Jesuit life · Reflection

Experiment in becoming a Jesuit

This experiment is giving me a lot of experiences and ideas to reflect on, and introducing me to a variety of people, some of whom I may keep in contact with and others whom I may never see again.

Although I’ve not spent much time with Jesuits, my vocation as a Jesuit and the Jesuits in general have not been absent. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to spend some time on my rest days at Jesuit houses, particularly Stamford Hill. On 17th February I experienced a significant milestone in my vocation story at the gathering of Jesuits in formation (JIFs) at Mount Street for Mass and dinner. I appreciated being welcomed and included in the gathering and for the opportunity to meet Jesuits I haven’t seen for a while. But the significance for me, wasn’t so much being allowed to join the big boys, as being reminded of a Friday evening almost five years ago when I was sitting in my CLC (Christian Life Community) group, doing a stillness exercise at the beginning of our meetings with the noise of a group of men talking loudly in a room down the corridor. Afterwards we were told that they were “our scholastics” and we prayed for them. I hope someone was praying for us the other day and will continue to do so. I was also grateful for the journey I have been on since that day.

I had a meeting with the Jesuit in charge of formation and we’ve agreed that I will submit an application to Heythrop College to begin their Philosophy and Theology degree next year. I am pleased to have a definite direction and about the course itself. But it did suddenly bring life after the novitiate into close focus and I was aware of how quickly time is passing. Last weekend I was pleased that Paul, the Novice Director, came to visit, to see me and the place here.

Jesuits have come up in conversations with people, sometimes when people hear that I am a Jesuit it lets them use their Jesuit story – I knew a Jesuit… I went to a Jesuit school… My mother’s cousin’s uncle was a Jesuit…, etc. Dan Berrigan was a big influence on one of the long term Catholic Workers in the community here. John Dear has come up, particularly in regard to his forthcoming visit to the Greenbelt Festival this year and subsequent speaking tour.

I’ve been thinking about them and Jesuit life and my vocation to it and generally been affirmed, although challenged to discern the way God is calling me to live and what I am being called to do. At the beginning of the experiment someone asked me who my biggest influence is – I have come to realise how much I’m influenced by Teilhard de Chardin who I think is not the answer most Catholic Workers would give and that has added to the challenge of the experiment.

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