To Fling Out His Broad Name
When St. Ignatius considered his own vocation and the path he and his companions would follow, he often spoke of “discernment” and “deliberation.” The process of exploring your own vocation requires the same things. Prayer, service, and an understanding of your own desires are certainly sources of strength and grace. Considering a vocation to religious life as a Jesuit, whether a priest or brother, asks that you discern and carefully consider a call to special service in the Church. The readings in this booklet may be helpful to you in that process.
The selections ask you to dream about ideals and very real struggles. Excerpts are included from a wide range of sources, beginning with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and two texts from the Jesuit Constitutions — the Formula of the Institute and the General Examen. Other texts follow, ranging from a document formulated during General Congregation 32, the world-wide legislative body of the Society of Jesus which met in 1974, through part of an interview with the former Father General, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, to a talk on the vocation of the Jesuit Brother given by our previous Father General, Pedro Arrupe, to the writings of Jesuit theologians Karl Rahner and Michael Buckley, and finally to a selection from our most recent General Congregation. All of the readings explore the challenges, hopes, and difficulties of real Jesuits living out their service to God and the Church.
The selections do not pretend to be complete and they are in no way a textbook. Instead, they may provide some thoughts in answer to the perfectly logical question anyone considering a Jesuit vocation should ask: “What do these Jesuits think they’re doing?” The issues and challenges have remained remarkably similar in the past 450 years. The language of the reflections includes official documents, letters, interviews, and homilies. You, like most Jesuits, will probably find some more engaging than others. Then again, that just shows that religious life and the Jesuits have drawn from a wide variety of people.
Practically, each reading begins with a short introduction to give its background and context. The booklet is not meant to be read at one sitting — any one of the selections may provide fuel for re-reading and reflection. While none of these selections is explicitly a prayer, you may find any of the thoughts and desires they speak about helpful in prayer. You might also want to share your reflections with your spiritual director as part of your ongoing deliberation and discernment. To be a Jesuit is…? Well, read on.
Jesuit religious life takes its place as a particular religious “family” in the universal Church. As one of those families, we have our particular “ways of proceeding” and sometimes unique and varied types of work. Still, we are brothers and priests like others in religious life. As people who profess the “evangelical counsels,” i.e., the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, we are “religious” living a “consecrated life.” Many of our number are also priests who offer themselves to the special service of leading prayer in the Christian community through the sacrament of Holy Orders. Priest or brother, we are Jesuits. The selections from the Catechism published in 1994 emphasize that Jesuits are a part of the Church they serve. Our particular charism and missions rise from the universal call to service in the Church.
from the Catechism of the Catholic Church