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, June 30, 2011

Stereotypes, the Suppression, and Surrender

This is a brief reflection paper that I wrote for the month-long Jesuit History course at Regis University in Denver (a Jesuit school) that I am taking with all of the novices from the U.S. and Canada.  It treats the issue of the Suppression of the Jesuits in 1773.  The Society was restored in 1814.  The reasons for the Suppression are complex, and would require a longer paper.  These are just some applications to one aspect of my perspective in the Jesuits.
Pombal from Portugal proudly expelling the Jesuits by ship
            Inevitably when I meet a person who I judge to be a “conservative” Catholic, I feel like I am going to be judged as a “liberal” Jesuit.  I want to wear a shirt that screams “Trust me!  I’m orthodox!”  Indeed, I often find myself clarifying that the stereotype of renegade-Jesuit does not apply to my case (or for that matter to many others).  Hearing this, the other person sometimes suggests that I can “reform” the Jesuits.  There are multiple dimensions to these exchanges.  Part of my defensiveness is that I want to have credibility, which in my mind can be lessened by the prejudices in some corners of the Church against Jesuits as being semi-Catholic.  On the other hand, I also want to be accepted, respected, and viewed as of value (not danger) to the Church to which I am seeking to give myself.  Finally, I want to have that kinship and mutuality with a group of Catholics with whom I have a lot of common ground.  Regardless of why I defend myself in the face of stereotypes of the Jesuits, the experience of the Suppression of the Jesuits in the eighteenth century provides an example of the kind of surrender that is needed in order to live Christ’s sacrifice in the midst of turmoil surrounding the Society.
            It is striking the amount of loss that Jesuits must have felt when they saw their beloved congregation vanish before their eyes at the hands of the Vatican, which sided with various European powers in deciding that the Jesuits should be suppressed.  Jesuits had made some powerful enemies, were misunderstood, and suffered for doing courageous things, such as their work in the missions.  When they were suppressed, Jesuits experienced much shame and consternation. In these ways, they were in union with the life of Jesus, the son of God the Creator, who came to earth only to be brutalized by His creatures.  The Jesuits, like their Lord, bore this cross with grace.  Jesus did not spit back at those who spat upon Him.  As Scripture says about the Suffering Servant, “Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, NAB). 
Am I living out this mystery of redemptive surrender?  Oftentimes I am not, but rather clamoring to clarify matters, more so than bearing this cross of suspicion of the Jesuits.  And let us face it; none of us is fully innocent as was Jesus.  We all need reform and conversion.  Surely some Jesuits have made mis-steps before and after the Suppression.  In fact, our General Congregation has embraced the fundamental reality of all Jesuits as “loved sinners.”  The chastisements that we face from many areas of the world are a way of “bearing one another’s burdens” as Scripture encourages us to do as the Body of Christ.  This can be painful, but that is the nature of sacrificial gift. 
Overall, it is amazing to see the way that Providence allowed for the Suppression to occur and for it not to be the permanent end of the Society.  In fact, I was surprised to learn that some think that the Suppression enabled the Church to use the Jesuits as a scapegoat to appease European rulers who may have otherwise gone into schism like England did.  Thus, Jesuits’ pain was perhaps the gain of unity for the Church.  Jesuits who lived in this age suffered tremendously and had to surrender.  That could be the only way of getting through such dark times.  Yet that was only a phase that was eventually overcome in the light of the Restoration of the Society.  By the 1960s, the numbers of Jesuits had surmounted pre-Suppression figures.  Perhaps we Jesuits are now in another phase of semi-darkness, as we are suspected and diminished on many fronts, whether from within or without, whether rightly or wrongly.  Instead of fighting those who fight us, let us quietly yet boldly keep the good fight as did the Jesuits of the Suppression, all the while surrendering this fight to God. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Do You Know When You're Ready?

Recently a college student I know who is thinking about the Jesuits asked me how I "knew" when I was ready to join the Jesuits. This is what I wrote.

"PFor me, it was a matter of being picked up and carried by the Lord in the midst of a dark and weak time in my life.  Indeed, St. Paul is right that His power is made perfect in our weakness.  Although I had been struggling a lot as I finished my second year of teaching on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, it was accompanied with a deep joy and freedom to be able to take these steps.  I wasn't 100% ready, but the Lord gave me the grace to NOT have to be 100%.  I transcended a lot of my usual perfectionism, by God's grace, and I could go forward with the application in the midst of my incompleteness.  Does that make sense? 

If I may offer a word of wisdom: allow this time of anticipation (and perhaps some impatience) to really be a time of great preparation of your heart for what is to come.  Just as a couple needs to let the dating/courtship period expand their souls and deepen their bond for their future marriage (through self-discipline for example, in the practice of chastity), this time of "courting," so to speak, the Society of Jesus has the ability to aid you in laying the groundwork for the kind of Jesuit you most truly want to be.  Rhetorical/reflection questions: "what kind of Jesuit do you want to be?"  (in a word, a phrase, a pithy paragraph) and "how can your life-situation now, combined with an openness to God's infinite graces, assist you in becoming that kind of Jesuit?"

Also, you may listen to this song (just listen, no need to watch the video).  It is called "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller. You may relate to it:

Last Call on Vow Invites

Dear Friends,

For some of you, I still need your mailing address ASAP (I have to turn in addresses in the next day) to send you an invite to vows on August 13th.  I understand that you may likely not be able to make it, but if you would like, I still can send you an invite as a memento.  Thanks very much!

Yours in Christ,

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Great NBC Vatican Footage

Here is a link to recent clips from NBC's Today Show that really give a good glimpse into the goodness of the Pope and the Church.  They tackle an inside-look on his daily routine, what it was like for Matt Lauer to meet the Pope, and the Church's response to the abuse scandal, as described by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City.  They are quick and there are more are on the left-hand side-bar.  Enjoy!

Catholic Stationery

I was just making my rounds with a couple friends to a Catholic bookstore in Tulsa.  That can be a dangerous place for my pocketbook, and alas, I couldn't resist buying some bold Catholic stationary there, which is also sold through the following website.  It is economical, beautiful, and faithful.  As theologian Hans urs von Balthasar taught, it is beauty that helps guide us to truth.

Receiving a hand-written note in and of itself can be good news, but surely this stationery can help share the Gospel all the more.  Check out this great website, and on the left-hand column click on the stationery options.  They also do address labels, business cards, holy cards, and much more: