Communication has been a recurring theme for me in the last couple of weeks. Monday and Tuesday this week we had a course on presentation skills and public speaking.
Last week we were and will continue this week to study Jesuit saints. During my reading and listening to my fellow novices talk about saints they read about, I found it very difficult to identify with descriptions of unblemished saints. When their passion and love of God and neighbour can be detected I find this inspiring. Also thought-provoking was the recurring impression that they were men of their times and how difficult it is for us to understand what and how they understood the world.
I have also been aware of these cultural and temporal divisions in understanding when I read Pride and Prejudice recently. Some parts of the story I probably imagine fairly accurately, some are more enduring experiences that travel well over two hundred years, but now and then I realised that there were assumptions in Jane Austen’s worldview that was obvious to contemporary readers but quite unknown to me.
This coming weekend we will welcome several men who have expressed an interest in exploring a vocation with the Society of Jesus. One of the reasons for this is for them to see and get a feel of the novitiate and what goes on here. Their personal experience conveys this better than reading or telling them about it. Before the enquirers arrive the novices will have a meeting with the vocations director as he prepares to produce new vocations promotion material that will try to speak to the worldview of potential Jesuits today based on our experiences.
My communication with God has also had a change in the last few weeks. In the past I have found many of the New Testament letters to be generally quite difficult to get anything out of. A slightly different perspective and grace has helped me to find a wealth of new insights in the letter to the Romans for which I am grateful.
Another answer to prayer came last week when a network consultant came to assess out network which has been giving us worse and worse network reliability and Internet speed. We implemented some of his suggestions and for the few days our electronic communication has been a lot more agreeable.