Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Go and Do Likewise

At long last, I reach the 10th and final "Principle for Vocation Promotion." I thought I'd manage to knock these out in the course of a few days. Alas, life gets in the way!

So, without further ado:

Principle #10: Do Unto Others

Earlier this year, I was invited to write an ex officio letter to Father Adolfo Nicolas, the General Superior of the Society of Jesus. One of the two points I was asked to address was how we might help to promote vocations to the Jesuits

I wrote, writing of my experience as a Jesuit Regent,

If the question “What does God want for me?” rests at the heart of Ignatian discernment, and if this is a question that we encourage our students and collaborators to confront, then our lives must attest that our joy has been found as Companions of Jesus. So here any vocational initiative must address directly what I see as the greatest corporate threat to vocation promotion: pessimism and cynicism. How many of our students have Jesuit teachers who seem tired, bored, or burned out from years of work? How many of our Jesuits forget that these students are looking for more than information and may, indeed, be looking to them for a sign of hope for the future, a glimmer of a joy that they, too, wish to have? How can we rediscover the originating joy that drew each of us to profess our vows?

I return often to this idea of originating joy in my work as a vocation promoter. In my darkest hours, I can still return to the world-changing experience of God's love and mercy to claim and reclaim a deep and abiding sense of joy. This joy serves as a font or wellspring, impelling me out into the world to share the Good News.

Without question, cynicism and sarcasm can creep into our hearts. Given the ongoing revelations of sex abuse, our hearts are tempted all the more to cynicism and despair. As sickened and disheartened as I can be by these stories, I still feel called to share the Joy of the Cross with the world.

Described often by the media as a "crisis" in the Church (which I do not deny), this is a time for each Catholic to question: Why do I believe? If one believes out of rote custom or fear, then perhaps this tumult will provide them the reason to probe our faith more deeply in order to find a reason to stay. For those who are committed and disillusioned and enraged, perhaps we can find the time to rediscover the originating joy that called us and confirmed us in our faith.

Originating Joy does not erase or dissolve the past sins...even the Risen Christ bore the scars of his persecutors upon his body. Nevertheless, this Joy does give us the strength to return again and again to the the Church, to the pulpit, to the classroom, and to the world.

Let us not forget Joy. Return in prayer and in the Sacraments to that liberating experience of joy that placed a fiery seal upon your heart and set you loose upon the world as one called to spread the Gospel. Help other souls to discover the joy of freedom and the freedom of joy. Be unafraid to tell others how your heart has been touched and trust that, in telling your story, you are giving others a chance to embrace their own story of discipleship.

Take Jesus' words to heart: Go and Do Likewise. As it has been done to you, go and do for others. Introduce them to your Joy and invite them to embrace this Joy wholly. Show the world, through word and deed, how your heart and life has been transformed and how you have been called to live and proclaim the Kingdom as a Companion of Jesus working always for the Greater Glory of God.

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