We must not doubt that God in His mercy has allocated to each one a task that is to be completed in this world. The same applies to the religious life, and if God chooses someone for this way of life He may include some early signs of this vocation. These signs can manifest themselves not only by good conduct, or some special talents, but mainly by an attraction towards spiritual exercises, by great modesty, tenderness of conscience, deference to colleagues, etc. If these characteristics, instead of developing over time, begin to slowly fade or even disappear completely, that must be attributed to negative external influences or the negligence of the people assigned to educate the boy… If a boy, as often happens in our day, lived some time in an unfavorable environment, it is quite a different matter, especially when at the age of twelve or thirteen he begins to think about another profession, or if the family is poor and without the resources to educate the boy, the parents may want to entrust him to us to ensure his future. This is often the case, although these boys should be accepted only by way of exception.
First you have to give them an education suitable to their age, but a very thorough one, and you must be able to teach them good habits in living a deeper life. That is the touchstone, after which you can discern whether they are called to live as Carmelites or not. Only I, who went through hellish educational institutions, can attest to the truth of this assertion… We have seen promising people who have just left the family home shaken in faith, and sometimes even lapsing badly soon after their first contact with peers.”
Saint Raphael of St. Joseph Kalinowski
Reflections on vocation discernment, 1892
Tierney, T 2016, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: Apprenticed to Sainthood in Siberia, Balboa Press, Bloomington, IN