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The Society of Jesus (Latin: Societas Iesu, S.J., SJ or SI) is a Christian male religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits and are also known colloquially as "God's Marines", these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and members' willingness to accept orders anywhere in the world and live in extreme conditions. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations on six continents. The society's founding principles are contained in the document Formula of the Institute, written by Ignatius of Loyola. Jesuits are known for their work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits, and for their missionary efforts. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue.
Ignatius founded the society after being wounded in battle and experiencing a religious conversion. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including St. Francis Xavier and Bl. Pierre Favre, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope. Rule 13 of Ignatius' Rules for Thinking with the Church said: "That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity [...], if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black." Ignatius' plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by the bull containing the Formula of the Institute. The opening lines of this founding document would declare that the Society of Jesus was founded to "strive especially for the propagation and defense of the faith and progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." The Society participated in the Counter-Reformation and later in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church.
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.
In 2013 Pope Francis was the first Jesuit to be elected Pope.
The Jesuits today form the largest single religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, although they are surpassed by the Franciscan family of first orders Order of Friars Minor (OFM), OFM Capuchins, and Conventuals. As of 1 January 2007, Jesuits numbered 19,216: 13,491 clerks regular (priests), 3,049 scholastics (students to become priests), 1,810 brothers (not priests) and 866 novices. Members serve in 112 nations on six continents with the largest number in India and USA. Their average age was 57.3 years: 63.4 years for priests, 29.9 years for scholastics. and 65.5 years for brothers. The Society is divided into 91 Provinces with 12 dependent Regions: three in Africa, four in the Americas and five in Asia and Oceania. Altogether, they constitute 10 administrative units. (Assistancies).
Jesuits in the World (1 January 2007)
South Asia Assistancy4,01820.9%
United States of America2,95214.2%
South Latin America1,5137.9%
North Latin America1,3747.2%
The current Superior General of the Jesuits is 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 lifelong spiritual and intellectual growth.[9
Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus
Ignatius laid out his original vision for the new order in the Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus, which is "the fundamental charter of the order, of which all subsequent documents were elaborations and to which they had to conform." He ensured that his formula was contained in two papal bulls signed by Pope Paul III in 1540 and by Pope Julius III in 1550. The formula expressed the nature, spirituality, community life and apostolate of the new religious order. Its famous opening statement echoed Ignatius' military background:
"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 solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience, keep what follows in mind. He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures and any other ministration whatsoever of the Word of God, and further by means of retreats, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, and the spiritual consolation of Christ's faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments. Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons or hospitals, and indeed, to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good".
On 15 August 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 from Navarre (modern Spain), Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla from Spain, Peter Faber from Savoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal—met in Montmartre outside Paris, in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, now Saint Pierre de Montmartre.
They called themselves the Company of Jesus, and also Amigos en El Señor or "Friends in the Lord", 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.
In 1537, they traveled to Italy to seek papal approval for their order. Pope Paul III gave them a commendation, and permitted them to be ordained priests. 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.
They were ordained at Venice by the bishop of Arbe (24 June). They devoted themselves to preaching and charitable work in Italy, as the Italian War of 1535-1538 renewed 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 Paul III. 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 27 September 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 (14 March 1543). Ignatius was chosen as the first superior-general. He sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries.
In fulfilling the mission of the Formula of the Institute of the Society, the first Jesuits concentrated on a few key activities. First, they founded schools throughout Europe. Jesuit teachers were rigorously trained in both classical studies and theology, and their schools reflected this. Second, they sent out missionaries across the globe to evangelize those peoples who had not yet heard the Gospel, founding missions in widely diverse regions, such as modern-day Paraguay, Japan, Ontario, and Ethiopia. Finally, though not initially formed for the purpose, they aimed to stop Protestantism from spreading and to preserve communion with Rome and the successor of Peter. 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 total abnegation and obedience to the Pope and their religious 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 15th-century origin, meaning one who used too frequently or appropriated the name of Jesus), was first applied to the Society in reproach (1544–52). It was never used by its founder, though members and friends of the Society in time appropriated the name in its positive meaning.
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."
Ignatius and the early Jesuits did recognize, though, that the hierarchical Church was in dire need of reform. 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. 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.
Jesuits at Akbar's court in India, c. 1605
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 any call or message from God that they have received in their meditations.
The retreat follows a "Purgative-Illuminative-Unitive" pattern in the tradition of the spirituality of John Cassian and the Desert Fathers. Ignatius' innovation was to make this style of contemplative mysticism available to all people in active life. Further, he used it as a means of rebuilding the spiritual life of the Church. The Exercises became both the basis for the training of Jesuits 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.
Jesuit missionary, painting from 1779.
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.
Jesuit priests often acted as confessors to kings during the Early Modern Period. 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.
It is believed that as a response to the varying protestant reformations against the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Paul III gave formal approval to St. Ignatius of Loyola to lead this order. This order was the most influential, intellectual Counter Reformation by the Catholic Church. They were most notably marked by their ability for intellectual influence and debate among the aristocracy of Europe. They were also marked by their elaborate open air revival-style meetings. These theatrical provocative and entertaining sermons created their own celebrity status.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Jesus Is Happy For The Jesuits
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