When students throw these words around, one can only be impressed because these are all part of a common Ignatian language. As many of you have heard, I’ve accepted a position at Canisius College, which the Jesuits run here in Buffalo. I’ve always wanted to work in Jesuit Higher Education and it’s been exciting these first three days. I’m still getting acclimated, but the wonderful colleagues that surround me have made that so much easier than expected. I’ve always found a particular, but often unnamed charism of Ignatian life to be a sincere desire to see others succeed and often that want comes from a place of great security with one’s self. I love the fact that I’m working with a bunch of very confident people who really pride themselves on doing fine work.
And that brings me to the students…because it is clear that they are being formed well in the Ways of St. Ignatius. One student gushed about Kairos Retreats and made me promise her that I would attend at least one (I was psyched for this coming into the job as I love retreats). “The Jesuits are different!” she said, noting that she didn’t want to attend a Catholic school but was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of Campus Ministry at Canisius. Another student was getting ready to go to World Youth Day in Brazil and picked my brain about my two trips to World Youth Day events and the wonderful MAGIS program that the Jesuits run during the Papal Pilgrimage. Yet another, talked about their trip to India, where they were changed by the experience of the poor and grew in desire to become “men and women for others.”
Ignatius teaches us to look for the consolation and the desolation in a daily examen of consciousness. And these days I find myself very consoled by people. New colleagues and even some old friends who work at Canisius and have welcomed me in and helped me rest easy in the comfort of their hospitality. These are the arms of Christ met in the open embrace of a new group of colleagues.
Desolation comes (as it always does) in the occasional negative thought that pushes my fear. That voice that tells me that perhaps I’m not good enough, or smart enough, or cool enough to engage these students. That we don’t have enough money or that things will get mismanaged or that the students don’t really care for religion anyway. And I’ve learned to recognize that voice as the evil one looking to manipulate all that can be good in ministry. Indeed, realizing that there is something that inevitably leads us away from God and into the throes of dread, is an important recognition and Ignatius reminds us to move away from those fears and to instead, have faith—the opposite of fear–that there are many that will bring us beyond our fears in order to bask in becoming all that Christ calls us to be.
So keep us in prayer, dear friends. As we prepare for a year of ministry with these wonderful sons and daughters of Ignatius of Loyola. May God bless our faculty, staff and students and especially all the Jesuits who are on Campus.
You know you work at a Jesuit College when only one thing happens…
You are consoled by the love that emanates from all those around you who have been clearly touched by God’s grace.
And who always return that love to each person they meet.