There follows a letter first printed in the district magazine of the Society of St. Pius X in the November/December issue. If I had a son about to choose his vocation in life I could not better this advice. May the good Lord have mercy on the souls of Mr. Barry and his son Peter.
My dear Peter,
Your Mother tells me you have begun to consider what you mean to be. That’s all to the good. No-one can settle that except yourself, but there are some points that may help you to decide.
First of all you have not been sent here to make money, or to have a good time. You are here in order to serve God. So consider first of all the careers which are 100% the service of God. Only if you are convinced that you can’t manage one of these are you justified in thinking of something lower down the ladder.
The 100% jobs are the priesthood (the monastic life, the foreign missions and other particular vocations). So consider these carefully first of all.
If you are sure none of these are for you, there are the jobs that come next, say 75% service of God – teaching, doctor, etc., where a man is devoting his energies to the care of other men. If he decides to be one of these, all right. But if he decides on one of these for the chances of a brilliant career or a good income, all wrong.
Lower still – business; banker; civil servant – where a man does a certain small amount of work for other men (giving employment, or administering other people’s affairs, keeping order, etc.) and that also can be done for God, but even then it is so little that it means giving a lot of spare time to direct service of God if you are not to find yourself empty-handed at the finish.
Then, the 100% no service jobs (stockbroker, bookmaker, etc.) where an awful lot of spare time service must surely be needed, because these are purely selfish jobs, containing no direct service, and not even any indirect service in the shape of work done for other men.
The decision must be yours. We have no wish and no right to influence you, because it is you, and not we, who have to live your life, and whatever career you choose, you will in the normal course be still at it 30 years after your mother and I have gone elsewhere and have no further interest in the matter. So to choose a career to please us would be very foolish.
Choose it to please God and for no other purpose. Which means choose as high as you can. There’s no loss of humility in that. You can’t even be a decent stockbroker unless God helps you, and the more you try to do to serve Him, the more you will need, and get.
Please consider these few points during Lent. Think often about them and pray to be told your job by Easter. And remember that at present your job is to work hard and pass exams. If you do your utmost to do well the job that lies immediately at hand, that is the best apprenticeship and preparation for a better job.
If you want to ask any questions or further details about any particular job, out with it. We’ll help you all we can.
God bless you,
Peter Barry went on to become a farmer and a husband and father, dying in August of 2016 at the age of 93.