First Vows 2013
This past August, West Coast Jesuits Carlos Aubain, Edin Barrerra, Xavier Benavides, Marcos Gonzales, San Mai, and Daniel Nevares professed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Society of Jesus, formally ending their two year novitiate experience in Culver City, CA. Each man now begins the next stage of their formation, which is called “First Studies”, studying philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago (Edin, Xavier, San, and Marcos), St. Louis University (Daniel Nevares), and Fordham University (Carlos Aubain). These six men join 16 other Jesuits from around the country who also professed their first vows.
A week before professing his vows at St. Joseph’s Church in Seattle, Washington, Marcos Gonzales sent an email to his family and friends as his reflection on what taking vows means to him. With his permission, we present an excerpt of Marcos’ reflection below:
So, what do these vows mean to me? They mean everything. As I have prayed over them, and as I get closer to making this profession, I feel that the vow ceremony will be a public witness to a truth that God spoke into my heart before I was born. God knew me then and God knows me now, and that same love has called me, and this is the only way that makes sense to respond to that love. I had breakfast with a friend a few days ago, and she reminded me of a conversation that we had right before I entered the novitiate. I shared with her that all I wanted was to fall more in love with God. The biggest grace of these past two years has been that. Falling in love, staying in love and letting that decide everything.
Each of the vows is particular in and of themselves. One of my Jesuit brothers said, “God calls us to each vow individually; our job is to pray for that
grace”. Over the past two years I have encountered both joys and challenges with each vow, each leading me to more consolation in knowing that this is truly how I want to live my life, and not so much as an obligation, but rather as an invitation into a deeper love.
If I had to choose one word to characterize the vows it would be freedom. Poverty frees me from needing to worry about acquiring material things; possessing and owning. In poverty, I am able to place more trust in God, and live from that trust. In obedience I am freed from worrying about my future plans. I don’t need to preoccupy myself with career pursuits, and climbing the ladder of success. Instead, I give over my power, and trust in God’s power and direction, as discerned with my superiors. In chastity I find the freedom to love. This love looks different from romantic relationships, but the intimacy and power in which I am able to love opens me up to the world and allows me to be present in a way that I feel allows me to love as best as I can. Each of these vows requires trust in God. My favorite line from our Vow Formula says, “As you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it”. God’s grace has brought me this far. I pray and have complete trust that God will grant me the grace to live these vows out joyfully, and ask for your prayers in this as well.
May God who began a good work in these men, bring it to completion!