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Society of Jesus

The Society of Jesus (Latin: Societas Iesu, S.J. and S.I. or SJ, SI ) is a Catholic religious order of clerks regular whose members are called Jesuits, Soldiers of Christ, and Foot soldiers of the Pope, because the founder, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, was a knight before becoming a priest.

Jesuits are the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church, with 18,815 members — 13,305 priests, 2,295 scholastic students, 1,758 brothers and 827 novices — as of January 2008, although the Franciscan family of first orders OFMs, Capuchins, and Conventuals has more total members. The average age of the Jesuits in 2008 is 57.53: 63.01 for priests, 30.01 for scholastics, and 65.06 for Brothers.

Jesuit priests and brothers are engaged in ministries in 112 nations on six continents.They are best known in the fields of education (schools, colleges, universities, seminaries, theological faculties), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. They are also known in missionary work and direct evangelization, social justice and human rights activities, interreligious dialogue, and other 'frontier' ministry.

The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General, currently Adolfo Nicolás. The headquarters of the Society, its General Curia, is in Rome. The historic curia of St Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit Mother Church.

History

Foundation

On August 15, 1534, Ignatius of Loyola (born Íñigo López de Loyola), a Spaniard of Basque origin, and six other students at the University of Paris (Francisco Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, and Nicolás Bobadilla all from Spain, Peter Faber from Savoy in France, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal) met in Montmartre outside Paris, in the crypt of the Chapel of St Denis, Rue Yvonne le Tac.

This group bound themselves by a vow of poverty and chastity, to "enter upon hospital and missionary work in Jerusalem, or to go without questioning wherever the pope might direct".

They called themselves the Company of Jesus, because they felt they were placed together by Christ. The name had echoes of the military (as in an infantry "company"), as well as of discipleship (the "companions" of Jesus). The word "company" comes ultimately from Latin, cum + pane = "with bread," or a group that shares meals.

These initial steps led to the founding of what would be called the Society of Jesus later in 1540. The term societas in Latin is derived from socius, a partner or comrade.

In 1537, they travelled to Italy to seek papal approval for their order. Pope Paul III gave them a commendation, and permitted them to be ordained priests.

They were ordained at Venice by the bishop of Arbe (June 24). They devoted themselves to preaching and charitable work in Italy, as the renewed Italian War of 1535-1538 between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Venice, the pope and the Ottoman Empire rendered any journey to Jerusalem impossible.

They presented the project to the Pope. After months of dispute, a congregation of cardinals reported favorably upon the Constitution presented, and Paul III confirmed the order through the bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae ("To the Government of the Church Militant"), on September 27, 1540, but limited the number of its members to sixty. This is the founding document of the Jesuits as an official Catholic religious order.

This limitation was removed through the bull Injunctum nobis (March 14, 1543). Ignatius was chosen as the first superior-general. He sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries.

Ignatius lays out his original vision for the company in "The Formula of the Institute", which is, in the words of Jesuit historian John O'Malley, "the fundamental charter of the order, of which all subsequent documents were elaborations and to which they had to conform." (O'Malley, John, The First Jesuits. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1993. p5) In the Formula's opening statement, one detects the echo of Ignatius' military background within his spirituality: "Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church his Spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience, keep the following in mind."

When developed, Jesuits concentrated on three activities. First, they founded schools throughout Europe. Jesuit teachers were rigorously trained in both classical studies and theology. The Jesuits' second mission was to convert non-Christians to Catholicism, so they developed and sent out missionaries. Their third goal was to stop Protestantism from spreading. The zeal of the Jesuits overcame the drift toward Protestantism in Poland-Lithuania and southern Germany.

Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1554, which created a tightly centralized organization and stressed absolute self-abnegation and obedience to Pope and superiors (perinde ac cadaver, "[well-disciplined] like a corpse" as Ignatius put it).

His main principle became the unofficial Jesuit motto: Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam ("For the greater glory of God"). This phrase is designed to reflect the idea that any work that is not evil can be meritorious for the spiritual life if it is performed with this intention, even things considered normally indifferent.

The Society of Jesus is classified among institutes as a mendicant order of clerks regular, that is, a body of priests organized for apostolic work, following a religious rule, and relying on alms, or donations, for support.

The term "Jesuit" (of fifteenth-century origin, meaning one who used too frequently or appropriated the name of Jesus), was first applied to the Society in reproach (1544-52), and was never employed by its founder, though members and friends of the Society in time appropriated the name in its positive meaning.

Early works

The Jesuits were founded just before the Counter-Reformation (or at least before the date those historians with a classical view of the counter reformation hold to be the beginning of the Counter-Reformation), a movement whose purpose was to reform the Catholic Church from within and to counter the Protestant Reformers, whose teachings were spreading throughout Catholic Europe.

As part of their service to the Roman Church, the Jesuits encouraged people to continue their obedience to scripture as interpreted by Catholic doctrine. Ignatius is known to have written: "...: I will believe that the white that I see is black if the hierarchical Church so defines it.

But his hyperbole relativizes propositional claims defined by the hierarchical Church. For him, the important things in life are not propositional definitions, but the spiritual movements within oneself.

Ignatius and the early Jesuits did recognize, though, that the hierarchical Church was in dire need of reform, and some of their greatest struggles were against corruption, venality, and spiritual lassitude within the Roman Catholic Church.

Ignatius's insistence on an extremely high level of academic preparation for ministry, for instance, was a deliberate response to the relatively poor education of much of the clergy of his time, and the Jesuit vow against "ambitioning prelacies" was a deliberate effort to prevent greed for money or power invading Jesuit circles.

As a result, in spite of their loyalty, Ignatius and his successors often tangled with the pope and the Roman Curia. Over the 450 years since its founding, the Society has both been called the papal "elite troops" and been forced into suppression.

St. Ignatius and the Jesuits who followed him believed that the reform of the Church had to begin with the conversion of an individual’s heart. One of the main tools the Jesuits have used to bring about this conversion has been the Ignatian retreat, called the Spiritual Exercises.

During a four-week period of silence, individuals undergo a series of directed meditations on the life of Christ. During this period, they meet regularly with a spiritual director, who helps them understand whatever call or message God has offered in their meditations.

The retreat follows a Purgative-Illuminative-Unitive pattern in the tradition of the mysticism of John Cassian and the Desert Fathers. Ignatius' innovation was to make this style of contemplative mysticism available to all people in active life, and to use it as a means of rebuilding the spiritual life of the Church. The Exercises became both the basis for the training of Jesuits themselves and one of the essential ministries of the order: giving the exercises to others in what became known as retreats.

The Jesuits’ contributions to the late Renaissance were significant in their roles both as a missionary order and as the first religious order to operate colleges and universities as a principal and distinct ministry.

By the time of Ignatius' death in 1556, the Jesuits were already operating a network of 74 colleges on three continents. A precursor to liberal education, the Jesuit plan of studies incorporated the Classical teachings of Renaissance humanism into the Scholastic structure of Catholic thought.

In addition to teaching faith, the Ratio Studiorum emphasized the study of Latin, Greek, classical literature, poetry, and philosophy as well as non-European languages, sciences and the arts. Furthermore, Jesuit schools encouraged the study of vernacular literature and rhetoric, and thereby became important centers for the training of lawyers and public officials.

The Jesuit schools played an important part in winning back to Catholicism a number of European countries which had for a time been predominantly Protestant, notably Poland and Lithuania. Today, Jesuit colleges and universities are located in over one hundred nations around the world.

Under the notion that God can be encountered through created things and especially art, they encouraged the use of ceremony and decoration in Catholic ritual and devotion. Perhaps as a result of this appreciation for art, coupled with their spiritual practice of "finding God in all things", many early Jesuits distinguished themselves in the visual and performing arts as well as in music.

The Jesuits were able to obtain significant influence in the Early Modern Period because Jesuit priests often acted as confessors to the Kings of the time. They were an important force in the Counter-Reformation and in the Catholic missions, in part because their relatively loose structure (without the requirements of living in community, saying the divine office together, etc.) allowed them to be flexible to meet the needs of the people at the time.

Expansion

Early missions in Japan resulted in the government granting the Jesuits the feudal fiefdom of Nagasaki in 1580. However, this was removed in 1587 due to fears over their growing influence.

Francis Xavier arrived in Goa, in Western India, in 1541 to consider evangelical service in the Indies. He died in China after a decade of evangelism in Southern India. Two Jesuit missionaries, Johann Gruber and Albert D'Orville, reached Lhasa in Tibet in 1661.

Jesuit missions in Latin America were very controversial in Europe, especially in Spain and Portugal, where they were seen as interfering with the proper colonial enterprises of the royal governments. The Jesuits were often the only force standing between the Native Americans and slavery. Together throughout South America but especially in present-day Brazil and Paraguay they formed Christian Native American city-states, called "reductions" (Spanish Reducciones, Portuguese Reduções). These were societies set up according to an idealized theocratic model. It is partly because the Jesuits protected the natives whom certain Spanish and Portuguese colonizers wanted to enslave that the Society of Jesus was suppressed.

Jesuit priests such as Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta founded several towns in Brazil in the 16th century, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and were very influential in the pacification, religious conversion and education of Indian nations

Jesuit scholars working in these foreign missions were very important in understanding their unknown languages and strived to produce Latinicized grammars and dictionaries. This was done, for instance, for Japanese (see Nippo jisho also known as Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam,(Vocabulary of the Japanese Language) a Japanese-Portuguese dictionary written 1603) and Tupi-Guarani (a language group of South American aborigines). Jean François Pons in the 1740s pioneered the study of Sanskrit in the West.

Under Portuguese royal patronage, the order thrived in Goa and until 1759 successfully expanded its activities to education and healthcare. On 17 December 1759, the Marquis of Pombal, Secretary of State in Portugal, expelled the Jesuits from Portugal and Portuguese possessions overseas.

Jesuit activity in China

The Jesuit China missions of the 16th and 17th centuries introduced Western science and astronomy, then undergoing its own revolution, to China. The Society of Jesus introduced, according to Thomas Woods, "a substantial body of scientific knowledge and a vast array of mental tools for understanding the physical universe, including the Euclidean geometry that made planetary motion comprehensible." Another expert quoted by Woods said the scientific revolution brought by the Jesuits coincided with a time when science was at a very low level in China:

Conversely, the Jesuits were very active in transmitting Chinese knowledge to Europe. Confucius's works were translated into European languages through the agency of Jesuit scholars stationed in China. Matteo Ricci started to report on the thoughts of Confucius, and father Prospero Intorcetta published the life and works of Confucius into Latin in 1687. It is thought that such works had considerable importance on European thinkers of the period, particularly among the Deists and other philosophical groups of the Enlightenment who were interested by the integration of the system of morality of Confucius into Christianity. Two well known examples are:

Suppression and restoration

The Suppression of the Jesuits in Portugal, France, the Two Sicilies, Parma and the Spanish Empire by 1767 was troubling to the Society's defender, Pope Clement XIII. A decree signed under secular pressure by Pope Clement XIV in July 1773 suppressed the Order. The suppression was carried out in all countries except Prussia and Russia, where Catherine the Great had forbidden the papal decree to be executed. Because millions of Catholics (including many Jesuits) lived in the Polish western provinces of the Russian Empire, the Society was able to maintain its existence and carry on its work all through the period of suppression. Subsequently, Pope Pius VI would grant formal permission for the continuation of the Society in Russia and Poland. Based on that permission, Stanislaus Czerniewicz was elected superior of the Society in 1782. Pius VII during his captivity in France, had resolved to restore the Jesuits universally; and after his return to Rome he did so with little delay: on 7 August 1814, by the bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, he reversed the suppression of the Order and therewith, the then Superior in Russia, Thaddeus Brzozowski, who had been elected in 1805, acquired universal jurisdiction.

The period following the Restoration of the Jesuits in 1814 was marked by tremendous growth, as evidenced by the large number of Jesuit colleges and universities established in the 19th century. In the United States, 22 of the Society's 28 universities were founded or taken over by the Jesuits during this time. Some claim that the experience of suppression served to heighten orthodoxy among the Jesuits upon restoration. While this claim is debatable, Jesuits were generally supportive of Papal authority within the Church, and some members were associated with the Ultramontanist movement and the declaration of Papal Infallibility in 1870.

In Switzerland, following the defeat of the Ultramontanist Sonderbund by the other cantons, the constitution was modified and Jesuits were banished in 1848. The ban was lifted on 20 May 1973, when 54.9% of voters accepted a referendum modifying the Constitution.

The 20th century witnessed both aspects of growth and decline. Following a trend within the Catholic priesthood at large, Jesuit numbers peaked in the 1950s and have declined steadily since. Meanwhile the number of Jesuit institutions has grown considerably, due in large part to a late 20th century focus on the establishment of Jesuit secondary schools in inner-city areas and an increase in lay association with the order. Among the notable Jesuits of the 20th century, John Courtney Murray, SJ, was called one of the "architects of the Second Vatican Council" and drafted what eventually became the council's endorsement of religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae Personae in apparent contradiction of Pope Eugene IV's Domini Cantate.

Jesuits today

The Jesuits today form the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, with 19,216 serving in 112 nations on six continents, the largest number being in India followed by those in the United States. The current Superior General of the Jesuits is the Spanish Adolfo Nicolás. The Society is characterized by its ministries in the fields of missionary work, human rights, social justice and, most notably, higher education. It operates colleges and universities in various countries around the world and is particularly active in the Philippines and India. In the United States alone, it maintains over 50 colleges, universities and high schools. A typical conception of the mission of a Jesuit school will often contain such concepts as proposing Christ as the model of human life, the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning and life-long spiritual and intellectual growth. In Latin America, Liberal Jesuits have had significant influence in the development of liberation theology, a movement which has been highly controversial in the Catholic theological community and condemned by Pope John Paul II on several fundamental aspects.

Under Superior General Pedro Arrupe, social justice and the preferential option for the poor emerged as dominant themes of the work of the Jesuits. On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests (Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Joaquin López y López, Juan Ramon Moreno, and Amado López); their housekeeper, Elba Ramos; and her daughter, Celia Marisela Ramos, were murdered by the Salvadoran military on the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, because they had been labeled as subversives by the government. The assassinations galvanized the Society's peace and justice movements, including annual protests at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Georgia, United States, where the assassins were trained under US government sponsorship."

In 2002, Boston College president William P. Leahy, SJ, initiated the Church in the 21st Century program as a means of moving the Church "from crisis to renewal." The initiative has provided the Society with a platform for examining issues brought about by the worldwide Roman Catholic sex abuse cases, including the priesthood, celibacy, sexuality, women's roles, and the role of the laity.

On January 6, 2005, Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, on the occasion of the Jubilee Year, wrote that the Jesuits "should truly profit from the jubilee year to examine our way of life and taking the means to live more profoundly the charisms received from our Founders.

In April 2005, Thomas J. Reese, SJ, editor of the American Jesuit weekly magazine America, resigned at the request of the Society. The move was widely published in the media as the result of pressure from the Vatican, following years of criticism by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on articles touching subjects such as HIV/AIDS, religious pluralism, homosexuality and the right of life for the unborn. Reese is currently on a year-long sabbatical at Santa Clara University.

On February 2, 2006, Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, informed members of the Society of Jesus, that with the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, he intended to step down as Superior General in 2008, the year he will turn 80. The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus convened on 5 January 2008 and elected Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, a Spanish Jesuit missionary in Japan, as the new Superior General on 19 January 2008. The deliberations of the General Congregation on other important policies for the Jesuit order continued until 8 March 2008. On that date, the General Congregation concluded its deliberations with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Church of the Gesù. While the Jesuit superior general is elected for life, the order's constitutions allow him to step down.

On April 22, 2006, Feast of Our Lady, Mother of the Society of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI greeted thousands of Jesuits on pilgrimage to Rome, and took the opportunity to thank God "for having granted to your Company the gift of men of extraordinary sanctity and of exceptional apostolic zeal such as St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier and Bl Peter Faber." He said "St Ignatius of Loyola was above all a man of God, who gave the first place of his life to God, to his greater glory and his greater service. He was a man of profound prayer, which found its center and its culmination in the daily Eucharistic Celebration."

In May 2006, Benedict XVI also wrote a letter to Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Haurietis aquas, on devotion to the Sacred Heart, because the Jesuits have always been "extremely active in the promotion of this essential devotion " . In his November 3, 2006 visit to the Pontifical Gregorian University, Benedict XVI cited the university as "one of the greatest services that the Society of Jesus carries out for the universal Church" .

On January 19, 2008, Adolfo Nicolas was elected by General Congregation (GC XXXV) as the Order’s thirtieth Superior General and was promptly confirmed by Benedict XVI. A month after, the Pope received members of the General Congregation and urged them to "to continue on the path of this mission in full fidelity to your original charism" and asked them to reflect so as "to rediscover the fullest meaning of your characteristic 'fourth vow' of obedience to the Successor of Peter." For this, he told them to "adhere totally to the Word of God and to the Magisterium's task of preserving the integral truth and unity of Catholic doctrine." This clear identity, according to the Pope, is important so that "many others may share in your ideals and join you effectively and enthusiastically.". The Congregation responded with a formal declaration titled "With New Fervor and Dynamism, the Society of Jesus Responds to the Call of Benedict XVI," whereby they confirmed the Society's fidelity to the Pope.

Jesuits in the World (2007): 91 Provinces and 12 Dependent Regions: 3 in Africa, 4 in the Americas and 5 in Asia-Oceania.
Region Jesuits Percentage
South Asia Assistancy 4,018 20.9%
United States of America 2,952 15.4%
South Europe 2,448 12.7%
West Europe 1,958 10.2%
East Asia-Oceania 1,672 8.7%
South Latin America 1,513 7.9%
Africa 1,430 7.4%
North Latin America 1,374 7.2%
East Europe 1,119 5.8%
Central Europe 732 3.8%

Ignatian spirituality

Like all Catholic spirituality, the spirituality practiced by the Jesuits, called Ignatian spirituality, is based on the Catholic faith and the gospels. Aside from the "Constitutions," "The Letters," and "Autobiography," Ignatian spirituality draws most specially from St. Ignatius' "Spiritual Exercises," whose purpose is "to conquer oneself and to regulate one's life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment." In other words, the Exercises are intended, in Ignatius' view, to give the exercitant (the person undertaking them) a greater degree of freedom from his or her own likes, dislikes, comforts, wants, needs, drives, appetites and passions that they may choose based solely on what they discern God's will is for them.

In the words of Kolvenbach, the Exercises try to "unite two apparently incompatible realities: exercises and spiritual." It invites to "unlimited generosity" in contemplating God, yet going down to the level of many details.

Ignatian spirituality can be described as an active attentiveness to God joined with a prompt responsiveness to God, who is ever active in people's lives. Though it includes many forms of prayer, discernment, and apostolic service, it is the interior dispositions of attentiveness and responsiveness that are ultimately crucial. The result is that Ignatian spirituality has a remarkable 'nowness,' both in its attentiveness to God and in its desire to respond to what God is asking of the person now.

The Ignatian ideal has the following characteristics:

God's greater glory

St Ignatius of Loyola —"a man who gave the first place of his life to God" says Benedict XVI— stressed that "Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord and by this means to save his soul." This is the "First Principle and Foundation" of the Exercises. Ignatius declares: "The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit... Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me."

Union with Jesus

Ignatius emphasized an ardent love for the Saviour. In his Exercises, he devoted the last weeks to the contemplation of Jesus: from infancy and public ministry, to his passion and lastly his risen life. The Spiritual Exercises, in 104, sum this up in a prayer: "Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly." There is a great emphasis on the emotions in Ignatius' methods, and a call for the person to be very sensitive to the emotional movements that shape them.

Self-awareness

Ignatius recommends the twice-daily examen (examination). This is a guided method of prayerfully reviewing the events of the day, to awaken one's inner sensitivity to one's own actions, desires, and spiritual state, through each moment reviewed. The goals are to see where God is challenging the person to change and to growth, where God is calling the person to deeper reflection (especially apt when discerning if one has a jesuit vocation in life), to where sinful or imperfect attitudes or blind spots are found. The general examen, often at the end of the day, is, as the name implies, a general review. The particular examen, often in the middle of the day, focuses on a particular fault — identified by the person — to be worked upon in the course of some days or weeks.

Spiritual direction

Meditation and contemplation, and for instance the aforementioned examen, are best guided, Ignatius says, by an experienced person. Jesuits, and those following Ignatian spirituality, meet with their spiritual director (traditionally a priest, though in recent years many laypersons have undertaken this role) on a regular basis (weekly or monthly) to discuss the fruits of their prayer life and be offered guidance. Ignatius sees the director as someone who can rein in impulsiveness or excesses, goad the complacent, and keep people honest with themselves. If the director is a priest, spiritual direction may or may not be connected with the Sacrament of Penance. Ignatius counseled frequent use of sacrament and while some directors see them as integrally linked, others hold them to be two separate relationships.

Effective love

The founder of the Society of Jesus put effective love (love shown in deeds) above affective love (love based on nice feelings). He usually ended his most important letters with "I implore God to grant us all the grace to know His holy will and to accomplish it perfectly." True and perfect love demands sacrifice, the abandonment of tastes and personal preferences, and the perfect renunciation of self. This can be taken together with the prayer for generosity, which asks for teaching to be generous, to serve God as God deserves without counting any cost or seeking any reward except knowing that one is doing God's will.

Detachment

Where Francis of Assisi's concept of poverty emphasized the spiritual benefits of simplicity and dependency, Ignatius emphasized detachment, or "indifference." For Ignatius, whether one was rich or poor, healthy or sick, in an assignment one enjoyed or one didn't, was comfortable in a culture or not, etc., should be a matter of spiritual indifference—a modern phrasing might put it as serene acceptance. Hence, a Jesuit (or one following Ignatian spirituality), placed in a comfortable, wealthy neighborhood should continue to live the Gospel life without anxiety or possessiveness, and if plucked instantly from that situation to be placed in a poor area and subjected to hardships should simply cheerfully accept that as well, without a sense of loss or being deprived.

Prayers, efforts at self-conquest, and reflection

Ignatius's little book, the Spiritual Exercises is a fruit of months of prayer, and it is through prayer that one gets to understand Ignatian Spirituality. Jesuits stress the need to take time to reflect and to pray because prayer is at the foundation of Jesus's life. Prayer, in Ignatian spirituality, does not dispense from "helping oneself," a phrase frequently used by Ignatius. Thus, he also speaks of mortification and of amendment.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Eucharist, and Our Lady

The Society of Jesus has a relationship with the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in a commitment to spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart (though the concept of devotion to Christ's mercy, as symbolized in the image of the Sacred Heart, is more ancient, its modern origins can be traced to St. Marie Alacoque, a Visitation nun, whose spiritual director was St. Claude de la Colombière). The Jesuits particularly promoted this devotion to emphasize the compassion and overwhelming love of Christ for people, and to counteract the rigorism and spiritual pessimism of the Jansenists.

St. Ignatius counselled people to receive the Eucharist more often, and from the order's earliest days the Jesuits were promoters of "frequent communion". It should be noted that it was the custom for many Catholics at this time to receive Holy Communion perhaps once or twice a year, out of what Catholic theologians considered an exaggerated respect for the sacrament; Ignatius and others advocated receiving the sacrament at least monthly, emphasizing Holy Communion not as reward but as spiritual food; by the time of Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914), "frequent communion" had come to mean weekly, and even daily reception, of the Eucharist.

Ignatius made his initial commitment to a new way of life by leaving his soldier's weapons (and symbolically, his old values) on an altar before an image of the Christ child seated on the lap of Our Lady of Montserrat. The Jesuits were long promoters of the Sodality of Our Lady, their primary organization for their students until the 1960s, which they used to encourage frequent attendance at Mass, reception of communion, daily recitation of the Rosary, and attendance at retreats in the Ignatian tradition of the Spiritual Exercises.

Zeal for souls

The purpose of the Order, says the Summary of the Constitutions, is "not only to apply one's self to one's own salvation and to perfection with the help of divine grace but to employ all one's strength, for the salvation and perfection of one's neighbor."

Finding God in All Things

The vision that Ignatius places at the beginning of the Exercises keeps sight of both the Creator and the creature, the One and the other swept along in the same movement of love. In it, God offers himself to humankind in an absolute way through the Son, and humankind responds in an absolute way by a total self-donation. There is no longer sacred or profane, natural or supernatural, mortification or prayer - because it is one and the same Spirit who brings it about that the Christian will "love God in all things - and all things in God." Hence, Jesuits have always been active in the graphic and dramatic arts, literature and the sciences.

Examen of Consciousness

The Examen of Consciousness is a simple prayer directed toward developing a spiritual sensitivity to the special ways God approaches, invites, and calls. Ignatius recommends that the examen be done at least twice, and suggests five points of prayer:

  • Recalling that one is in the holy presence of God
  • Thanking God for all the blessings one has received
  • Examining how one has lived his day
  • Asking God for forgiveness
  • Resolution and offering a prayer of hopeful recommitment

It is important, however, that the person feels free to structure the Examen in a way that is most helpful to him. There is no right way to do it; nor is there a need to go through all of the five points each time. A person might, for instance, find himself spending the entire time on only one or two points. The basic rule is: Go wherever God draws you. And this touches upon an important point: the Examen of Consciousness is primarily a time of prayer; it is a "being with God." It focuses on one's consciousness of God, not necessarily one's conscience regarding sins and mistakes.

Discernment

Discernment is rooted in the understanding that God is ever at work in one's life, "inviting, directing, guiding and drawing" one "into the fullness of life." Its central action is reflection on the ordinary events of one's life. It presupposes an ability to reflect on the ordinary events of one's life, a habit of personal prayer, self-knowledge, knowledge of one's deepest desires and openness to God's direction and guidance. Discernment is a prayerful 'pondering' or 'mulling over' the choices a person wishes to consider. In his discernment, the person's focus should be on a quiet attentiveness to God and sensing rather than thinking. His goal is to understand the choices in his heart: to see them, as it were, as God might see them. In one sense, there is no limit to how long he might wish to continue in this. Discernment is a repetitive process, yet as the person continues, some choices should of their own accord fall by the wayside while others should gain clarity and focus. It is a process that should move inexorably toward a decision.

Service and humility

Ignatius emphasized the active expression of God's love in life and the need to be self-forgetful in humility. Part of Jesuit formation is the undertaking of service specifically to the poor and sick in the most humble ways: Ignatius wanted Jesuits in training to serve part of their time as novices and in tertianship (see Formation below) as the equivalent of orderlies in hospitals, for instance, emptying bed pans and washing patients, to learn humility and loving service. Jesuit educational institutions often adopt mottoes and mission statements that include the idea of making students "men for others," and the like. Jesuit missions have generally included medical clinics, schools and agricultural development projects as ways to serve the poor or needy while preaching the Gospel.

Jesuit formation

The training of Jesuits seeks to prepare men spiritually, academically and practically for the ministries they will be called to offer the Church and world. St. Ignatius was strongly influenced by the Renaissance and wanted Jesuits to be able to offer whatever ministries were most needed at any given moment, and especially, to be ready to respond to missions (assignments) from the Pope. Formation for Priesthood normally takes up to 14 years, depending on the man's background and previous education, and final vows are taken several years after that, making Jesuit training among the longest of any of the religious orders.

  • Candidacy is an informal precursor to becoming a Jesuit, wherein a man interested in joining the Jesuits explores his calling with a spiritual director. The candidate attends Jesuit vocation events, including retreats and discussions with other candidates and Jesuits. Candidacy can last any length of time, with the norm being about a year. During this time, the candidate may or may not live in a Jesuit community.
  • Novitiate is the first stage of formation. The Novice begins to live the three vows of poverty, chastity, obedience (though he has not yet vowed himself publicly), completes the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, learns about the history and practice of the order and enters into a series of “experiments.” These experiments are usually short ministerial assignments where the novice tests his aptitude for various ministries, such as, teaching, working with the marginalized or giving retreats. The novitiate lasts two years. Jesuit novices place the letters "n. S.J." after their names.

At this point, the novice pronounces his First Vows (perpetual Simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and a vow to persevere to final profession and ordination) and becomes either a Scholastic (entering onto the path of priesthood) or a Jesuit brother (technically known as a "temporal coadjutor", but officially styled "brother" today). The scholastics (who are addressed by the title "Mister") and the Brothers (addressed by the title "Brother") of the Society of Jesus have different courses of study, although they often overlap.

For scholastics, the usual course of studies is as follows:

  • First Studies is the period when the scholastic begins his academic training. Depending on his prior education it will last 2–4 years, guaranteeing a grounding in philosophy and the attainment of at least a first university level degree thus, in the United States, a four-year bachelor's degree (unless this has already been earned). It may also introduce the study of theology or some other specialized area.
  • As Jesuits serve on the faculties of high schools and universities, and in a wide variety of other positions, the Jesuit scholastic or Jesuit priest often earns a master or doctoral degree on some area - it may be, for instance, Theology or it may be History, English, Chemistry, Educational Administration, Law or any other subject. Hence, a Jesuit may spend another few years earning a graduate degree beyond the bachelor's.
  • Regency is the next stage, wherein the scholastic lives and works in a typical Jesuit community (as opposed to the “formation communities” he has lived insofar). He is engaged full-time in ministry (an Apostolate), which is traditionally teaching in a secondary school, but it may be any ministry Jesuits are engaged in. Regency lasts for 2–3 years.
  • Theology is the stage immediately preceding ordination. By universal canon law, every candidate for priestly ordination must complete four years of theology studies, though part of this requirement may have been met in first studies. This will include the attainment of a first degree in theology (such as the Bachelor of Sacred Theology), and usually a second (masters level) degree in a specialized area related to theology. (As such, it is not uncommon for a Jesuit to hold a master's level degree in Theology, and, as mentioned above, a second master's or a doctorate in a completely different field.)
  • Ordination follows, and the new priest may receive a ministerial assignment or be sent back for further studies in any academic field.
  • The ordained Jesuit priest will either be chosen for profession as a "spiritual coadjutor", taking the usual perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, or for profession as a "professed of the four vows."
  • Those who are destined by his superiors for profession for the four vows undertake Tertianship, so named because it is something like a third year of novitiate, which follows within a few years of ordination. After his first fews years of experience of ministry as a priest, the Jesuit completes the final stage of formal formation by revisiting the essentials of Jesuit life which he learned as a novice: once again, he studies the history and Constitutions of the Jesuits, he makes the Spiritual Exercises and participates in experimentism, most often by serving in ministries to the sick, terminally ill or poor.
  • Final Vows for the fully professed follow upon tertianship, wherein the Jesuit pronounces perpetual solemn vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and the Fourth vow, unique to Jesuits, of special obedience to the pope in matters regarding mission, promising to undertake any mission laid out in the Formula of the Institute the pope may choose.
  • Only the professed of the four vows are eligible for posts like novice master, provincial superior or assistant to the general of the society.
  • The professed of the four vows take, in addition to these solemn perpetual vows five additional simple vows: not to consent to any mitigation of the Society's observance of poverty; not to "ambition" or seek any prelacies (ecclesiastical offices) outside the Society; not to ambition any offices within the Society; a commitment to report any Jesuit who does so ambition; and, if a Jesuit does become a bishop, to permit the general to continue to provide advice to that bishop, though the vow of obedience to Jesuit superiors is not operative over matters the man undertakes as bishop. Under these vows, no Jesuit may "campaign" or even offer his name for appointment or election to any office, and if chosen for one must remind the appointing authority (even the Pope) of these vows — if the Pope commands that the Jesuit accept ordination as a bishop anyway, the Jesuit must keep an open ear to the Jesuit general as an influence.

The formation of Jesuit brothers has a much less structured form. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, Jesuit brothers worked almost exclusively within Jesuit communities as cooks, tailors, farmers, secretaries, accountants, librarians and maintenance support - they were thus technically known as "temporal coadjutors", as they assisted the professed priests by undertaking the more "worldly" jobs, freeing the professed of the four vows and the "spiritual coadjutors" to undertake the sacramental and spiritual missions of the Society. Following the Second Vatican Council, which recognized the mission of all the Christian faithful, not just those who are ordained, to share in the ministries of the Church, Jesuit brothers began to engage in ministries outside of their communities. Today, the formation of a Jesuit brother may take many forms, depending on his aptitude for ministry. He may pursue a highly academic formation which mirrors that of the scholastics (there are, for instance, some Jesuit brothers who serve as university professors), or he may pursue more practical training in areas such as pastoral counseling or spiritual direction (some assist in giving retreats, for instance), or he may continue in the traditional “supporting” roles in which so many Jesuit brothers have attained notable levels of holiness (as administrative aides, for example). Since Vatican II the Society has officially adopted the term "brother," which was always the unofficial form of address for the temporal coadjutors.

Regardless of the practical details, Jesuit formation is meant to form men who are open and ready to serve whatever is the Church’s current need. Today, all Jesuits are expected to learn English, and those who speak English as a first language are expected to learn Spanish.

Government of the Society

The Society is headed by a Superior General. In the Jesuit Order, the formal title of the Superior General is "Praepositus Generalis," Latin for General President, more commonly called Father General or General, who is elected by the General Congregation for life or until he resigns, is confirmed by the Pope, and has absolute authority in running the Society. The current Superior General of the Jesuits is the Spanish Jesuit, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás Pachón who was elected on January 19, 2008.

He is assisted by "assistants," each of whom heads an "assistancy," which is either a geographic area (for instance, the North American Assistancy) or an area of ministry (for instance, higher education). The assistants normally reside with the General Superior in Rome. The assistants, together with a number of other advisors, form an advisory council to the General. A vicar general and secretary of the Society run day-to-day administration. The General is also required to have an "admonitor," a confidential advisor whose specific job is to warn the General honestly and confidentially when he is acting imprudently or is straying toward disobedience to the Pope or heresy. The central staff of the General is known as the Curia.

The order is divided into geographic provinces, each of which is headed by a Provincial Superior, generally called Father Provincial, chosen by the General. He has authority over all Jesuits and ministries in his area, and is assisted by a socius, who acts as a sort of secretary and chief of staff. With the approval of the General, he appoints a novice master and a master of tertians to oversee formation, and rectors of local houses of Jesuits.

Each individual Jesuit community within a province is normally headed by a rector who is assisted by a "minister," from the Latin for "servant," a priest who helps oversee the community's day-to-day needs.

The General Congregation is a meeting of all of the assistants, provincials and additional representatives who are elected by the professed Jesuits of each province. It meets irregularly and rarely, normally to elect a new superior general and/or to take up some major policy issues for the order. The General meets more regularly with smaller councils composed of just the provincials.

Habit and dress

Jesuits do not have an official habit. St. Ignatius' intent was the adoption of diocesan clergy dress in whatever country or region Jesuits found themselves. In time, a "Jesuit-style cassock" became standard issue: it wrapped around the body and was tied with a cincture, rather than the customary buttoned front, a tuftless biretta (only diocesan clergy wore tufts), and a simple cape (ferraiuolo) completed the full, formal Jesuit garb, but this too was part of diocesan priestly dress. As such, though Jesuit garb appeared distinctive, and became identifiable over time, it was the common priestly dress of Ignatius' day. Missionaries of all religious orders, at their commissioning ceremony, received a large crucifix worn on a cord around the neck and often tucked, for convenience, to the cassock's cincture: historical depictions of Jesuit saints show the buttonless cassock, cape, biretta, and cervical crucifix.

During the missionary periods of the Continental Americas, the various Amerindian tribes referred to the Jesuits as the "Blackrobes" because of the black cassocks they wore.

Today, most Jesuits wear the simple Roman collar tab shirts in non-liturgical, ministerial settings. Since the 1960s some have opted for secular garb.

Controversies

The Jesuits have frequently been described by their detractors (of both Catholic and Protestant faith) as engaged in various conspiracies. The Monita Secreta, also known as the "Secret Instructions of the Jesuits" was published 1612 & 1614 in Kraków, and is alternately alleged to have been written by either Claudio Acquaviva, the fifth general of the society, or by Jerome Zahorowski. The document appears to lay down the methods to be adopted for the acquisition of greater power and influence for the order and for the Catholic Church. Sympathizers for the Society of Jesus argue that the Secreta were merely fabricated to give the Jesuits a sinister reputation. It has become widely considered a forgery by Zahorowski.

Henry Garnet, one of the leading English Jesuits, was hanged for misprision of treason because of his involvement in Gunpowder Plot. The plan had been an attempt to kill King James I of England and VI of Scotland, his family and most of the Protestant aristocracy in a single attack by blowing up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Another Jesuit, Oswald Tesimond, managed to escape arrest for involvement in the same plot.

Robert Southwell, another Jesuit was arrested while visiting the house of Richard Bellamy, who lived near Harrow and was under suspicion on account of his connection with Jerome Bellamy, who had been executed for sharing in Anthony Babington's plot. He was hanged for treason.

John Ballard (also Jesuit) was executed for being involved in an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England. The same fate struck Edmund Campion, a Jesuit priest unjustly sentenced to death as a traitor.

They have also been accused of using casuistry to obtain justifications for the unjustifiable (see formulary controversy and Lettres Provinciales) . In English, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, "Jesuitical" has acquired a secondary meaning of "equivocating". The Jesuits have also been targeted by many anti-Catholics like Jack Chick, Avro Manhattan, Alberto Rivera (who claimed to be a former Jesuit himself), and the late former Jesuit priest, Fr. Malachi Martin.

Within the Catholic Church, some Jesuits are criticized by some parties for allegedly being overly liberal and allegedly deviating substantially from official Church teaching and papal directives, especially on such issues as abortion, priestly celibacy, homosexuality, and liberation theology. John Paul II appointed Jesuit priest Roberto Cardinal Tucci, S.J., to the College of Cardinals after serving for many years as the chief organizer of papal trips and public events. In total, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have appointed 10 Jesuit cardinals.

Jesuits rescue efforts during the Holocaust

Nine Jesuit priests have been formally recognized by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, for risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust of World War II. Several other Jesuits are known to have rescued or given refuge to Jews during that period.

A plaque commemorating the 152 Jesuit priests who gave of their lives during the Holocaust was installed at Rockhurst University, a Jesuit university, in Kansas City, Missouri, United States, in April 2007, the first such plaque in the world.

Famous Jesuits

Notable Jesuits include missionaries, educators, scientists, artists and philosophers. Among many distinguished early Jesuits was St. Francis Xavier, a missionary to Asia who converted more people to Catholicism than anyone before. José de Anchieta and Manuel da Nobrega, founders of the city of São Paulo, Brazil, were also Jesuit priests. Another famous Jesuit was St. Jean de Brebeuf, a French missionary who was martyred in North America during the 1600s. The Filipino Martyr Pedro Calungsod

Jesuit Educational institutions

Though there is almost no occupation in civil life, and no ministry within the Church, which a Jesuit has not held at one time or another, and though the work of the Jesuits today embraces a wide variety of apostolates and ministries, they are probably most well known for their educational work.

Since the inception of the order, Jesuits have been teachers. Today, there are Jesuit-run universities, colleges, high schools and middle or elementary schools in dozens of countries. Jesuits also serve on the faculties of both Catholic and secular schools as well.

One of the most prominent of these universities is the Gregorian University in Rome, one of the Church's key seats of learning, associated in a consortium with the Pontifical Biblical Institute and Pontifical Oriental Institute.

In the United States, 28 Jesuit tertiary education institutions are organized as the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the oldest one being Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., founded by Bishop John Carroll in 1789, and the largest Fordham University in the Bronx. The 46 Jesuit high schools are organized as the Jesuit Secondary Education Association. The Jesuits have recently opened a number of middle schools in poor neighborhoods in New York, Boston and Chicago. There are also Jesuits serving on the faculties of other Catholic colleges and universities; additionally they serve on many secular faculties.

In Latin America Jesuit institutions are organized into the Asociación de Universidades Confiadas a la Compañía de Jesús en América Latina (Association of Universities Entrusted to the Jesuits in Latin America).

In the Philippines, the Jesuit universities are all independent, although they maintain institutional ties. The Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Naga University, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Marian College of Ipil, and Ateneo de Davao University are all loosely federated. An affiliated association, Mindanao Consortium of Ateneo Universities, groups all of the Jesuit universities located in Mindanao island with the purpose of promoting Muslim-Christian unity and dialogue as well as to exchange knowledge and expertise in various academic fields.

In Australia, the Jesuits run a number of high schools including Xavier College, St Ignatius' College, Riverview, Loyola senior high school [Mt Druitt], Saint Ignatius' College, Athelstone and St Aloysius' College.

In Ireland, the Jesuits run five secondary schools: Belvedere College, Gonzaga College (both in Dublin), Clongowes Wood College in Clane, Co. Kildare, St Ignatius College, in Galway city, and Crescent College, which is in Limerick.

In the United Kingdom the Jesuit educational institutions are: St. Aloysius' College, Glasgow, Campion Hall, Oxford, Heythrop College (London), Mount St Mary's College (Sheffield) and Stonyhurst College (Clitheroe).

In Egypt, the Jesuits run College de la Sainte Famille, a private boys school in Fagalla, Cairo. They are also involved in charitable organisations in the South of the country.

In Belgium, the Jesuits run various secondary schools (high schools) such as "Sint-Jozefscollege" in Aalst (Dutch-speaking) and " Onze-Lieve-Vrouwecollege" and "Sint-Jan Berchmans College", both in Antwerp (Dutch-speaking). "Universitair Centrum Sint-Ignatius" in Antwerp (Dutch-speaking; now part of " Universiteit Antwerpen") and the 'Facultés Notre-Dame de la Paix' of Namur (French-speaking) are both Jesuit universities.

In India, the Jesuits run top colleges and schools in the country including Loyola College, Chennai, St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, St. Xavier's College, Calcutta, Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur, Loyola School, Thiruvananthapuram, St Xavier's College, Thiruananthapuram, St Xavier's College, Palayamkottai, Loyola College, Kunkuri, St Xavier's College, Balipara, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, St Joseph's College, Tiruchirapalli, St Xavier's College, Goa, Andhra Loyola College, Vijaywada, Loyola Academy, Secunderabad, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB), Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS) and Xavier Institute of Development and Service (XIDAS), St Vincent's High School, Pune and St Xavier's College, Ranchi, St Xavier's College, Ahmedabad. They also run some of the top theological colleges in India the famous ones being Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune (De Nobili College) and Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi. They also run 9 Regional Theology Centers (RTC) for contextual theologies in diverse regions of the country. Their educational institutions also have some of the country's best sportspersons producing centers, prominent among them being St Ignatius High School, Gumla, St Mary's High School, Samtoli, Loyola School Jakhama (Kohima). Some of the top bureaucrats and politicians (including those opposing Christianity) are Jesuit school alumni.

In Hong Kong S.A.R., the Jesuits run two secondary schools including Wah Yan College, Kowloon and Wah Yan College, Hong Kong.

In Japan, the Jesuits founded Sophia University. It is considered to be one of the best private universities in the country, and is one of Tokyo's top ranked private universities.

In Korea, the Jesuits are running Sogang University. It is established in February, 1960. It is founded by Art Dethlefs, Basil Price, Jin Song Man(진성만), Theodor Geppert, Ken Killoren and Clancy Herbst. Nowadays Sogang University is considered to be one of the best private universities in Korea.

In Taiwan, Jesuits founded the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Management of the Catholic Fu-Jen University during the 1950s. In 2003 another new Faculty of Social Sciences was derived from the Faculty of Law. Thus until today, the Fu Jen Catholic University is still considered to be one of the best private universities in Taiwan.

Jesuits also operate retreat houses, for the purpose of offering the Spiritual Exercises (above) and other types of days of prayer or spiritual programs extended over weekends or weeks. The oldest Jesuit retreat house in the United States is Mount Manresa in Staten Island, New York, and today there are 34 retreat houses or spirituality centers run by the order in the U.S. Jesuits also serve on the staffs of other retreat centers.

Jesuits are also known for their involvement in publications. La Civiltà Cattolica, a periodical produced in Rome by the Jesuits, has often been used as a semi-official platform for popes and Vatican officials to float ideas for discussion or hint at future statements or positions. In the United States, America magazine has long had a prominent place in intellectual Catholic circles, and the Jesuits produce Company, a periodical specifically about Jesuit activities. Most Jesuit colleges and universities have their own presses which produce a variety of books, book series, textbooks and academic publications as well. Ignatius Press, staffed by Jesuits, is an independent publisher of Catholic books, most of which are of the popular academic or lay-intellectual variety.

In Australia, the Jesuits run a winery at Sevenhill, the Jesuit Mission Australia, and they produce a number of magazines, including Eureka Street, Madonna, Australian Catholics, and Province Express.

Jesuit buildings

Many buildings and ruins give witness to the order's construction activity world-wide. Among these are:

Popular culture

  • The Mission 1986 award winning film in which 18th century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.
  • Black Robe 1991 film about a Jesuit in 17th century Quebec and his struggles with the Algonquin tribe.
  • The Exorcist Novel and film set at Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, with two Jesuit priests as exorcists. The novel and screenplay were written by William Peter Blatty, a 1950 graduate of the school.
  • The Sparrow 1996 science fiction novel about a Jesuit mission to an alien world. (See also its 1998 sequel, Children of God.)
  • A Case of Conscience 1958 science fiction novel about a Jesuit mission to an alien world.

See also

Notes and references

External links

Catholic Church documents

Jesuit documents

Jesuit Websites In Various Regions

Africa

Asia-Oceania

Europe

North America

South America

Media

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