Jesuit encourages vulnerability

Commentary by
John Mayer

This past week I had the good fortune of sitting down with The Rev. Thomas Roach, S.J., with the same hope of receiving some advice to share with the student body at The University. Roach has a background that is deeply rooted in education and thus has spent a great amount of time working with students.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Roach entered the Society of Jesus at 18 and was ordained a priest in 1970. Over his 50 years as a Jesuit, Roach has spent time inside and outside the classroom. He taught German, Latin and theology for 7 years, was principal at St. Joseph’s Preparatory High School in Philadelphia and the president of Georgetown Preparatory High School in Maryland. Before coming to the University, Roach lived in Rome for eight years and was Secretary for Education for all Jesuit secondary schools. During that time he traveled often, visiting Jesuit schools on every continent, reporting back to the Vicar General of the Jesuit order regarding their progress in maintaining and sharing Jesuit ideals. He is now the rector major of the Jesuit community at the University, a position he has held for the past six years.

“The rector is more or less the father of the family” Roach told me “It is the rector’s job to take care of his fellow Jesuits.”
Roach’s background has brought with it a great deal of wisdom. The first piece of advice Roach shared with me deals directly with the importance of communication.

“Never lock things up inside yourself,” Roach said. “You can always find somebody to talk to about things that disturb you or cause you pain. People often get into trouble when they don’t talk about things that are troubling them.”

While it is often difficult to share thoughts and feelings with others, it is necessary to have one or two close friends, family members or elders in whom we confide should life present us with struggles.

“The human person has tremendous potential. Aim for excellence, but be very patient with yourself while getting there. St. Irenaeus is believed to have said ‘the Glory of God is the human person fully alive’,” Roach said.

Both pieces of advice go hand in hand. We cannot be fully alive if we consistently hide things from others, nor can we know where we’re going if we do not have some idea of where we want to go. More so, in setting out to accomplish a goal, we need to have patience with ourselves, knowing that all good things take time to realize.

A final piece of advice Roach shared was the importance of gratitude, especially as we approach Lent.

“If you’re grateful you won’t be unhappy for too long; you’ll find something in your life that will make you happy.” He said, “St. Ignatius puts a great emphasis on taking time during the day to be grateful. This season of Lent, take some time at the end of each day to thank God for what you have been given.” Finding some quiet time to reflect on the blessings of each day can help us see God at work in our lives. An attitude of gratitude helps us put things into perspective and can greatly lift our spirits when we feel downcast. In order to reflect in this manner we need to do our best to leave some time for peace and quiet. The season of Lent is the perfect time to get into the habit of leaving a few moments each day for quiet reflection.
Feb. 20, 2015

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