As mentioned in a blog by Stephen, we recently hosted an ‘enquirers and candidates weekend’ at Manresa House for those considering and applying to join the Society of Jesus. In many of my discussions I was asked by visitors about helpful things I have read which helped develop my understanding of the Society and helped me along the vocation path that has brought me to this very place and time. I hope that there are many more enquirers and future candidates to the Society who, like our recent visitors, follow this blog and that the following Jesuit reading list may illuminate an area of doubt or fear that currently may exist in your decision to contact or join the Society. Perhaps one of these five texts may contribute to changing the course of your life…
The Fifth Week, William J. O’Malley SJ
This is probably the ultimate introductory companion to the Jesuits. I particularly enjoyed the section outlining the lives of a few meaningful Jesuits, as well as the various points at which the author gives an insight into his own personal experiences and emotions when discerning a vocation with the Society.
‘The Jesuit of the 1570s, the 1970s, and today still opens himself up to formation, still desires to be a man of the Exercises, still desires to serve the Church, and, most importantly, still desires to centre his life around the same person, the one who lies at the centre of everything: Jesus Christ.’
Alone and on Foot: Ignatius of Loyola, Brian Grogan SJ
Rather than jump head first into the personal writings of St Ignatius, I recommend this engaging biographical account of the life of the founder of the Jesuits. While reading this book I found myself marvelling at the some of the parallels between my own life and Ignatius’. The small pauses for reflection on each chapter allow the reading process again to become a deeper discernment of one’s personal vocation.
‘His whole life was an act of heroic submission to the divine will’
Jesuit Companions, Nicholas King SJ
Jesuit Companions is a series of thumbnail sketches of a selection of Jesuits. I was loaned this book by the British Jesuit Vocations Director. The reason I mention this is it’s not the easiest to track down but it is well-worth doing so. I read it all on the train on my way to my own candidates’ weekend and my abiding memory was how it left me marvelling at the weird and wonderful ways Jesuits have served others with their lives.
‘If we could let God into our life, make God the only thing that matters, then we too could offer a serious challenge to the world we live in, instead of the shabby compromises in which we tend to find ourselves entrapped. And, perhaps, the kingdom of God would be a little nearer realisation.’
Timothy Radcliffe OP, Different Ways to Love
Another difficult-to-find article I’m afraid, but another well-worth finding and reading when considering Religious life. This article helped me consider the vow of chastity and the celibacy demanded by the priesthood and, in turn, made me look at this vow from a different perspective – as an opportunity to share my love more universally. If the vow of chastity seems the most daunting to you, this is a great article to help you make sense of what is required and whether it feels right to you.
Snapshot Quotation: ‘Every time we cherish someone, the veil of blindness is lifted and we see the delight that God has in each of us.’
Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis
What better way to consider what God is asking of you than reading this (fairly) recent call to arms of all Christians by Pope Francis? Surely this is the most exciting of documents to emanate from the Vatican? It’s simply a must-read for all Christians, who the Pope challenges to become missionary disciples as he sets out his blueprint for the Church under his Papacy. Pope Francis’ zeal for evangelisation, eradication of poverty and the institution of justice is infectious. Reading this over the summer left me with no doubt that joining the Jesuit novitiate and committing myself to serve others is where God wants me to be at this moment in time.
Snapshot Quotation: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”