In a letter dated 29 May 2020, the Provincial of the former Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus announced his decision to close the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, effective August 2021. You may read the Provincial’s letter, accompanying FAQs, and Br. Derby’s letter of response here.
While we are sorrowful at the decision, we are focused on the remaining time of ministry here in Wernersville. The Jesuit Center will continue to offer retreats and other programs for spiritual renewal, and to host groups, through August 2021. You can see our 2021 program calendar here.
God is always inviting me to grow, even during this pandemic. In the past, I’ve been used to Lenten practices where I do more, such as praying more or giving more to the needy. And I’m used to Lenten practices where I do less – like going without candy, wine, or cursing for 40 days. But this Lent I have a chance to embark on some spiritual practices that in the end, may be transformative –first, accepting gracefully what I cannot change and second, being grateful for what I have, just as it is.
Like it or not (and I don’t), spiritual growth happens most often and deeply when I consent to reliance on God when events are out of my control. For example, losing a job has several times led me to move to new places and develop new skills. However, I admit that, first, I spent tons of energy feeling a victim, blaming the system and authorities, and even dreaming of revenge. This is understandable as a first reaction. But, eventually, as I began to “discern the spirits,” I realized these inner voices were making me feel unhappy, lethargic, and even sick. This difficult situation wasn’t something I would have chosen, but when I called out to God to be with me in finding new work, I “surprisingly” gained the courage to open new doors. And unimaginable blessings ensued.
Obviously, illness, like that caused by the coronavirus, is not something anyone desires. But unwanted things happen all the time. For one thing, in an evolving world, genes and viruses naturally mutate, and then, human beings have to creatively respond.
Hopefully, in facing a crisis, we initially use all the powers we have to stop or alleviate the suffering. This is the necessary “doing” to which we are called as a society – medical research, political decision-making, caring for the sick, teaching children at home. Calling to check on neighbors, sharing face-masks and coming government checks, each according to need, not to mention simply giving each other space, are all positive things we can do. But should I be home longer than I want, or should there be more consequences that come with time, there is a level of “being made holy” that can happen only then.
God in All Things This Lent
Blossoming Fruit Tree at the Jesuit Center
— George W. Bur, SJ