Pham Dinh Cu

Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2020.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Hung Pham, S.J.


Many candidates in the Jesuit Candidate House of Vietnam have shared that their vocation began with desires. We do not judge whether they are good or bad desires, but we can sure that those desires were influenced by various factors: culture, society, traditions, family background, and so on. This study is the discovering that in Ignatian spirituality, desire can direct people to God, giving them a foundation and criterion for discerning their vocation. Desire can also transform their spiritual life.

First, it presents an overview of the Vietnamese context, including the Catholic Church, religious vocations, and Jesuit vocations and presents opportunities and challenges for the discernment of religious vocations in general, and Jesuit vocations particularly. Then it will examine texts from selected authors in the history of Christian spirituality. These writings contribute key aspects of understanding desire. The center point for this study is focusing on the works of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Autobiography and the Spiritual Exercises to discuss on Ignatius’ desires and his experiences of how to deal with these desires with God’s help. These examples from Ignatius suggest the importance of desire in Ignatian spirituality and its relevance to discernment of vocation. Finally it will suggest the exercises for a three days discernment of vocation, based on the exercise “the Call of the King” (Sp.Ex. 95).

Through the Exercise “The Call of The King,” we discover a way to transform human desires. Jesus transforms their desires by inviting them to share with Him what is God’s dream for Him and for them. Jesus’ desire transforms them from sinners to become God’s friends and His disciples. This Exercise can be a meaningful tool in a discernment of vocation not only for the Jesuit Candidate House in Vietnam but also for any formation house helping young people find a better way to follow Jesus. This study is a response to the need of a discernment of vocation for young people in religious orders.

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