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!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Holy Father's Recent Words to Seminarians

The Dean of First Studies recommended to all of us to read over what Pope Benedict XVI recently said at a Mass for seminarians while he was in Spain.  His message: "we must be saints."  He addresses many issues pertaining to our growth, and it is always good to hear a message of hope for the future from someone who has really "walked the talk" of the Christian life.

Classes for This Semester

After much deliberation, I have registered for the following courses.  It is recommended that we take only three graduate classes in the first semester.  And the draft picks are:
  • Philosophy of Natural Law (with a Jesuit who has an endowed chair in the law school and four law degrees)
  • Philosophy of Mind (with an Irish Jesuit who has a passion for metaphysics)
  • An Intellectual History of Twentieth-Century Jesuits (covering key thinkers like Rahner, de Lubac, etc.)
So far, I have been impressed with the commitment to quality philosophical education that Fr. Tom Regan, himself a former philosophy professor and provincial, has brought with him to his new job as the Dean of First Studies for Jesuits.  He is focused on what will help us become the "best priests possible" in the future.   

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Young Jesuit's Reflections from World Youth Day

These are the reflections of Michael Rossman, the young Jesuit mentioned in the previous post:

An Exciting Moment

Michael Rossman is one of my Jesuit scholastic-brothers in Chicago, who is in his third year.  He is blessed to be in Madrid for World Youth Day with a group of students, and he has created this quick video of a very exciting moment:

More Christian Music Added Above

In the "Music" tab above, I have added about ten more good Christian music videos, some of which are quite creative.  It is incredible what the Holy Spirit is doing in the modern world to make the message of the Gospel so relevant and attractive.  Enjoy!

What do YOU love about the Catholic Church?

For some time, I have been meaning to create a list of twelve things I love about the Catholic Church.  In honor of World Youth Day (which is going on as we speak), I am going to do it!  But what about you?  What do you love about the Catholic Church?  Please post below.  In order to protect the integrity of this blog, I will need to review each post before it becomes public.  Thus, they will not immediately show up.  Thanks for understanding and posting:

Friday night Shakespeare

Last night 5 of us from Chicago drove about two hours to go see one of our older Jesuit brothers, Joe Hoover, in a performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.  Joe is a truly talented actor; he has been in many other shows and even worked in New York City for awhile before joining the Jesuits.  I was with Joe for two years on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation at a Jesuit high school.  There I was able to see the spectacular fruits of his directing students in various plays.  For this show, he was Malvolio, which is a highly comedic role.  He owned the stage, and it was cool to finally see him front-and-center in his own element.  It was also a good chance to get out of the big city, take in some culture, and support a brother. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gorgeous World Youth Day Video

As many of you know, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is arriving in Madrid today to meet with over a million young Catholic pilgrims.  Let us pray deeply for them, as this has been time and again one of the greatest evangelizers of the John Paul II and now the Benedict XVI "generations." 

Young people's faith often comes "alive again" (as the following video exhibits) at World Youth Days.  I know a Jesuit Fr. Will Prospero who maintains that World Youth Day is the single greatest vocation promoter for the Church.  Indeed, many Jesuits will be accompanying groups of young people to Madrid.  Let us pray that this event nourished the seeds of future holy married, single, priestly, and consecrated religious vocations--all for the "culture of life" that Blessed John Paul II proclaimed.

Homily from Vows

 This is a copy of the homily that the Provincial of the Wisconsin Province gave at our first vows Mass.  I wanted to share it with you all, as it deeply moved me, even to the point of shedding tears during it.  It spoke to me of how much bigger this is than any of us, of the incredible goodness of God, and of hope for the future despite fears. 

Homily – First Vows – August 13, 2011 – St Paul, MN – Fr. Tom Lawler, SJ
 In the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, there was a character named Sherman who liked to travel back in time with his friend Peabody. They had a time machine. Let’s dial back the clock 477 years, and go to France.
I. The First Vows of the Pilgrim and his friends:  Paris, 1534.  
Seven men had become friends at the University of Paris. They were from Spain, Portugal and France – men in the their early-twenties, with the exception of their leader, Ignatius Loyola.  He walked with a slight limp from a battle wound. He was a short, balding, a 43 year old Basque man with dreams and wild ideas about a radical “new way of life,” following Jesus as friends, companions, in poverty and chastity – as pilgrims and priests – but not monks -  of journeying to Jerusalem to minister there, and if that didn’t work, placing themselves at the service of God and the Church.
On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, these first Jesuits – including Francis Xavier and the one priest in the group, Peter Fabre -  climbed up the hill of Montmartre in Paris to the chapel to pray, celebrate the Eurcharist and make their total self-offering to God in companionship.
Those men shared a union of minds and hearts – with strong desires to serve God and the Church. As one historian described it:
“At the [time] of communion, each pronounced his vows.  Fabre gave the Eucharist to his six companions.  As they left the chapel, pure joy inundated the hearts of these men: the joy of having given a purpose to their lives for all time; the joy of belonging unreservedly to Christ; the joy of participating henceforth in the great work of redemption, without limits, without boundaries, without reserve; the joy of a fraternal community of faith, hope and charity.” (A. Ravier, p. 72).
What would possibly motivate these men 450 years ago to make this kind of complete and total self-offering to God?  Could it be the same grace of God that motivates these vow-men to make a similar offering today?
What follows is a reflection from today’s scripture readings and the writings of Ignatius on the grace behind such motivation. Then, based on the readings, I’d like to offer some practical advice to the vow men us as they prepare to make such an offering.
II. The Pilgrim’s two-fold journey:
The seed of any vocation is sown in the human heart through an encounter with God’s grace. For some, that seed appears suddenly and dramatically. For Moses, God used a burning bush. For Ignatius, God used a cannon ball to get his attention.  For St Paul, it was a vision of the Risen Christ. 
For others (most of us), the seed is planted almost without notice and grows slowly.  For Elijah the prophet, it was a gentle breeze; for St Joseph, a dream.  For Mary, the voice of an angel.  For others, a gradual revealing of desire and attraction in the heart, a burning desire to do great things for God.
As St. Ignatius recovered from his battle injuries, he pondered and studied “how the Creator deals directly with the creature.”  Ignatius noticed and mapped out carefully the human response to God’s grace in a little book called the Spiritual Exercises.
Ignatius liked to refer to himself as “the pilgrim” – a man on a journey.  His idea of the pilgrimage became the model and pattern of all future followers. Every serious follower of the Ignatius who experiences the Spiritual Exercises is invited to listen to God’s call and to respond.
At its core, the encounter with God involves a profound inward journey of awareness, following by an outward journey of love and service.
The first part is a going inside to encounter myself and my God, discovering my own creature-hood, vulnerable humanity, my brokenness, yet also God’s acceptance, forgiveness, love and healing.
This inward journey of awareness and discovery leads to a movement of the heart in gratitude and new-found joy, some call “conversion.”  The heart wells up with loving desires to respond in “return,” wishing to make a self-offering to God.  This is the outward journey - an aching to love and to serve God and God’s people, to love and to serve, especially the poor, in imitation of Jesus. 
Ignatius’s type of self- offering  goes like this: 
“Take, Lord, and receive…all that I have and all that I am.  You have given all to me; now I wish to return it.  All is yours! Make us of it wholly according to your will.”
Later in this liturgy, the vow men will make their offering in similar words and with similar devotion.
III.  Practical advice from Jeremiah, St Paul, and Mary
Before they do so, here is some advice for these Ignatian pilgrims based on the encounters of God with Jeremiah, St. Paul and Mary.  
1. (From Gospel Luke) The angel said: “Do not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid of facing a troubled world.  Your vocation will be lived out in the context of a world that is “marked by profound changes, acute conflicts,and new possibilities.” (GC 34) Let the words of the angel Gabriel reassure you: “Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God.”
Do not be afraid of what others think of you or your commitment. They may not understand, but hopefully they will see the great love you have for God and for the poor. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel you believe in, and the Church you now represent. 
Do not be afraid of losing your freedom, of losing out on the joys of life, and giving up opportunities because of your vows.  A few years ago, Pope Benedict reassured young people by explaining:
“if we follow Christ, are we “deprived of our freedom? No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return...”
Advice 2.  (From St Paul) “Be patient under trials”  
When you follow Jesus closely, you will find challenges along the journey – some interior, some external. You will likely have questions, perhaps at times, even doubts. “How can this be? I am too young! I don’t know what to say!” Remember God’s reassurance to Jeremiah: “I am with you to deliver you. I will give you words to speak…” 
When you face challenges, “persevere in prayer… be fervent in Spirit.”
The Lord who created you and formed you in the womb will never abandon or forget you. “What can separate us from the love of Christ? trials, persecution? anguish? dangers?”   No. Trust that God’s grace and love will be enough for you, and the rest will be given.
 Adivce 3. (from Prophet Jeremiah) “You are not alone.”
Your call to service in this least Society of Jesus is a call of companionship. You do not go alone.  Christ walks with you as companion. He will be found in your prayer as a guide and inspiration; he is received in the Eucharist  as your daily bread for the journey.  He is there in family, fellow students, friends, colleagues and brother Jesuits.
You may face loneliness at times. Do not be afraid of it, do not run from it.  Every vocation includes some moments of loneliness. 
The Truth is, you are never alone. 
Living these vows in companionship in the Society of Jesus, in fidelity and with joy, is only possible by the grace of God.
IV. Conclusion:  Joyful Witnesses of God’s Grace
We do not have to travel 477 years back in a time machine or go to Paris to witness the remarkable unfolding of God’s grace in human life, that interior and exterior journey of faith. We rejoice with these vow men at the unfolding of their Jesuit vocation as they follow in the footsteps of the first Jesuits in Paris in 1534.
May your vows today, be like theirs, a witness to
the joy of participating... in the great work of redemption, without limits, without boundaries, without reserve; the joy of a fraternal community of faith, hope and charity.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Clarification abour Clerics

Since some readers have asked about whether or not I am a priest, I would like to make clear that I am not.  I am also not a "brother," since there are some Jesuits who take vows only as brothers and do not feel called to becoming priests.  I, however, do hope to become a priest.  I'm also just happy to be a vowed Jesuit.

This can be confusing, but let me explain.  St. Ignatius wanted Jesuits to take lifelong vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience long before they were priests.  The usual program of Jesuit formation for those preparing to be priests is this:

Novitiate: 2 years of prayer, community living, service, etc., discerning whether to take vows
First Vows: a definitive commitment to living the rest of one's life as a Jesuit
First Studies: 3 years of studying mostly philosophy and some theology
Regency: 3 years of full-time work in a Jesuit ministry, often at a high school
Theology: 3 more years of theology in order to finish a Master's of Divinity
Ordination: becoming a priest

So, why am I dressed like a "priest"?  In the photos you will see me wearing a "priestly" clerical suit.  In fact, seminarians and religious are able to wear these before becoming priests, as a visible witness to their future commitment (so long as they never "impersonate" a priest). 

Video of the Vows

This is a video that was taken by one of the guests, Fran Cleary of me saying the vows:

The Words of the Vows

These were the words of the vows from this past Saturday, which are essentially the translation of what St. Ignatius wrote for the vows in the Jesuit Constitutions (over 400 years ago):
Almighty and eternal God, I, John Xavier Mary Roselle III, understand how unworthy I am in your divine sight. Yet I am strengthened by your infinite compassion and mercy, and I am moved by the desire to serve you. I vow to your divine Majesty, before the most holy Virgin Mary and the entire heavenly court, perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience in the Society of Jesus. I promise that I will enter this same Society to spend my life in it forever. I understand all these things according to the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. Therefore, by your boundless goodness and mercy, and through the blood of Jesus Christ, I humbly ask that you judge this total commitment of myself acceptable. And as you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it. 

At St. Thomas More Church, on the 13th day of August, in the year 2011.

Reflections on the Vow Weekend

           First of all, I am most sorry that it has taken this long to offer the following reflections.  As wonderful as the past days have been, they have also been incredibly hectic.  I am writing to you now from Chicago, where I am very happy to be.  At a later point, I will describe my time here in Chicago, but without further ado, I want to offer some reflections on the vow weekend, both for those who were able to come and those were not.   The weekend of vows truly was like the proverbial act of trying to "take a sip out of a fire hydrant" (which is pouring forth grace :).  As I mentioned before, there were some nerves with the approach of a commitment of this magnitude.  Those are natural and to be expected.  However, once guests started appearing for the barbecue before the vigil, I was swarmed with people who love me.  They were surrounding me and encouraging me for the rest of the weekend.  Of course, there were many people who I would have loved to have been in attendance but were unable to come.  I understand that these friends and family were no less supportive from afar, offering up prayers that no doubt helped calm me and focus me at this crucial time.  Thank you all again for your many prayers!  They "worked"!
            From the moment I woke up at 6am on the morning of vows, I was eager and had a certain peace.  I was able to take about an hour of prayer, which I wanted to do in preparation for the ceremony.  I felt called to keep my eyes on Jesus, the One to whom I would soon be making these vows, in front of the most Holy Eucharist, His true Body.  I also had a sense of offering this sacrifice in union with His.  The peace was intensified when I actually got into the church 45 minutes before the start of Mass.  I was able to greet my guests, and Bob Braveheart, a Lakota-Christian and the Superintendent of Red Cloud Indian School (where I served for two years before joining the Jesuits), privately gave a special blessing to the 4 novices from our class who served on the reservation.  He spoke appreciatively to us, prayed over us, "smudging" us with his sacred eagle feather while burning smoke from an herb that the Lakota use.  Then we all lined up in procession.  From then forward, I was just carried by the solemn desire to take these vows.  The music was majestic, the readings profound, and the homily from my Provincial brought me to tears, as it recalled the continuous line of tens of thousands of Jesuits who have taken these same vows for 477 years, beginning with the original handful of recruits that St. Ignatius assembled at the University of Paris.      
          The actual vows take place in the context of the Eucharist.  That is the way that St. Ignatius and his company desired to make this commitment, before the Blessed Sacrament.  The Jesuits are the only religious order to do this.  I will surely be reminded of the vows when I go to Mass each day for the rest of my life.  St. Ignatius was quite inspired when he chose to link these two sacred moments together.  It was amazing to see the six men who cam alphabetically before me profess their vows, suddenly going from novices to vowed Jesuits for life.  Each man went up from the pew into the sanctuary, knelt down, was handed his hand-written vow formula by the Novice director, and prayed the vows directly to the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus that the two provincials held aloft from the altar.  The vows filled the whole huge church, and were spoken slowly, deliberately.  Once the man had made his vows, he went to the House Superior who was waiting for him, and handed him a vow cross, often passed down from a deceased Jesuit. 
            When it was my turn, I got up, and felt like I was going to the Cross.  Let us remember that the Cross is not ultimately a bad thing, but rather is glorious.  If in the photos I do not have my characteristic grin, there is a reason.  As much joy as there was in the offering, what I was about to do sobered me immensely.  There was no turning back (not that I wanted to :).  I had to do this.  Again, I kept my eyes on Jesus and said the vows to Him.  I felt good during and after the vows (without many nerves at all), and upon getting off my knees, I went to receive my vow cross which was the same vow cross that Fr. Paul Mahowald took in August of 1957, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  I had known Fr. Paul at Creighton University, where he frequently offered God's mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  He was a humble, generous, magnanimous man who suffered much, especially in his later years due to health problems.  I hope I too can have those virtues. 
           The rest of the day was one of conversation, relaxation, and celebration.  We had a social following the vows, as well as a nice dinner hosted by the families of three of us who took vows.  At the dinner each new Jesuit was able to say a few words.  I spoke especially of how I wanted to do this for the Church that I love.  Then one of the Jesuits in attendance, who has a terrific singing voice, offered a toast and a song for each of the three guys.  The song for me was "Oklahoma!" and for the last refrain I got up and belted it out right along with him!  There was clapping and much rejoicing from the those at the dinner who call Oklahoma home.  Finally, most of my guests went down the street with me to a great place for ice cream.  It was a perfect day, and ever since then, I have been happy to be a Jesuit.  I know it will not always be easy, but I am confident this is for God's greater glory. 

Vow Photos

St. Thomas More Catholic Community, the site of the Vows

Processing In

Processing in, singing the song in the program
Walking up into the sanctuary to take vows

Receiving from my Novice Director the vow formula I had hand-written

Professing perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience before the Blessed Sacrament

Receiving my vow cross, handed down from a deceased Jesuit, from my spiritual director

Returning to my pew, where my brothers were

Processing Out
My newly vowed brothers and I

Walking out of the church, a Jesuit!

With my Parents

With Jim and Fran Cleary, the parents of one of my dear friends (Jim graciously took these photos)



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm a Jesuit!

Vows went extremely well!  THANK YOU for ALL of your prayers and support!  I am very happy I made this decision.  I have been so busy, but I will be soon reflecting more on this moment and uploading photos and video for you all.  Sorry for the delay.  God bless!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's the "Good Word"?

Since this may be my last bog post before the big day, I wanted to end (or really begin) with a note of enthusiasm.  I am so touched by the tremendous outpouring of warm wishes and prayers from so many.  I am honored by the 15 or so "pilgrims" who will be making the trek out here, and I know there are several others who really wanted to be here but couldn't.  I certainly will not feel alone, but will be surrounded with love.

And then there is God.  I was talking with one of my brothers tonight, and we talked of how we forget how much this pleases God, to surrender into His hands and to trust in Him.  This is really about His goodness, His work, His glory.  We're just blessed to be able to respond in this way, and to follow Him (as all of us are).

Thanks again for all you have done for me to support me, and I will be glad to fill you in on how it all goes.  Please keep the prayers coming. God bless!

Letting Go

When I got home from retreat, I hit the packing very hard.  Being a pack-rat at heart, it is extremely hard for me to do the necessary throwing-away, donating, and organizing that is necessary to be mobile as a Jesuit.  That is a key form of our poverty, letting go in order to go forward in a mission.  I am a book-fiend, and as much as I would like to keep the 4 or 5 dozen books I have collected in the past two years (we were only allowed to enter with 10), I know that I can't be mobile with that amount of luggage!  So, I had to go through the "agonizing" process of sifting through and departing with 2 or 3 dozen of them, some of which were really great books too :( 

Vow Retreat

It's 1:26 am.  We have Mass at 7:30am.  It's been a crazy day.  Tomorrow will be crazier.  I know, I should go to sleep, but the adrenaline from this day of packing, preparing, and joking around is just too much.  At noon we returned from our Vow Triduum retreat, during which we prayed more about what is ahead, had faith-sharing, and wrote out several forms and papers.  For example, we had to hand-write three copies of the vow formula which we will say (one of which will go to the headquarters in Rome). 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011



As I have said before, it is with great joy that I am preparing for vows.  However, I figured it was only fair to share with you a few reflections on the fears that come with them.  

I have heard it said that fear is "False Evidence Appearing Real."  Going along with that,  St. Ignatius teaches that when a person is following God's call for them in general or in specific circumstances (whatever they may be), it is the work of the evil spirit to suggest unnecessary hindrances to that path.  

Thus, I am reminded that although it is "natural" to have worries, these concerns do not have the authority of God and thus should be taken with a grain of salt.  In fact, just yesterday I was getting a haircut and as I told the stylist what I was doing and mentioned in honesty that some fears were coming up, the stylist point-blank said, "You're giving yourself to God--what is there to be afraid of?"  

In any case, as with any major decision, there can be that hissing doubt of "what if I am making the wrong one?"  "What if I haven't appropriately discerned this?"  "What if I mess this up?"  "What if I am unhappy with the results of this decision?"  

It is then that I must remind myself that I have been intensely pondering this call for years, especially through all the "experiments" of the past two in novitiate, and that through-thick-and-thin, I have consistently been led back to this as my deepest desire, despite the doubts that have presented themselves at various points.  It is that deepest desire that will not disappoint, because it is God who has given that desire and that will fulfill it.  

As one of my brothers often says, "God cannot be outdone in generosity."  As with any gift of self to God (as scary as it may be), it is swallowed up in the riches of His generosity.  

A Great [and tame] Bachelor Party

I thought I would tell you all briefly about a special celebration that our first-year brothers organized for the 9 of us "vow men" this past Friday while we were on vacation.  It was envisioned in a sense as a "bachelor party," although that term has unfortunately been sullied by some less-than-virtuous connotations :).  Nevertheless, this was meant to be a time of enjoying one another's company before we make this commitment and part ways (in good Jesuit-style) to the "four winds" on our various missions.

After Mass and breakfast, we went to a nearby river and rented canoes.  It was an 11 mile ride that was scenic, contemplative, and quite humorous as many of us frequently banged into rocks, tipped over, etc. because of how shallow the water was.  At one point I seriously feared for my life when we lost our canoe in some "rapids," and I was stuck in the fast waters and rocks.  I prayed the Blessed Mother would "save me," and, thank God, I eventually stumbled to shore.

That evening we went by boat to a local restaurant on the lake.  On the way there, we stopped the boat and some of the guys shared toasts, etc. and why they are taking vows.  These were heartfelt, funny, and spoke to the close bond that we have. One of the comments that most struck me was by one of my vow-brothers who said a former girlfriend had recently told him that in seeing the way he has surrendered in the novitiate, "no woman could have reigned you in like God has."

I treated myself to a barbecue chicken pizza and a pina  colada.  Later in the night one of my first-year brothers took the liberty of ordering me a second :)  It was a beautiful night and a treasure of a memory.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Vow Formula

These are the words that I will be saying, adding my name in the space, on my knees before the Blessed Sacrament in the middle of Mass on the day of vows. 

Almighty and eternal God, I, ____________________, understand how unworthy I am in your divine sight. Yet I am strengthened by your infinite compassion and mercy, and I am moved by the desire to serve you. I vow to your divine Majesty, before the most holy Virgin Mary and the entire heavenly court, perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience in the Society of Jesus. I promise that I will enter this same Society to spend my life in it forever. I understand all these things according to the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. Therefore, by your boundless goodness and mercy, and through the blood of Jesus Christ, I humbly ask that you judge this total commitment of myself acceptable. And as you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.
At St. Thomas More Church, on the 13th day of August, in the year 2011.

Countdown to Vows: How Am I Feeling?

As Vows speedily approach, I thought I would spend some time explaining the internal dynamics of this time.  This is a sacred time in life, one of expectation and wonder.  I am reminded of Rudolf Otto's description of the sacred as the "Mysterium tremendum et fascinans."  I think that Latin phrase says it quite well.  The vows are mysterious.  The vows are tremendous, causing some trepidation.  The vows are also captivating, being a focal point of desire.   This is not unlike the preparation I would think a couple undergoes before the Sacrament of Marriage.  Thus, it is a time of profound joy. 

Last summer in Peru, I remember walking up a hillside with one of my second year brothers to an archaeological site of human sacrifice to the sun-god.  It was precisely 50 days until he took his vows, and so I quipped, "Only 50 more days, and YOU will be made a holy oblation before the Lord."  He did not find that overly funny.  Yet then and there I made a mental note that although vows would indeed entail much sacrifice, if I did not feel deep JOY at that point the following year, I probably should not proceed toward taking them.

Thankfully, there has been a consisent peace, joy, and feedom in stepping toward this sacrifice.  I am quite aware that I am going to be receiving A LOT, and not just giving.  Even though poverty, chastity, and obedience may sound like a real pain (and they are modeled on Christ's life of sacrifice), I can have confidence in His words that what is given up for His sake is given back one hundredfold. 

One of the greatest parts of preparing for vows is that I am not doing it alone.  I have 8 amazing brothers who are right here with me, every step of the way.  I also have a worldwide brotherhood of 15,000 who I will be joining.  Most of all, this is an opportunity to grow in further union and fidelity with the God of love. 

Novices vs. The World

On St. Ignatius Day (July 31st), there is an annual tradition at Villa of a softball game of "Novices vs. the World," with "the World" meaning everyone at villa who is not a novice.  For instance, a regular pitcher was a 74 year old who says he runs 5 miles every other day (gosh I hope I can be like that someday!). 
Before the game, I overheard someone say that "the World always wins."  I don't know if this is true, but it sure wasn't this year!  Our novices came back from behind to win 11-8, with yours truly getting two hits.  It was quite a victory to behold. 

One of the best parts of Villa is the inter-generational nature of it.  Some of these Jesuits have been coming here for 40 or more years.  Indeed, one of them just recently preached on how it has been a "still point" in his formation process, a home to always back to, in the midst of all the transitions of life.  Indeed, there is a lot to learn from these men.  I spent one night chatting about technology until 10 o'clock with a world-renowned Jesuit photographer, Fr. Don Doll. 

After the baseball game, a novice and I went to go walk and pray the Rosary.  We quickly came upon an 80 year-old Jesuit who evidently had the same idea.  We asked if he wanted to join us, and so we prayed together along the road.  At the end when we parted ways, you could really see it in his eyes that he appreciated and enjoyed that prayer with the younger generation.