Blog by Christopher Brolly SJ
Here we are at the beginning of 2023, seven months since the June 2022 filming of the video of my regency work placement: teaching at St Ignatius College Enfield. As alluded to in the video, I greatly miss the entire school community, both my former colleagues and my former students.
Every year in Jesuit life we make a retreat that enables us to reflect prayerfully on the year gone by, digesting our experiences through the lens of St Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and drawing fruit from them. On the final day of such a retreat we often pray using Ignatius’ final Exercise: the Contemplation on the love of God (no. 230). In this prayer time we contemplate the various ways we have become aware of God’s love; this could be within our encounters with nature, with other people, in our work or in the interior gifts we have tasted such as healing, joy and growth in freedom. Sometimes this prayer can initially feel a little forced – like a child told to say ‘thank you’ for a Christmas present – but, with God’s grace, this contemplation becomes a gushing forth of gratitude, an outpouring of thanksgiving for the way God has been powerfully present in our lives, showering us with gifts we could never have asked for ourselves or even imagined.
This year I feel like I ‘cheated’ a little during the final prayer of my retreat. I brought with me a special book that immediately filled my heart with wondrous joy and my eyes with grateful tears. It was a journal filled with ‘thank you’ messages and well-wishes from the students and staff of St Ignatius College Enfield that I had been kindly gifted on my final day at the school. Reading through it revealed to me how God was powerfully at work in the lives of all our school community, calling us all to discover true happiness, freedom and fulfilment by emulating Jesus Christ in making a gift of ourselves to others in generous service. Hopefully in watching this video you too will be filled with a desire to participate in this joy and find yourself inspired to give of yourself more fully to your own vocation in life, in the Church, and perhaps collaborating within or alongside the Society of Jesus.
My own journey now continues over 3000 miles away from North London at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, where I am studying with a view to ordination in the coming years. My mission has changed: no longer a teacher at a Jesuit high school, I now find myself a student at a Jesuit university. And yet, I continue to draw motivation in the same remarkable vision for education that these Jesuit institutions share: a call to commit myself with full dedication to the work at hand so that I can become someone who places their education at the service of others: for the common good of society and at the service of the Church’s mission of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
If you are thinking about your place in the world, interested in exploring your vocation or calling, or want to know more about the Society of Jesus, please visit the vocations page on our website here.
You can follow more of Christopher's journey via his personal blog here.
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