[It] is not knowing much, but realizing and relishing things interiorly, that contents and satisfies the soul.
- St. Ignatius Loyola - Spiritual Exercises, Second Annotation (1522-1524)
A week ago I met with the Vocation Director for the Society of Jesus. The interview was long, incredibly personal, and quite draining on both of us; but in the end he invited me to continue my application for the Novitiate. Now I have approximately four weeks to complete another 5 interviews, arrange for 5 letters of reference, get a physical, dental exam, ophthalmologist exam, transcripts from everywhere, military service records, church records, a psychological evaluation, and a partridge in a pear tree. How am I taking it? I’m glowing with excitement.
This past week has been a blur of scheduling, e-mailing, phone conversations, distracted prayers, and insomnia. It’s been a long time since the excitement of good things has kept me from sleep. I’ve missed it.
Tonight, a friend from Atlanta talked to me about patience. He’s doing a study on it that sounds fascinating. He said something very important to me that reaffirmed what I’ve been feeling through the discernment so far, and what I’ve been feeling more than ever since that meeting last week. He said, “a patience person is an active person…active in standing either against something…or in the face of something.”
It’s the active part that resonates so well right now. This application has certainly not been something to passively let happen. The Jesuits have all been very up-front with me that to get through this process in the right mind to move forward, I need to keep up my prayer life and spirituality. I think that might be the action of patience my friend was referring to—actively standing (or praying) in the face of the challenge of constant discernment, interviews, and paperwork.
There is a certain quietness that comes from it, though, that reminds me of the sense of calm, passive patience I’m used to. Rather than being the core of the virtue, though, I’m beginning to see it more as the result.
The remarkable thing is how the process has done more than just force me to consider my call. It’s already begun changing my behavior, readying me for a life to come. A lot of close people have started remarking about the changes, and the support has been amazing. Whether from close people now or those far into my past, all the prayers and sentiments give me strength.
My choice to live my call is a continuous struggle to make the right decisions, the decisions to follow what the Spirit is asking of me each and every day. They are hard choices sometimes, taking me farther away from the familiar and sometimes hedonistic past experiences and out on to a limb where I am surprisingly exposed. That’s where God likes to keep me, though. It’s part of the humility I’m always learning more about. When we are exposed, weakened, without comfort, it is easiest to turn to Christ for assistance. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mt. 19:24)
These next four weeks will be difficult to schedule, but they will also be spiritually full. Every day I learn something new about myself and my relationships with those around me. Spiritual indifference comes a little closer. Contemplative prayer becomes more natural. Some people call the application the true Jesuit postulancy, and I can see why.
As always, please keep me in your prayers. I’m praying for you too.