Reflections On A Weekend With The Jesuit Novices

Monday, October 08, 2007

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Thank you so much for your prayers for me this past weekend. As I mentioned earlier, I spent the weekend at the Jesuit novitiate here in Saint Paul, MN, two miles away from the University of St. Thomas, where I am a student.

The weekend was truly an unbelievable experience, better than anything I had imagined the weekend could have been like. We opened with mass on Friday night, followed by dinner, which was "Beet Loaf", since Jesuits abstain from meet on all Fridays, as well as all of Lent. Following dinner was an icebreaker, "Bible Verse Charades", which was fun and entertaining.

Then, we watched a beautiful video put together by one of the novices, talking about the Incarnation. Evening prayer followed, and then we had time to socialize over ice cream sundaes.
On Saturday, we opened with mass in the morning, followed by chores (myself and a few of the other Jesuit candidates helped a novice get some landscaping work done).

I helped plant bulbs in a flower garden and landscape, and seed grass as a cover crop over a spot where a vegetable garden will be cultivated next year.

Then, after chores, we had lunch (I had a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich).

Following lunch, we played dodgeball, which was a blast, even though most times when I threw the ball, it ended up getting caught, no matter how low I threw the ball!

Dodgeball was followed by half an hour of silent, personal prayer called the Examen, an important part of Ignatian spirituality.

Then, we met with the novice directors and vocation directors for a discussion about what the novices do in their two years at the novitiate.

This was followed by dinner, and then an hour and a half discussion with the Jesuit novices, where three of them discussed their vocational journeys, and then there was time for questions.
I was amazed at how similar my vocational journey was to the stories told that night, and how well I could relate to and fit in with the novices. Though most of them were at least two years older than me, there was an affinity I seemed to have with them that I didn't have with any of the other communities I have looked at, including the diocesan seminarians.

Somehow, I just felt like this is where I belonged, and this feeling keeps gradually increasing each time I spend time with Jesuits, be they priests, novices, brothers, or even Jesuit candidates like myself.

Each time I attend an event like this, I pray to Our Lord that if this is where He is calling me, to let the experience be a positive one, and if it's not where He is leading me, to let the experience be a negative one, and, so far, every experience I have had with the Jesuits has been positive, and, through research, personal encounters, and other experiences I've had with the Jesuits, I truly believe that Our Lord is calling me to the Jesuits, and I have never been more confident about anything else in my life. However, I also am confident that God wishes me to finish my degree at St. Thomas first, so I'm finishing up my degree, while at the same time validating God's call to the Jesuits over the next year and a half.

And, God willing, someday I'll become a Jesuit, hopefully sometime in the next five years, but I'm willing to wait as long as God wants me to, I'm in no hurry.

I know that it is the deepest desire of my heart to serve Our Lord as a Roman Catholic priest, and I believe I have discovered, through two years of prayer and discernment, and a year of daily mass and spiritual direction, that Our Lord is calling me to serve Him as a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, and if this is God's call, so be it, but I'll move at the pace He wants to move, not the pace I want to, which would be much faster. Anyhow, the novices want me to come back and visit them, which would be my fourth visit, on Halloween for an All Saints Day prayer vigil, and they want me to bring friends, so I am excited!

Today I met with my Catholic Studies advisor, and my chances look good for studying abroad in Rome next fall, so I am excited. Seeing the Vatican and the Pope has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little boy, and if I get to go, I'd like to see Germany's Rhineland, my ancestral homeland (My dad's side of the family is originally from the Rhineland), over Christmas break. I can speak German pretty well, and maybe I'd meet some of my long-lost relatives!

Please pray for me as I validate God's call to the Roman Catholic priesthood, and to the Wisconsin Province Jesuits. Here's the website to the Wisconsin, Detroit, and Chicago Province vocation office website: http://www.thinkjesuit.org/

Enjoy, and may God bless you with the grace and means to follow Him wherever He may lead, now and forever.

Your brother in Christ,

LandOLakesJesuit

+ Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam +

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