Reflecting on the novitiate

Novice Juan Carlos Castaneda Rojas, Fr. John Czyzynski (novice master) and James Nguyen at the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park in Houston

Novice Juan Carlos Castaneda Rojas, Fr. John Czyzynski (novice master) and James Nguyen at the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park in Houston

“God wrecked my life”

Novice James Nguyen is about halfway through his novitiate year. The following is his reflection on it:

God wrecked my life.  That may sound as shocking to you as it did for me.  But as I reflect back to the roots of my vocation this year, I have never been so convinced that God did wreck my life.  For the majority of my life, my dream was to climb that ladder of success to reach the top rung of security in wealth and happiness.  That meant getting through college, getting a job as a chemist, getting married, and having a loving family.  I was doing fine until God came and wrecked my life a little over halfway through college.  I have never been the same since.

Novice James Nguyen

Novice James Nguyen

I have not been the same since the first day of novitiate as well.  That great excitement during the Reception of Novices has settled into something that’s more manageable, that thrill of not having to go to school for a year has surprisingly disappeared, and the expectations I had in the beginning have yet to have gone my way.  Nonetheless, I am very grateful that things did not go as I planned or else I wouldn’t have the opportunity for self-discovery, growth and spiritual development that this experience has given me.  I have to admit that I was a bit nervous and anxious embracing the new transition.  Novitiate is an intense change and I was reluctant to let a part of my life go.  But overall, this year has given me the chance to look deeper and discover things I had never known about myself.  Although it wasn’t easy, I was able to open up and encounter my vulnerabilities, flaws and true-self through tools like the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram Personality Tests that we learned at the Intercommunity Novitiate in Techny.  That felt like being in a laboratory again doing experiments.  In a way, novitiate does feels like a lab where my vocation is being tested, tried and lived out on a daily basis.

There were times where I felt uncertainty, wondering “what have I got myself into?” as I was constantly wrestling with the “what if” scenarios.  But that in turn has challenged and stretched me in doing things I would not have considered before.  I have also had the privilege of visiting  places where SCJs minister and have meet struggling people with their incredible stories.  This and various other experiences have helped me listen and discern the movements of God in my life.

The silence and slow rhythm of novitiate has provided me an atmosphere to be more attentive to God’s love.  My journey began with the choice of love.  The origin of that choice is reminiscent of the faith conviction of Fr. Dehon, that Christ loved him first.  Love, I believe, will lead me to the place where God is calling me to be as I approach the last half of novitiate.

God indeed wrecked my life, and shattered it into pieces.  It will take a lot of time, effort and persistence to be able to put it all back together again, but I have learned not to do it myself.  I have been picking up the shattered pieces and handing them over to God one by one, day by day.  This is because I know that only God can change something so broken into something so beautiful.  That knowledge has brought me great joy, a joy that I am unable to explain, but what I simply call, “Rambunctious Joy.”

One response to “Reflecting on the novitiate

  1. I’m happy for finding your true self. I will pray for your continuous vocation venture. Thank you for sharing.

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