Being a novice means being called to know one’s interior self better

November 13th is the feast of St. Stanislaus Kostka, patron saint of Jesuit novices. This young Pole wanted to join the Jesuits at the tender age of 14, but candidates so young were not admitted. At the age of 17, however, he began his novitiate in Rome, despite his family’s opposition. He died of malaria ten months later, in August 1568. By that time he was already famous for the quality of his spiritual life and his commitment to Christ.

We asked a second year novice from the Province of the Antilles, José Javier Rodríguez, to tell us about his experience in the novitiate in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. He is 33 years old and a native of the D.R.


José Javier Rodríguez, nSJ - 2nd year novice of the Antillean Province.

José Javier, what was the main factor that made you choose to enter the Jesuit novitiate?

Several years ago, I experienced a profound personal encounter with the love of God that moved me more and more to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him completely.

This experience brought up many vocational questions. As a result, the Lord Jesus gave me the grace to find the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits offered me unconditional, Christ-centred accompaniment so that I could discern my vocation to religious life, to which I felt inclined. This discernment shed much light on the calling that God has dreamed for me from eternity: to serve the Eternal King as a priest consecrated to His service and to my neighbour. This I consider my “Principle and Foundation”.

It was in this community of friends in the Lord that I was able to discern more clearly God’s proposal for my life; this is where he made me understand that I can put my efforts to work for the service of others. The Society of Jesus is a community where I feel welcomed and at home; I feel identified with it. In response to this call I decided, last year, in 2021, to take a further concrete step by applying to enter the novitiate.


Novices at work in the garden of the novitiate in Santiago de los Caballeros (Dominican Republic).

Since you entered, what has been your biggest or best surprise?

I would say that my biggest surprise has been getting to know my inner self more fully, because I thought I already knew myself well enough. The novitiate involves continuous vocational discernment, it is a space that unsettles you (for the better). The novitiate confronts you, challenges you and makes you leave your comfort zone, those things you thought were certain and took for granted. It moves you to model your affections after those of Christ, and it gives you opportunities for improvement. It impels you to give more, “magis”, and to be freer for Him. The novitiate experience has made me recognise even more that I am vulnerable and in need of God.

What is the most difficult thing about being a novice?

I’m older and have had years of experience as a professional, with much independence and autonomy in making decisions, so I’ve had some difficulty in moving from such freedom to community dynamics that require a certain dependence on the superiors and the companions in the community. Now I have to consult about my decisions and broaden my horizons in order to think more collectively. I have to recognize that I am less self-sufficient and more in need of others.


The novice master Jesús María de León conducts a seminar for the novices of the Antilles.

The novitiate of the Antilles bears the name of St. Stanislaus Kostka: how does this young 16th century Pole inspire you?

I feel very challenged by his determination, his integrity and his devotion. I admire how he remained firm in his decision to follow Jesus in spite of the difficulties he faced. His example inspires me to follow Christ whatever happens, whatever the cost.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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