Monday, September 02, 2013

Happy Anniversary

It just so happens that yesterday marked the 9th birthday of this blog. Begun by Anne Hall, an Irish dancing teacher and a dear friend, the blog was to meant to be a way for me to stay in contact with people after entering the Society of Jesus as a novice.

Today, one day after it's 9th birthday, this also marks the 1100 post on the blog. 1100 times have I sat down over the years to share some thought, tried to give some glimpse, into one ongoing "Jesuit's Journey." There has never been a specific agenda to this blog and, scrolling through the archives, there's a readily discernible shift in 'tone' and style over the years.

This is as it should be. I entered the Society at the age of 24, having had success as a graduate student and as an Irish musician. I felt then, and still feel today, a great sense of freedom in choosing to answer a call that stirred deep within my heart. The "Yes" I said when I contacted the vocation director in late 2003 has been repeated many times since.

In a culture of readily measured progress - regimented workout programs like P90X, rungs on a corporate ladder, material benchmarks of success - religious life appears confounding. It is counter-intuitive to fold up one's own map and accept the bits and pieces that are given in due course. The grace of my life has been that it has been allowed to be an adventure, a story unfolding in a way I cannot control, a story whose ending is still unknown, a story with many chapters yet to be written.

In a perverse way, I'm grateful that my religious formation has taken place in a decade when public esteem of the Catholic Church has been, at points, pretty low. I have never been able to take for granted that clergy would be held in high esteem or thought well of. Indeed, it's sometimes quite the opposite! Rather than fitting into some pre-conceived mould, I've been given the opportunity to help to re-define what a religious, or a Jesuit, looks like in a new era. I'm a sinful man and I do this imperfectly. Yet, if through my own imperfections and flaws some glimpse a heart on fire for the Gospel of the Risen One and the Church, then I have accomplished something.

So here's a toast to nine years and 1100 posts. Tomorrow I begin Year II of theology studies and take another step toward ordination as a Catholic priest.

If I could have ever penned an original prayer, one single prayer to capture my life as a Jesuit, it would been the prayer that concludes this post. By lore it comes from an old Wisconsin Province Jesuit whose name I do not remember. Regardless of its origin, it is the prayer of my morning and night, how I arise each day and fall asleep. That for nine years I have been able to pray such, in good times and bad, is the deepest record of grace I can imagine:

For that has been, 
I say Thank you.
For all that will be,
I say Yes. 

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