A sacred space of humanity

Lent is a time for prayer, reflection and discipline for Catholics the world over. Leading up to Holy Week, we will be publishing personal reflections from Jesuits across the globe, in different ministries of the mission. Our first testimony comes from Fr Lân Ngô, SJ, a Vietnamese Jesuit of the US West Province.

By Lân A. Ngô, SJ

To be a Jesuit is to live a life of many hats. Over my 30 years in the Society of Jesus, I have been a seminarian, a grad student, and a lay catechist. I have been an associate pastor at a mega parish, a retreat leader, and a spiritual director. But it's the current hat that I wear - Assistant Professor of Asian History and Asian Church History at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, California, USA - in which this reflection finds me.

For more than eight years, I have taught Asian history and the history of the Church in Asia. Though I occasionally have the opportunity to assist campus ministry in its prayer and reflection programs, and I continue to engage with my pastoral activities with the larger Catholic community of southern California, higher education. That mission is grace-filled and replete with encounters with students looking to find their place in life; encounters that often bring me beyond the walls of my classroom.


Fr Lân Ngô, SJ.

Recently, I volunteered to supply the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as a confessor for the participants of the LA Religious Congress. Witnessing the encounter between my brothers and sisters and God, was a grace-filled experience. As a priest, I was allowed to enter the sacred space of their lives. That space may not have beautiful panes of stained glasses, neat rows of pews, or gilded hymn books, but it does contain the well-used, often broken earthen vessels of their lives: glimpses of their wounds, their struggles against forces beyond their control, and their experiences of living and struggling to be good people.

In being invited to see the reality of their humanity in that sacred space, I knew that they encountered something that touched every fiber of their being. I witnessed tears of joy, self-acceptance, and the ecstasy of being embraced by their merciful God. In the classroom, I put on the hat of a master, a judge, and a grader, but in the confessional, I am just a pilgrim companion, a healer, and a consoler. After hours of being with my brothers and sisters, I found myself in a strange feeling of consolation because I had the honor to sense the presence of God amid our human imperfection.

Teaching at LMU is not the same work I did while serving a parish, but it is as rich as any other ministry and it is a similar ministry of encounter. While I am still learning to master the intellectual apostolate skills, I welcome new and creative pastoral opportunities near Loyola Marymount University, such as being a confessor at the LA Religious Congress or as a spiritual director for the novices and sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross. For me,that is my Lenten journey.I stay and work on the Bluff of LMU, but I am unafraid to follow the Spirit to where I am needed to be a messenger of glad tidings.

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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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