What a gift it has been, this Jesuit vocation. For the last 36 years I have been sitting in the same chair listening to people’s stories and sharing whatever I knew that might be of some help. We call it spiritual direction. I often wonder how many people have had it so good, sharing life’s meaning with so many people.
Before this last, long stint I spent a few years trying to get close to the homeless in New York City and later in Denver. After that I was for a few years the director of a Jesuit program for missionaries from around the world. Then, for a few more years, I taught theology at our Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, California. It was all most interesting and humanizing. People often think of priests as naive concerning the things of the world. Well, I would ask in response, how many people get the chance to hear the stories and confessions of countless people from all walks of life? It is a rich and eye-opening experience.
Finally, a word about Jesuit spirituality. We like to think of ourselves as “contemplatives in action,” or as “finding God in all things.” The effort to fit that bill has been such a gift.