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!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Will Be My Vow Name?

This afternoon 3 of my brothers and I decided to go to a Marian shrine near Green Bay, Wisconsin (about an hour and a half away), at the site of an apparition of the Blessed Mother that has been approved as being of seeming credibility.  If you would like to learn more about this shrine and story, check out their website at:

This was especially significant since I am planning to take "Mary" as my vow name.  I do not have a middle name, since am "the third" and my grandfather did not have one.  The vow name will be added to my confirmation name of "Xavier," which I chose in high school since I was impressed with the profound difference he made as a missionary.  However, at the time I did not know he was a Jesuit!  Thus, the full name I will be professing at vows will be, "John Xavier Mary Roselle III." 

Why Mary?  That actually came to me around October of last year, as I further reflected on how necessary Mary will be for this vocation.  In short, I NEED Mary to live this life with peace, joy, and integrity.  Of course, I would say we ALL need Mary to seek to live the Christian life to the full.  Mary is the model of how to love and serve Jesus.  She is the source of so many graces, since she bore God in her womb and continues to be a chosen vessel to bring people to Him. 

Then there is Mary's role in the grace of chastity, to which we are all called, including married persons.  However, the contemplation of celibacy adds another layer to that.  Before entering, a wise person  told me off-hand to see all beautiful women as "icons of Mary."  As an icon, beauty is a window to the Blessed Mother, who is always seeking to support us. 

On Vacation

Greetings from Waupaca, Wisconsin, which the site of our province's "villa."  I have heard that St. Ignatius believed that Jesuits should have a place to recreate away from the cities where they typically worked.  I don't know if that's true, but it sure is a good idea!  We vacation in an 80 year old-or-so building on the "Chain of Lakes" here.  It is nothing luxurious (trust me!), but it is pleasant.  Indeed, as usual, we find ourselves richly blessed.  Common actitivities at villa are boating, cards, movies, reading, and catching up with brothers. 

I did not grow up spending time on lakes, so this is fairly new to me.  Last year on villa-vacation, which we made instead at the Detroit Provinces's location, I finally gained my waterskiing legs.  This astounded in particular one of my brothers who evidently didn't think I had the coordination to accomplish such a feat ("O ye of little faith").  In any case, this time of "certified R and R" is meant for us to slow down and soak up the good things, as a change to the usual go-go-go of life. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet Video

Someone recently sent me this 2 minute video of an advertisement.  Check it out and wait for the ending.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Glory of God

St. Ignatius specifically wanted Jesuit novices to preach.  In the novitiate, we are asked to preach on occasion as well.  This is a reflection on Scripture from the Book of Exodus

Painting by William Blake
Where is the “glory of the Lord” in YOUR life?

The Israelites were aware that the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling Moses built for God.

As Jesuits, in the spirit of Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins who said “the world is charged with the grandeur of God,” we are aware that the glory of the Lord fills the Dwelling that God has built for us—
In other words, the glory of the Lord fills our very lives.

So often, I don’t think it feels like that to us. 

We get so jaded, afraid, shamed, angry, and otherwise preoccupied that we  
                                               can’t see the glory.

The Israelites looked for a hovering cloud and fire that spoke to them of God's glory.  So where is it for us?  Where is the cloud?  Where is the fire?  or should I say with Jerry McGuire:

I think that desire should be at the heart of the Jesuit practice of the daily Examen:
We want to see the glory of God in our daily lives.

As good as it is to pay attention to the little things in our Examens, I’m talking about something more.  

We need to have our eyes opened to the BIG picture of God’s glory.
The Israelites knew about God’s big glory.  

For myself, there has been a consistent barrier to beholding the glory of God in my life.  That barrier is a fear of my sinfulness (inherent to all of us).  Yet since the retreat, God has been breaking through.
In prayer, I have just been marveling lately, on the heels of my stupid sinfulness:
"God it is AMAZING that you LOVE ME!!!!!"

That is a big statement; that is BIG glory.  That is the kind of thing that can lead us out of our particular miseries, into the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

So, where is the BIG glory of God in your life?

Is it in glory of a friendship?  Of your vocation in life?  Of a talent within you?  Show me the glory!

Let us pray that like Moses and the house of Israel, we would be bowled over by God’s glory, in our lives and especially as we are about to take part in this glorious mystery as Catholics, the Holy Eucharist.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Holy Spirit, Laboring in the Liturgy

This is the reflection I did after our week studying the history of the liturgy:

“Your Spirit changes our hearts: enemies begin to speak to one another, those who were estranged join hands in friendship, and nations seek the way of peace together. Your Spirit is at work when understanding puts an end to strife, when hatred is quenched by mercy, and vengeance gives way to forgiveness. For this we should never cease to thank and praise you.”

          These profound words from the second Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation have a way of catching my attention and making me reflect on the power and necessity of God in the world and in my life. What a miracle such reconciliation is! So too we are called as Jesuits to be ministers of reconciliation. Liturgy is what we do in the midst of this apostolate. The Eucharist is indeed the “source and summit” of all our Christian lives. Throughout the varieties and vicissitudes in the past, present, and future of the liturgy, it is vital to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who labors to fulfill our liturgical lives.
          St. Paul teaches us “… the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groaning” (Rom 8:26, NAB). Thus, it is the Holy Spirit who helps us to pray, who prays with us and in us. The Holy Spirit guided the first Christians at Pentecost to form the Church, and surely guided them in their first celebrations of the Eucharist. Jesus promised: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (Jn. 14:16-18). Even though there are gaps and shifts in the record of what precisely the Mass looked like in the early Church, we must trust that it was always the Holy Spirit who consistently led Christians in their worship.
             By the same token, it occurs to me that we must entrust our current liturgical questions and concerns to the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of dimensions to the liturgy, and each of us has particular desires for it. Those desires must be submitted to the mind of the Church, as St. Ignatius taught. Still, we can become disoriented when it seems that changes to the liturgy are made or it seems to not be celebrated properly. Like most matters in life, much of this is out of our hands directly. Not even the Pope gets to always have it his way! I saw a small instance of while watching the beatification of Blessed John Paul II, and hearing the commentators on EWTN say that if Pope Benedict had his liturgical druthers, the celebration would be in St. Peter’s basilica, and not outside of it (as was needed to accommodate the hundreds of thousands that flooded into Rome for that particular Mass).
          Although the Holy Spirit paves the way for our liturgy, we must nevertheless implore His aid and cooperate with His grace. A simple way of doing this (of which I read) is to pray for the priest, that he would be inspired in his preaching. Moreover, we should pray for one another in the Body of Christ. The liturgy invites us to do this when we confess our sins to one another at the start of Mass and say “and I ask…you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.” This is a huge part of the liturgy, to bind us together in love as Christians as we worship, struggle, grow, and endeavor to go home to God. Once again, it is the Holy Spirit who can give us the grace of unity, which even Jesus prayed for us to have. These are not soft, abstract concepts but tough gritty realities. We truly need the liturgy with all of its strength and beauty to sustain us. Yet we cannot just make liturgy happen all on our own. As St. Ignatius taught in the Contemplation to Attain Love, these good gifts only come from above. One of the prefaces to the Eucharist prayer says to God, "You have no need of our praise, but our desire to thank you is itself your gift." Amen!

Pedro Arrupe: Jesuit Icon

This is my final short reflection paper for my Jesuit history course this summer:

Faithful and Flexible
            Over the past month, one of the key themes that I have gleamed from our history is what can be called “Jesuit flexibility.”  Our forebears from the beginning have sought to embody St. Paul’s attitude of becoming “all things to all people,” of adapting to the needs of a given situation for the sake of the Gospel.  Flexibility is what enabled the diverse missionary efforts of the Society to so many cultures of the globe.  This flexibility is one which St. Ignatius had to learn, as he dealt with broken dreams, such as his thwarted ambition to minister in the Holy Land.  Eventually, St. Ignatius became an exemplar of the interior freedom from which faithful flexibility springs.  In this way, he could seek the “magis,” the greater thing for the sake of God and His people.  One of my favorite tales from the life of St. Ignatius is about  a younger Jesuit telling him that his Italian was quite mangled (due to his native tongue being Spanish).  Ignatius, rather than being stuck-in-the-mud or offended, responded with a spirit of discernment, “what shall we do for God’s glory?”  Eventually the younger Jesuit realized that Ignatius’ shabby diction was really of no importance, since the people were nonetheless so deeply inspired by his message.
As has been noted, this approach is more than that of St. Paul or St. Ignatius; flexibility really lies at the heart of the Incarnation.  When St. Ignatius has us meditate on the three persons of the Trinity looking down upon the waywardness of humanity, it is as if they too must discern “what shall we do?” and then adapt in order to save us by becoming one of us.  So too Mary must be flexible with her plans of a typical betrothal to Joseph, by saying to the angel “Let it be done according to Thy word.”  Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is caught in between many tensions and must find how to be both creative and faithful.  Likewise, as Jesuits we cannot be like stern trees that are knocked over by forceful winds, but rather like strong reeds that are firmly rooted yet can bend in appropriate ways.
            Pedro Arrupe, former Father General, was one of these reeds that could bear the storms of conflict in the post-Vatican II Church and Society of Jesus.  As Vincent O’Keefe, one of his assistants, recounts, Arrupe was profoundly humble, creative, open, and committed.  Like Mary, he was able to live with grace in times of terrible uncertainty, always remaining docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit.  While Arrupe believed in collegiality, he was willing to quietly call-to-task Jesuits who went astray in thinking with the Church.  One of the most striking testaments to Arrupe’s flexibility was in his patient suffering through a severe stroke and relinquishing control over the Society and indeed his life.  As he let go of the reigns, he shared the following moving prayer with his brothers: “More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God's hands.”
            As I heard more about the spirit of Arrupe, I felt consolation in the witness of this man who was at once so gifted and so giving.  He really walked the talk of Ignatian spirituality and the Jesuit mission.  O’Keefe says that Arrupe “slept, dreamt, and wrote” the Spiritual Exercises, so completely was he swimming in their riches.  The Exercises are the fountain of flexibility and fidelity in answering the call of Christ.  As I approach vows, that is the kind of Jesuit that I hope to become: one who is totally alive, attentive, active.  There is so much that can weigh us down in answering our calls in life.  The Church and the world can seem like a jungle at times.  Yet Arrupe shows that such circumstances need not obliterate our hope.  He went forward with trust and joy, on fire with so much zeal and hope.  Even the worst that befell him did not break his spirit.  How can we afford to not exercise this faithful flexibility as well?
Pedro Arrupe

Saturday, July 9, 2011

RSVP for vows

This is an email I recently sent to those who had received invites. I still have some more, and would be glad to send you one if you send me your address!

Dear Friends,

Peace of Christ! I hope you are well. I am in Denver studying Jesuit history with all the novices in the US and Canada (about 60-70 of us). If you are receiving this email, you should have received an invitation to vows by now. If you have not gotten an invite and you gave me your address, please let me know. If you have not given me your address, feel free to do so, and I can send you one.

I am writing because in one week I will be on an 8 day silent retreat and then on vacation. I am trying to assemble a realistic list of who likely will be there. No worries if you can't make it, but it would be great to have you if you can. Some of you have already told me that you will or will not be there. If you're still up in the air, that's fine. If you have a clearer idea of yes or no, just let me know, please. Below is a proposed schedule if you want to make it for all of the events. If you can only make it for some, the main thing would be the vow ceremony at 9am on August 13th. Lastly, there are links to two recommended hotels. If there is anything I can do to make your visit more feasible, such as arranging airport pickup rides, etc., please let me know. God bless!

Proposed schedule:

* arrive sometime in the morning or afternoon of August 12th in St. Paul
* enjoy the barbecue at the novitiate and vow vigil ceremony on the evening of the 12th
* attend the vow Mass and reception in the morning of August 13th
* celebrate with a simple Italian dinner hosted by the Roselles on the evening of August 13th
* leave St. Paul in the morning or afternoon of the 14th

Best Western ($89 group rate (just say you're with the Jesuit block))

Holiday Inn Express