I was moved by this line in a reflection by fellow classmate and Jesuit Joe Hoover in a new book “2012: The Best Spiritual Writing.” His piece is called “A Figure in Black and Gray,” and is actually a reflection on observing a nun while on retreat. But I found the following two paragraphs on who us young Jesuits are these days to be humorous, apt, and inspirational:
“I am here with Jesuits from all over the country, all of us in the middle stage: no longer novices but not yet priests, working for a spell ‘in the vineyard,’ as some might say. (Officially we are called ‘regents’ — a term used by the Society of Jesus that means, roughly, ‘You will teach high school.’) I am proud of these regents, these vinedressers, these men. If you are looking for an expose by a discontented seminarian, you will have to look elsewhere. I like being in this outfit. They are for the most part ‘regular guys,’ which is a somewhat prideful way we talk about ourselves: Regular guys who lift weights, write blogs, and make mix CDs of songs by famously unknown bands. Guys who won’t be caught in a chapel every minute of the day (said usually with a hint of bravado). Guys who can knock back a few. And it’s true, I like that we are men composed of flesh and blood and doubt and beating hearts, and not merely incense and smoke and wordy Thomistic propositions. Regular guys afflicted with a passion for reading who, when there is a free time, head to isolated corners with magazines or newspapers. Solitary men who may have to rehearse once or twice before saying to another brother, ‘Hey, want to take a walk?’ Regular guys in a bookish sort of way. But still.
What they have in common is a weakness: an inability to say no to a deeply imprinted call — a call to poverty, chastity and obedience, strange virtues that had to be flushed out from their hiding places, shown to us, and somehow made desirable. We’re men who, for the most part, had good jobs and degrees but were brought low by something many of us hadn’t really asked for, and to which we all eventually yielded. In the end, concession and surrender may be our greatest accomplishments.”