Jesuit Account of Conscience

I am a Jesuit priest and every year I meet with my provincial superior to make what is called an "Account of Conscience." This goes back to the founder of the Jesuits--St. Ignatius Loyola--and his desire that superiors know their men well. The primary purpose is so that Jesuit superiors will know the strengths and weaknesses, the talents and struggles, of the individual Jesuits who are under their direction and care. With this knowledge it is easier for superiors to assign the men of a province, making sure that they are in the best place both for themselves and for the apostolates.

On Monday I met with my provincial for our annual visit. We talked about my spiritual life and the work I do, my community life and personal health. I have always found this annual "Account of Conscience" to be a very consoling thing. Some people might be afraid of such openness but I've always found it to be quite freeing. I can trust that my superiors know me well, with my weaknesses and strengths. I don't have to second-guess them, thinking, "well if they knew this about me they would never assign me to this work." And since religious superiors represent Christ, my obedience to their commands allows me to trust that I'm doing the will of God right now. That's one of the beauties of the vow of obedience.