the spirit of humility" (Dan. iii., 39), with continuous and urgent prayer ask this of Him through the merits of Jesus Christ. Let us turn, too, to the most powerful intercession of the Divine Mother -- to obtain which We, addressing to you this Letter of Ours on the day appointed especially for commemorating the Holy Rosary, ordain and confirm all Our Predecessor's prescriptions with regard to the dedication of the present month to the august Virgin, by the public recitation of the Rosary in all churches; with the further exhortation that as intercessors with God appeal be also made to the most pure Spouse of Mary, the Patron of the Catholic Church, and the holy Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul.
And that all this may be realized in fulfillment of Our ardent desire, and that everything may be prosperous with you, We invoke upon you the most bountiful gifts of divine grace. And now in testimony of that most tender charity wherewith We embrace you and all the faithful whom Divine Providence has entrusted to Us, We impart with all affection in the Lord, the Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brethren, to the clergy and to your people."

The encyclical can be read in full here and I urge you to do so.

Encyclical of Pope St Pius X

This encyclical of Pope St Pius X to the Bishops and Archbishops of Italy sheds a light on one of the key motivations behind Pope St Pius X's actions and writings as well pertinent and important observations on the necessity of obedence and the evil of modernism in the Clergy. As the encyclical is fairly short I have presented it in full below:



Encyclical of Pope Pius X promulgated on July 28, 1906.

To the Venerable Brethren, the Archbishops, and Bishops of Italy.
Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Blessing.
Our soul is fearful of the strict rendering that We shall one day be called upon to make to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Pastors, concerning the flock He entrusted to Our care. We pass each day with great solicitude in preserving as much as possible the faithful from the dangerous evils that afflict society at the present time. Therefore, We consider addressed to Us the words of the Prophet: "Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet."(1) Accordingly, sometimes by speech and sometimes by letter We constantly warn, beseech, and censure, arousing, above all, the zeal of Our Brethren in the Episcopate so that each one of them will exercise the most solicitous vigilance in that portion of the flock over which the Holy Spirit has placed him.
The cause which now moves Us to raise Our voice is of very serious importance. It demands all the attention of your mind and all the energy of your pastoral office to counteract the disorder which has already produced the most destructive effects. If this disorder is not radically removed with a firm hand, even more fatal consequences will be felt in the coming years. In fact, Venerable Brethren, We have letters, full of sadness and tears, from several of you, in which you deplore the spirit of insubordination and independence displayed here and there among the clergy. Most assuredly, a poisonous atmosphere corrupts men's minds to a great extent today, and the deadly effects are those which the Apostolic Saint Jude formerly described: "These men also defile the flesh, disregard authority, deride majesty."(2) That is to say, over and above the most degrading corruption of manners there is also an open contempt for authority and for those who exercise it. What overwhelms Us with grief, however, is the fact that this spirit should creep into the sanctuary even in the least degree, infecting those to whom the words of Ecclesiasticus should most fittingly be applied: "Their generation, obedience and love."(3) This unfortunate spirit is doing the damage especially among young priests, spreading among them new and reprehensible theories concerning the very nature of obedience. In order to recruit new members for this growing troop of rebels, what is even more serious is the fact that such maxims are being more or less secretly propagated among youths preparing for the priesthood within the enclosure of the seminaries.
We therefore consider it Our duty, Venerable Brethren, to appeal to your conscience to see that you do not spare any effort and with a firm hand and constant resolve you do not hesitate to destroy this evil seed which carries with it such destructive consequences. Never forget that the Holy Spirit has placed you to rule. Remember Saint Paul's command to Titus: "Rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise thee."(4) Be firm in demanding that obedience from your priests and clerics which is a matter of absolute obligation for all the faithful, and constitutes the most important part of the sacred duty of priests.
Take the proper means necessary for the diminution of these quarrelsome souls. Bear well in mind, Venerable Brethren, the Apostle's warning to Timothy: "Do not lay hands hastily upon anyone."(5) In fact, haste in admitting men to Sacred Orders naturally opens the way to a multiplication of people in the sanctuary who do not increase joy. We know that there are cities and dioceses where, far from there being any reason to lament the dearth of clergy, the clergy greatly exceed the needs of the faithful. Venerable Brethren, what reason is there for imposing hands so frequently? In those places where the lack of clergy is no sufficient reason for haste in so important a matter and the clergy are more numerous than the requirements demand, nothing excuses from the most delicate caution and the greatest exactitude in selecting those who are to receive the sacerdotal honor. The eagerness of the aspirants is no excuse for haste. The priesthood that Jesus Christ instituted for the salvation of souls is by no means a human profession or office which anyone desiring it for any reason can say he has a right to receive. Therefore, let the Bishops call young men to sacred orders, not according to the desires or pretexts of the aspirants, but, as the Council of Trent prescribes, according to the needs of the dioceses. In this task they can select only those who are really suitable and dismiss those who have inclinations contrary to the priestly vocation. The most dangerous of these inclinations are a disregard for discipline and that pride of mind which fosters it.
In order that young men who display qualities suitable for the sacred ministry may not be lacking, Venerable Brethren, We wish to insist most earnestly on what We have already frequently pointed out. That is to say, you have a very serious obligation before God of guarding and fostering most solicitously the proper conduct of the seminaries. Your priests will be as you have trained them. The letter of December 8, 1902, which Our most prudent Predecessor addressed to you as a testament from his long Pontificate is very important.(6) We desire to add nothing new to it; We shall merely remind you of the rules it lays down. We especially recommend the immediate execution of Our orders, published through the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, on the concentration of the seminaries especially for the study of philosophy and theology. In this way the great advantage resulting from the separation of the major and minor seminaries and the no less great advantage of the necessary instruction of the clergy will be secured.
Let the seminaries be jealously guarded in order that a proper atmosphere will be maintained. Let them always be destined exclusively for preparing youths, not for civil careers, but for the noble vocation of being ministers of Christ. Let philosophy, theology, and the related sciences, especially Sacred Scripture, be studied along the lines of pontifical directives: according to the teaching of Saint Thomas which Our venerable Predecessor so often recommended, and We Ourselves recommended in the Apostolic Letter of January 23, 1904.(7) Therefore, let the Bishops exercise the most prudent vigilance towards the professors' teachings. Let them recall those who run after certain dangerous novelties to their sense of duty. If they do not profit from these warnings, let them be removed-cost what it may -- from their teaching position. Young clerics are forbidden to frequent the universities unless the Bishops think there are very good reasons and necessary precautions have been taken. Seminarians are absolutely forbidden to take part in external activities. Accordingly. We forbid them to read newspapers and periodicals, excepting, in the case of the latter, those with solid principles and which the Bishop deems suitable for their study. Let discipline continue to be fostered with renewed vigor and vigilance. Finally, in every seminary there must be a spiritual director. He is to be a man of extraordinary prudence and experienced in the ways of Christian perfection. With untiring zeal he must train the young men in solid piety, the primary foundation of the spiritual life. Venerable Brethren, if these rules are conscientiously and religiously followed they will be your sure guarantee of seeing a clergy growing up around you which will be your joy and your crown.
If these instructions are not observed, the problem of insubordination and independence which We now lament will be even more aggravated by some of the younger clergy and cause even more harm. This is especially so since those who are subject to this reprobate spirit are not lacking, and, abusing the sacred office of preaching, they are its outspoken promoters and apostles, to the detriment and scandal of the faithful.
On July 31, 1894, Our Predecessor, through the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, called the Bishops' attention to this very serious problem.(8) The regulations and norms set up in that Pontifical document We now affirm and renew, commanding the Bishops to form their conscience according to it, lest the words of the Prophet Nahum might be applied to any of them: "Thy shepherds have slumbered."(9) No one can have the faculty of preaching "unless he first be approved of in life, knowledge and morals."(10) Priests of other dioceses should not be allowed to preach unless they have testimonial letters from their own Bishop. Let the subject of their sermons be that which the Divine Savior indicated when He said: "Preach the gospel(11) . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you."(12) Or, according to the Council of Trent, "announcing to them the vices they should avoid and the virtues they should follow in order to escape eternal punishment and attain heavenly glory."(13) Therefore, let those arguments better suited to journalistic campaigns and lecture halls be completely banished from the holy place. Let moral preaching be preferred to sermons which are, to say the least, fruitless. Let the preacher speak "not in the persuasive words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power."(14) The principal source, therefore, from which preaching will derive its strength will be the Sacred Scriptures, understood not according to the private judgment of minds very frequently blinded by passions, but according to the traditions of the Church and the interpretations of the holy Fathers and Councils.
According to these rules, Venerable Brethren, you should judge those to whom you will entrust the ministry of the divine word. Whenever you find any of them departing from these rules, being more concerned with their own interests than those of Jesus Christ and more anxious for worldly applause than the welfare of souls, warn and correct them. If that proves insufficient, be firm in removing them from an office for which they have proven themselves unworthy. You should be especially diligent in employing this vigilance and severity since the ministry of preaching belongs in a special way to you, and is one of the chief functions of the Episcopal Office. Whoever outside your rank preaches, he does so only in your name and in your place. It follows, therefore, that you are always responsible before God for the way in which the bread of the divine word is distributed to the faithful. In order to remove all responsibility from Our shoulders, We notice and command all Ordinaries to discontinue or suspend, after charitable warnings, any preacher, be he secular or regular, and even if it be during a course of sermons, who does not completely obey the regulations laid down in the above-mentioned Instruction of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. Better by far would it be if the faithful were satisfied with the simple homilies and explanations of the Catechism their parish priests offer them than to attend sermons that do more harm than good.
Another field where the junior clergy find a wide scope and great stimulus for maintaining and advocating exemption from every bond of legitimate authority is the so-called Popular Christian Action. This action, Venerable Brethren, is not in itself reprehensible, nor by its nature does it lead to contempt of authority. Many, however, misunderstanding its nature, have voluntarily abandoned the rules laid down for its promotion by Our Predecessor of immortal memory.
You are aware that We are referring to the Instruction on Popular Christian Action which, by command of Leo XIII, the Sacred Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs issued on January 27, 1902, and which was sent to each one of you to carry out in your dioceses.(15) For Our part, We maintain and, with the fullness of Our power, We renew these instructions with each and every one of their regulations. Similarly We confirm and renew all the orders We issued in the motu proprio of December 18, 1903, on Popular Christian Action(16) along with the Circular Letter dated July 28, 1904, of Our beloved son, the Cardinal Secretary of State.(17)
Concerning the founding and directing of newspapers and periodicals, the clergy must faithfully follow Article 42 of the Apostolic Constitution "Officiorum," namely, "Clerics are forbidden to direct newspapers or periodicals without the previous consent of the Ordinaries."(18) Similarly, without the previous consent of the Ordinary, no cleric can publish any kind of writing, be it concerned with a religious, moral, or merely technical subject. Before the founding of circles and societies their rules and constitutions must be examined and approved by the Ordinary. No priest or cleric can lecture on Popular Christian Action or any other subject without the permission of the Ordinary of the place. Language which might inspire aversion for the higher classes is, and can only be regarded as, altogether contrary to the true spirit of Christian charity. Likewise, all terms smacking of an unhealthy novelty in Catholic publications are condemnable, such as those deriding the piety of the faithful, or pointing out a new orientation of the Christian life, new directions of the Church, new aspirations of the modern soul, a new social vocation of the clergy, or a new Christian civilization.
While it is a very praiseworthy thing for the clergy, and especially the younger clergy, to go to the people, nevertheless, they must proceed in this matter with due obedience to authority and the commands of their ecclesiastical superiors. In devoting themselves according to this submission to the cause of Popular Christian Action, their noble duty must be "to rescue the children of the people from ignorance of spiritual and eternal things, encouraging them by their kindness to live honestly and virtuously; to strengthen adults in the faith, fortifying them in the practice of the Christian life by removing all contrary influences; to foster among the Catholic laity those institutions which are really instrumental in improving the moral and material welfare of the masses; and above all, to defend the principles of evangelical justice and charity, applying equally to everyone the rights and duties of civil society. . . Let them, moreover, be ever mindful that even among the people the priest should inviolately preserve his novel character as a minister of God, being placed at the head of his brethren for their salvation.(19) In devoting himself to the people should he do anything contrary to the dignity of the priesthood or ecclesiastical duties or discipline, he must be rebuked."(20)
Moreover, Venerable Brethren, in order to erect an effective bulwark against this extravagance of thought and extension of the spirit of independence, by Our authority, We absolutely forbid all clerics and priests to give their names in the future to any society that does not have Episcopal approbation. In a very special manner, under penalty of exclusion from Sacred Orders for clerics and suspension "ipso facto a divinis" for priests, We forbid them to become members of the National Democratic League, whose program was issued from Roma-Torrette on October 20, 1905. Its statutes were published the same year by the Provisional Committee of Bologna without the name of their author.
Being concerned about the present state of the Italian clergy and the importance of the subject, the solicitude of Our Apostolic Office demanded Us to issue these directives. We must now once again arouse your zeal, Venerable Brethren, in order that these arrangements and regulations will be quickly and fully carried out in your dioceses. Prevent the evil where fortunately it has not yet appeared. Suppress it immediately where it is beginning to spring up. Wipe it out with a firm and resolute hand where unfortunately it has already ripened. Making this a matter of conscience for you, We pray that God will fill you with the spirit of prudence and necessary firmness. For that reason, from the bottom of Our heart, We impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.
Given at Saint Peter's, Rome, on July 28, 1906, the third year of Our Pontificate.


1  Is. 58 v 1 
2 Jude 8
3 Ecclus 3 v 1
4 Titus 2 v 15
5 1 Tim 5 v 22
6 ASS 35:257
7 ASS 36:467
8 ASS 27:162
9 Nahum 3 v18
10 Council of Trent, Session 5 
11 Mark 16 v 15 
12 Matthew 28 v 20
13 Loc. Cit.
14 I Cor 2 v 4
15 ASS 34:401
16 ASS 36:339
17 ASS 37:19
18 ASS 30:39
19 St Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care, 2:7
20 Encyclical letter 'Fin dal principio'  of Pope Leo XIII, December 8, 1902. "

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Encyclical 'Fin Dal Principio' by Pope Leo XIII

Whilst this encyclical doesnt at first sight appear to be entirely relevant to those discerning Vocations, it has some very relevant and apt observations on the priesthood and those aspiring to it, I've quoted the relevant sections below:

"On the education of the Clergy 

From the beginning of our Pontificate having gravely considered the serious conditions of society, we are not slow to recognize, as one of the most urgent duties of the Apostolic office, that of devoting a most special care to the education of the clergy.
We see in fact that all our designs to bring about a restoration of Christian life among our people, would be in vain if in the ecclesiastical state the sacerdotal spirit was not preserved intact and vigorous. This we have not ceased to do, as far as was possible to us, both with institutions and writings directed to that end. And now a particular solicitude regarding the clergy of Italy moves us, venerable brethren, again to treat on this subject of so great importance. It is true, beautiful and continued testimonies have been shown of learning, piety and zeal, among which we are glad to praise the alacrity with which, seconding the impulse and direction of their bishops, they cooperate in that Catholic movement which we have so much at heart. We cannot altogether, however, hide the preoccupation of our soul at seeing for some time past a certain desire of innovation insinuating itself here and there, as regards the constitution as well as the multiform actions of the sacred ministry. Now it is easy to foresee the grave consequences which we should have to deplore if a speedy remedy were not applied to this innovating tendency.
Therefore, in order to preserve the Italian clergy from the pernicious influences of the times, we deem it opportune, venerable brethren, to recall in this our letter, the true and invariable principles that should regulate ecclesiastical education and the entire sacred ministry. The Catholic priesthood-divine in its origin, supernatural in its essence, immutable in its character, is not an institution that can accommodate itself with ease to human systems and opinions. A participation of the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ, it must perpetuate even to the consummation of ages the same mission that the Eternal Father confided to His Incarnate Word: "Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos."' To work the eternal salvation of souls will always be the great commandment of which it must never fall short, as to faithfully fulfil it, it must never cease to have recourse to those supernatural aids and those divine rules of thought and of action which Jesus Christ gave His Apostles when He sent them throughout the whole world to convert the nations to the Gospel. Therefore St. Paul in his letters reminds us that the priest can never be anything but the legate, the minister of Christ, the dispenser of His mysteries, and he represents him to us as dwelling in a high place  as a mediator between heaven and earth, to treat with God, about the supreme interests of the human race, which are those of everlasting life. The idea that holy books give us of the Christian priesthood, is that it is a supernatural institution superior to all those of earth, and as far separated from them as the divine is from the human.
This same high idea is clearly brought out by the works of the Fathers, the laws of the Roman Pontiffs, and the Bishops, by the decrees of the Councils, and by the unanimous teaching of the Doctors and of the Catholic schools. Above all, the tradition of the Church with one voice proclaims that the priest is another Christ, and that the priesthood though exercised on earth merits to be numbered among the orders of heaven; because it is given to them to administer things that are wholly celestial and upon them is conferred a power that God has not trusted even to the angels; a power and ministry which regard the government of souls, and which is the art of arts.Therefore, education, studies, customs, and whatever comprises the sacerdotal discipline have always been considered by the Church as belonging entirely to herself, not merely distinct, but altogether separate from the ordinary rules of secular life. This distinction and separation must, therefore, remain unaltered, even in our own times, and any tendency to accommodate or confound the ecclesiastical life and education with the secular life and education must be considered as reproved, not only by the traditions of Christian ages, but by the apostolic doctrine itself and the ordinances of Jesus Christ.
Certainly in the formation of the clergy and the sacerdotal ministry, it is reasonable that regard should be had to the varied conditions of the times. Therefore we are far from rejecting the idea of such changes as would render the work of the clergy still more efficacious in the society in which they live, and it is for that reason that it has seemed necessary to us to promote among them a more solid and finished culture, and to open a still wider field to their ministry; but every other innovation which could in any way prejudice what is essential to the priest must be regarded as altogether blameworthy. The priest is above all constituted master, physician and shepherd of souls, and a guide to an end not enclosed within the bounds of this present life. Now he can never fully correspond if he is not well versed in the science of divine and sacred things, if he is not furnished with that piety which makes a man of God; and if he does not take every care to render his teachings valuable by the efficacy of his example, conformably to the admonition given to the sacred pastor by the Prince of the Apostles: "Forma facti gregis ex animo."For those who watch the times and the changeable condition of society, these are the right and the greatest gifts that could shine in the Catholic priest, together with the principles of faith; every other quality natural and human would certainly be commendable, but would not have with regard to the sacerdotal office anything but secondary and relative importance. If, therefore, it is reasonable and just that the clergy should accommodate themselves as far as is permitted to the needs of the present age, it is still more necessary that the present depravity of the century should not be yielded to, but strongly resisted; and this while corresponding naturally to the high end of the priesthood, will also render their ministry still more fruitful by increasing its dignity, and therefore gaining it respect. It is seen everywhere how the spirit of naturalism tends to penetrate every part of the social body, even the most healthy; a spirit which fills the minds with pride and causes them to rebel against every authority; depraves the heart and turns it after the desire of earthly goods, neglecting those eternal.
It is greatly to be feared that some influence of this spirit, so evil, and already so widely diffused, might insinuate itself even among ecclesiastics, particularly among those of less experience. What sad effects would not arise if that gravity of conduct which belongs to the priest, should be in any way lessened; if he should yield with lightness to the charm of every novelty; if he should deport himself with pretentious indocility towards his superiors; if he should lose that weight and measure in discussion which is so necessary, particularly in matters of faith and morals.
Would it not be a still more deplorable thing, causing as it would the ruin of Christian people, if he, in the sacred ministry of the pulpit, should introduce language not conformable to his character of a preacher of the Gospel? Moved by such considerations we feel it our duty again and still more warningly to recommend that above all things the Seminaries should with jealous care keep up a proper spirit with regard to the education of the mind as well as to that of the heart. They must never lose sight of the fact that they are exclusively destined to prepare young men not for merely human offices, however praiseworthy and honorable, but for that higher mission, which we lately spoke of, as ministers of Christ and dispensers of the mysteries of God. From such a reflection altogether supernatural, it will be easy, as we have already said in our Encyclical to the clergy of France, dated September 8, 1899, to draw precious rules, not merely for the correct education of clerics, but also to remove far from the institutes in which they are educated, every danger, whether external or internal, or of a moral or religious order.
With respect to the studies, in order that the clergy should not be strangers to the advancement of all good discipline, everything that is truly useful or good will be recognized in the new methods; every age can contribute to the knowledge of human learning. However, we desire that on this subject, great attention shall be paid to our prescriptions regarding the study of classic literature., principally philosophy, theology, and the like sciences-prescriptions which we have given in many writings, chiefly in the above-mentioned Encyclical, of which we send you an extract, together with the present. It would certainly be desirable that the young ecclesiastics should all follow the course of studies always under the shadow of the sacred institutes. However, as grave reasons sometimes render it necessary that some of them should frequent the public universities, let it not be forgotten with what and how great caution bishops should permit this.
We desire likewise that they should insist on the faithful observance of the rules contained in a still more recent document, which in a particular manner regards the lectures on anything else that could give occasion to the young men to take part in external agitations. Thus the students of the seminaries, treasuring up this time, so precious and full of the greatest tranquillity for their souls, will be able to devote themselves entirely to those studies which will render them fitted for the grand duties of the priesthood, particularly that of the ministry of preaching and the confessional. They should reflect well on the gravity of the responsibilities of those priests who in spite of the great need of the Christian people neglect to devote themselves to the exercise of the sacred ministry, and of those also who, not bringing to it an enlightened zeal for both the one and the other, correspond sadly with their vocation in things which are of the greatest importance in the salvation of souls.
Here we must call your attention, venerable brethren, to the special instruction which we wish given regarding the ministry of the Divine Word;and from which we desire they should draw copious fruit. With respect to the ministry of the confession: let them remember how severe are the words of the most enlightened and mildest of moralists towards those who, without purifying their own souls, do not hesitate to seat themselves in the tribunal of Penance, and how not less severe is the lament of the late great Pontiff, Benedict XIV., who numbers among the greatest calamities of the Church the defect in confessors of a science, both theological and moral, added to the gravity that such a holy office requires.
To the noble end of preparing worthy ministers of the Lord, it is necessary, venerable brethrens to watch with an ever-increasing vigor and vigilance not only over the scientific instruction, but also over the disciplinary and educative systems of your seminaries. Do not accept young men other than those who exhibit well-founded desires of consecrating themselves for ever to the ecclesiastical ministry.Keep them removed from contact and still more from living together with youths who are not aspiring to the sacred ministry. Such intercourse may, for certain just and grave reasons, be allowed for a time, and with great caution, until they can be properly provided for according to the spirit of ecclesiastical discipline. Those who during the course of their education shall manifest tendencies little suited to the priestly vocation, must be dismissed, and in admitting clerics to the sacred orders the utmost discretion must be used, according to the grave admonition of St. Paul to Timothy, "Manus cito nemini imposueris." In this matter it is only right that every consideration should be put on one side that is inferior to the most important one of the dignity of the sacred ministry. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that in order to render the pupils of the sanctuary living images of Jesus Christ (which is the end of ecclesiastical education), that the directors and teachers should unite to the diligent fulfilment of their office the example of a truly priestly life. The exemplary conduct of those in authority is, especially to young men, the most eloquent and persuasive language to inspire in their souls the conviction of their own duties and the love of virtue."

You can read the full encyclical here 

'Shall I be a Priest?' and 'Vocations' by Rev Fr William Doyle, S.J

Rev Fr William Doyle, S.J was a saintly Irish Jesuit who wrote extensively regarding vocations in the early 20th century, he was appointed as the Military Chaplain of the 16th Irish Division and died whilst ministering to his flock during the battel of Ypres on August 16, 1917. You can read more about his extraordinary life here  and a book on his life may be purchased here

I'll admit to being slightly bias as both 'Shall I be a priest' and 'Vocations' have been immensely helpful to me personally but I can honestly say that they are full of practical wisdom, sound theology and extensive references to Doctors of the Church and other preeminent theologians. I am clearly not alone in my opinion as both of the pamphlets sold tens of thousands of copies when they were published.

'Shall I be a priest?' can be accessed here

'Vocations' can be accessed here

'Dignity and Duties of a Priest' by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Its very difficult to get a hold of this work by St Alphonsus Ligouri with virtually the only books available being print to order, something thats criminal considering its a monumental work written by a Doctor of the Church.

Luckily the website of the former Transalpine redemptorists has an online library with numerous hard to find books and this is one of them, check it out here

Do I have a Vocation ?

St Thomas Aquinas Seminary, the SSPX seminary in the USA have a useful guide on their website written by Fr Barielle, the first spiritual director for the seminary at Econe and chosen for this task by Archbishop Lefebvre himself.

It can be read here

I urge everyone to read it, regardless of your position on The Society, as it is a most useful and brief guide.

Encyclical of Ven. Pope Pius XII on Consecrated Virginity

The encyclical 'Sacra Virginitas' of Ven. Pope Pius XII makes for essential reading for all those considering vocations whether to the priesthood or to religious life, whether they be man or woman. As with the previous encyclical of Ven. Pope Pius XII I will provide only the highlights below and the rest can be read here :

 Encyclical of Pope Pius XII on Consecrated Virginity March 25, 1954

Holy virginity and that perfect chastity which is consecrated to the service of God is without doubt among the most precious treasures which the Founder of the Church has left in heritage to the society which He established.
This assuredly was the reason why the Fathers of the Church confidently asserted that perpetual virginity is a very noble gift which the Christian religion has bestowed on the world. They rightly noted that the pagans of antiquity imposed this way of life on the Vestals only for a certain time; and that, although in the Old Testament virginity is ordered to be kept and preserved, it is only a previous requisite for marriage; and furthermore, as Ambrose writes, "We read that also in the temple of Jerusalem there were virgins. But what does the Apostle say? 'Now all these things happened to them in figure', that this might be a foreshadowing of what was to come "
Indeed, right from Apostolic times this virtue has been thriving and flourishing in the garden of the Church. When the Acts of the Apostles say that Philip the deacon was the father of four virgins, the word certainly refers to their state of life rather than to their age. And not much later Ignatius of Antioch salutes the virgins,who together with the widows, formed a not insignificant part of the Christian community of Smyrna. In the second century, as St. Justin testifies, "many men and women, sixty and seventy years old, imbued from childhood with the teachings of Christ, keep their integrity."Gradually the number of men and women who had vowed their chastity to God grew; likewise the importance of the office they fulfilled in the Church increased notably, as We have shown more at length in Our apostolic constitution, "Sponsa Christi."
Further, the Fathers of the Church, such as Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, and many others, have sung the praises of virginity. And this doctrine of the Fathers, augmented through the course of centuries by the Doctors of the Church and the masters of asceticism, helps greatly either to inspire in the faithful of both sexes the firm resolution of dedicating themselves to God by the practice of perfect chastity and of persevering thus till death, or to strengthen them in the resolution already taken.

Innumerable is the multitude of those who from the beginning of the Church until our time have offered their chastity to God. Some have preserved their virginity unspoiled, others after the death of their spouse, have consecrated to God their remaining years in the unmarried state, and still others, after repenting their sins, have chosen to lead a life of perfect chastity; all of them at one in this common oblation, that is, for love of God to abstain for the rest of their lives from sexual pleasure. May then what the Fathers of the Church preached about the glory and merit of virginity be an invitation, a help, and a source of strength to those who have made the sacrifice to persevere with constancy, and not take back or claim for themselves even the smallest part of the holocaust they have laid on the altar of God. And while this perfect chastity is the subject of one of the three vows which constitute the religious state,and is also required by the Latin Church of clerics in major orders and demanded from members of Secular Institutes, it also flourishes among many who are lay people in the full sense: men and women who are not constituted in a public state of perfection and yet by private promise or vow completely abstain from marriage and sexual pleasures, in order to serve their neighbor more freely and to be united with God more easily and more closely.
To all of these beloved sons and daughters who in any way have consecrated their bodies and souls to God, We address Ourselves, and exhort them earnestly to strengthen their holy resolution and be faithful to it.
However, since there are some who, straying from the right path in this matter, so exalt marriage as to rank it ahead of virginity and thus depreciate chastity consecrated to God and clerical celibacy, Our apostolic duty demands that We now in a particular manner declare and uphold the Church's teaching on the sublime state of virginity, and so defend Catholic truth against these errors."
Those therefore, who do not marry because of exaggerated self-interest, or because, as Augustine says, they shun the burdens of marriage or because like Pharisees they proudly flaunt their physical integrity, an attitude which has been condemned by the Council of Gangra lest men and women renounce marriage as though it were something despicable instead of because virginity is something beautiful and holy, -- none of these can claim for themselves the honor of Christian virginity.
Moreover, the Apostle of the Gentiles, writing under divine inspiration, makes this point: "He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. . . And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and spirit."
This then is the primary purpose, this the central idea of Christian virginity: to aim only at the divine, to turn thereto the whole mind and soul; to want to please God in everything, to think of Him continually, to consecrate body and soul completely to Him.
This is the way the Fathers of the Church have always interpreted the words of Jesus Christ and the teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles; for from the very earliest days of the Church they have considered virginity a consecration of body and soul offered to God. Thus, St. Cyprian demands of virgins that "once they have dedicated themselves to Christ by renouncing the pleasures of the flesh, they have vowed themselves body and soul to God . . . and should seek to adorn themselves only for their Lord and please only Him." And the Bishop of Hippo, going further, says, "Virginity is not honored because it is bodily integrity, but because it is something dedicated to God. . . Nor do we extol virgins because they are virgins, but because they are virgins dedicated to God in loving continence." And the masters of Sacred Theology, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, supported by the authority of Augustine, teach that virginity does not possess the stability of virtue unless there is a vow to keep it forever intact. And certainly those who obligate themselves by perpetual vow to keep their virginity put into practice in the most perfect way possible what Christ said about perpetual abstinence from marriage; nor can it justly be affirmed that the intention of those who wish to leave open a way of escape from this state of life is better and more perfect.
Moreover the Fathers of the Church considered this obligation of perfect chastity as a kind of spiritual marriage, in which the soul is wedded to Christ; so that some go so far as to compare breaking the vow with adultery. Thus, St. Athanasius writes that the Catholic Church has been accustomed to call those who have the virtue of virginity the spouses of Christ. And St. Ambrose, writing succinctly of the consecrated virgin, says, "She is a virgin who is married to God." In fact, as is clear from the writings of the same Doctor of Milan, as early as the fourth century the rite of consecration of a virgin was very like the rite the Church uses in our own day in the marriage blessing.
For the same reason the Fathers exhort virgins to love their Divine Spouse more ardently than they would love a husband had they married, and always in their thoughts and actions to fulfill His will. Augustine writes to virgins: "Love with all your hearts Him Who is the most beautiful of the sons of men: you are free, your hearts are not fettered by conjugal bonds . . . if, then, you would owe your husbands great love, how great is the love you owe Him because of Whom you have willed to have not husbands? Let Him Who was fastened to the cross be securely fastened to your hearts." And this in other respects too is in harmony with the sentiments and resolutions which the Church herself requires of virgins on the day they are solemnly consecrated to God by inviting them to recite these words: "The kingdom of this earth and all worldly trappings I have valued as worthless for love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom I have seen, loved, believed, and preferred above all else." It is nothing else but love of Him that sweetly constrains the virgin to consecrate her body and soul entirely to her Divine Redeemer; thus St. Methodius, Bishop of Olympus, places these beautiful words on her lips: "You yourself, O Christ, are my all. For you I keep myself chaste, and holding aloft my shining lamp I run to meet you, my Spouse." Certainly it is the love of Christ that urges a virgin to retire behind convent walls and remain there all her life, in order to contemplate and love the heavenly Spouse more easily and without hindrance; certainly it is the same love that strongly inspires her to spend her life and strength in works of mercy for the sake of her neighbor.
As for those men "who were not defiled with women, being virgins," the Apostle John asserts that, "they follow the Lamb wherever he goes." Let us meditate, then, on the exhortation Augustine gives to all men of this class: "You follow the Lamb because the body of the Lamb is indeed virginal. . . Rightly do you follow Him in virginity of heart and body wherever He goes. For what does following mean but imitation? Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example, as the Apostle Peter says 'that we should follow in his footsteps'."Hence all these disciples and spouses of Christ embraced the state of virginity, as St. Bonaventure says, "in order to become like unto Christ the spouse, for that state makes virgins like unto Him." It would hardly satisfy their burning love for Christ to be united with Him by the bonds of affection, but this love had perforce to express itself by the imitation of His virtues, and especially by conformity to His way of life, which was lived completely for the benefit and salvation of the human race. If priests, religious men and women, and others who in any way have vowed themselves to the divine service, cultivate perfect chastity, it is certainly for the reason that their Divine Master remained all His life a virgin. St. Fulgentius exclaims: "This is the only-begotten Son of God, the only-begotten Son of a virgin also, the only spouse of all holy virgins, the fruit, the glory, the gift of holy virginity, whom holy virginity brought forth physically, to whom holy virginity is wedded spiritually, by whom holy virginity is made fruitful and kept inviolate, by whom she is adorned, to remain ever beautiful, by whom she is crowned, to reign forever glorious."

And here We think it opportune, Venerable Brothers, to expose more fully and to explain more carefully why the love of Christ moves generous souls to abstain from marriage, and what is the mystical connection between virginity and the perfection of Christian charity. From our Lord's words referred to above, it has already been implied that this complete renunciation of marriage frees men from its grave duties and obligations. Writing by divine inspiration, the Apostle of the Gentiles proposes the reason for this freedom in these words: "And I would have you to be without solicitude. . . But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife; and he is divided." Here however it must be noted that the Apostle is not reproving men because they are concerned about their wives, nor does he reprehend wives because they seek to please their husbands; rather is he asserting clearly that their hearts are divided between love of God and love of their spouse, and beset by gnawing cares, and so by reason of the duties of their married state they can hardly be free to contemplate the divine. For the duty of the married life to which they are bound clearly demands: "They shall be two in one flesh." For spouses are to be bound to each other by mutual bonds both in joy and in sorrow.It is easy to see, therefore, why persons who desire to consecrate themselves to God's service embrace the state of virginity as a liberation, in order to be more entirely at God's disposition and devoted to the good of their neighbor. How, for example, could a missionary such as the wonderful St. Francis Xavier, a father of the poor such as the merciful St. Vincent de Paul, a zealous educator of youth like St. John Bosco, a tireless "mother of emigrants" like St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, have accomplished such gigantic and painful labors, if each had to look after the corporal and spiritual needs of a wife or husband and children?
There is yet another reason why souls desirous of a total consecration to the service of God and neighbor embrace the state of virginity. It is, as the holy Fathers have abundantly illustrated, the numerous advantages for advancement in spiritual life which derive from a complete renouncement of all sexual pleasure. It is not to be thought that such pleasure, when it arises from lawful marriage, is reprehensible in itself; on the contrary, the chaste use of marriage is ennobled and sanctified by a special sacrament, as the Fathers themselves have clearly remarked. Nevertheless, it must be equally admitted that as a consequence of the fall of Adam the lower faculties of human nature are no longer obedient to right reason, and may involve man in dishonorable actions. As the Angelic Doctor has it, the use of marriage "keeps the soul from full abandon to the service of God."
It is that they may acquire this spiritual liberty of body and soul, and that they may be freed from temporal cares, that the Latin Church demands of her sacred ministers that they voluntarily oblige themselves to observe perfect chastity.And "if a similar law," as Our predecessor of immortal memory Pius Xl declared, "does not bind the ministers of the Oriental Church to the same degree, nevertheless among them too ecclesiastical celibacy occupies a place of honor, and, in certain cases, especially when the higher grades of the hierarchy are in question, it is a necessary and obligatory condition."

Consider again that sacred ministers do not renounce marriage solely on account of their apostolic ministry, but also by reason of their service at the altar. For, if even the priests of the Old Testament had to abstain from the use of marriage during the period of their service in the Temple, for fear of being declared impure by the Law just as other men, is it not much more fitting that the ministers of Jesus Christ, who offer every day the Eucharistic Sacrifice, possess perfect chastity? St. Peter Damian, exhorting priests to perfect continence, asks: "If Our Redeemer so loved the flower of unimpaired modesty that not only was He born from a virginal womb, but was also cared for by a virgin nurse even when He was still an infant crying in the cradle, by whom, I ask, does He wish His body to be handled now that He reigns, limitless, in heaven?"
It is first and foremost for the foregoing reasons that, according to the teaching of the Church, holy virginity surpasses marriage in excellence. Our Divine Redeemer had already given it to His disciples as a counsel for a more perfect life. St. Paul, after having said that the father who gives his daughter in marriage "does well," adds immediately "and he that gives her not, does better." Several times in the course of his comparison between marriage and virginity the Apostle reveals his mind, and especially in these words: "for I would that all men were even as myself. . . But I say to the unmarried and to widows: it is good for them if they so continue, even as I." Virginity is preferable to marriage then, as We have said, above all else because it has a higher aim: that is to say, it is a very efficacious means for devoting oneself wholly to the service of God, while the heart of married persons will remain more or less "divided."

We feel the deepest joy at the thought of the innumerable army of virgins and apostles who, from the first centuries of the Church up to our own day, have given up marriage to devote themselves more easily and fully to the salvation of their neighbor for the love of Christ, and have thus been enabled to undertake and carry through admirable works of religion and charity. We by no means wish to detract from the merits and apostolic fruits of the active members of Catholic Action: by their zealous efforts they can often touch souls that priests and religious cannot gain. Nevertheless, works of charity are for the most part the field of action of consecrated persons. These generous souls are to be found laboring among men of every age and condition, and when they fall worn out or sick, they bequeath their sacred mission to others who take their place. Hence it often happens that a child, immediately after birth, is placed in the care of consecrated persons, who supply in so far as they can for a mother's love; at the age of reason he is entrusted to educators who see to his Christian instruction together with the development of his mind and the formation of his character; if he is sick, the child or adult will find nurses moved by the love of Christ who will care for him with unwearying devotion; the orphan, the person fallen into material destitution or moral abjection, the prisoner, will not be abandoned. Priests, religious, consecrated virgins will see in him a suffering member of Christ's Mystical Body, and recall the words of the Divine Redeemer: "For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you covered me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me. . . Amen I say to you, as long you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me." Who can ever praise enough the missionaries who toil for the conversion of the pagan multitudes, exiles from their native country, or the nuns who render them indispensable assistance?" To each and every one We gladly apply these words of Our Apostolic Exhortation, "Menti Nostrae:" ". . . by this law of celibacy the priest not only does not abdicate his paternity, but increases it immensely, for he begets not for an earthly and transitory life but for the heavenly and eternal one."
The fruit of virginity is not only in these external works, to which it allows one to devote oneself more easily and fully, but also in the earnest prayer offered for others and the trials willingly and generously endured for their sake, which are other very perfect forms of charity toward one's neighbor. To such also the servants and spouses of Christ, especially those who live within the convent or monastery walls, have consecrated their whole lives.

Finally, virginity consecrated to Christ is in itself such an evidence of faith in the kingdom of heaven, such a proof of love for our Divine Redeemer, that there is little wonder if it bears abundant fruits of sanctity. Innumerable are the virgins and apostles vowed to perfect chastity who are the honor of the Church by the lofty sanctity of their lives. In truth, virginity gives souls a force of spirit capable of leading them even to martyrdom, if needs be: such is the clear lesson of history which proposes a whole host of virgins to our admiration, from Agnes of Rome to Maria Goretti.
Virginity fully deserves the name of angelic virtue, which St. Cyprian writing to virgins affirms: "What we are to be, you have already commenced to be. You already possess in this world the glory of the resurrection; you pass through the world without suffering its contagion. In preserving virgin chastity, you are the equals of the angels of God." To souls, restless for a purer life or inflamed with the desire to possess the kingdom of heaven, virginity offers itself as "a pearl of great price," for which one "sells all that he has, and buys it." Married people and even those who are captives of vice, at the contact of virgin souls, often admire the splendor of their transparent purity, and feel themselves moved to rise above the pleasures of sense. When St. Thomas states "that to virginity is awarded the tribute of the highest beauty," it is because its example is captivating; and, besides, by their perfect chastity do not all these men and women give a striking proof that the mastery of the spirit over the body is the result of a divine assistance and the sign of proven virtue..."
This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was, as We have already said, revealed by our Divine Redeemer and by the Apostle of the Gentiles; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the holy council of Trent, and explained in the same way by all the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Finally, We and Our Predecessors have often expounded it and earnestly advocated it whenever occasion offered. But recent attacks on this traditional doctrine of the Church, the danger they constitute, and the harm they do to the souls of the faithful lead Us, in fulfillment of the duties of Our charge, to take up the matter once again in this Encyclical Letter, and to reprove these errors which are so often propounded under a specious appearance of truth.
First of all, it is against common sense, which the Church always holds in esteem, to consider the sexual instinct as the most important and the deepest of human tendencies, and to conclude from this that man cannot restrain it for his whole life without danger to his vital nervous system, and consequently without injuring the harmony of his personality.

As St. Thomas very rightly observes, the deepest natural instinct is the instinct of conservation; the sexual instinct comes second. In addition, it is for the rational inclination, which is the distinguishing privilege of our nature, to regulate these fundamental instincts and by dominating to ennoble them.
It is, alas, true that the sin of Adam has caused a deep disturbance in our corporal faculties and our passions, so that they wish to gain control of the life of the senses and even of the spirit, obscuring our reason and weakening our will. But Christ's grace is given us, especially by the sacraments, to help us to keep our bodies in subjection and to live by the spirit.The virtue of chastity does not mean that we are insensible to the urge of concupiscence, but that we subordinate it to reason and the law of grace, by striving wholeheartedly after what is noblest in human and Christian life.
In order to acquire this perfect mastery of the spirit over the senses, it is not enough to refrain from acts directly contrary to chastity, but it is necessary also generously to renounce anything that may offend this virtue nearly or remotely; at such a price will the soul be able to reign fully over the body and lead its spiritual life in peace and liberty. Who then does not see, in the light of Catholic principles, that perfect chastity and virginity, far from harming the normal unfolding of man or woman, on the contrary endow them with the highest moral nobility.
We have recently with sorrow censured the opinion of those who contend that marriage is the only means of assuring the natural development and perfection of the human personality. For there are those who maintain that the grace of the sacrament, conferred ex opere operato, renders the use of marriage so holy as to be a fitter instrument than virginity for uniting souls with God; for marriage is a sacrament, but not virginity. We denounce this doctrine as a dangerous error. Certainly, the sacrament grants the married couple the grace to accomplish holily the duties of their married state, and it strengthens the bonds of mutual affection that unite them; but the purpose of its institution was not to make the employment of marriage the means, most suitable in itself, for uniting the souls of the husband and wife with God by the bonds of charity. Or rather does not the Apostle Paul admit that they have the right of abstaining for a time from the use of marriage, so that they may be more free for prayer, precisely because such abstinence gives greater freedom to the soul which wishes to give itself over to spiritual thoughts and prayer to God?

Finally, it may not be asserted, as some do, that the "mutual help," which is sought in Christian Marriage, is a more effective aid in striving for personal sanctity than the solitude of the heart, as they term it, of virgins and celibates. For although all those who have embraced a life of perfect chastity have deprived themselves of the expression of human love permitted in the married state, nonetheless it cannot thereby be affirmed that because of this privation they have diminished and despoiled the human personality. For they receive from the Giver of heavenly gifts something spiritual which far exceeds that "mutual help" which husband and wife confer on each other. They consecrate themselves to Him Who is their source, and Who shares with them His divine life, and thus personality suffers no loss, but gains immensely. For who, more than the virgin, can apply to himself that marvelous phrase of the Apostle Paul: "I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me." For this reason the Church has most wisely held that the celibacy of her priests must be retained; she knows it is and will be a source of spiritual graces by which they will be ever more closely united with God."

"... We think it necessary, moreover, to warn that it is altogether false to assert that those who are vowed to perfect chastity are practically outside the community of men. Are not consecrated virgins, who dedicate their lives to the service of the poor and the sick, without making any distinction as to race, social rank, or religion, are not these virgins united intimately with their miseries and sorrows, and affectionately drawn to them, as though they were their mothers? And does not the priest likewise, moved by the example of his Divine Master, perform the function of a good shepherd, who knows his flock and calls them by name? Indeed it is from that perfect chastity which they cultivate that priests and religious men and women find the motive for giving themselves to all, and love all men with the love of Christ. And they too, who live the contemplative life, precisely because they not only offer to God prayer and supplication but immolate themselves for the salvation of others, accomplish much for the good of the Church; indeed, when in circumstances like the present they dedicate themselves to works of charity and of the apostolate, according to the norms which We laid down in the Apostolic Letter "Sponsa Christi," they are very much to be praised; nor can they be said to be separated from contact with men, since they labor for their spiritual progress in this twofold way.....

 Flight and alert vigilance, by which we carefully avoid the occasions of sin, have always been considered by holy men and women as the most effective method of combat in this matter; today however it does not seem that everybody holds the same opinion. Some indeed claim that all Christians, and the clergy in particular, should not be "separated from the world" as in the past, but should be "close to the world;" therefore they should "take the risk" and put their chastity to the test in order to show whether or not they have the strength to resist; therefore, they say, let young clerics see everything so that they may accustom themselves to gaze at everything with equanimity, and thus render themselves immune to all temptations. For this reason they readily grant young clerics the liberty to turn their eyes in any direction without the slightest concern for modesty; they may attend motion pictures, even those forbidden by ecclesiastical censorship; they may peruse even obscene periodicals; they may read novels which are listed in the Index of forbidden books or prohibited by the Natural Law. All this they allow because today the multitudes are fed by this kind of amusement and publication and because those who are minded to help them should understand their way of thinking and feeling. But it is easily seen that this method of educating and training the clergy to acquire the sanctity proper to their calling is wrong and harmful. For "he that loveth danger shall perish in it;" most appropriate in this connection is the admonition of Augustine: "Do not say that you have a chaste mind if your eyes are unchaste, because an unchaste eye betrays an unchaste heart."
 No doubt this pernicious method is based upon serious confusion of thought. Indeed Christ Our Lord asserted of His Apostles, "I have sent them into the world;" yet previously He had said of them, "They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world," and He had prayed to His Heavenly Father in these words, "I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil."Motivated by the same principles, and in order to protect priests from temptations to evil, to which all those are ordinarily subject who are in intimate contact with the world, the Church has promulgated appropriate and wise laws, whose purpose is to safeguard sacerdotal sanctity from the cares and pleasures of the laity.
All the more reason why the young clergy, because they are to be trained in the spiritual life, in sacerdotal and religious perfection, must be separated from the tumult of the world before entering the lists of combat; for long years they must remain in a Seminary or Scholasticate where they receive a sound and careful education which provides them with a gradual approach to and a prudent knowledge of those problems which our times have brought to the fore, in accordance with the norms which We established in the Apostolic Exhortation "Menti Nostrae."What gardener would expose young plants, choice indeed but weak, to violent storms in order that they might give proof of the strength which they have not yet acquired? Seminarians and scholastics are surely to be considered like young and weak plants who must still be protected and gradually trained to resist and to fight.

The educators of the young clergy would render a more valuable and useful service, if they would inculcate in youthful minds the precepts of Christian modesty, which is so important for the preservation of perfect chastity and which is truly called the prudence of chastity. For modesty foresees threatening danger, forbids us to expose ourselves to risks, demands the avoidance of those occasions which the imprudent do not shun. It does not like impure or loose talk, it shrinks from the slightest immodesty, it carefully avoids suspect familiarity with persons of the other sex, since it brings the soul to show due reverence to the body, as being a member of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.He who possesses the treasure of Christian modesty abominates every sin of impurity and instantly flees whenever he is tempted by its seductions.
Modesty will moreover suggest and provide suitable words for parents and educators by which the youthful conscience will be formed in matters of chastity. "Wherefore," as We said in a recent address, "this modesty is not to be so understood as to be equivalent to a perpetual silence on this subject, nor as allowing no place for sober and cautious discussion about these matters in imparting moral instruction."In modern times however there are some teachers and educators who too frequently think it their duty to initiate innocent boys and girls into the secrets of human generation in such a way as to offend their sense of shame. But in this matter just temperance and moderation must be used, as Christian modesty demands.
This modesty is nourished by the fear of God, that filial fear which is founded on the virtue of profound Christian humility, and which creates in us utter abhorrence for the slightest sin, as Our predecessor, St. Clement I, stated in these words, "he who is chaste in flesh should not be proud, for he should know that he owes the gift of continence to another." How important Christian humility is for the protection of virginity, no one perhaps has taught more clearly than Augustine. "Because perpetual continence, and virginity above all, is a great good in the saints of God, extreme vigilance must be exercised lest it be corrupted by pride. . . The more clearly I see the greatness of this gift, the more truly do I fear lest it be plundered by thieving pride. No one therefore protects virginity, but God Himself Who bestowed it: and 'God is charity.' The guardian therefore of virginity is charity; the habitat of this guardian is humility."
 Moreover there is another argument worthy of attentive consideration: to preserve chastity unstained neither vigilance nor modesty suffice. Those helps must also be used which entirely surpass the powers of nature, namely prayer to God, the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, a fervent devotion to the most holy Mother of God.

Never should it be forgotten that perfect chastity is a great gift of God. For this reason Jerome wrote these succinct words, "It is given to those,who have asked for it, who have desired it, who have worked to receive it. For it will be given to everyone who asks, the seeker will find, to the importunate it will be opened." Ambrose adds that the constant fidelity of virgins to their Divine Spouse depends upon prayer.With that fervent piety for which he was noted St. Alphonsus Liguori taught that there is no help more necessary and certain for conquering temptations against the beautiful virtue of chastity than instant recourse to God in prayer.
 To prayer must be added frequent and fervent use of the Sacrament of Penance which, as a spiritual medicine, purifies and heals us; likewise it is necessary to receive the Eucharist, which as Our predecessor of happy memory Leo XIII asserted, is the best remedy against lust. The more pure and chaste is a soul, the more it hungers for this bread, from which it derives strength to resist all temptations to sins of impurity, and by which it is more intimately united with the Divine Spouse; "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him."

The eminent way to protect and nourish an unsullied and perfect chastity, as proven by experience time and again throughout the course of centuries, is solid and fervent devotion to the Virgin Mother of God. In a certain way all other helps are contained in this devotion; there is no doubt that whoever is sincerely and earnestly animated by this devotion is salutarily inspired to constant vigilance, to continual prayer, to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. Therefore in a paternal way We exhort all priests, religious men and women, to entrust themselves to the special protection of the holy Mother of God who is the Virgin of virgins and the "teacher of virginity," as Ambrose says, and the most powerful Mother of those in particular who have vowed and consecrated themselves to the service of God.

That virginity owes its origin to Mary is the testimony of Athanasius, and Augustine clearly teaches that "The dignity of virginity began with the Mother of the Lord." Pursuing the ideas of Athanasius, Ambrose holds up the life of the Virgin Mary as the model of virgins. "Imitate her, my daughters. . . ! Let Mary's life be for you like the portrayal of virginity, for from her, as though from a mirror, is reflected the beauty of chastity and the ideal of virtue. See in her the pattern of your life, for in her, as though in a model, manifest teachings of goodness show what you should correct, what you should copy and what preserve. . . She is the image of virginity. For such was Mary that her life alone suffices for the instruction of all. . .Therefore let holy Mary guide your way of life." "Her grace was so great that it not only preserved in her the grace of virginity, but bestowed the grace of chastity upon those on whom she gazed." How true is the saying of Ambrose, "Oh the richness of the virginity of Mary!' Because of this richness it will be very useful for religious men and women and for priests of our day to contemplate the virginity of Mary, in order that they may more faithfully and perfectly practice the chastity of their calling. But it is not enough, beloved sons and daughters, to meditate on the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary: with absolute confidence fly to her and obey the counsel of St. Bernard, "let us seek grace and seek it through Mary." In a special way entrust to her during the Marian Year the care of your spiritual life and perfection, imitating the example of Jerome who asserted, "My virginity is dedicated in Mary and to Christ."

1961 Instruction on the careful selection and training of candidates for the states of perfection and Sacred Orders

The 1961 instruction is extremely useful, very reasonable and it is truly lamentable that the modern church appears to have abandoned it, if it had kept to it many of the problems arising around those admitted to states of perfection and holy orders who were not properly formed or should never have been admitted would most likely not have happened.

I will provide the text in full below: (All credit must go to the website of The Holy Cross (SSPX) Seminary in Australia from where I copied the text with minor font and format edits, you can visit it here )


Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates
For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders

(S. C. Rel., 2 Feb., 1961).
An Instruction, Religiosorum institutio, to the Superiors of Religious Communities, Societies without vows, and Secular Institutes on the careful selection and training of candidates for the states of perfection and Sacred Orders is as follows.

Purpose, Binding Force, And Extent Of This Instruction

The Instruction Quantum Religiones

The training of religious and of others pursuing perfection and aspiring to the ranks of the clergy in the states of perfection has always been particularly close to the heart of the Sacred Congregation for Religious. Thus, in the Instruction Quantum Religiones, of 1 December, 1931, the Sacred Congregation instructed the superiors general of religious communities and clerical societies on the proper religious and clerical training of their subjects, and on the investigation to be carried out before profession and the reception of Sacred Orders.1
The main purpose of this Instruction was, in so far as human frailty may permit, to forestall serious cases of defection not only from the religious state but likewise from the sacred ranks in which religious had been enrolled through the reception of Orders.

The Purpose Of This Instruction And Its Binding Force

Now, however, without any change in the chief directives and criteria contained in the aforesaid Instruction, this Sacred Congregation proposes to take up this same question again and to treat it anew (can. 22), especially as regards the selection and training of candidates and the investigation to be made prior to professions and Sacred Orders in order that the aforesaid Instruction may be in complete harmony with subsequent developments and with later pertinent pontifical documents.

The Principal Sources Of This Instruction

In the Jubilee Year of 1950 there was held at Rome an International Congress of the States of Perfection, in which specialists summoned from all over the world on the basis of their knowledge and experience, spoke and wrote on the selection, nurturing, and perfecting of religious and clerical vocations. These discussions were published in the four-volume Acta et Documenta of the Congress. Later, congresses were held in various nations and in them the same topics were taken up.

During this same period other documents of the utmost importance appeared. These were the encyclical letter of Pope Pius XI, of immortal memory, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, of 20 December, 1935,2 and various others published by Pope Pius XII, of venerable memory, to whom the states of perfection are so indebted, such as his Exhortation to the Clergy, Menti Nostrae, of 23 September, 1950,3 his encyclical letter, Sacra Virginitas, of 25 March, 1954, his allocution, Sollemnis Conventus, of 24 June, 1939, to all clerical students and their superiors,5 his allocution, Haud Mediocri, of 11 February, 1958, to the superiors general of religious orders and congregations resident in Rome.6 and especially the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, of 31 May, 1956, on religious, clerical and apostolic training of clerics in the states of perfection.7 Nor of any lesser value are those documents which the Sovereign Pontiff, John XXIII, happily reigning, has issued on the priesthood and priestly formation, both in his solemn allocution on the occasion of the first Roman Synod and likewise in the Synodal Constitutions.8 There was also published a reserved Circular Letter of the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments on 27 December, 1955,8a addressed to local Ordinaries for secular clerics, imposing an investigation of candidates before their promotion to Orders.
Certainly it was most opportune for, and even the duty of, this Sacred Congregation to incorporate the fruits of this longstanding and rich experience and evolution into a new Instruction, which would likewise serve as a particularized commentary on the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae (cf. n. 40 and the Statuta Generalia, art. 17).

To Whom This Instruction Is Addressed

This Instruction is addressed to the superiors of religious communities, societies living the common life, and secular institutes, especially as far as the last are concerned, if their members are incorporated into the institute as clerics. Therefore, although frequently, for the sake of convenience, only religious will be mentioned, the norms and criteria set forth in this Instruction are also applicable to the members of the other states of perfection (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 16, §§ 1-2).
Likewise, although the Instruction refers especially to candidates for the clerical state, nevertheless those points which by their very nature deal with the selection and training of candidates for the states of perfection are, with due adaptations, to be applied also to lay religious, including religious women (Ibid., §3, 2°).

I. The More Common Causes Of Defection

An Inquiry Into The Causes Of Defections

It is necessary at the very outset to set down the most frequent grounds alleged for defections and to lay before superiors the reasons which religious priests claim to be the causes why they lose interest in the life they have embraced and ask the Holy See for secularization or even for "laicization," i.e., reduction to the lay state. Attention must be drawn also to the pretexts under which these same religious priests presume to leave the religious life and return to the world on their own initiative, or even make so bold as to question before the Apostolic Dicasteries their clerical obligations, especially celibacy. Once the causes of defections are known, superiors will be able to exercise more experienced care and vigilance either in examining the divine vocation of candidates or in strengthening and preserving it by their devoted efforts.

In general, the aforesaid religious claim either that they entered on this way of life and continued in it without a genuine divine vocation, or that they lost the genuine divine vocation during the period of their formation or in the early years of their ministerial life.

Undue Family Influence

Frequently such religious claim undue influence from parents and members of their family, inasmuch as they were born into a large or poor family and thus were advised either by their parents or by other relatives to leave the paternal home and go to the seminary as a happy solution of family difficulties and were even at times pressured by request, persuasion, or even disguised threats, into embracing the life of perfection and the priestly life and continuing in it. As a result, they allege that their repugnance or reluctance to accept the religious clerical state, for which they had an aversion, was broken down.

Undue Influence Of Superiors And Directors

There were also those who lay at the door of their religious superiors and their spiritual directors the responsibility for their most difficult situation, claiming that these latter, although they had noticed in them no happiness in the religious clerical life, no spirit of piety, and no zeal as they grew older, nevertheless did not hesitate to urge them on, either because they hoped the subjects would do better in the future or because they were more interested in the number than in the quality of vocations, or because, blinded by a false sense of kindness toward the candidates, they threatened them with the danger of loss of eternal salvation if they left the religious clerical state.

Ignorance Of Obligations And Lack Of Liberty In Accepting Them

Not infrequently religious priests plead insufficient knowledge of religious and clerical obligations, especially celibacy, or uncertain will in advancing to perpetual profession or Sacred Orders. If they entered a religious seminary as young boys or in their early adolescent years with only a confused knowledge of the religious and ecclesiastical vocation or with a very uncertain will, these unfortunate religious and priests claim that they never got over this state of mind, once they had completed their studies and their years of formation. Nevertheless, they did not withdraw from the path on which they had entered either because they heedlessly followed their companions according to custom, or because, being bashful and incapable of any serious decision, they unwillingly went along with the urgings and counsels of their superiors. Hence they affirm that in making profession or receiving Orders they were not sufficiently aware of the obligations of the priestly life or did not accept them with full freedom.

Fear Of An Uncertain Future

At times such candidates, on the verge of Sacred Orders or perpetual profession and somewhat mature in age, finding themselves without academic degrees and untrained in any art or liberal profession, were afraid to leave the religious life, feeling deep down in their hearts that if they returned to the world, they could not make an upright living unless by manual labor, or would be obliged to make difficult and uncertain efforts to acquire a liberal profession. Therefore they regarded the decision to continue in the religious clerical life as a lesser evil.

Difficulty With Chastity

Sometimes these religious priests affirm that it is now impossible for them to observe chastity, first because of bad habits contracted in youth, which were sometimes corrected but still never completely eradicated, and secondly because of sexual tendencies of a pathological nature, which they feel cannot be brought under control either by ordinary or extraordinary means, even those of a spiritual order, in such a way that they frequently fall into the solitary sin.

Loss Of The Religious Spirit

Lastly, not infrequently there is adduced as a cause the loss of the religious spirit either because, under the insidious impact of present-day naturalism, these priests become incapable of discipline and religious observance, or because, living in religious houses an indolent and unproductive life, deceived by the desire of life outside and ill-regulated pseudo-apostolic activism and neglecting the interior life, they fall victims to dangers of all kinds, which they do not avoid and do not even recognize.

Weakness And Subjective Character Of Such Arguments

Unfortunate religious priests bring forth these and other similar arguments, at times even attempting to make the Church responsible for their deplorable condition, as though the Church, through her ministers, had admitted them to the religious and priestly life without the necessary qualifications, or did not know how to train and protect them once they had been called unto the portion of the Lord. But, as the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments states in the above-mentioned Circular Letter: "it cannot be denied that these charges made by the priests during the trials have only a shadowy appearance of truth, for often the only proof is the statement made by the plaintiff alone, a very interested party, and not by witnesses or documents proved in court."8b Nor is this surprising since these unfortunate religious priests not infrequently take their present state of mind and psychic crisis, which has gradually evolved over a period of years, and unconsciously transfer it to the time of their profession and ordination, being unaware of the inner change which has taken place within themselves.

Removal Of All Appearance Of Justification For These Claims; Superiors' Obligation In Conscience

And yet the honor of the Church, the welfare of religious communities and the edification of the faithful demand of superiors most accurate diligence and untiring zeal in order not to provide even a vestige of foundation for priests advancing such claims.
Superiors should see to it that they be not responsible for the mistakes or errors of those in charge of selecting and training young men. This will be the case if they are culpably uninformed of the norms laid down by the Church, or ignore them, or apply them carelessly; if, ignoring the necessary discernment of spirits, they admit into religious life and allow to remain therein those who have not been called by God, or if they neglect to give proper formation to those who are evidently called and to safeguard them in their divine vocation. Therefore, this Sacred Congregation regards it as its duty to exhort superiors most earnestly always to keep before their eyes the norms herein set forth, being mindful of the grave warning of this Sacred Congregation in its Instruction, Illud Saepius, of 18 August, 1915: "When a religious leaves his order, the superior of that same order, if he has diligently examined his conscience before God, will very frequently be well aware that he himself is not without fault and has failed in his duty. This neglect of duty is often verified either in the admission of candidates or in training them to the religious life, or, after they have made vows, in keeping watch over them."9

II. The Care To Be Taken In The Selection Of Candidates For The State Of Perfection And The Clerical State
A) General Warnings

Quality Before Quantity

First of all, although vocations to the state of evangelical perfection and to the priesthood are to be promoted by every means (Stat. Gen., art. 32), still care must be taken lest an immoderate desire to increase numbers should interfere with quality and selection.
Let all be convinced that, unless great zeal for an abundance of students is closely bound up with proper care for their formation, such zeal does not produce the desired effects, and even does just the contrary. For just as it is evident that, with the help of God's grace, nothing contributes more to inspiring vocations than the exemplary life of those who have been properly formed, in the same way nothing is more conducive to impeding the growth of vocations or to suffocating them than the example of mistakes which are unfortunately beheld in those who are without proper solid formation.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice and all these things will be added unto you. We can say, and all superiors should repeat: Let us seek out quality first of all, because then, if we may use such an expression, quantity will automatically be present by itself. This will be the concern of Divine Providence. It is not our task to look for numbers, since it is not given to us to inspire vocations in souls. In this truth there is contained the whole of the theology of a vocation: it comes from God and only God can give it. It is our task to nurture this vocation, to enrich it, and to adorn it . . . This is the guarantee and promise of your future prosperity."10
As a matter of fact, experience teaches us that God favors with an abundance of vocations those religious communities which flourish with the rigor of discipline and carry out their own proper role in the Mystical Body of Christ, and that, on the contrary, those communities suffer a lack of candidates, whose members do not comply faithfully with His divine counsels.
Wherefore, those who are suffering from a shortage of vocations and anxiously devote themselves to collecting them, using at times methods and procedures which are certainly not to be recommended, would do well to exert the greatest care in training in the best way possible the candidates who spontaneously come to them or are drawn to them by prudent means and are already entrusted to them by the Church and Divine Providence.
For the rest, let us not be unmindful of the teaching of Holy Scripture, which the Sovereign Pontiff recalls to us in such timely fashion: "Gedeon, who had at his disposal an immense multitude of men apparently ready and prepared to fight all battles and conquer all difficulties, heard the voice of the Lord declaring that to accomplish hard and difficult tasks, rather than large numbers, the courage of a few was sufficient."11

Positive Signs Of A Vocation

It will be helpful to recall, then, that only those candidates can be admitted who are free of any canonical impediment and who, at the same time, show positive signs of a divine vocation, conformably to the prescriptions of the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, and the Statuta Generalia, art. 31, § 2, 1°, 2°. Let this be the first and absolute principle in selecting vocations. For, as we are clearly admonished by the same Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae: "A call from God to enter the religious or the sacerdotal state is so necessary that, if this is lacking, the very foundation on which the whole edifice rests is wanting. For whom God has not called, His grace does not move nor assist."12
The canonical fitness of the candidate for bearing the obligations of the institute (can. 538; Stat. Gen., art. 31, § 1) must be evinced by positive arguments (can. 973, §3), and it must consist in all the requirements and, according to differences in age, all the physical, intellectual and moral qualities, either of nature or of grace, whereby a young man is rightly prepared for the worthy acceptance and performance of religious and priestly obligations (Stat. Gen., art. 33).

Moral Certainty Of The Fitness Of Candidates

Candidates should not be admitted to religious seminaries except after careful investigation and the securing of detailed information on each individual. In seminaries and novitiates the necessary proofs and investigations are to be repeated with faithful observance of the General Statutes of the Apostolic Constitution Sedes Sapientiae, art. 31-34. Doubtful fitness is not enough but "as often as there still remains some prudent doubt as to the fitness of a candidate, it is wrong to permit him to contract obligations (can. 571, § 2), especially if they be definitive, (can. 575, § 1; 637).13 Still greater care must be exercised in this regard if there be question of Sacred Orders.14 The period of trial is to be continued as provided for in canon law, and all possible means must be employed which may be useful in acquiring this moral certitude" (can. 571, § 2; 574, § 2; Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 1°, 2°, 3°). Appropriately, therefore, all due proportion being guarded as to the different degrees of probation and selection, should superiors and all those engaged in deciding vocations apply to themselves the canonical prescriptions whereby the bishop is warned "that he should confer Sacred Orders on no one unless he is morally certain, by positive arguments, of the candidate's canonical fitness; otherwise, he not only sins most grievously himself but exposes himself to the danger of sharing in the sins of others" (can. 973, § 3). For the selection and training of a religious candidate is a step toward sacred ordination and in the ordination of religious, as Pius XI wisely warns, the Bishop "always places full confidence in the judgment of their superiors."15 Consequently, in case of doubt as to fitness, it is certainly unlawful to proceed further for there is involved something on which the welfare of the Church and the salvation of souls depend in a special manner, and in which consequently, the safer opinion must always be followed. "This safer opinion in the question now before us, does more to protect the best interests of ecclesiastical candidates since it turns them aside from a road on which they might be led on to eternal ruin."16

The Responsibility Of The Internal And External Forum; Both Should Use The Same Principles

In this most important task the chief responsibility lies with major superiors. It is their work to organize and direct this entire activity, to be acquainted thoroughly with the norms set down by the Apostolic See, and to make sure they are faithfully carried out. On them, consequently, in this matter lies the greatest burden of responsibility (Stat. Gen., art. 27, § 1).
But major superiors need the helpful cooperation of all who are in charge of selecting and training candidates, whether they be superiors and directors in the external forum or confessors and spiritual prefects, each within the limits of his office. For some of the signs of a divine vocation or lack of it, by their very nature, come to the knowledge of superiors in the external forum, while others, since they belong rather to the intimate realm of mind and conscience, can oftentimes be known only by confessors and spiritual directors. All these individuals accept a burden in conscience in the choice of priests and religious and in their admission to profession and to ordination, and through their ignorance or negligence they may have a share in the sins of others.
Nevertheless, they must use different methods in discharging their duties. Directors in the external forum must do their duty exteriorly according to the norms of common and particular law. The case is different with confessors who are bound by "the inviolable sacramental seal," and with spiritual directors in the stricter sense (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 28, § 2, 9°), who are likewise bound to secrecy "by virtue of the religious office they have accepted." Confessors and spiritual directors should strive, but only in the internal forum, to see that those who either are not called by God or who have become unworthy should not go farther.
But although the procedure in the internal and the external forum is different, it is of the utmost importance that "all should use the same principles in testing vocations and taking appropriate precautions to the end that young men may be prudently admitted to profession and to Orders."17

The Role Of The Confessor And The Spiritual Director

Confessors have the grave duty of warning, urging, and ordering unfit subjects, privately and in conscience, with no regard for human respect, to withdraw from the religious and clerical life. Although they may appear to have all the dispositions required for sacramental absolution, they are, nevertheless, not for that reason to be regarded as worthy of profession or ordination. The principles governing the sacramental forum, especially those pertinent to the absolution of sins, are different from the criteria whereby, according to the mind of the Church, judgment is formed on fitness for the priesthood and the religious life. Consequently, penitents who are certainly unworthy of profession and ordination can be absolved if they show proof of true sorrow for their sins and seriously promise to drop the idea of going on to the religious or clerical state, but they must be effectively barred from profession and ordination.
Likewise spiritual directors are under obligation in the non-sacramental internal forum, to judge of the divine vocation of those entrusted to them and are also under the obligation to warn and privately urge those who are unfit, to withdraw voluntarily from the life they have embraced.

The Careful Choice Of Confessors And Spiritual Directors

Lastly, using this occasion, this Sacred Congregation earnestly stresses for superiors both the importance and the necessity of carefully choosing as confessors and spiritual directors in religious seminaries men properly trained and gifted with great prudence and perspicacity in understanding the minds of the young (Stat. Gen., art. 24, § 2). Superiors themselves must encourage a watchful and uniform policy among all those dedicated to the formation of the young lest they allow unqualified candidates to ascend to Orders.

The Cooperation Of Candidates; Recommendation Of Sincerity And Docility

Finally, candidates should be prudently urged to cooperate in the formation of a correct judgment on their vocation, for to them this is of the utmost importance. They should understand correctly that leaving the religious life and the ranks of the clergy is not always and for everyone an evil. It is not an evil but is actually something good for those who are not called or are not properly disposed. Indeed, infidelity resulting in the loss of a divine vocation is certainly dangerous, but the situation would be still more serious if those who are not called or who are unworthy were blindly to take on religious and clerical obligations. Therefore, they are especially urged to practice simplicity and sincerity in opening their hearts, and docility and perfect obedience to the counsels and precepts of their confessors, directors, and superiors: "According as young men will be known for their integrity and sincerity, all the more effectively can they be assisted by their superiors, when the time comes to decide if they are divinely called to enter upon the way of perfection and to receive Sacred Orders."18
Consequently, all candidates should be well aware of the mind of the Church on the manifestation of conscience as set forth in canon 530, § 2, and as explained in the Statuta Generalia.19

The Time For Definitive Selection

As for the time when the definitive selection is to be made, every means should be diligently employed to insure that this selection takes place within the time limits determined by law. Superiors shall bear well in mind that only rarely should a further extension of probation be requested (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 34, §3). The excellent norm laid down in the encyclical letter, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, should be observed: "And although it is better not to postpone this selection unduly, since in this matter delay usually leads to error and causes harm, nevertheless, whatever may have been the motive for the delay, just as soon as it is evident that there has been a deviation from the right path, then, with no trace of human respect, the remedy must be applied."20

B) The Required Freedom

Freedom: A Sign Of A Divine Vocation

Among the requisites for a genuine divine vocation there is rightly listed the free will of the candidates or a choice free of all moral pressure along with perfect knowledge of the obligations of their state. Full freedom is prescribed by ecclesiastical law for the reception of Orders and for the validity of the novitiate and profession21 and, in virtue of art. 32, § 3 of the Statuta Generalia, in the recruitment of vocations everything must be avoided which could diminish the freedom of the candidates or improperly affect it. Particularly in the free acceptance of this counsel there is discerned the special call from God or the movement of the Holy Spirit, who interiorly enlightens and inspires a person, who has the other qualifications, to pursue the evangelical counsels or to embrace the priesthood. For the divine inspiration required by St. Pius X22 in a true vocation, or that marked attraction for sacred duties mentioned by Pius XI in his encyclical letter, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii,23 is discerned in their right propensity and intention of mind or the choice of their free will (cf. can. 538), rather than in an inner urging of conscience and sensible attraction which may be lacking.

Superiors Should Seek Out Supernatural Motives
 Since it is the task of superiors to pass judgment on the vocation of their candidates, they should the more carefully examine the spontaneous response of these candidates or the decision of their free will. Let them examine very frequently into the supernatural motives of vocations in their students, especially if they come from poor families, or are without the means of leading an upright life in the world, or are lacking academic degrees, or if they are known for narrow-mindedness, anxiety or ambivalence, worried by scruples, or completely incapable of facing up to anything important. To provide fuller knowledge of candidates, they can request of them an "historical sketch" of their vocation in so far as this may be possible. Thus they can be brought face to face with genuine personal reflection on their own vocation.
 Fatherly Help For Those Who Suffer Interior Or Exterior Trials

Superiors should not fail to remind candidates in a fatherly way that if any one, as the result of undue influence from parents or relatives, or because of financial difficulties, feels himself being forced into profession or ordination against his will, he should confidently make the situation known to his superiors or confessor. These latter should show themselves ready to provide assistance to enable the candidate to escape this danger unscathed, providing ways and means, if possible, to help him conveniently obtain a respectable livelihood in the world.24

Acquiescence To The Judgment Of Directors Of The Forum

When any student, on the advice of his confessor or spiritual director, informs his superiors that he does not have the qualifications for the priesthood, then the superior should accept this statement and make no further investigation. If the candidate in question is a subdeacon or deacon, then, with his consent, the superior should take up with the Apostolic See his reduction to the lay state.25

How To Handle The Hesitant

In the case of candidates who are undecided and apprehensive and who cannot make up their minds either to accept or leave the religious life or to receive or decline Orders, superiors should dismiss those whom they recognize as unworthy. Those whom they deem qualified should be exhorted to make vows or to agree to be ordained. Nevertheless, they should refrain from forcing profession or ordination on them and should leave the final decision to their own free will, avoiding all undue influence which could give the impression of drawing them on to profession or ordination by coaxing or by threatening spiritual disaster and the pains of hell which they would incur if they withdrew from profession or ordination.26

C) Necessary Knowledge Of The Obligations

Candidates Should Be Taught The Obligations To Be Assumed

Candidates Must make vows and receive Orders deliberately; otherwise they would not be free. Superiors are seriously obliged in conscience to make sure that aspirants and novices as well as students throughout the entire period of their studies be carefully instructed on the duties and obligations of the religious and clerical life.
The duties and obligations of the religious and clerical life should be discussed frequently by novice masters and spiritual prefects, each in his own field, by means of timely warnings and the usual instructions and exhortations. Preachers should likewise take up this subject in retreats before perpetual profession and sacred ordinations. Lastly, in their explanation of the tract on Orders, professors of moral theology should provide lectures on clerical duties and obligations, and candidates for Orders should be questioned on these points in their examinations.

Denunciation Of Temerity In Embracing The Religious And Clerical Life

It is commendable to keep the sanctity of the religious life and the dignity and excellence of the priesthood frequently placed before candidates from the very beginning and throughout the whole period of their formation, and defection from a genuine divine vocation is justly censured. But similarly, and even more severely, should rashness in embracing the religious and priestly state be denounced and its manifold dangers pointed out for those who either were not called by God or have become unworthy of a divine vocation, but who venture to make vows or to receive Sacred Orders. Superiors should form the conscience of candidates, carefully avoiding all error and confusion in their teaching on the religious and priestly vocation, and on virginity and Christian marriage. Let all be firmly convinced that the time for sounding out a vocation does not lapse completely with the first admission of the candidate, but continues on to perpetual profession and ordination to the priesthood.27

D) The Required Chastity

Importance Of This Point; Young Persons Are To Be Properly Instructed And Warned Of Its Dangers

Among the proofs and signs of a divine vocation the virtue of chastity is regarded as absolutely necessary "because it is largely for this reason that candidates for the ranks of the clergy choose this type of life for themselves and persevere in it." Consequently:
a) "Watchful and diligent care is to be taken that candidates for the clergy should have a high esteem and love for chastity, and should safeguard it in their souls.
b) "Not only, therefore, are clerics to be informed in due time on the nature of priestly celibacy, the chastity which they are to observe (cf. can. 132), and the demands of this obligation, but they are likewise to be warned of the dangers into which they can fall on this account. Consequently, candidates for Sacred Orders are to be exhorted to protect themselves from dangers from their earliest years."28
c) Although virginity embraced for the kingdom of heaven is more excellent than matrimony, nevertheless, candidates for Sacred Orders should not be unaware of the nobility of married life as exemplified in Christian marriage established by the plan of God. Therefore, let them be so instructed that, with a clear understanding of the advantages of Christian matrimony, they may deliberately and freely embrace the greater good of priestly and religious chastity.
d) But should superiors find a candidate unable to observe ecclesiastical celibacy and practice priestly chastity, then, completely ignoring any other outstanding qualities, they should bar him from the religious life and the priesthood (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 4°), conforming to the following directives and using all prudence and discretion in the application of the same, namely:

Those To Be Excluded; Practical Directives

A candidate who shows himself certainly unable to observe religious and priestly chastity, either because of frequent sins against chastity or because of a sexual bent of mind or excessive weakness of will, is not to be admitted to the seminary and, much less, to the novitiate or to profession. If he has already been accepted but is not yet perpetually professed, then he should be sent away immediately or advised to withdraw, according to individual cases, no matter what point in his formation he has already reached. Should he be perpetually professed, he is to be barred absolutely and permanently from tonsure and the reception of any Order, especially Sacred Orders. If circumstances should so demand, he shall be dismissed from the community, with due observance of the prescriptions of canon law.
Consequently, any candidate who has a habit of solitary sins and who has not given well-founded hope that he can break this habit within a period of time to be determined prudently, is not to be admitted to the novitiate. Nor can a candidate be admitted to first profession or to renewal of vows unless he has really amended his ways. But if a novice or a temporarily professed religious gives evidence of a firm purpose of amendment with good grounds for hope of success, his probation can be extended as provided for in canon law (canons 571, §2; 574, §2; 973, § 3; Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 3°).
Well-grounded hope of amendment can be provided by those youths who are physically and psychically normal or endowed with good bodily and mental health, who are noted for solid piety and the other virtues intimately connected with chastity, and who sincerely desire the religious and priestly life.
A much stricter policy must be followed in admission to perpetual profession and advancement to Sacred Orders. No one should be admitted to perpetual vows or promoted to Sacred Orders unless he has acquired a firm habit of continency and has given in every case consistent proof of habitual chastity over a period of at least one year. If within this year prior to perpetual profession or ordination to Sacred Orders doubt should arise because of new falls, the candidate is to be barred from perpetual profession or Sacred Orders (cf. above, no. 16) unless, as far as profession is concerned, time is available either by common law or by special indult to extend the period for testing chastity and there be question of a candidate who, as was stated above (no. 30, 2) affords good prospects of amendment.
If a student in a seminary has sinned gravely against the sixth commandment with a person of the same or the other sex, or has been the occasion of grave scandal in the matter of chastity, he is to be dismissed immediately as stipulated in canon 1371, except if prudent consideration of the act and of the situation of the student by the superiors or confessors should counsel a different policy in an individual case, sc., in the case of a boy who has been seduced and who is gifted with excellent qualities and is truly penitent, or when the sin was an objectively imperfect act.
If a novice or a professed religious who has not yet made perpetual vows should be guilty of the same offense, he is to be sent away from the community or, should the circumstances so demand, he is to be dismissed with due observance of canon 647, § 2, 1°. If a perpetually professed religious is found guilty of any such sin, he is to be perpetually excluded from tonsure and the reception of any further Order. If the case belongs to the external forum, he is to receive a canonical warning unless, as provided for in canons 653 and 668, there be grounds for sending him back to the world (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 4°).
Lastly, should he be a subdeacon or deacon, then, without prejudice to the above-mentioned directives and if the case should so demand, the superiors should take up with the Holy See the question of his reduction to the lay state.
For these reasons, clerics who in their diocese or religious who in another community have sinned gravely against chastity with another person are not to be admitted with a view to the priesthood, even on a trial basis, unless there be clear evidence of excusing causes or of circumstances which can at least notably diminish responsibility in conscience (Circular Letter of S. C. of the Sacraments, n. 16; Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 314).
Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.
Very special investigation is needed for those students who, although they have hitherto been free of formal sins against chastity, nevertheless suffer from morbid or abnormal sexuality, especially sexual hyperesthesia or an erotic bent of nature, to whom religious celibacy would be a continual act of heroism and a trying martyrdom. For chastity, in so far as it implies abstinence from sexual pleasure, not only becomes very difficult for many people but the very state of celibacy and the consequent loneliness and separation from one's family becomes so difficult for certain individuals gifted with excessive sensitivity and tenderness, that they are not fit subjects for the religious life. This question should perhaps receive more careful attention from novice masters and superiors of scholasticates than from confessors since such natural tendencies do not come out so clearly in confession as in the common life and daily contact.

Care Of Psychopathic Cases

In addition, special attention must be paid to those who give evidence of neuropsychosis and who are described by psychiatrists as neurotics or psychopaths, especially those who are scrupulous, abulic, hysterical, or who suffer from some form of mental disease (schizophrenia, paranoia, etc.). The same is true of those who have a delicate constitution or, particularly, those who suffer from weakness of the nervous system or from protracted psychic melancholia, anxiety or epilepsy (can. 984, 3°), or who are afflicted with obsessions. Similarly, precautions are needed in examining the children of alcoholics or those tainted with some hereditary weakness, especially in the mental order (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 33; 34, § 1). Finally, those young men are in need of special attention who manifest exaggerated attachment to the comforts of life and worldly pleasures. Superiors should carefully examine all these types and subject them to a thorough examination by a prudent and expert Catholic psychiatrist who, after repeated examinations, will be in a position to determine whether or not they will be able to shoulder, with honor to that state, the burden of religious and priestly life, especially celibacy.

III. Care In Training And Strengthening Vocations

Experienced Directors Should Be Appointed And Sought Out Wherever They May Be

After the accurate selection of vocations, superiors should have as their second principle the task of appointing excellent and experienced directors for the education of young religious conformably to art. 24 of the Statuta Generalia. "To these religious houses," advises Pius XI, "assign priests adorned with excellent virtue, and do not be afraid to take them away from other tasks which may be apparently more important but which cannot match this work of capital importance, which can be replaced by no other. Look for them also in other fields, wherever you find men capable and fit for this most noble task."29 Only if this advice is heeded will this Instruction produce any real fruit; if this counsel is not heeded, then the entire Instruction will be to no purpose.

The Qualities And Appointment Of Those In Charge Of Formation
Let all superiors, each one within his own jurisdiction, exactly carry out all the pertinent prescriptions of the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, articles 24 and 25. Two points call for special emphasis in this Instruction:
1. Responsibility for formation should not be entrusted to younger religious. It should be observed, first of all, that it is extremely dangerous to turn over to younger priests the very difficult work of religious and priestly formation and especially the task of training minds, since these younger religious have not yet fully completed their own personal formation nor achieved the maturity of age required by canon 559, § 1, nor acquired any measure of experience in the ministry.30
2. Nor should they be assigned without preparation. Secondly, superiors should beware of directors who are chosen haphazardly or who are unprepared. A natural disposition is not enough but, presupposing all the natural and supernatural gifts needed for this difficult task, they usually have a real need to study ecclesiastical pedagogy because, in this sacred discipline, those in charge of formation learn the principles, criteria, and the practical norms of clerical and religious training according to the words and the mind of the Church. On the other hand, ignorance of these principles gives rise to many lamentable evils.

Avoiding False Humanism

The Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, with the accompanying Statuta Generalia, deals with religious, clerical, and apostolic formation. Nothing needs to be added to this Constitution lest we fall into unnecessary repetitions, but some points having a particular bearing on our purpose need to be mentioned.
In the first place, those charged with the training of youth should never lose sight of the warning of Pius XII, formulated in the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, n. 23 (Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 176), where he states: "Nevertheless, though all should make much of the human and natural training of the religious cleric, the supernatural sanctification of the soul undoubtedly has the first place in the entire course of his development."
Therefore, the religious life must be defended against any appearance of false humanism or naturalism, and its supernatural character and sanctity must be safeguarded by all available means. "This is necessary particularly today, if at any time, when so-called naturalism has worked its way into the minds and souls of men."31

Natural Considerations Are Not To Be Made Light Of But Supernatural Ones Are To Be Preferred

Consequently, supernatural reasons for embracing religious vows and the priestly life should be stressed and they should be preferred to the natural virtues in the training of young religious. For rightly, in this matter, does Leo XIII warn: "It is truly difficult to understand how those imbued with Christian wisdom can prefer natural to supernatural virtues and attribute to the former greater efficacy and fecundity. Will nature, with the help of grace, be weaker than if left to its own powers? Did those most holy men whom the Church admires and openly honors show themselves weak and incompetent in the order of nature because they were outstanding for Christian virtue?"32
And Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, teaches as follows: "With regard to the resources and methods of education, those which nature itself supplies and those which are offered by the human ingenuity of the present age, if they are good, are clearly not to be neglected, but to be highly esteemed and wisely employed. However, there is no more fatal mistake than to rely exclusively or excessively on these natural means and to relegate supernatural aids and resources to a secondary place or in any way to neglect them. Because in order to attain religious and clerical perfection and apostolic results, the supernatural means, the sacraments, prayer, mortification, and the like, are not merely necessary but altogether primary and essential."33

Training In Obedience And Self-Sacrifice

On more than one occasion in these modern times the Roman Pontiffs have spoken on religious obedience and abnegation of the will, and they have enlightened us on their supernatural nature, the diligence and perfection with which religious should practice them, on dangerous doctrines on these subjects and, in particular, on the false concept of personality and a certain popular or democratic spirit which is making its way into men's minds and which makes obedience as taught and practiced by Christ our Lord altogether void of meaning.
Attention should be called to the pernicious effects on the religious life of that practical "system" which, ignoring more or less the obligations of the religious life, gives in to all the inclinations and pleasures of nature, which are not only not regarded as unlawful but are even looked upon as a postulate of our times and as a perfecting of human nature and, as a result, as something owed to nature or at least altogether permitted. Whence, upon the pretext of progress, bodily comforts and pleasures of all kinds are sought out as well as freedom for the internal and external senses, the satisfaction of one's faculties, and the indiscriminate indulgence of curiosity in regard to books, newspapers, radio, movies, television,34 profane worldly spectacles, and, lastly, a life without subjection, with ample free play for one's will and activity. All these endanger even the essential obligations of the religious life since they preclude any spirit of humility, self-sacrifice, and mortification which, on the contrary, according to the words of Christ, "If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me," (Matt. 16:24), must be taken as the foundation of the entire Christian life35 and which can be achieved only through crucifixion to the world (Gal. 6:14).
"He who is half-hearted or slothful," the Sovereign Pontiff exhorts, "who wishes to loll around in the comforts of this life, who burns with excessive thirst for human things and human knowledge, and who wants to experience all that earth can give, can neither be nor be called a true soldier of the kingdom of God. Beloved sons, take careful note of this, namely, that the secret and fruitful power of your future apostolate lies particularly in the necessary right detachment of soul from the things of earth." "The man who, shying away from the austerity of religious discipline, would want to live in a religious community just as if he were a man of the world, who seeks out according to his own will whatever seems to be to his own advantage, whatever pleases and satisfies him — would that man be worthy of Christ his Head?"36
Consequently, superiors have a grave obligation to implant the following rule of the life of perfection in the souls of their young subjects: religious may use these comforts and pleasures of life only in so far as they contribute to the pursuit of evangelical perfection and the proper exercise of the apostolate according to one's own constitutions. This norm differs not a little from the one used as a standard for the common state of the Christian life.
However, this does not prevent the acceptance of today's fine, useful discoveries when they are regarded as aids to a fuller formation, or as helps in multiplying apostolic activities and advancing perfection, carefully shunning all the extras which please and satisfy nature but which are not at all necessary for the achieving of the scope of the religious life and the apostolate.
Wherefore, buildings intended for seminaries should be built and furnished according to the norms of religious simplicity and poverty, which demand that these houses be so organized that the minds of the students will be imbued with that spirit of austerity and self-sacrifice which, by its very nature, is required both by the state of the evangelical counsels and likewise by their future apostolic life.

Students Should Be Trained For The Apostolate, But Especially For A Spiritual And Deeply Religious And Priestly Life

Lastly, it is an all too clear fact that many young men at the present time are more interested in the external activity of the apostolate, which falls in well with their particular bent of mind, than in the religious perfection of their own souls, of which they have only vague ideas and little esteem. Because of this, after some years in the active life, they are bored by religious practices whose real value they do not understand, or which they regard as hindrances to the apostolate. Then they want to be free of these observances and wish to enter the secular clergy. In order to forestall this danger, superiors, in training their students, should take very special care that the life of evangelical perfection is kept before them and explained in its various phases that they may be attracted to the religious life and be strengthened in perseverance therein, not merely out of the desire of engaging in the apostolate, but particularly from a sincere determination to pursue evangelical perfection unwaveringly through the observance of the evangelical counsels and their own constitutions (can. 593) out of an intense love of God in imitation of Jesus Christ and a supernatural desire of sanctifying their souls, because, as Pius XII notes, "the priest is by his very office an instrument for the sanctification of others, so much so that the salvation of souls and the growth of the Kingdom of God depend in a considerable degree upon his holiness."37

IV. Declarations And Investigations Required Before Profession Or Incorporation, And Before Orders

Attestation Of One's Own Vocation To Sacred Orders In The Religious Life

Since in the acceptance of religious or clerical obligations it is most important to safeguard and foster the liberty and spontaneous freedom of the candidates and to avoid completely the weakness which may be called the "follow-the-crowd" attitude, and since it is altogether proper that in serious decisions in matters affecting their own life they form the habit of thinking for themselves, the following directives shall henceforth be observed by all superiors of clerical Religious Communities, Societies and Secular Institutes.
Before temporary profession, which absolutely must precede promotion to tonsure and Minor Orders, novices are to present to their superiors a written declaration in which they attest explicitly to their vocation to the state of perfection and the clerical state, and at the same time declare their firm intention to bind themselves forever to the ranks of the clergy in the state of perfection.38 This declaration can again be demanded of temporarily professed candidates before perpetual profession. These petitions and attestations are to be preserved in the archives. Lest the students sign approved printed formulas mechanically, they should write out these declarations in their own hand and, before they sign their name, should carefully consider, in consultation with their spiritual director, each and every one of the points contained therein.

Above All, The Fitness Of The Candidate Is To Be Established Clearly

Superiors should not allow any one to be advanced to Orders, even only Minor Orders, without clear evidence, secured through careful examination, regarding his conduct, piety, modesty, chastity, inclinations for the clerical state, progress in ecclesiastical studies, and religious discipline.39 To obtain this with greater certainty, superiors should get the opinion of the spiritual prefect, if he is directly responsible for the training of the students, and that of others who, because of their special association with the students, may be in a position to have a thorough knowledge of their life and conduct.40 These opinions should not be accepted lightly but should be carefully weighed, with all due consideration of the prudence, sincerity, and maturity of judgment of those who have given them.
An authentic report of these investigations and of the outcome of these inquiries should be drawn up and kept in the archives.
Finally, the superiors, either personally or through some other experienced and prudent priest likely to win the confidence of the students, should question them carefully in order to acquire still greater certainty that they are aspiring to Orders in the religious state freely, deliberately, and for supernatural motives.

The Best Time For Conferring Sacred Orders; Major Orders Should Not Be Conferred Before Perpetual Or Definitive Profession

As regards ordination itself, this Sacred Congregation adopts the timely directives formulated by the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments in no. 14 of its Circular Letter, namely: For the more careful and immediate preparation of candidates for Orders, especially Sacred Orders, provision should be made that sacred ordinations be had at the time more fit for them, at a date well known ahead of time and never unexpectedly. As a result, it seems very appropriate to exclude the time immediately preceding or following the end of the scholastic year. At this time, as a rule, the students, tired by work and preoccupied in mind because of the examinations recently taken in sacred studies or because of those soon to be taken, lack the necessary peace of mind for being properly able to ponder the very serious business of their ordination.
As for the reception of Major Orders, superiors of the states of perfection should bear in mind that they may not promote their students to these orders before perpetual profession or incorporation (can. 964, 3°, 4°). In those states of perfection which do not have perpetual obligations or vows, superiors are likewise forbidden to promote their candidates to Sacred Orders before these vows or obligations have become definitive.41

New Inquiry Before Subdeaconate

Before candidates are admitted to the subdeaconate, superiors must make a new inquiry on the above-mentioned points (n. 39). To this end, the records of the investigation already made and preserved in the archives are to be examined anew and further testimony on the conduct and spiritual qualities of the student is to be compared with previous reports in order to see clearly what progress these young men have made since their first profession both in religious discipline and in clerical studies. After all this, if the candidates are found worthy and fit, and if there is no canonical reason for withholding them from the reception of Orders, the superiors may issue dimissorial or testimonial letters for their ordination, with due observance of the prescriptions of canon law and their own constitutions.42

Oath To Be Signed Before The Subdeaconate

In all the states of perfection, before presenting candidates for the subdeaconate, superiors must, in view of the sacred ordination which is to follow in proper time and in addition to the inquiry prescribed above, demand an attestation written personally by the candidates and confirmed under oath before the superior in the following terms:
"I, the undersigned, . . . a member of the (Order, Congregation, Society, Institute of . . . ), in presenting this petition to Superiors for the reception of the Order of the Subdeaconate, after having carefully considered the matter before God, do hereby testify under oath: 1) that in the reception of the said Sacred Order I am moved by no coercion, compulsion, or fear, but am seeking it of my own accord, and do of my own full and free will desire to embrace it together with the obligations that are attached to it. 2) I acknowledge that I am fully informed of all the obligations that flow from the aforesaid Sacred Order, and I freely embrace them, and resolve with the help of God to keep them faithfully during my entire life. 3) I declare that I clearly understand all that the vow of chastity and the law of celibacy prescribe, and I firmly resolve with the help of God to observe these obligations faithfully until the end of my life. 4) Finally, I sincerely promise that I will always, according to the sacred canons, most respectfully obey in all things which are commanded me by my Superiors according to the discipline of the Church, and am prepared to give good example both in work and in word, so that in the reception of this great office I may be worthy to receive the reward which God has promised. To all this I testify and swear upon these sacred Gospels which I touch with my hand.
This . . . . . . day of . . . 19 . . . 43
(Signed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Before Deaconate Or Priesthood Superiors Should Carefully Inquire Into The Fitness Of Candidates

Although for the Order of deaconate and priesthood it is not necessary to gather such detailed information and to require new testimonials, nevertheless, superiors should be watchful and determine whether, in the interval between the conferral of one sacred ordination and the next, any new factors may have emerged which might raise doubts on their vocation to the priesthood or show they have no vocation. In this case, after a most careful investigation and after seeking the advice of prudent men, superiors should strictly forbid the reception of any new Order and should refer the case to this Sacred Congregation, which, according to the requirements of individual cases, will decide what seems most opportune in the Lord.44

In General, Dispensations Are Not To Be Requested

Superiors should bear in mind the prescription of the Statuta Generalia, art. 34, § 3, 2°, 3°, namely: "Only in individual cases and for causes which are proportionately really serious should superiors venture to ask for dispensations concerning: . . . 2° age and the other requirements for Orders, especially Sacred Orders; 3° the organized course of studies, either as regards the individual disciplines, attendance at class, or passing examinations." Superiors of religious orders who have the faculty of anticipating sacred ordinations beyond the limits laid down by common law should, in the use of this privilege, as long as it remains in force, follow the same restrictive criterion as that formulated in art. 34. In addition, as is proper in the use of other privileges, they should comply with the practice and rules customarily observed by the S. Congregation for Religious in granting similar indults to those subject to common law.
When there is question of age, superiors should lean more toward postponing rather than anticipating ordination.

Superiors' Obligation In Conscience In Issuing Dimissorial Or Testimonial Letters

As regards the ordination of religious, in virtue of canon law major superiors either issue dimissorial letters to the ordaining Bishops (can. 964, 2°, 3°; 966, § 1) or at least they present their candidates for ordination with testimonial letters (can. 993, 5°). By these testimonial letters the religious superior not only testifies that the candidates belong to his community but also certifies that they have completed the prescribed studies, have taken the oath, and have complied with the other requirements of law (can. 995, § 1). Hence it is clear that the very serious obligation, which binds Bishops to train, test, and choose their secular candidates who wish to receive Sacred Orders, likewise extends to religious superiors to whom it pertains to permit their subjects to advance to Sacred Orders. And although, as canon law provides (can. 997, § 2), Bishops are free to disregard the declarations of superiors and to examine religious ordinands personally, nevertheless, they are not bound to do so but, before God and the Church, they may accept the testimony of superiors and throw back on them the full responsibility in conscience for the training and the worthiness of their candidates (can. 970; 995, § 2).

V. The Care Of Newly Ordained Priests

Precautions To Be Taken In The First Years Of The Priesthood; The Dangers Of Inexperience

After they have completed their course of studies and the pastoral year and have received Sacred Orders, young priests should start their ministry with all due precautions, aware of the very special dangers confronting them in the first years of their priesthood, during which, not infrequently, as Pius XII observed in his exhortation to the clergy, the great hopes entertained for young priests have apparently faded away.45
At the outset of their ministry, both because of the passions besetting their youth and because of their more frequent contacts with the world, many serious difficulties usually arise along with new kinds of temptations. And since new priests experience a certain sense of independence and feel that they must do their work in their own way in the ministry entrusted to them, they easily tend to shake off all restraint and, because of their inexperience, can fall into numerous errors and failings which may rightly be feared to lead to deplorable defections. This is why young priests sometimes think they must act on their own and introduce many reforms, disregarding the methods and systems of older priests. Lastly, they frequently are either left without any fruitful occupation or else are overloaded with self-assigned work or work which has been given to them by their superiors, not without danger to their spiritual life.

The Danger Of The "Heresy Of Action"

On this spiritual danger Pope Pius XII, of venerable memory, has warned us in the following most serious words: "We cannot refrain from expressing Our concern and Our anxiety for those who, because of special circumstances of our day and age, have too frequently so engulfed themselves in a whirl of external activity as to neglect the first duty of priests, that is to say, procuring their own personal sanctification. We have already publicly stated (cf. A.A.S., 36 [1944] — 239, Letter Cum proxime exeat) that 'those men must be recalled to the right path who rashly hold that man can be saved by what is rightly and deservedly called the "heresy of action," that kind of action, We say, which is not based on the assistance of Divine Grace and does not make constant use of the necessary means for the pursuit of sanctity provided by Jesus Christ.' "46

The Danger Of Imitating Worldly Conduct

It happens that the sacred ministry, which should be an instrument for personal sanctification, at times becomes for some people, through their own fault, an occasion for relaxation of discipline and harm to their religious spirit. Not rarely in the exercise of this ministry religious priests adopt the habits of people in the world in speech, conduct, and comportment; they violate poverty through uncontrolled use of material things; they lose esteem for regular discipline and the exercises of piety through prolonged absence from their religious house. Such priests quickly go seeking outside their religious house activities, which provide stable and permanent work in order to have a pretext for withdrawing from religious discipline.

Young Priests Should Be Introduced Into The Ministry Gradually Under The Direction Of An Experienced Guide

Superiors will forestall these difficulties if, in the first place, they effectively put into practice the excellent advice, based on experience, of the Statuta Generalia, art. 51, namely: that "the young priest should not be regarded as definitively formed and put to the test in his religious and apostolic life until, after the completion of about his thirtieth year and through personal contact with the ministry," he has rounded out his formation. In the meantime, according to the directives contained in the aforementioned exhortation of Pope Pius XII,47 young priests should be introduced gradually into the apostolic ministry, safeguarded with wise and watchful care, and paternally directed in their activities. For this reason, contact with the world should not be either abrupt, frequent, or awkward; rather it should be moderate, humble, and gracious while the young priests devote themselves to study and prayer under the direction of a skilled spiritual director and, as far as possible, the guidance of some other experienced priest assigned to assist them. For "just as long periods of time are necessary for oak trees to put down solid roots, in the same way long-standing patience is always required for the formation of a man of God. Consequently, restraints should be placed on the generous self-assurance of youth whereby they would be plunged into activity before their time, since undue haste in activity scatters rather than builds, and is both for him who indulges in it and for the apostolic ministry itself a source of harm."47

Young Priests Should Not Be Assigned To Small Houses; Interest In Those Who Are Absent

As a general rule, young priests should not be assigned to small houses but should rather be assigned where religious discipline is easily reconciled with moderate exercise of the apostolate and where the prescriptions of the preceding article can be conveniently complied with.
In addition, superiors should see to it that the aforesaid priests do not spend unduly long periods away from their religious house and, in every case, that they return to the community for the monthly day of recollection and for their retreat.
Finally, they shall exercise special vigilance over those who are absent from the religious house in what concerns their life, conduct, comportment, and the use and administration of temporal goods.49

Vacations With Relatives, At Spas And Other Worldly Centers

Superiors should not allow religious priests to spend long periods with relatives or friends for vacation or rest since this practice causes surprise to people of the world and becomes a source of criticism among their fellow-religious. Nor for purposes of health should they be permitted to make frequent visits to the homes of relatives nor given easy access to spas and other public places, which are indeed places for convalescence but are likewise centers of unrestrained and worldly satisfactions, contrary to religious decorum and spirit. If there be question of sojourns at beaches or if religious must spend time outside their house at warm springs, "they should carefully conform to the prescriptions laid down by local Ordinaries."50 For the rest, the directives enumerated by this Sacred Congregation for Religious for superiors general51 on the frequentation of spas are confirmed and once again it is recommended that religious houses be located in healthful climates where those in need of rest and treatment may occupy themselves and at the same time live their religious life.

The Reading Of This Instruction

It is of the greatest importance for the Church that the criteria and directives here set down should, first of all, be known and that they should be kept in mind and constantly put into practice. It is no less important that there should be a uniform policy in all the states of perfection and, especially, that within the same institute there should be concerted action on the part of all those dedicated to the training of youth.
Wherefore, let superiors see to it that at the beginning of each school year, in place of the Instruction Quantum Religiones, this Instruction be read or at least summarized before the superiors, masters, spiritual prefects and their assistants, confessors, and professors, as well as in monastic, general, and provincial councils.
At the same time there should be read or made known to the young candidates the prescriptions which touch them directly, such as those referring to freedom and the conditions to be complied with in embracing the religious and clerical life, the sworn declaration mentioned in n. 42, and other similar provisions.
By the faithful observance of all these directives, the task of investigating the canonical fitness of candidates for the state of perfection and Sacred Orders will meet with success; those who are not fit will be barred in time and at the very outset, and only those worthy and fit will be admitted to Sacred Orders. These, in turn, properly instructed and trained, will effectively promote the glory of God and the salvation of souls to the honor of the Church and the state of evangelical perfection.
In the audience graciously granted on 23 January, 1961, to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Religious, our Holy Father, Pope John XXIII, deigned to approve this Instruction and ordered that it be communicated to superiors of institutes of evangelical perfection.
Rome, the 2nd day of February, feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the year 1961.
S.C. Rel., 2 Feb., 1961; translated from the original Latin text; references to English versions were, of course, entered by us.
Note: Although this Instruction was not published in AAS or any other public form but was privately circulated, it is, nevertheless, referred to by the S. C. Rel. itself as "a matter of public law" (cf. below: S. C. Rel., 28 April, 1961)."

1. AAS 24 (1932) -74 -81; Enchiridion de Statibus Prefectionis, Rome, 1949, n. 363, pp. 471-479. Cf. also the Instruction Illud saepius, De Qualitatibus recipiendorum, 15 August, 1915, in Enchiridion de Stat. Perf., n. 286, pp. 340-344. English version of Quantum Religiones in Canon Law Digest, 1, pp. 473-482.
2. AAS 28 (1936)-5-533; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, 481-521.
3. AAS 42 (1950)-657-702.
4. AAS 46 (1954)-161-191.
5. AAS 31 (1939)-245-251; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n 373, pp. 530-537; Canon Law Digest, 2, pp. 427-433.
6. AAS 50 (1958) 153-161; Canon Law Digest, 5, pp. 365-374.
7. Cf. the doctrinal section in AAS 48 (1956) 354-365. The Statuta Generalia appended to this same Apostolic Constitution were printed and promulgated separately from the AAS. The references in the Instruction are to the second edition published under the direction of the Sacred Congregation for Religious. English version of doctrinal section in Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 169-182; English version of the Statuta is available from the Catholic University of America Press.
8. These documents of Pope John XXIII can be consulted in AAS 52 (1960)-179-309, and in the Prima Romana Synodus, A.D. 1960, Vatican Press.
8a.English version in Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 303-315.
8b. Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 308.
9. Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 286, p. 341.
10. Allocution of Pius XI to the General Chapter of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 14 September, 1932. Allocution of Pius XII to the superiors General, 11 February, 1958, in AAS 50 (1958)-160; Canon Law Digest, 5, p. 373.
11. John XXIII, allocution of 28 January, 1960, to the clerical students of the Diocese of Rome or residing in Rome, in AAS 52 (1960)-263; English version in The Pope Speaks, 6 (1960)-364. Prima Romana Synodus, p. 436. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936)-44; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, p. 513.
12. Apostolic Const. Sedes Sapientiae, nn. 12-13; Canon Law Digest, 4, P. 173.
13. Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 1°.
14. Ibid., n. 2°.
15. Pius XI, Encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936) Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, p. 513.
16. Pius XI, ibid., AAS 28 (1936)-41; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367; p. 511. Cf. also the Encyclical Sacra Virginitas, AAS 46 (1954)-180-181.
17. Prima Romana Synodus, 484, § 3.
18. Cf. Prima Romana Synodus, 477.
19. Cf. Stat. Gen., art. 28, § 3, 1°.
20. Pius XI, Encyc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936)-39; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, pp. 509-510.
21. Cf. canons 971; 542, 1°; 572, § 1, 4°; 2352.
22. St. Pius X, Apostolic letter, Cum primum, 4 Aug., 1913, in AAS, 5 (1913)-388; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 279, p. 331.
23. Pius XI, Encyc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936)-39; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, p. 510.
24. Circular Letter of the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments, n. 5; Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 311.
25. Ibid., n. 6; Canon Law Digest, loc. Cit.
26. Stat. Gen., art. 32, §3. Cf. Prima Romana Synodus, 467, §2. Circular Letter of the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments, n. 7; Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 311.
27. Cf. Stat. Gen., art. 39, §1, 1°.
28. Pius XII, Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-690-691; cf. Encyc. Sacra virginitas, AAS 46 (1954)-164, 170, 174, 179, 182.
29. Pius XI, Encyc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936)-37; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, p. 508.
30. Cf. Stat. Gen., art. 5l.
31. Pius XII, Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-673.
32. Leo XIII, Letter Testem benevolentiae, 12 Jan., 1899, in Acta Leonis XIII, vol. XIX, pp. 15-16.
33. Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes Sapientiae, n. 21; cf. also Pius XII, Alloc. Haud Mediocri, 11 Feb., 1958, to superiors general resident in Rome, AAS 50 (1958)-153 ff. Cf. respectively Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 175-176; 5, pp. 365 ff.
34. Cf. Sacred Congregation for Religious, Letter to the Superiors General of the Institutes of Perfection on the use of radio and television, 6 August, 1957; Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 206-209.
35. Cf. Alloc. of Pius XII, Haud Mediocri, as quoted above in note 33; Alloc. to the Superiors General, 11 Feb., 1958, in AAS 50 (1958)-156; Canon Law Digest, 5, p. 368.
36. Quotations from John XXIII and Pius XII respectively: John XXIII, Alloc. to the ecclesiastical students in Rome, AAS 52 (1960)-264; The Pope Speaks, 6 (1960)-364; Prima Romana Synodus, p. 437; Pius XII, Alloc. to the Society of Jesus assembled in General Congregation, 10 Sept., 1957, in AAS 49 (1957)-808; The Pope Speaks, 4 (1957-58)-449.
37. Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes Sapientiae, n. 23; Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 176; also his Allocution to Superiors General, 11 Feb., 1958, in AAS 50 (1958)-157; Canon Law Digest, 5, p. 370. Cf. Stat. Gen., art. 37; 40, §2, 1°, 2°; 3.
38. Cf. can. 973, § 1; Sacred Congregation for Religious, Instruction Quantum Religiones, 1 Dec., 1931, in AAS 24 (1932)-79; Ench. de Stat. Perf; n. 363, p. 477; Canon Law Digest, 1, pp. 479-80.
39. Cf. can. 973, § 1 and can. 1357, § 2.
40. Cf. Stat. Gen., art 28, § 2, 3°, 9°, 10°, and the Instruction Quantum Religiones, n. 14, as quoted above in note 38.
41. Cf. Stat. Gen., art. 8, § 1, 2°; Sacred Congregation for Religious, Instruction Quantum Religiones, n. 15, in AAS 24 (1932)-80; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 363, p. 478; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 480.
42. Sacred Congregation for Religious, Instruction Quantum Religiones, n. 16; Canon Law Digest, 1, pp. 480-481.
43. Ibid., n. 17; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 481.
44. Ibid., n. 20; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 482.
45. Pius XII, Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-692. Cf. also the Instruction Quantum Religiones, n. 10; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 478.
46. Pius XII, Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-677.
47. Ibid., p. 692.
48. Pius XII, Alloc. Quamvis Inquieti, 17 Sept., 1946, in AAS 38 (1946) -383; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 385, p. 574.
49. Cf. the Instruction of the Sacred Congregation for Religious on religious military chaplains, in AAS 47 (1955)-93-97, and the decree on religious in military service, especially articles IV and V, 30 July, 1957, in AAS 49 (1957)-871-874. For these documents respectively, see Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 152-157; 90-93.
50. Cf. Prima Romana Synodus, 87.
51. Sacred Congregation for Religious, Circular Letter of 15 July, 1926; Canon Law Digest, 3, p. 216."