What it's all about.
I'm currently in St. Paul, Minnesota to witness the profession of First Vows by our second-year novices here. I had hopes of marking the event with a post somewhat like this one written for a similar occasion two years ago, but I've been too busy and distracted by the demands of travel to put my thoughts together in time (though they may eventually appear here in another form). Nevertheless, nothing that I could ever write could match the eloquence and power of the words that St. Ignatius himself offered in the General Examen proposed to those making solemn profession in the Society of Jesus, words that offer the best possible explanation of what being a Jesuit is all about:
Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience, keep what follows in mind.Please join me in praying for the novices who will make their first profession today. May God who freely gave the vovendi the desire to make this offering of themselves give them also the abundant grace to fulfill it. AMDG.
He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures, and any other ministration whatsoever of the word of God, and further by means of the Spiritual Exercises, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, and the spiritual consolation of Christ's faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments.
Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons and hospitals, and indeed to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good. Furthermore, he should carry out all these works altogether free of charge and without accepting any salary for the labor expended in all the aforementioned activities.
Still further, let any such person take care, as long as he lives, first of all to keep before his eyes God and then the nature of this Institute which is, so to speak, a pathway to God; and then let him strive with all his effort to achieve this end set before him by God - each one, however, according to the grace which the Holy Spirit has given to him and according to the particular grade of his own vocation.