What Is A Vocation?
The Priesthood. By the Most Rev. Wilhelm Stockums, D.D.
Vocation to the Priesthood; A Doctrinal Treatment of Its Essence and Marks, By the same author. (Herder, Rs. each vol.) ReViewed by GERALD VANN, O.P.
The first volume discusses the divine institution, the essence, the purpose, of the Christian priesthood; and applies the OMclusions reached to the relationship between the priesthood and the people, the world, the priest himself.
The second volume deals with the origins of priestly vocation, the necessary elements in it—physical, intellectual, moral qualities, right intention, freedom of choice. One cannot help regretting that the author, desiring to make clear what differentiates the vocation to the priesthood from other callings, should have argued in favour of restricting the term " vocation " itself to this particular sphere; to-day more perhaps than ever before it is essential to restore the idea of vocation in regard to every walk of life, if the evils attendant on the idea of " jobs " as mere means of livelihood are to be eliminated.
Again, in rejecting, in conformity with the Roman decision of 1912, the Sulpician idea of vocation as a matter primarily of more or less emotional " attraction," and, on the other hand, in emphasising the supernaturality, the " mystery " involved, Dr. Stockums has not stressed as fully as he might, one feels, the primary importance of the natural and objective pre-conditions, though of course they are treated.
Of both books equally it must be said that they would have gained immensely by a certain amount of compression, and still more by a happier idiom in the translation; the style is such as to negative the vitality and actuality of the author's treatment. Despite these facts, the books will more than repay a careful reading; they will be of value both as reading for retreats, and as guides in the question of examining, or directing, vocations.
The incidental commentaries on New Testament texts are of particular interest, and the treatment of freedom of choice, which includes a discussion of the possibility, indeed the fact, of a criminal coercion in one form or another, is of particular importance. at least the distinction was recognised in those days, while it is only within the last decade or so that we have cleared away much of the legalist and conventional tangles that have grown round the moral theology of St. Thomas.
" Woe to the day when law shall kill the study of letters," Giraldus Cambrensis heard this prophecy in the schools and lived to sec it fulfilled. With this book a namesake comes to make it void.