Personal Introduction

Welcome! My name is John Roselle, SJ, and I took lifelong ("perpetual") vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Jesuit on August 13th, 2011 after a two-year novitiate. I am now a Jesuit Scholastic for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus. I will study philosophy and theology for the next three years at Loyola University in Chicago. At the same time, I will do part-time ministry in some capacity with the poor. After that, I will likely teach for three years before finishing three more years of theology. Then, God willing, I will be ordained a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest! It's a long road, but a blessed, fun, and enriching one. This blog exists as a resource for friends, family, and others who are interested in my progress through the Jesuit process of formation. Every day is its own adventure, and I am happy to have you along with me to share in this. This blog contains my own personal thoughts and should not be taken to speak for the entire Society of Jesus. Feel free to contact me. God bless you!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rediscovering Animation

My first love, my first passion, was for animation.  It was my first sense of vocation, where my skills (as an artist), desires (to touch hearts), and the needs of people (for meaningful films) seemed to meet.  I still love a great animated film, and last night I went to see a compilation of the animated shorts that have received Oscar nominations and commendations this year.  They were outstanding!  Some were hilarious and punchy (such as a 6 min. satirical piece promoting the practice of polluting as much as possible) and others were quiet and contemplative (such a trip through the travel journal of a tourist to Madagascar).  The genre of animation is continually innovative, and I am offering the links to websites for some of the shorts, along with reflections on one of them.  If you find an independent movie theater that is showing this compilation, don't miss it if you too appreciate animation!

"Urs" (made in Germany)

Urs shows the desolate landscape of an impoverished man and his very elderly mother.  The man seeks to bring his mother over the mountains to a better place (where the light shines over the mountain-top), but she wants to stay put.  The audience witnesses the son's striving but also his neglect of the signs of the actual desires and needs of his mother.  At one point on the journey they are shivering at night.  All that is needed is for him just to hold his fragile mother in his brawny arms, but he does not.  In the end, we see the perilous, disastrous effects of his blinded pursuit of the mountains.

What does this have to do with real life?  It reminds me of how we can become so consumed with our ambitions (even well-intentioned ones), without doing what it truly vital.  In the Ignatian tradition of the "magis" (in Latin, the "more"), St. Ignatius invites us to look upon the crucified Christ and ask "What have I done for Christ?  What am I doing for Christ?  What more (magis) shall I do for Christ?"  It is often remarked that the magis does not mean a quantitative "more" but a qualitative "more."  It's about doing what is truly effective, excellent, and appropriate to the circumstances.  That might actually mean doing less.  I know on the Spiritual Exercises one of the most profound moments was being drawn to embracing Jesus, placing my head upon His heart, as he was being nailed to the Cross.  There was nothing I could do except to be with Him.  Of course God wants us to do His work on earth, but above all, He wants us to be with Him.  That is the lesson I was reminded of in Urs.

Here is another contemplative animated short:

Here is a link to reviews of all the Oscar animated shorts:

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Despicable Me" and the Goodness of the Human Person

Is anyone disposable?  Is anyone inherently evil?  These are key questions unexpectedly addressed in Despicable Me, a phenomenally clever and captivating computer-animated film starring Steve Carrell.  Here is a link to the trailer:

I saw Despicable Me on the way to the March for Life, which was quite provident, given that it involves three orphans (i.e., unwanted children) who are nefariously used by Gru, an unrepentant super-villain bent on
one-upping his rival villain.  Is Gru 100% depraved?  Well, from a Catholic perspective, although Gru suffers the effects original sin (a severe wounding of the human soul via the rejection of God's goodness by our original parents), he also bears the "imago Dei," the image of God.

In their song "Economy of Mercy" the band Switchfoot says "we are bruised and broken masterpieces, but we did not paint ourselves."  That's it!  The question is whether even Gru--cunning and uncaring--is a "masterpiece"?  The filmmakers do a fine job of showing the layers of Gru's soul in order to better understand him and what might be an avenue of redemption in his life.

And what about us?  Are we fundamentally "despicable" due to our turning from God, or are we fundamentally glorious due to who we are as God's beloved sons and daughters, adopted in Christ Jesus?  I'll paraphrase what I once heard a Jesuit priest say about the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession): people don't go to Confession because they are bad; they go to Confession because deep-down they are good.  Moreover, I'd add they go to Confession because God is SO GOOD.

Despicable Me is an uncannily privileged encounter with Goodness.  As Jesuits, we seek to "find God in all things."  Grace turns up in unexpected places (even especially in the least among us, such as unwanted children), and that grace can be totally transformational if we will cooperate with it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Paddy Gilger SJ on Why it Takes SO LONG to Become a Jesuit Priest

"On the Road to Priesthood"

I’ve been a Jesuit for nearly nine years now and still I have over two years to wait until I’m ordained a priest.  One thing we can say for sure about the Jesuit road to the priesthood: it’s long.  But why?  Why so long?  That’s a good question.  Let me do my best to answer by describing how I got started walking this road. 

I came to Omaha, Nebraska and to Creighton University in 1998 a bright-eyed, good-hearted, brash teenager.  Like all 674 other kids in my class I wanted to be a doctor.  I was eager to understand the world and fix everything in it… as long as that didn’t disturb my previously scheduled engagements (e.g., fraternity date parties and the dorm-mandated 4 hours a day of playing Bond: Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64…  Yes, I’m old.  Let’s move on). 

Meeting the Jesuits there was a little like a slap in face. 

I had practiced my faith before.  I went to Church.  I said prayers sometimes.  I’d even listened to at least one DC Talk song.  That all counted, right?  Sure it did.  What I’d never encountered before was a group of men so ready to sacrifice; who were accessible, fun, engaged, and yet had undergone so much intellectual and spiritual training (is it a coincidence that I love Jesuit training and still get pumped up every single time a training montage comes on in Rocky???  I think not).  They were M.D.’s and Ph.D.’s, and yet talked about Jesus and the loved the Church.  Who were these guys?  As you can tell, I was sucker punched.   So, after a few years – after I’d thought about it, talked about it, prayed about it – I was in.

Thinking back on all this many years later I have to be honest: I don’t think I’d ever considered that anything deserved the kind of dedication I saw these guys giving to Jesus through the Church.  And that was attractive.  That was persuasive.  That was holy.  But at that time, it wasn’t a call to the priesthood per se that I felt; it was more a call to give my whole life to something purely good, something that could use me up for the Gospel.  It’s taken years of walking this road for that raw desire to get honed down (like Rocky getting toned down by running those frozen Russian mountains in Rocky Four!).  It’s taken years for that rough longing to get sharpened into the desire to be a Jesuit priest in the Catholic Church.

Let’s skip forward to today.

A few weeks ago my grandpa died.  He was 85, an Irishman and (God love him) a Cubs fan, and he died surrounded by his eight kids and his wife of 61 years.  As deaths go, it was a good one.  Of course I went to the funeral, and because of the kindness of the parish priest who presided, I was able to minister at the wake, parts of the funeral and even the internment.  It was a great gift that I was given, and that my family was given in turn.

As I sat in Omaha’s Eppley Airport on my way back to California, I did a little Examen over the years that had gotten me to this point of being able to minister to my own family at my own grandfather’s funeral.  What was it that I did during those days of family, of gathering and mourning?  It seems pretty straightforward actually.  As best I could I tried to be a conduit, a hollow passway, for God to get at my family and vice versa.  It wasn’t the only way for God to get through (it’s an awful Holy world after all), but a way, a good way, during a tough time, for getting at God and vice versa.  And isn’t that (amongst many other Holy things after all) what Jesus was too?  A hollow passway for getting at his Father?

Anyway, in the interest of rigorous honesty, I have to say with 95% certainty that I would’ve thrown up a lot more blocks (of arrogance, self-reliance, brashness, etc.) to God had I not been given the gift of these nine formative years, had I not been trained-up, hollowed-out so well. 

So, that’s my best answer as to why it takes so long to be a priest this Jesuit way.  And as to why I’m so grateful for the years as well.  Sometimes it’s the words of the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore that I want to use to describe this gratitude:

“Thou has made me endless, such is thy pleasure.  This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life. 
“This little flute of a reed thou has carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
“At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy and give birth to utterance ineffable.
“They infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.  Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.”

I hope you’ll forgive a plug here at the close.  It’s just this: don’t be afraid to come join John, Br. Pat and I on this Jesuit way to God.  The people of God need and deserve talented, loving young men to form for the service of the people of God. 
Thanks for letting me share.

Paddy Gilger, SJ

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Young Nuns Coming to John Carroll!!!

At John Carroll University, I am blessed to help support a Catholic devotional group called Alpha Omega.  We are bringing in a phenomenal group of 4 nuns (from a teaching order that is bursting at the seams with vocations!).  There is quite a bit of excitement surrounding their visit.  Too often religious sisters and nuns are pigeon-holed as a relic of the past, when in fact it is a vocation that is perhaps more relevant, needed, and  inspiring than ever before!

See the promotional material posted below and please pray for the success of this event!

ALPHA OMEGA (The JCU Catholic Devotional Group)

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist from Ann Arbor, MI

Twice featured on Oprah, these nuns are young, joyful, smart, inspiring, empowered, and strong in numbers (they have grown to over 100 nuns in 13 years, average age 28!). They are coming here to teach us more about finding God's path for our lives.  Don't miss this special event!

Friday, Feb.25th from 5-7pm in the O'Dea Room: Free Italian Dinner and Presentation on "Everybody has a Vocation: Discerning God's Calling for YOU in Today's Culture." Less than 40 spots available; RSVP to John Roselle at

Friday afternoon and Saturday: Sign up in the Student Center Atrium to schedule a One-on-One with a Nun to talk about anything going on in your life

Saturday: from noon to 1 in the Campus Ministry Conference Room: Presentation & Discussion for Women on the Vocation of Being a Nun

Saturday, Feb.26th: from 1-3pm in the Camp. Min. Conf. Rm.: Free Workshop on "True Womanhood and Manhood: The Geniuses of the Two Sexes"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reunion with my Brothers in Chicago

My Second-Year Novice Brothers

Jesuit life is filled with countless hello's, goodbye's, and see-you-later's.  Since the early days of the Society, St. Ignatius and companions wanted to be completely available for the work of God.  The early Jesuits made themselves totally obedient to the Pope in regards to mission (a fourth vow that fully-professed Jesuits still make today).  Hence, when St. Ignatius needed a Jesuit to go to India, his good friend St. Francis Xavier said "Here I am," and was sent by Ignatius.  That surely was a painful yet joyful goodbye, because they wouldn't see each other again until Heaven.  In the meantime Xavier corresponded through letters in the midst of his heavy apostolic works of baptizing tens of thousands and establishing the Church in India and Japan.  Here is an excerpt from one of Xaviers letters to his dear friend, St. Ignatius:

"If the Lord our God has separated us by these vast distances, we are still united by our awareness of these strong bonds that unite us in a single spirit and a common love, since I have judged aright, neither physical separation, nor estrangement, nor forgetfulness can have any meaning for those who love one another in the Lord.  For it seems to me that we shall always sustain each other as we were ever want to do before."

An essential part of Jesuit life is remaining united in dispersion.  Hence, my second-year brothers and I keep up a private blog together, to update one another on our lives, and trade phone calls. This weekend I was blessed to travel 6 hours from Cleveland to Chicago with one of my former novice brothers to meet up with 3 other second year novices (one of whom came down from Milwaukee).  We had a great time of much laughter, catching up, deep conversation, mutual support, and Chicago deep dish!  It was bittersweet for the weekend to end.  In fact, when I said goodbye to one of my bros, I thought for a second that I was going to get misty-eyed.  We all care for and love one another deeply as brothers. 

In Luke 22:31, Jesus says to Peter, "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."  That is what it's about, strengthening one another as brothers in the Society.  It's the same gift of the spirit of faith-based camaraderie and companionship given to those first Jesuits.  One of the things that I really appreciate about Jesuit formation is that 3 times a year we have a reunion of some sort for all of the young guys (about 90 in our region of the country).  This is a sort of family reunion of the guys with whom we will be spending the rest of our lives, and it is a great honor and blessing to be alongside them. 

The First Companions of the Society

Monday, February 7, 2011

Donate to A Beautiful, Innovative Ministry for the Pre-Born

Here you can see AMAZING, scientific pictures of "the miracle of life" the stages of the pre-born:

What a difference a picture makes!

In fact, one picture can save a life and immense heartache through the work of Image Clear Ultrasound National, which is growing a fleet of RVs equipped with pregancy testing, ultrasound equipment, and crisis pregnancy counselors.  I just heard about them as they are based out of Akron, Ohio, but are trying to spread across the nation. 

I knew a crisis pregnancy counselor in Iowa who told of an at-risk mother she counseled not to have an abortion.  Later the woman came up to her in a grocery store, crying, holding her baby, and thanking her for helping her to make the choice for life.  It was a "Presentation" that showed the power of spiritual motherhood and fatherhood.  I encourage anyone to learn about ICU National  by visiting

You can support this ministry through prayer, through spreading the good word, and through finances. 

As a new blogger, I am going to challenge my readers to consider donating to this worthy cause.  Just a single ICU RV in ONE year was able to save 153 children.  It costs $3,500 to provide an Ultrasound Exam Room Retrofit. 

Would you as a reader consider making a drop in the bucket in order to pay for such a room? 
Children playing

Stream this Great Christian Radio Station

It's called 95.5 "The Fish," based out of Cleveland, Ohio.  This may be the best overall Christian contemporary station I've ever encountered (and I've encountered quite a few).  Great variety, taste, etc.
You can listen to it streaming from your computer very easily.

Here's the link:

I guess Cleveland does rock :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"The Rite," Satan, and Missing the Mis-leader

Image of Satan by Gustave Dore, inspired by Dante
 I just went to see The Rite today with a young Jesuit in the area.  It is a film based on a living Jesuit exorcist, played by Anthony Hopkins.  You can see a trailer here:

Catholicism teaches that God--who is pure love--created angels as pure spirits (without bodies) to share in and spread His love.  These angels were had free will, which is a prerequisite for true love.  Unfortunately, Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan, (an angel of light) turned against God, along with a large number of other angels.  Since angels are pure spirits, their decision was permanent, irrevocable, and resulted in their self-destructive misery.  In fact, from a poetic standpoint Dante imagines Satan frozen in His own tears in the depth of Hell.  Indeed, sin is ultimately sadness (an insight I picked up recently from Fr. Robert Barron, in his book And Now I See.  To make matters worse, we see that the demonic powers are bent on human destruction. 

In the Nicene Creed, we who are Christian profess a belief in "things seen and unseen." Yet many people today do not have an awareness of, or belief in, these things.  C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, a great book from the persective of a senior demon teaching a junior demon.  Lewis warns of overly exaggerating the presence and power of Satan.  After all, although Satan and His legions are still active, God is INFINITELY stronger and has conquered evil definitively through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  However, Lewis also cautions against negating the existence and work of Satan.  If we do, we miss the mis-leader in our midst.

The Rite does a fine job of probing viewers to consider the question and the evidence of demonic existence.  it shows a seminarian who has lost his faith and thus is more vulnerable to Satan's lies.  St. Ignatius calls Satan "the enemy of our human nature" and in the Meditation on the Two Standards, he encourages Christians in the Spiritual Exercises to actually contemplate the vast numbers of demons.  Jesus also believed in the demonic.  In John 8:44, Jesus says about Satan, "He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies."

The Rite compellingly shows this primary characteristic of Satan: to mislead.  It shows the force and terror of Satan's attack.  It is shocking the ways that Satan works to utterly warp and ruin the lives of the characters in this story (and in the human Story) through the power of a lie.  We do not have to be possessed in order to believe diabolical lies about ourselves.  Whether these come directly from "the enemy of our human nature" or not, they accomplish his ends just as well. What are the lies to which you are beholden?  One of the lies I am uncovering is that I--and for that matter--must be perfect in order to deserve love.  This is a very destructive lie if believed.  One of my novice brothers speaks of how the devil works on him through fear.  There are lies behind many fears, are there not?  What other lies are out there in our lives, in society, etc.?  (hint: post your comments and ideas below)

Whatever the lies, let's be vigilant to listen again to the One who speaks Truth to our souls by drawing us closer to Him. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

St. Ignatius' Presupposition of Charitable Perceptions

A reader recently wrote to me about his struggles of choosing to trust in the Society. This is part of what I wrote in reply, which helped articulate some thoughts on the matter. 

Yes, there are many sad cases in all sectors of the Church.  Without naming names, it is not only certain Jesuits (who are nonetheless my brothers) with whom one could have a grievance.  Indeed, it would be a mistake to ever scapegoat or pigeonhole any religious order or movement in the Church (or overly idolize one or another), because we Christians are ALL loved sinners (some just get more publicity or have more influence--thus can do more damage).  As a traditional, orthodox Roman Catholic, it is sad to me to see how lacking in charity some in our "camp" can be at times.  Of course, other "camps" can have the same problem.  As scandalous as heresy is, I think it's fair to say that lack of humility and love (into which I too have fallen) is not much better. 

I will tell you what a Jesuit told me when I was applying to the Society: "The Jesuits are going to let you down."  How true that is about EVERYONE, whether it be a spouse, an institution, a teacher, etc.  Without being cynical, in some sense are we not bound to let one another down at some time or another?  And by the same token, are we not obliged like the Good Samaritan and the Lord to bend down and pick one another up "gently yet firmly" (a phrase of St. Francis de Sales)? 

St. Ignatius teaches us in a "Presupposition" in the Annotations to the Spiritual Exercises: "let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself."  Let us beg for the grace to do just that.
The Good Samaritan by Luca Giordano

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Ignatian Artwork at John Carroll

Yesterday I was priviledged to attend an art show called "Ad Sum" (roughly translated from Latin, indicating "Here I am"), a collection of paintings created by an artist named  Holly Schapker over the course of three and a half years.  The exhibit is largely based on the life of St. Ignatius and was heavily influenced by Holly's own experience of the Spiritual Exercises.  Many of the scenes were an unusual take on St. Ignatius' life, such as a scene representing St. Ignatius's revelation at the river Cardoner (complete with 4 butterflies symbolizing the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises).  This is what it looks like:

I found many of the pieces captivating, such as the portrait of St. Ignatius, eyes glimmering with characteristic tears, smiling in contemplation of the viewer.  Here is a link to this portrait:

I think these pieces display some of the interior freedom of St. Ignatius and his spirituality.  "Ad Sum" will be on display at John Carroll for the next month in the Dolan Art Gallery.  More information on the exhibit can be found at: