(By St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)
It is evident that our eternal salvation depends principally upon the choice of our state of life. Father Granada calls this choice the chief wheel of our whole life. Hence, as when in a clock the chief wheel is deranged the whole clock is also deranged, so, in the order of our salvation, if we make a mistake as to the state to which we are called, our whole life, as St. Gregory says, willbe an error.If, then, in the choice of a state of life we wish to secure our eternal salvation, we mustembrace that to which God calls us, in which alone God prepares for us the efficacious meansnecessary to our salvation. For, as St. Cyprian says: “The grace of the Holy Ghost is according tothe order of God, and not according to our own will”; and therefore St. Paul writes: “Every one hath his proper gift from God” (1 Corinthians 7:7). That is, as Cornelius à Lapide explains it,God gives to every one his vocation, and chooses the state in which He wishes him to be saved.This is the order of predestination described by the same apostle: “Whom he predestinated, themhe also called; and whom he called, them he also justified,... and them he also glorified”(Romans 8:30).We must remark that in the world this doctrine of vocation is not much studied by somepersons. They think it to be all the same, whether they live in the state to which God calls them,or in that which they choose of their own inclination, and therefore so many live a bad life anddamn themselves.But it is certain that this is the principal point with regard to the acquisition of eternal life.He who disturbs this order and breaks this chain of salvation will not be saved. With all hislabors and with all the good he may do, St. Augustine will tell him: “Thou runnest well, but outof the way;” that is, out of the way in which God has called you to walk for attaining tosalvation. The Lord does not accept the sacrifices offered up to him from our own inclination:“But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect” (Genesis 4:5). He even threatens with greatchastisements those who, when he calls them, turn their backs on him in order to follow thewhims of their own caprice. “Woe to you, apostate children,” he says through Isaias, “that youwould take counsel and not of me, and would begin a web and not by my spirit” (Isaias 30:1).