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.