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WHEN  GOD  CALLS
 Insights  and  Challenges

HEDWIG LEWIS SJ

 

 

"Does God speak to the soul?
"... Yes, indeed, he does and
his words are sweet."

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    "To a young man who wishes to be a Jesuit, I would say:

Stay at home if this idea makes you unsettled or nervous.
Do not come to us if you love the Church like a stepmother,
 rather than a mother. Do not come if you think that in so doing 
you will be doing the Society of Jesus a favour.

Come if serving Christ is at the very centre of your life.
 Come if you have broad and sufficiently strong shoulders. 
Come if you have an open spirit, 
a reasonably open mind and a heart larger than the world.

Come if you know how to tell a joke and can laugh
 with others and ... on occasions you can laugh at yourself."
                                                            Fr Pedro Arrupe, SJ

INTRODUCTION

What happens when you are an eye-witness to a genuine miracle? Well, Fr Pedro Arrupe, S.J., says the miracle he witnessed ‘rebounded’ on him -- bringing about another miracle in his own life.

It happened at Lourdes, the place well-known for many divine interventions through the intercession of our Blessed Mother. In August 1926, Pedro Arrupe, then 19 years old, was a brilliant student of Medicine, winning the first Prizes in anatomical studies and therapeutics at the University of Madrid. Everyone predicted he would become a great doctor.

Some weeks after his father’s death, his family decided to spend the summer vacation in the quiet, peaceful, and spiritual surroundings at Lourdes. Since Pedro was a medical student, he was able to obtain special permission to study closely the sick who came seeking a cure at the shrine.

One day Pedro accompanied his sisters to the esplanade, where the sick assemble, a little before the procession of the Blessed Sacrament. A middle-aged woman pushing a wheelchair passed in front of them, and one of his sisters exclaimed: "Look at that poor boy in the wheelchair." She was referring to a young man of around twenty, all twisted and contorted by polio. His mother was reciting the rosary in a loud voice and from time to time sighing: "Maria Santissima help us." It was a truly moving sight for Pedro.

The woman took her place in the row which the bishop was to pass carrying the Blessed Sacrament. As the Bishop stopped to bless the polio patient with the monstrance, the young man looked at the Host with such great faith that he instantly experienced the healing power of Christ. He leaped from his chair – completely cured. The crowd cried out joyously: "Miracle! Miracle!" Pedro was dumbstruck!

Thanks to the special permission he had, Pedro was later able to assist at the medical examination of the miracle case. When his family asked him about the investigations, he said emotionally: "The Lord has truly cured him."

In one of his talks as General, Fr Arrupe recalled the incident at Lourdes: "There is no need to tell you of what I felt and my state of mind at that moment. I had come from the Faculty of Medicine in Madrid, where I had had so many professors (some truly renowned) and so many companions who had no faith and who always ridiculed miracles. But I had been an eyewitness of a true miracle worked by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.... I seemed to be standing by the side of Jesus; and as I sensed His almighty power, the world that stood around me began to appear extremely small.

"I returned to Madrid; the books kept falling from my hands. My fellow students asked me, ‘What’s happening to you? You seems dazed!’ Yes, I was dazed by the memory which upset me more each day; only the image of the Sacred Host raised in blessing and the paralyzed boy jumping up from his chair remained fixed in my heart."

Fr Arrupe concluded: "The teaching of our Lord was the same as that of the Gospel. Through his miracles and His teaching He awakened in me a faith and love for Him so that He could finally say: ‘Leave everything and follow me!’ The Lord of the monstrance was the same Lord as that of the Gospel. His powers were the same, and His wishes were as they had then been: ‘May the workers, who are few, become more numerous since the harvest is great.’

"Once this voice is heard today as it was twenty centuries ago, it cannot be forgotten. One is of course free to follow it or not, but one with judgment or reason, as St Ignatius of Loyola says, will end with following it."

Three months later Pedro gave up his Medicine studies and entered the Novitiate of the Jesuits at Loyola, to a life of distinguished service as a Jesuit.

* * *

"Does God speak to the soul? ... Yes, indeed, he does and his words are sweet. He does speak, and the soul understands his voice, understands his language. I know this from experience...." This is what the Mexican Jesuit priest and martyr, Miguel Augustine Pro revealed about his vocation to the Society of Jesus.

Everyone who decides to join a convent as a sister, a seminary as a priest, a religious order as a brother or priest ... will admit that they too heard the sweet voice of God in the depths of their hearts, inviting them to be "in the world but not of it" – as they are challenged to serve in the kingdom of God.

It is a special vocation or call, that comes at the initiative of God. As Jesus said to his disciples, "You did not chosen me, I chose you." God gives the chosen one full freedom to respond positively by accepting the invitation, or by rejecting it.

When God Calls! contains a variety of "reflections" that will help a person who has received God’s invitation to follow Christ as His disciple, to make a decision. It is addressed primarily to young men who have a desire or inclination to join the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). But even others will find the variety of ‘reflections’ helpful, inspiring, and encouraging. It also provides Vocation Promoters with useful material for Vocation Camps, monthly meetings, Prayer Services.

Perspectives

Fr Hedwig Lewis, a  prolific and influential writer of the Gujarat Province wrote WHEN GOD CALLS. The beauty about the book is that it is very prayerful; opens up wide horizons and helps candidates test their vocation over a longer series of prayerful reflections.        Ignis 2002-2

This book is meant primarily for those intending to or hopeful of joining the Jesuits. But it will be useful to those who have any kind of vocation or none. Here is a vast collection of parables, anecdotes, verses and even jokes that cannot fail to interest and perhaps even inspire. The book ends with prayers.  R.H. Lesser, Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection, October 2006

 

I have gone through your book [manuscript] several times and liked it very much. It should appeal to generous young men and has much that will make them sit up and THINK!

 

I liked the format of it, with the opening prayer and a good title. Both the foreword and the Introduction whet one’s appetite. Pedro Arrupe is a great inspiration to the young.

 

Then it unfolds with plenty of short but pithy chapters that throw out a challenge. So it is not a book they will read straight through. It is designed to make them stop, think, and pray. I think the illustrations followed by the scenes are very good as they CHALLENGE  (as they are meant to pack a punch) but they lead into the assurance that it is Jesus who calls and so empowers at the same time. Then the Inspirational Verses deepen both the challenges and the assurance. This is then confirmed … [by personal stories]. … I think the more prayers the better. That is why I like the “Songs that uplift the heart”’ plus the prayers in Appendix 2, as they would help young men to come to grips with their reactions as well as to articulate their desires. …

 Fr Maurice Dullard, SJ, Tertian-Instructor, 8 January 2001

 

 

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