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A focus on vocations to the priesthood – 1.3 A Story, a Perspective, a Development of a Call

By Fr. Hien Nguyen

1.3 A Story, a Perspective, a Development of a Call (continuation of Vocation’s reflection by Fr. Hien)

Here I would like to share a story and an experience of a person I know well who is called John to illustrate the faith that he has encountered and his vocation journey through the process of human and spiritual development in the dialectic union between his subjective self and the objective God. I will divide the story into three different stages and intertwine the encounter with means, conversions, method, structure, etc.

Egocentric Stage / Psycho-physiological / Purgation

John was a child born during the time when South Vietnam was thriving with the aid of the American. He lived a life of luxury with its conveniences. He had the best quality food that one could find in the region. In his home there were two servants who attended to the family needs. John had his own driver who drove him to day care school and picked him up afterwards. His concerns were focused on having good health, study well, eat well, sleep well, and enjoy whatever he wanted. His life could be a summarization of “riches, friends, stature, beauty, talents, etc.

Like many people, John sought for happiness in the lowest stage of the development of a human being. It was only on the appetitive, and instinctive level. He looked for immediate gratification. He lived on the psycho-physiological level that “covers the psychic activities strictly linked to the physical states of well-being or discomfort determined by the satisfaction or non-satisfaction of some fundamental physiological needs of the organism.” His happiness measured by the amount of consumption of material goods. John’s self-esteem based on his talents, success in his studies, and looks. His self-image depended upon his popularity with peers and others. It was a life of indulgence and the “I” was the priority. His values are all his actual needs and religion was an activity like school that he did and nothing more. There is no desire for God but an obligation from his parents.

John was the replica of the age where Pope John Paul II has already prophesized that “supplies material goods not just in order that they may serve man to carry out creative and useful activities, but more and more… to satisfy the senses, the excitement he derives from them, momentary pleasure, an ever greater multiplicity of sensations.” It was ever more evident on the effect and the result of what our Holy Father was so worried about. The children of this time develop to be “the child who lives only on sensations, he looks for ever-new sensations… And thus he becomes, without realizing it, a slave of this modern passion. Satiating himself with sensations, he often remains passive intellectually; the intellect does not open to search of truth; the will remains bound by habit which it is unable to oppose.”

In our field of study one can identify John’s “ego” through the functions of corporal sense, appreciation, expansion, self-image, proprium, and self-identity. All the functions and symbols described perfectly who John was and what his values were. They are supposed to be mediation values but instead became the terminal values. Life was based on the foundation of utilitarian and individualistic.

1. A. Cencini – A. Manenti, Psychology and formation: Structures and Dynamics,20.

2. John Paul II, General Audience, Wednesday, 21 March 1979, 2.

3. John Paul II, General Audience, Wednesday, 21 March 1979, 2.

4. A. Cencini