|The First Jesuits|
This past Wednesday, I met with my Jesuit provincial, Fr. Tom Krettek, and he let me know that I have been approved to take perpetual (lifelong) vows in the Society of Jesus this August 13th! This was a true JOY, and I am excited to be able to take this step. It has been a long-time-in-the-making, and it is of course only the beginning. In fact, I will report to Chicago for 3 years of philosophy/theology this August.
So, why am I doing this? Well, the short answer is: Jesus Christ. Since falling in loving with Jesus (and desiring to follow Him) my sophomore year in college, I have been drawn to this way of life, as a way of responding to and sharing God's love and salvation with the world in a radical way. Naturally, at times I was conflicted and confused as to what I was called to do in life. I have finally surrendered and admitted to myself that although marriage is quite attractive, what seems to deeply satisfy and fulfill me is a life of spiritual fatherhood, dedicated to the Bride of Christ, the Church. It is to the Church (and the world at large) that I want to make what Blessed John Paul II called "a sincere gift of self," through a life in the Society of Jesus. This life--like marriage--should be one full of love, joy, and sacrifice, as is any true vocation.
Despite these dark days of scandal, division, and disillusionment (during which I too have been shocked and appalled), I still believe 100% in the Catholic Church (which is the people of God guided by the Pope and bishops), the holy Catholic priesthood, all Catholic teachings, and the universal call to holiness. The 8 other Jesuit novice-brothers with whom I will take vows are first-class, committed, funny, faithful guys. They are a great hope to me and to anyone who meet them. Please pray for all of us as we prepare to take vows!
Below is the schedule for the ceremony. It is a beautiful liturgy, and I would love it if you could make it. Please send me your address at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like an invite!
4p-7p: cook-out dinner for guests on lawn of novitiate
8p: vow vigil service
9am: Vow Mass
5p: Italian dinner hosted by Roselle family
Finally, I would like to share a few paragraphs from my 5 page, single-spaced letter to the Provincial requesting vows. It should help flesh out more why I am doing this. Thanks for your support!
"Peace of Christ! It is with joy that I am writing to you, my Provincial, to request your permission to pronounce First Vows in the Society of Jesus. The novitiate has been a place of profound growth for me as a man of faith, companionship, and service. If I had to narrow my experience of the novitiate down to one word, I would say that this time has been about “acceptance.” Paul Tillich suggested that faith involves the “courage to accept acceptance.” Indeed, I have received graces of accepting myself and my fellow Jesuits as “loved sinners” who are called to be disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ. The past year and a half in the novitiate has also prepared me to answer for myself the following question: am I, at the deepest core of myself, a Jesuit? I believe that the answer is “yes,” and so I will explain how I have arrived at and accepted this conclusion, which I hope is really the commencement of the rest of my Jesuit life.
My sense of calling to the Society of Jesus is rooted in my experience of community, through what I call the grace of the First Companions, who were devoted to God, souls, and one another. All of my life I have been blessed with marvelous friends, yet God truly outdid Himself when He gave me the brothers that I have been given in the novitiate and in the wider Society. Early into the novitiate I noticed that I loved my brothers, whom I truly admired, trusted, and cherished. Indeed, our class seemed to have a special spirit of mature mutuality in the midst of our diversity. In addition to our common sharing of faith and mission, we have had so much fun together. I perhaps have never laughed as much as in those first months of being with them! I have also been able to enter into spiritual depths with my brothers. After nearly a year together I could say that if they were all priests, there is not one of them to whom I would not go to Confession. I could never have asked for the quality of brothers I have had in the novitiate...It is with these men that I want to live and die in the Society of Jesus.