The Lenten scriptural passages today reflect on the issue of fasting and what kind is expected in God's eyes and in our own estimation. Jesuit Vocation Director, Fr. Paul, speaking with enthusiasm on this first day of his presentation, reminds us of how good we are at being hard on ourselves. Yet, he insists--from what the scriptures tell us--God wants our focus to be "hard" on generosity to others. Keeping with what Barb had inaugurated yesterday with Jesuit spirituality, Fr, Paul gleaned from the history of Francis Xavier and his companionship with Ignatius of Loyola what marks a true vocation in the eyes of our patron who holds the banner of Christ. In seeking out qualified applicants for the Jesuits, Fr. Paul, looks for what Ignatius deemed were personal attributes of vocation, when a person truly hears God speaking to his or her heart: "joy, alacrity, and perseverance." Though we do not seem to have grumpy priests at St. Ignatius, Paul has other apparent encounters and says the Church needs more joyful priests in her service. So listen to Fr. Paul's soft, cheerful voice asking us to look into our hearts and see how we can keep our commitments with a more radiant peace. "Devotion" is etymologically linked to "vows," words expressive of promise. These sacred and holy words from the heart are uttered when one knows and feels deeply true love, infinite love. These are grace because they denote relationship, gift, and communion. And a joyful surprise! May this Novena of Grace enhance your life commitments, your vocation in unexpected ways!