Anyone who has heard me telling my vocation story (not the two minute, potted summary, but one with more detail) will have heard me speaking of a gradual, increasing fascination with God which I often liken to walking into the sea. Initially splashy fun, the water imperceptibly deepened, while the sea beguilingly beckoned "just a bit more"... even so, I was still within my depth, until the moment one day when God came whooshing in with all the strength and intensity of a tidal wave.
In those moments I knew the strength of God's love and desire for me: I knew too that my response could only be to give back whatever love I could in return for God's immeasurable love. I also knew, within this, that God had created me for nothing less than union with himself - whatever that was going to mean. This was without doubt a primordial call to God, but it contained within it the seeds of a call to religious life, and specifically to the Society, where the call to union merged with our call to union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus.
All this happened on the 5th August 1990. It is a date I cannot forget, and each year I have quietly marked the anniversary: this year has been the same, except that at some point in the morning it suddenly dawned on me that 1990 was twenty-five years ago - so today is my silver jubilee of call! Wow!
It has continued to be a quiet jubilee, one in which I can only look back, giving thanks for the lovely mystery of God's choice and call and his enduring fidelity. Was there a jubilee gift? Yes... as I sat in the chaplaincy, in the quiet minutes before Mass, I heard the final lines from O Bread of Heaven singing softly deep within:
For how can he deny me heaven
Who here on earth himself has given?
Yes indeed... all this and heaven too!