Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vow days

In January of 2009 I left my family behind to spend five weeks in silence, off to make the Spiritual Exercises of St. ignatius on the very edge of the Atlantic. Twenty-four of us gathered the first night, eighteen Jesuit novices and six others. Though the course each of us would follow through the Exercises would be unique, and we would not be comparing notes along the way, the knowledge that these roads were being walked together was a gift.

Yesterday many of those eighteen young men professed their vows in the Society of Jesus. I watched in Holy Cross Church as in turn, Ricardo, Kevin, Keith, Pat, Tim, Vinnie, Rick and Brian knelt before Christ, held up by the provincial and in these words vowed perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience and promised to spend their lives in the Society of Jesus. I offered up fierce prayers for them, that God might grant them grace, strength and passion to live this life, but above all that there may be abundant joy.

Joe Lingan, SJ, the novice master, gave a beautiful homily challenging all of us there, the assembly as well as the vovendi, to consider how large our hearts were. Both the exquisite preaching, and the choice of topic, pulled me straight back into the last days of the exercises.

These mid-August days are vow days for me as well On this day twenty-nine years ago I was preparing to take vows with Tom, and eighteen years ago Math Man and I stood in a small church outside Montreal and were formally betrothed. (Done so his father, too fragile to travel to see us wed, could be part of the celebration.)

Read what Matthew Spotts has to say about his vows here, and Joe, here.


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  2. I have loved reading what you have said here and on FB, and what the young guys themselves have said about their experiences.

    Since the Jesuits I know are mostly -- ah hem! -- older (altho my spir. dir. just took final vows a couple of years ago, he was a parish priest for many years before entering the Jesuits, so he's actually my age and, as you know my other favorite person is 80), I have witnessed lives of such commitment from another vantage point. Reading about those at the beginning stages is a fascinating window into how it all begins.

    It must be extraordinary, to feel God's pull in this way on every facet of your being. I think that Jesuit influence has given me a small taste of it, and made me wish that all people in every walk of life could understand God's invitation in the same all-encompassing way.

    For myself, I am so grateful to have stumbled into Ignatian spirituality, as unlikely as that has been ("Unlikely in human terms," said my director, "but in God's?"), and to know that younger men are in formation to carry it onward.

    PS: Word verfication: allout. Allout for God, I thnk.

  3. I'm curious to hear more about the formal betrothal - my mother is extremely ill and my fiancee and I are struggling with what our next step should be. Hurrying up and getting married 2-4 weeks after being engaged or waiting, knowing my mother will never attend. Something in the middle would be nice. (I'm episcopal for what its worth).

  4. Hypatia,

    Not the same, and not any indication at all as to what will work for you, but you might like to read this extraordinary story about a wedding moved up so that a young lady who died 3 years ago today could participate.

    I think the betrothal ceremony sounds lovely.

  5. Congratulations on the anniversaries of your own holy vows in complete self-giving to God and her people! Look for a package to celebrate (has been ready since we got back from Oregon but moving and other summer madness got in the way...was just wondering when the perfect time would be to get it out and this tells me).

  6. I love how our lives unfold, how the retreat led you to bearing witness at this event. so cool.

  7. After spending some weeks (separately, never five together) at a Cistercian Monastery, I think of The Feast of the Assumption as a particularly tender holiday in those environs.

    I've listened to these men chant a most beautiful "Hail Holy Queen" as they finish Compline, and can feel the tangible love for their Holy Mother as they pray and sing and live out their vows.

    What a blessed day to celebrate year after year - with all of life's changes swirling about.

    Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your journey!