Monday, 29 July 2013

Become a Jesuit

Become a Jesuit
"The Church needs you, relies on you and continues to turn to you with trust, particularly to reach those physical and spiritual places which others do not reach or have difficulty in reaching."
With the words above, His Holiness Benedict XVI reiterated a centuries old charge of the Catholic Church to the Jesuits during the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in February 2008.
The Society of Jesus is a community of priests and brothers dedicated to the service of God and the Church for the betterment of the world around us. No matter what our work, from university to infirmary to barrio, it is for the glory of God and the help and salvation of souls. Even within the Society of Jesus, there is a great variety of voices, an array of talents, but we are all at the service of the call and the mission. Some are gifted at social analysis, others at immediate and effective working with people at the margins of life or society. Many are scholars, many are missionaries. Whether teaching, preaching, giving the sacraments or praying for the society, our voices are as varied as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, but there must be one message: to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Responding to God’s Call

Is God Calling Me?

Discernment is a word that describes the process of coming to understand how the Lord is calling me and inviting me to serve Him. It is a spiritual and personal journey.
It is a journey of understanding, of seeing, and acting. The necessary ingredients for discerning a vocation from the Lord are trust, patience, faith, and prayer. These four elements will be constantly challenged during your journey, and will need to be renewed daily.
Ask the Lord for these gifts of the Spirit as you move through the process.

Seven Stages of Vocation Discernment

1.      Attraction or Interest… to serving God
2.      Inquiry… taking the initiative
3.      Information Gathering… being proactive
4.      Discernment… understanding the experience
5.      Confirmation… moving toward a decision
6.      Application Process… submitting the application
7.      Entrance… if accepted, becoming a Jesuit Novice


A man takes the initiative to contact someone for more information (he talks with a Jesuit he knows, sends an e-mail, makes a phone call).
The person will usually contact someone he has met, or he will seek out a Jesuit at a school or parish. Often this involves the first conversation or correspondence with the Vocation Director, who can offer information about the Jesuits, the ministries and life of Jesuits, or the decision-making and application process.

A Community in Christ

While Jesuits live together for the sake of their apostolic work, they also live together for mutual support, challenge and inspiration. These two sets of values must be kept in balance – community for service and community for mutual growth and development. Jesuits must always be willing to move on, to leave one community to help another.
This type of communal living demands a special kind of person. A man who joins the Society of Jesus has to have a social personality and be someone who is capable of living peacefully with a variety of temperaments, personal histories and styles. Jesuit communities incorporate men of all ages, forged into a union of minds and hearts intent on finding where God wants us to be most effective in the work of the Kingdom.
Jesuit community life also requires a healthy, mature independence different from the kind found in a monastic order. Prayer, study and the demands of our apostolic work can lead some to experience periods of solitude in their lives. Yet this solitude is not withdrawal, but mature self-direction, whose ultimate goal is greater service to the Lord.
It is all of these qualities that make Jesuit community life fraternal, personal and ecclesial. In their communal life, Jesuits share a common bond stronger than their differences and learn together how to be men for others within a wider reality of the Church.

Consecrated for Service

Ignatius imagined religious life in nonconventional terms. For Ignatius, his monastery was the world; his prayer, to find God in all things; his work, whatever helped people. In this setting, the vows become instruments to enable Jesuits to do the work of the Kingdom.
By the vow of chastity, a Jesuit consecrates his life entirely to the Lord, promising to live his life in a state of celibate chastity for the Kingdom of God. By this vow, the Jesuit brother or priest becomes available to love and to serve all people, not attached to one person or to one family.
“This life of chastity consecrated to God offers a living witness that Christ can engage human beings in so comprehensive a love and a prophetic reminder that we were created finally for that future life with God in which the children of the resurrection will “neither marry nor give in marriage” (Luke 20:34-36).  In this way living unmarried for the sake of the kingdom of heaven preaches the Gospel in deed rather than words..
The vow of poverty helps a Jesuit to live more simply, renouncing personal ownership of material possessions, seeking greater solidarity with the poor, and sharing things in common in imitation of the early disciples of Jesus.
“Our poverty is apostolic because it witnesses to God as the one Lord of our lives and the only Absolute; it distances us from material goods and frees us from all attachment so that we can be fully available to serve the Gospel and dedicate ourselves to the most needy. In this way, poverty is itself a mission and a proclamation of the Beatitudes of the Kingdom.”
The vow of obedience is the touchstone of Jesuit life.  St. Ignatius wanted his companions to be ready at any time to respond to the greatest needs of the Church.  Jesuits seek to follow the will of God as it is revealed in the mission given to each Jesuit by his religious Superior in the Society of Jesus.  Solemnly professed Jesuits take a special vow of obedience to the Holy Father, the Pope, to be available for special missions.
“Impelled by the love of Christ, we embrace obedience as a distinctive grace conferred by God on the Society through its founder, whereby we may be united the more surely and constantly with God’s salvific will, and at the same time be made one in Christ among ourselves…”

Training for Mission


The novitiate is the first stage of Jesuit formation and novices begin to learn through experience about the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as lived in a community setting.  He learns the traditions, rules and expectations of the Society of Jesus.  During this time he makes the Spiritual Exercises in a 30-day retreat and engages in a variety of “experiments,” such as serving the poor, the elderly, and teaching children. At the end of this two-year period of prayer, work and study, he pronounces perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience either as a brother or as a scholastic who will prepare for priestly ordination.
·       With these vows Jesuit scholastics and brothers normally begin a three-year period of philosophy and theology studies.  If the man has not yet received a bachelor’s degree, he studies for that at this time.  He may also be asked to use this time to begin graduate work in a field of specialization.  In the United States, there are three Jesuit First Studies programs:  Fordham University  (New York City), Loyola University (Chicago), and St. Louis University (St. Louis).Regency is the next stage of formation.  The Jesuit works for two or three years in a Jesuit school or other approved ministry while he lives in a Jesuit community.
·       After regency, Jesuit scholastics begin an intensive three-year study of theology which leads to priestly ordination.  In the United States, the Jesuits study theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California and the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Massachusetts. This may be followed either by full-time apostolic work or specialized studies.
·       After completing his theological studies and some years of ministry, the Jesuit completes his formal formation of prayer, guidance and studies with tertianship, a time of spiritual renewal and ministry with the poor. After the tertianship period, the Jesuit is called to final vows in the Society of Jesus.

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