Reflections on a Jesuit First Vows Mass

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ and companions in discernment:

Today I had the great privilege of attending a Jesuit first vows mass right on campus here at the University of St. Thomas in our chapel. This mass was one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my entire life, and it moved me deeply. Now, before I headed to the mass, I had prayed to God to let me know through the experience of the mass whether or not he wanted me to more deeply explore the possibility of joining the Jesuits, and it seems as if I'm on the right track, as the experience was one of the best I've had in my life.

Attendance at the mass was overwhelming, a standing-room-only crowd, and the liturgy itself was extremely traditional and orthodox, save for a few David Haas songs.

What was most moving for me was the profession of perpetual vows by the novices, which occurred immediately after the consecration, as it is tradition for Jesuits to profess their vows before the Body and Blood of Christ. Witnessing these young men, the future of the Society of Jesus, professing their vows, is such a powerful experience, unlike anything else I have ever experienced in my life.

What I witnessed these men doing is precisely what I feel God wishes me to do with my life, to sacrifice it to serve Him as a priest and member of a religious order, and right now God tends to be leading me to a vocation with the Jesuits.

The next step for me, then, is to visit the Jesuit novitiate here in St. Paul this coming October for a Come and See Weekend, which I am very much looking forward to. I am not solely looking at the Jesuits, however, as I am also investigating the Franciscans and the Capuchins. This year will be exciting for me, as I will be entering an academic year in which I will be deeply discerning my call to the priesthood. God has revealed to me that I am called to the priesthood, and that I am called to serve Him as a priest and member of a religious order. What I must do now is figure out, with the help of His grace, which religious order He is calling me to spend my life as a member of. I will hopefully be figuring that out by next spring, as I will be making a decision of some sort then, either to apply to a religious order, apply to graduate school, or continue discernment and line up a temporary job for my post-St. Thomas career, as I will graduate in May of 2009, and, hopefully, will be spending the fall semester of 2008 studying in Rome, which would be wonderful, as I would be able to see the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, Assisi, and the Gesu, the mother church of the Jesuits, as well as the Generalate of the Society of Jesus. I think spending a semester in Rome would help point me in the right direction, as many seminarians I have spoken to have said it has strengthened their prayer life and resolve to pursue their vocation.

So, my dear brothers and sisters and companions in discernment, I ask for your prayer support of my discernment this coming academic year. It will be an exciting time, but also a time filled with trials: talking to my family about where I feel called, visiting religious orders, and, hardest of all, interpreting the signs in my life and movements in my heart and soul to make a decision in the spring, and, possibly later as well, depending on how soon God wishes to reveal to me which order is the one He wishes me to join as a novice.

Because of this, I will need all the help I can get with my discernment, which is why I am asking for your prayers.

May God bless your discernments, and bless you with the grace, strength,and resolve to follow His will.


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