Discerning Vocation: Tremendous Mission, Immense Responsibility, Arduous Equipping
The saints have been blunt about the matter: St. Ignatius Loyola never ceased to demand that entrance to the Society be restrictive; St. Charles Borromeo personally examined applicants and ordained very few; several popes have stated that it would be better to have a shortage of priests than to have bad ones.
How could it be otherwise? No statesman or general bears on his shoulders a greater responsibility than the priest of God called to dedicate himself to the eternal salvation of souls.
Catholics should be able to place their confidence in the men to whom they award the tremendous title of “Father”.
Furthermore, at the beginning of the third millennium, those called to the priesthood now have the additional task of restoring the sacred honor where it has been broken.
Decisions made by the priest in the confessional and his words in the pulpit have the potential to enlighten minds and heal soul-wounds ‒ or spread darkness and destruction.
Ignatians, called to act in the front-lines of the Church’s action through highly demanding missions such as the intellectual apostolate and the formation of creative Catholic minorities, must be men who are highly motivated, learned, focused on their mission, and self-controlled at all times as the result of long years of ascetical-mystical and intellectual equipping wrought in the midst of monastic silence, intense prayer, and rigorous study: men on whose equipping and character the Church must be able to depend.
Vocation Sign: Men Resolved For Spiritual Warfare
Hence, good intentions alone will not be enough to confront the perennial and present-day dangers posed by the “Axis of Evil” to souls and the formation of a Christian civilization.
The Society of Ignatians adheres to St. Thomas Aquinas’s statement that “grace builds on nature”: into the ranks of the Society will be admitted only those who are willing to stand and fight for the salvation of souls by equipping themselves rigorously; men who are alert to their mission as leaders in the Church Militant. The candidate before donning the Ignatian uniform must prove he belongs in it.
For it is in wartime that we live. How else can you describe these times? With countless fellow Catholics being persecuted, imprisoned and even massacred in the Middle-East and elsewhere; and with encroachment upon the rights of Catholics even in that supposed citadel of liberty, the USA. There is no point trying to deceive ourselves: we are already in an age of persecution and the persecution is going to increase not decrease.
For such an age the Church must count on a leadership cadre of strong, committed men in the priesthood, men who are willing to bite the bullet, who will not shirk in the face of fire, who will march ahead of their laity into battle, who will go to the firing squad rather than renounce an iota of Catholic truth.
The Society of Ignatians will therefore be severe, rigorously severe, in admitting to its ranks only men who have such strength. Indeed it wants men who are exceptionally strong in view of its special mission in the Church due to its Ignatian ideals.
Vocation Sign: Band of Brothers
The Society of Ignatians if it is to fulfill its mission must be strong not because of heavy-handed superiors, cult-like secretism, or fear of reprisals.
No! Its strength must come from supernaturally imbued convictions, the bonds of Christian fraternity, from being a true band of brothers; from a fellowship of men who are strong in character; who are totally committed to the Catholic Faith; and who are consequently courageous on the basis of their convictions.
With such a band of brothers the Society of Ignatians will offer to those considering entering its ranks an atmosphere in which brotherhood is immediately felt and all those virtues emanating from brotherhood are lived to the hilt: straight-talking, all the cards on the table, everything up front, no vice or duplicity covered up and excused with warped moral theology.
The type of freshness, spontaneity, camaraderie, that reigns in a true band of brothers who are bonded together by the dangers and sacrifices of wartime.
Men whose “yes” means “yes” and whose “no” means “no”. Men who look each other straight in the eye; who will never abandon each other – and this includes never abandoning each other to vice by guilty silence.
Men who will, in the tradition of St. Ignatius Loyola, respect and obey their superiors like soldiers, but who will also keep a firm grip on wise judgment and when the occasion calls for it and after careful prayerful thought, not hesitate to call a superior to order if his commands are unwise.
Discerning Vocation: “Men wanted for Hazardous journey”
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” (The Times, December 29, 1913)
This is the alleged ad that Ernest Shackleton posted in the London newspaper, The Times, to recruit men to do what had never been done before: to cross the icy southern continent and reach the South Pole.
There are only three differences between Shackleton’s ad and that of the Society of Ignatians: we offer no wages, the voyage lasts a lifetime, BUT – and this is a BIG BUT – the destination is ETERNITY!
Vocation Sign: Men with a Pioneering Spirit
If you are only looking for a seminary wherein to serenely prepare yourself for the priesthood; if you are searching only for orthodoxy; if Ignatian spirituality and charism is all that you want ‒ then the Society of Ignatians is not for you.
For it is an order in the epoch of foundation when anyone who enters the Society of Ignatians in these first years will be called upon to make it his; to take ownership; as a co-founder; as a builder; as a man who lays foundations – with all that laying foundations entails: blood, sweat, pain, tears, a lifetime of pouring out one’s lifeblood for the sake of one’s spiritual sons, of the future generations who will see, God willing, what you longed and hoped for.
If you are willing, like Saints Ignatius of Antioch and Loyola, Francis Xavier and companions, to go to the ends of the earth, for the sake of the salvation of souls,
If your heart burns with the desire to love God with all you have,
If you are determined to live out the prayer of St. Ignatius for the rest of your life:
“Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and to look for no reward,
save that of knowing that I do your holy will. Amen”
If you are willing to undergo a long, rugged, arduous, austere formation of mind, heart, and will with the spirit of St. Ignatius, determined to live out that other prayer of his:
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me. Amen!”
If you are willing to sacrifice to build up a new order for love of the Most Holy Trinity and the salvation of souls, then you will have all the certainties of the truths of the Catholic Faith but all the uncertainties of a new foundation; the joys of new beginnings with the challenges of laying groundwork.
Wanted: Men with A Chivalrous Heart
A common man with an uncommon love for God
A warrior heart for love ready to forge himself a priest no matter the cost
A defender of Truth, Love, Beauty and Goodness in society
A heart that beats strongly with love for God and the salvation of souls
A strength of character, a strength of purpose, to build up the true and to tear down the evil
A willingness to rough it
A readiness to read and study almost every day of your life to keep growing intellectually
A bagful of energy
Open-minded love for all races, peoples and nations
A readiness to go to the North Pole, the Himalayas, the Sahara, or the Andes.