Fr. Collins is a history professor and vocation promoter at Georgetown University.
"What makes me happy to be a religious today?"
I've been a religious for twenty-eight years, since entering the novitiate right out of college. For the last ten, I've been a history professor at Georgetown University: I teach, I research and write, I do a lot of "service," which is the university's euphemism for committee work. I also live with first-year students in the dorms, organize a student discernment group, and celebrate Mass and other sacraments on campus and in nearby parishes. I work with and for a lot of great people. All this brings me a lot of happiness (well, except for the committee work; that's a drag).
The real satisfaction of being a religious for me, however, is the foundation on which I try to base everything else. That foundational blessing of my vocation has been and is the way that religious life encourages me to grow in my familiarity with and love of God. Everything else gets its meaning from that and gives that love a concreteness in time and space: the work of scholarship and education to which my superiors have assigned me; the brotherhood of my fellow Jesuits, whether next door or halfway around the globe; and the community of the Church, which I serve and represent as a priest.
The real joy I pray hard to keep in touch with is in God. In the end that's a kind of joy that celebrates in the ordinary and special moments of happiness I am blessed with, and that also sustains me in the challenging moments. There's not a life without those either after all, and they give life substance too. The real joy comes from living that life with Him.