The High School Tour: Jesuit Update for February 27th, 2015 A.D.
Everyone knows that it is easy to speak to high school kids about religion… Not. Nevertheless, for the last week I’ve been traveling around Chicago on the Jesuit “vocation tour” to encourage high school kids to reflect on who God is calling them to be. The responses, much to my surprise, were actually really positive–with a few minor exceptions. In this post I’ll go through three of the most popular questions that I received during the tour, and I’ll make an attempt at some answers.
- How do you know what God is calling you to do with your life?
- Every now and then God chooses to speak to us in a very direct way. For example, some Jesuits I know received their calls to the Society in very “tangible” ways: audible messages from God, visions, and miracles. For other Jesuits (probably most of us) it takes more time: we have to pray with the various options that God places in front of us. We might spend one day thinking and praying about one option (let’s say to married life) and the next day considering the other option (let’s say to the priesthood or to the sisterhood). After this two-day experience, we might ask ourselves, “Which option produced feelings of deep spiritual joy as I imagined what it would be like? Which option left me feeling dry on the inside?” We can use our feelings to pick up on the direction in which God wants us to move. In sum, however, I think that finding a vocation is a lot like falling in love with someone: when you find the right one, it just feels right.
- Does God actually talk back to you when you pray to Him?
- Once again, different people have different experiences of God’s voice. Some have “heard” Him; others have not. Let’s imagine a society in which EVERYONE physically heard God’s voice ALL THE TIME. This society would be a lot like a dictatorship–the Creator of the universe would be telling us what to do and how to be in a forceful way. He would be directly manipulating us. Rather than modeling the universe after a dictatorship, God prefers to model it after true love. It isn’t forced, and it is subtle when it is at its best. God’s love is FREE, so it shouldn’t surprise us that He isn’t coercing us into believing Him by pulling stunts for us 24/7. However, when we do hear His voice in a direct way, we are grateful for the fact that He chooses to give us a little help along the way to eternity.
- Are you Jesuits allowed to have fun?
- Absolutely, I’ve probably laughed more in the last few months than ever before in my life. We have card games, play sports, and share stories while sitting around the fireplace. Don’t let anyone lead you to believe that being religious and being “cool” can’t go together.
It is easy to see that these high school kids are a lot like the rest of us. We all have big questions. The real question is whether we are willing to search for the answers.
David J.W. Inczauskis, n.S.J.