I was fortunate to begin the 19th Annotation version of the Spiritual Exercises in 2007. I didn’t complete them until roughly 2010, but I made it through most of the 2nd week reflections and was particularly struck by the Colloquy with three questions:
- What have I done for Christ?
- What am I doing for Christ?
- What ought I do for Christ?
These were combined with the questions:
- What has Christ done for me?
- What is Christ doing for me?
- What will Christ do for me?
Trying to sit with these questions brought me back to how I was voted as Joseph in our 7th grade Christmas play and then Jesus for our 8th grade Passion play. My memory was that each time my classmates were asked to vote for the person that they saw embody some of the qualities that they imagine Joseph and Jesus would have.
I was excited at the time and certainly felt some sense of honor, but it wasn’t until roughly 10 years later as I prayed with the questions of the Colloquy that the responsibility of truly embodying the qualities of Joseph and Jesus really hit me. If I was only trying to be like one of them, that would have already been beyond my capacity at the time, but I was trying to be like both of them at the same time. You can imagine the level of obsession with “perfection” that would often arise when I was focusing on myself instead of on God.
Now, roughly 10 years since those initial struggles with consolation and desolation, I believe my “Why” has become clear and my focus more consistent.
As a child of God, I am the younger brother of Jesus, an adopted son of Joseph and I am called to help others grow in their awareness of God’s love for them.
In my prayer, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, Joseph, St. Ignatius and others have affirmed that creating the Family of Jesus will most effectively help me to answer my call. I’ve spent considerable time exploring both Christian and non-Christian spiritualities to learn the most effective way to consistently get in touch with God, to experience God like Ignatius and other mystics like Julian of Norwich.
In my search, the training and spirituality of Jesuits and those within the Ignatian network are most equipped to help others to experience God’s love consistently through the Rules of Discernment that St. Ignatius refined.
However, there remain many that desire greater formation than a single graduate degree (MDiv, DMin, etc.) or the Spiritual Exercises can offer a retreatant. There are many that desire the kind of formation that Jesuits receive and yet very few find themselves in a position to “risk” their livelihood or career on something as uncertain as spiritual growth.
At a minimum, the Family of Jesus will provide the “members” the organizational support that the Society of Jesus offers Jesuits. As I observe what is unfolding globally, I cannot imagine a more appropriate time to organize and train more spiritual directors and prophetic leaders with the intention of helping others to experience the love of God.
I believe Jesus Christ is alive in each of us and my sense is that Jesus wants more people to experience his(?) love. I believe Jesus is doing all he(?) can to help us experience the overwhelming love of God…and so I am doing my best to do the same.