A Jesuit Brother’s loving journey into Catholic Spirituality. [1]

A Spark from the School of the Heart.

At the start of 2021, I was in Portland, Oregon doing what we Jesuits call Tertianship. It’s a 6-9 month stage of our formation that takes place before we take our final vows. During this time, we do the Spiritual exercises again, we take a few seminars on our Constitutions and history, and are involved with some field work. My version of it was cut short due to the pandemic, but it was just as impactful! For 4 months, I felt so deeply engaged by my Catholic faith, and by my Jesuit identity. Tertianship is nicknamed ‘the school of the heart’ because it helps us appropriate our identity as Jesuits a little more deeply.  The influence it had on my life is quite significant.

The deepest shift in my spirituality during this time, has been learning to acknowledge the role of love in my vocation. I have always known how important it is to my journey. I did not become a Jesuit because I had a desire to read or study theology or because I had ambitions of being an academic. I did it because my heart, which is in profound union with Jesus, even when I’m not consciously aware of it, longed to love the world with the heart of Jesus.

I embraced this journey as a religious, because I genuinely want to care for the whole world more deeply and knew that the charism of this community could teach me how to do that. I knew all of this about myself. What Tertianship did was help me remember that ‘God’s infused love’ is essential to my spirituality.

Secondly, I gained confidence in my vocation as a Brother and in the gifts I bring to that journey. As a heart-centred, people-oriented person, it’s easy for me to slip into the background and let Scholastics and Priests spearhead ambitious projects as I quietly watch from the side. But during these months, I had a significant wake up call proclaiming to me that I was called to more with these sacred gifts God had given me. It all happened when we were reading Vatican II together, and I was reminded of the tension that existed back then between conflicting images of what the Church is/could be

On the one hand, there were many progressive voices in the Church dreaming of forming a loving community of faith that was more pastoral, engaged with the world around it, and deeply connected to her spiritual roots. On the other, the traditional image of the Church interested in creating a community that celebrates her values, traditions and rituals, and doesn’t engage as much with the world around it.

That tension is (sadly) still with us. I now understand that my response to that tension as a Brother, is to reflect more on the spiritual, pastoral dimension of the Church that engages the whole world with a loving perspective. My time in Portland connected me with a strong desire to explore the Church’s rich spiritual heritage, and to share my exploration with others.

Now you know why I’m writing this blog! In the end, I’m genuinely eager to engage a larger audience about how we can better integrate the spirituality and wisdom of our Church in everyday life.  I want to do this work for 2 reasons: I want to counter the unloving (polarized) negativity coming from many voices in our Church these days by exploring the rich heritage this Church brings to the world; and, in this pandemic , I know the Church can have something to offer people in terms of spirituality. I know that we can envision a better world.

I long to be a voice that pushes that rich vision just a bit more everyday! May you find inspiration and deepen in your spirituality as we journey together in this blog series! In my next entry, I will speak of the spark of deeper love, and inspiration that are guiding this blog series.

A native of Laval  Quebec, Daniel found God during his years at McGill University. Joining the Jesuits in 2009, he found his vocation to become a Jesuit Brother. In 2014, he completed a Masters in Theological Studies (MTS) at Regis College. Dan joined the Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph as a spiritual director in 2015.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 04:37h, 25 September Reply

    It was a pleasure to have met you in Guelph in my younger days. I look forward to reading your next blog.

  • Chantal Balthazar
    Posted at 08:05h, 25 September Reply

    Thank you Daniel. Your journey is beautiful to witness, and brings hope and inspiration to us all.

  • Charles Pottie-Pâté
    Posted at 08:51h, 25 September Reply

    Dan, thank you for this wonderful reflection and sharing of your heart. Bravo. And may God continue to strengthen you in our desires to share the richness of the christian community (with all its warts as well!) in a loving perspective. This is the heart of the Gospel.
    in companionship and in solidarity of prayer and mission.
    charlie P

  • Dan Leckman
    Posted at 10:08h, 25 September Reply

    Thanks so much Charlie. Means a lot coming from you!!

  • Catherine von Zuben
    Posted at 11:03h, 25 September Reply

    Thank you so much for this great reflection, Dan. I am so happy that you are sharing your experiences and desire to engage the whole community of faith. I see that you will be the facilitator at Manresa next Spring and that is wonderful news. Your topic is really exciting. Be well.

  • Seymour Eliesen
    Posted at 11:29h, 25 September Reply

    My dearest nephew. I am so very proud of you, for your accomplishments, your beautiful expressions of your spirituality. Through the years I have observed your growth and maturity. I may not read and feel every word that you write, the message and feelings do stand out. I feel blessed to be part of your life
    Da Great Zaidie Seymour.

  • Elizabeth Bryant
    Posted at 13:11h, 25 September Reply

    It is so refreshing and encouraging to encounter a fellow Catholic who recognizes the fact that a “friction” does indeed course through the Church in today’s world. And someone who recognizes the remedy for this angst is a conversation centred out of love for God and for his sake, love for my neighbour. We have a beautiful Church full of many and varied gifts – is it any wonder that many look upon us and say: Hey! Is this where my home may be? We cannot forget our role in time to proclaim the gospel fearlessly to all who are searching. As disciples of Christ this is our vocation in whatever state we live. Everything that separates us from this common vocation is anathema. God Bless you Dan in your religious vocation. I will pray for you.

    • Dan Leckman
      Posted at 16:22h, 26 September Reply

      Elizabeth, if I needed more encouragement in this blog series, I would consider your response as being that encouragement. I think the project on its own is encouragement enough, but it’s still wonderful to get this kind of feedback. Fuel for the journey in some ways!
      Thanks so much

  • Paul Robson sj
    Posted at 13:51h, 25 September Reply

    Thanks Dan! Reading your blog makes me want to go to Portland!

  • Paul Panaretos, S.J.
    Posted at 16:05h, 25 September Reply

    Thanks. Dan. I’m happy your post is Part 1. I’m happier for your self discovery. p@ul

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 16:29h, 25 September Reply

    Thank you Dan!

  • Eric Jensen
    Posted at 17:24h, 25 September Reply

    Bravo, Dan!

    I look forward to your next blog entry!


  • Patrick Hutchings
    Posted at 17:42h, 25 September Reply

    As the 1st reading (Nm 11:25-29) this Sunday reminds us, we are ALL called to BE prophets to one another and to speak truth; which is that God is present, and active and engaged with us. Thank you for being that (public) voice and giving voice to God present in our world. The Spirit of God is with you, and through you … with us!

  • George Lozon
    Posted at 23:51h, 25 September Reply

    Love it, I look forward to reading more.

  • Robert Leckman
    Posted at 08:07h, 26 September Reply

    Very inspiring; your reflections reminded me that when Jesus started his revolution he was with 12 brothers. Each apostle brought his strengths to the mission not unlike what the Jesuit founder proposed. No energy was wasted in discussions on who or how to run the administration.

  • Peter LeBlanc
    Posted at 08:17h, 26 September Reply

    Thanks Dan, you are Blest with many of Life’s gifts. Please continue to share them with all of us.

  • Monika Wiesner
    Posted at 08:55h, 30 September Reply

    Dan, I’m so pleased to read of your spiritual journey into deeper love for God’s people! Keep writing!

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