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Greater Things The Story Of Saint Stanislaus Kostka by William T. Kane

CHAPTER IX VOCATION

When our Lady came to cure Stanislaus, she told him absolutely that he must become a Jesuit. That was not the first idea Stanislaus had had of his vocation. Even some months before his illness he had felt himself drawn to enter the Society of Jesus. But now, all doubts removed, he made a vow in thanksgiving to obey our Lady's command.

He went to his confessor, the Jesuit Father Doni, and told him of the vision of the Blessed Virgin and her order to become a Jesuit. Father Doni believed him readily enough, but he said:

|I can do nothing myself in the matter. You must go to the Provincial, for only he can admit you. But I am afraid there will be difficulties.|

Stanislaus was not merely afraid, he was quite certain, there would be difficulties. However, he assured Father Doni:

|Even if there be no end of difficulties, still I shall be a Jesuit. Since our Lady has commanded me, she will find a way.|

The Provincial, Father Laurence Maggi, received Stanislaus kindly, of course, yet with anything but encouragement. There had been trouble for the Society shortly before, though in another place, because of some novices admitted without their parents' consent. The Provincial did not wish to risk having a like disturbance brought about his own ears.

|But the Blessed Virgin will take care of the whole business, Father,| said Stanislaus. |She will quiet any opposition my father may make.|

Well, the Provincial was willing to believe that too. But he knew that God wants us to use our own common sense and not to act rashly and then rely upon Him, or upon our Lady's intercession with Him, to get us out of scrapes. So he had to give the only answer which prudence could give, to all Stanislaus' petitions.

|You must either get your father's permission, or you must wait until you are of age and your own master.|

Now, Stanislaus was quite certain his father would not hear for a moment of his becoming a Jesuit. On the other hand, he did not want to wait four or five years until he should come of age. He had that peculiar courage, which many people cannot understand at all, the courage to be afraid. He was very much afraid, afraid to trifle with God's grace, afraid lest if he did not take the favor now when it was offered him, it might not be offered another time.

He thought of another means of persuading the Provincial. The Apostolic Legate of Pope Saint Pius V to the court of the Emperor at Vienna was Cardinal Commendoni. This Cardinal had been Nuncio, and afterwards Legate, to Poland, and had come from Poland only a year or so before. He was well acquainted with the Lord John Kostka and with Stanislaus. When he came to Vienna, Paul and Stanislaus had visited him, and Stanislaus had made the Cardinal, as he did most people, his friend.

So he went to Cardinal Commendoni. He figured hopefully that, as the Cardinal was the Pope's representative, he could easily impose his will on the Jesuit Provincial; and of course he would do so as his friend.

Commendoni welcomed the boy, listened to him attentively, marvelled at his unaffected goodness and at the heavenly favors shown him. Stanislaus told him of the distressing obstinacy of the Provincial.

|But how about your father?| the Cardinal asked.

|Oh, my father is more hopeless than the Provincial,| Stanislaus answered. |If I so much as mentioned the matter to him, he would bring me back to Poland, and I should have no chance at all.|

As Commendoni knew the Lord John pretty well, he said nothing to that. But he thought to himself that Stanislaus was fairly accurate in his forecast.

After a moment's thought, he said:

|You certainly have a right to follow your vocation. God's will comes before even your father's. But it is not going to be easy. However, I shall speak to the Father Provincial, and do what I can.|

Stanislaus went away with good hopes. He was to return in a few days to hear the result of Commendoni's plea. But when he came back to the Cardinal, he found only another disappointment. The Provincial not merely was as stubborn as ever, he had even won the Cardinal to his way of thinking. It was too risky to admit him, it was altogether unwise.

Most boys might have given up after that. Stanislaus did not give up. He was quite sure of what God wanted, and difficulties simply did not count. lie was called to be a Jesuit, and a Jesuit he would be. If he could not gain admission into the Society in Vienna, well, he would try elsewhere.

But even with his mind fairly made up, he sought more guidance. A young Portuguese Jesuit, Father Antoni, had lately come to Vienna as preacher to the Empress Maria. Every one was talking about his ability, his prudence, his zeal. Stanislaus went to him, and laid his troubles before him.

Father Antoni took some little time to think it all over, then decided very definitely. He called Stanislaus to him.

|Do you understand,| he asked, |what it will mean to go away, to leave your people, to live in a strange country?|

Stanislaus said, yes, he understood perfectly.

|And that you are closing the door on your return, that in no case will you ever be received again at Kostkov?|

Yes, Stanislaus knew that too.

|And that you will have to go an immense journey on foot, with plenty of hardships; to find at the end of it a life that is not easy, to live at the beck and call of another, to do menial work, to endure humiliations, to sacrifice everything that the world holds. dear?|

Stanislaus smiled at him. He had reckoned it all out, he had |counted the cost| long before, he was ready.

Then, in God's name, go! | said Father Antonie |And may God be with you in all. I'll give you letters to Father Canisius, the Provincial in Augsburg, and to Father Francis Borgia, the General, who is in Rome.|

Then Stanislaus was happy. At last he was in a fair way to obey the command of God, which our Lady herself had brought him. Father Antoni spoke with him longer, pointed out in detail many of the difficulties that awaited him, gave him counsel for the road. Then he went to write the letters of introduction, and Stanislaus went back to Paul and Bilinski and their blows and sneers, to get ready for his tramp.

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