Mount Angel monks celebrate vocations
What’s in a name?
When a novice – along with the monastic community – discerns readiness for his first profession, he takes a significant step by accepting a new name in the presence of all his brothers. In this way, he puts on “the new man” as he makes the three Benedictine vows to a way of life marked by: obedience, stability, and conversion of life in the community. At Mount Angel, as a novice prepares for his first profession, he selects three possible names for the Abbot to consider. After praying and talking it over, the Abbot selects his new name.
“Choosing a new name at first profession of vows is a radical thing to do,” said Abbot Jeremy. “All our names are important to us and bring blessings upon us. A former teacher of mine one time said, ‘What is a name? It’s a little song that we sing whenever we see that person.'”
Br. Charles Borromeo
Choosing a new name was not an easy task. I felt deeply inspired to take the name of a saint whom I both admired and with whom I have similar interests and desires. After much thinking and praying, the name Charles Borromeo came to me. I see in the life of St. Charles a beautiful example of a young man with a heart that deeply loved the Catholic Church. He was of the belief that true renewal begins from within. I could see and hear him asking the question, “Where do I need conversion in my own life in order to see the change that I desire?” It is in this spirit of my holy patron that I wish to live my life here in the monastery.
The new name signifies a new life that we take up as we vow stability, obedience, and conversion of life. Conversion of life sticks out, as it is a life totally dedicated to God. The name Jesse was particularly significant to me because it is what my family has always called me. My birth name is Victor Jesus. In some places in Mexico, a nickname for Jesus is Jesse. The monastery is supposed to be a family. Now all of my family calls me by the same name. The Old Testament patriarch Jesse is himself the patriarch of the family line of David. He is the forefather from which come our Lady, St. Joseph, and our Lord himself.
Br. Thomas the Apostle
I proposed the name “Thomas” to Abbot Jeremy in spiritual kinship with the infamous apostle. Like Thomas, I typically come to faith later than others, gathering evidence, mulling it over, making careful inferences. Others may roll their eyes, but I think that Thomas’ objection was reasonable and relatable for our fractured world, in which the very existence of objective truth is sometimes waved away. I am glad to belong to a thinking Church. But as with Thomas, God has gone out of his way to bring me to faith. Whenever the Lord grants me a gratuitous sign of his providence, I feel he is my special friend. I know that God will always give me what I need in order to believe. I pray St. Thomas will help move my stubborn will to respond and sing his praise wisely: “My Lord
Br. Ignatius of Antioch
When I was thinking about my name for profession, I remembered having liked the name “Ignatius of Antioch,” from the Litany of Saints. I began to read about him and learned that he was one of the earliest martyrs and also an early teacher in the church. One day a group of priests from the Diocese of Baker was at the Abbey for a retreat. One of them stopped and asked my name. I told him, “Br. Miguel.” He asked if that was my profession name. When I told him I was still a novice and needed yet to decide on a new name, he said, “I think you should be called Ignatius.”
I was really surprised! He explained that one of his favorite teachers here in the seminary was a monk named Fr. Ignatius Vroeger (d. 1991). That encounter really impressed me. It turns out that Fr. Ignatius’ baptismal name was the same as mine: Rudolph! I asked some of the older monks about Fr. Ignatius and they remembered him well as a kind and joyful monk. So I have two patrons: Ignatius of Antioch, and our own Fr. Ignatius, of Mount Angel Abbey.