In the Roman rite of the Mass, there is a prayer the priest or deacon says quietly after communion as he cleans the vessels: “What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for all eternity.” This prayer serves as a metaphor for the tertianship over the last few weeks.

Soon after joining the Jesuit community on Gardener Street for the feast of the North American Jesuit Martyrs, the tertians were treated to a workshop on the liturgy, focusing on the two important topics of translation and active participation through music. It is safe to say that we all learned something that will enhance our ministries in the future. We also took a close look at Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, and discussed ways this document is important on both a practical “earthly” level as well as a spiritual paradigm. Add to these lessons, ones on the more recent history of the Jesuits between General Congregations 31 and 32, and the great figures of recent Father Generals.

We have also had numerous visitors share their life story. It’s been especially edifying to hear the ways God has been at work in the lives of the faithful and to get some perspective on the winding road that somehow manages to lead straight to now. Of course this has been a great help to the tertians who continued to flesh-out their own reflection on their personal histories, an exercise useful for both the authors and the tertian directors before the long retreat.

Finally, tertians have been invited to make presentations on our own histories. We were given insights to the most formative facts and moments that have been the lives and vocations of our fellow tertians. With such a diverse group of Jesuits from so far across the globe, the value was incalculable. We can no longer be considered friendly strangers, merely connected by the formal bond of membership in the Society of Jesus. We are really brothers who know each other better, who have invested ourselves in each other, who recognize that we really do share a vocation to serve as true Companions of Jesus.

This past, both diverse and common, has been what has passed our lips as food, given to us in time. Now, as we possess it in purity of heart, we recognize it for its eternal healing.

We begin the long retreat on Sunday, the 20th of November. If you are reading this blog post before December 21, please pray that we receive the graces we ask God for during the retreat. Thank you, in advance.