22

PopeWatch: Jesuits

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Popewatch has always believed that one of the keys to understanding Pope Francis is that he is a Jesuit.  Here is his speech commemorating the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Jesuits in 1814:

 

 

Dear brothers and friends in the Lord,

The Society under the name of Jesus has lived difficult times of persecution. During the leadership of Fr Lorenzo Ricci, “enemies of the Church succeeded in obtaining the suppression of the Society” (John Paul II, Message to Fr Kolvenbach, July 31, 1990) by my predecessor Clement XIV. Today, remembering its restoration, we are called to recover our memory, calling to mind the benefits received and the particular gifts (cf. Spiritual Exercises, 234). Today, I want to do that here with you.

In times of trial and tribulation, dust clouds of doubt and suffering are always raised and it is not easy to move forward, to continue the journey. Many temptations come, especially in difficult times and in crises: to stop to discuss ideas, to allow oneself to be carried away by the desolation, to focus on the fact of being persecuted, and not to see the other. Reading the letters of Fr Ricci, one thing struck me: his ability to avoid being harnessed by these temptations and to propose to the Jesuits, in a time of trouble, a vision of the things that rooted them even more in the spirituality of the Society.

Father General Ricci, who wrote to the Jesuits at the time, watching the clouds thickening on the horizon, strengthened them in their membership in the body of the Society and its mission. Here it is: in a time of confusion and turmoil he discerned. He did not waste time discussing ideas and complaining, but he took on the charge of the vocation of the Society.

And this attitude led the Jesuits to experience the death and resurrection of the Lord. Faced with the loss of everything, even of their public identity, they did not resist the will of God, they did not resist the conflict, trying to save themselves. The Society – and this is beautiful – lived the conflict to the end, without minimizing it. It lived humiliation along with the  humiliated Christ; it obeyed. You never save yourself from conflict with cunning and with strategies of resistance. In the confusion and humiliation, the Society preferred to live the discernment of God’s will, without seeking a way out of the conflict in a seemingly quiet manner.

It is never apparent tranquility that satisfies our hearts, but true peace that is a gift from God. One should never seek the easy “compromise” nor practice facile “irenicism.” Only discernment saves us from real uprooting, from true “suppression” of the heart, which is selfishness, worldliness, the loss of our horizon. Our hope, is Jesus; it is only Jesus. Thus Fr Ricci and the Society during the suppression privileged history rather than a gray “little tale”, knowing that love judges history and that hope – even in darkness – is greater than our expectations.

Discernment must be done with right intention, with a simple eye. For this reason, Fr Ricci comes, precisely in this time of confusion and bewilderment, to speak about the sins of the Jesuits. He does not defend himself, feeling like a victim of history, but he recognizes himself as a sinner. Looking at oneself and recognizing oneself as a sinner avoids being in a position of considering oneself a victim before an executioner. Recognizing oneself as a sinner, really recognizing oneself as a sinner, means putting oneself in the correct attitude to receive consolation.

We can review briefly this process of discernment and service that this Father General indicated to the Society. When in 1759, the decrees of Pombal destroyed the Portuguese provinces of the Society, Fr Ricci lived the conflict, not complaining and letting himself fall into desolation, but inviting prayers to ask for the good spirit, the true supernatural spirit of vocation, the perfect docility to God’s grace. When in 1761, the storm advanced in France, the Father General asked that all trust be placed in God. He wanted that they take advantage of the hardships toward a greater inner purification; they lead us to God and can serve for his greater glory. Then, he recommended prayer, holiness of life, humility and the spirit of obedience. In 1760, after the expulsion of the Spanish Jesuits, he continued to call for prayer. And finally, on February 21, 1773, just six months before the signing of the Brief Dominus ac Redemptor, with the utter lack of human help, he sees the hand of God’s mercy, which invites those, who submit to the test, not to confide in anyone but God. Trust must grow precisely when circumstances throw us to the ground. Of importance for Fr Ricci is that the Society, until the last, is true to the spirit of its vocation, which is for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

The Society, even faced with its own demise, remained true to the purpose for which it was founded. To this, Ricci concludes with an exhortation to keep alive the spirit of charity, unity, obedience, patience, evangelical simplicity, true friendship with God. Everything else is worldliness. The flame of the greater glory of God even today flows through us, burning every complacency and enveloping us in a flame, which we have within, which focuses us and expands us, makes us grow and makes us shrink.

In this way, the Society experienced the supreme test of the sacrifice unjustly asked of it, taking up the prayer of Tobit, who with a soul struck by grief, sighs, cries and then prays:  “You are righteous, O Lord, and all your deeds are just; all your ways are mercy and truth; you judge the world.  And now, O Lord, remember me and look favorably upon me. Do not punish me for my sins and for my unwitting offenses and those that my ancestors committed before you. They sinned against you,  and disobeyed your commandments. So you gave us over to plunder, exile, and death, to become the talk, the byword, and an object of reproach among all the nations among whom you have dispersed us.” It concludes with the most important request: “Do not, O Lord, turn your face away from me. (Tb 3,1-4.6d).

And the Lord answered by sending Raphael to remove the white spots from Tobit’s eyes, so that he could once again see the light of God. God is merciful, God crowns with mercy. God loves us and saves us. Sometimes the path that leads to life is narrow and cramped, but the tribulation, if lived in the light of mercy, purifies us like fire, it gives us much consolation and inflames our hearts, endearing prayer to it. Our brother Jesuits in the suppression were fervent in the spirit and in the service of the Lord, rejoicing in hope, constant in tribulation, perseverant in prayer (cf. Rom 12:13). And that gave honour to the Society, but certainly not the praise of its merits. It will always be this way.

Let us remember our history: the Society “was given the grace not only to believe in the Lord, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). We do well to remember this.

The ship of the Society has been tossed around by the waves and there is nothing surprising in this. Even the boat of Peter can be tossed about today. The night and the powers of darkness are always near. It is tiring to row. The Jesuits must be “brave and expert rowers”(Pius VII, Sollecitudo omnium ecclesiarum): row then! Row, be strong, even with the headwind! We row in the service of the Church. We row together! But while we row – we all row, even the Pope rows in the boat of Peter – we must pray a lot, “Lord, save us! Lord save your people.” The Lord, even if we are men of little faith, will save us. Let us hope in the Lord! Let us hope always in the Lord!

The Society, restored by my predecessor Pius VII, was made up of  men, who were brave and humble in their witness of hope, love and apostolic creativity, that of the Spirit. Pius VII wrote of wanting to restore the Society to “support himself in an adequate way for the spiritual needs of the Christian world, without the difference of peoples and nations” (ibid). For this, he gave permission to the Jesuits, which still existed here and there, thanks to a Lutheran monarch and an Orthodox monarch, “to remain united in one body.” That the Society may remain united in one body!

And the Society was immediately missionary and made itself ​​available to the Apostolic See, committing generously “under the banner of the cross for the Lord and His Vicar on earth” (Formula of the Institute, 1). The Society resumed its apostolic activity of preaching and teaching, spiritual ministries, scientific research and social action, the missions and care for the poor, the suffering and the marginalized.

Today, the Society also deals with the tragic problem of refugees and displaced persons with intelligence and industriousness; and it strives with discernment to integrate service to faith and the promotion of justice in conformity with the Gospel. I confirm today what Paul VI told us at our 32nd General Congregation and which I heard with my own ears: “Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme situations, in the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, where there has been and there is confrontation between the deepest desires of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, there you have been and there are Jesuits. “

In 1814, at the time of the restoration, the Jesuits had a small flock, a “small Society,” but which knew how to invest, after the test of the cross, in the great mission of bringing the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This is how we must feel today therefore: outbound, in mission. The Jesuit identity is that of a man who loves God and loves and serves his brothers, showing by example not only that in which he believes, but also that in which he hopes, and who is the One in whom he has put his trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:12). The Jesuit wants to be a companion of Jesus, one who has the same feelings of Jesus.

The bull of Pius VII that restored the Society was signed on August 7, 1814, at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where our holy father Ignatius celebrated his first Mass on Christmas Eve of 1538. Mary, Our Lady, Mother of the Society, will be touched by our efforts to be at the service of her Son. May she watch over us and protects us always.

Share With Friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

22 Comments

  1. Well and good, fine words, Holy Father.
    ….
    But since the Jesuits love to speak of “praxis”, please explain the current Jesuit “Faith” in Jesus Christ in its practical applications. Where is it evidenced? For example, why do we see a need to place Muslim worship spaces within [formerly] eminently Catholic Jesuit college churches, such as St. Ignatius Church here in San Francisco:
    “Mosque installation at USF church: ‘Stretches the limits imposed by a faith’”, Sept. 2, 2014, California Catholic Daily:
    http://cal-catholic.com/?p=15391

  2. “It obeyed” – Really? Taking reuge with Catherine the Great in Russia and Frederic the Great in Prussia, on the legal quibble that the brief could not be published there? Even imploring Catherine in a public address to allow the brief to be promulgated, having been privately assured that she would do no such thing.
    Was this obedience to the spirit of the Constitutions of the Society that bade them “bend all his forces to the practice of the virtue of obedience in the first place towards the Pope.” Is it not rather gross disobedience masquerading as holy docility?
    Anyone familiar witht he charater of those two monarchs would appreciate the justice of Carlyle’s remark, “men had served the Devil, and man had very imperfectly served God; but to think that God could be served more perfectly by taking the Devil into partnership; this was a novelty of Saint Ignatius.”
    I wonder if the Holy Father has ever read Les Provinciales?

  3. I am befuddled.

    I’m out of my element, friends, but intensely interested. What is His Holiness saying here? What is he exhorting Jesuits to do.

  4. I watched the entire ceremony…I was enthralled…it was moving…The point of the Jesuits is one in which to unite ALL into Jesus Christ.. It is quite simple..By their works, and travels they have endured much persecution and suffering. YET, they go forward… Jesuits are accused of disobeying the Pope etc…when in fact they did not.. They begged to go to the hardest of lands to teach about Jesus.. Pope Francis is quite brilliant, yet many have a hard time understanding him.. I simply LOVE HIM…His LOVE for God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Our Lady are very obvious. May Almighty God Bless and watch over him..+++ <3

  5. David Spaulding

    The Holy Father’s speech is a confirmation, if such were needed, of the Society’s perennial self-image.

    In the fifth of Les Provinciales, Pascal has a delightful description of a Jesuit introducing him to the work of the Jesuit theologian, Escobar:
    “Who is Escobar?” I inquired.
    “What! Not know Escobar! ” cried the monk; “the member of our Society who compiled this Moral Theology from twenty-four of our fathers, and on this founds an analogy, in his preface, between his book and ‘that in the Apocalypse which was ‘sealed with seven seals,’ and states that ‘Jesus presents it thus sealed to the four living creatures, Suarez, Vasquez, Molina, and Valencia, in presence of the four-and-twenty Jesuits who represent the four-and-twenty elders.'” He read me, in fact, the whole of that allegory, which he pronounced to be admirably appropriate…”
    In much the same spirit, the Jesuit author of the Catholic Encyclopaedia thus describes the Spiritual Exercises: “We must therefore consider the revelation of the Exercises, not as a completely supernatural manifestation of all the truths contained in the work, but as a kind of inspiration or special divine assistance, which prevented all essential error, and suggested many thoughts useful for the salvation of the author and of readers of all times.”
    No wonder the Holy Father simply takes it for granted that the suppression of the Society was the work of “enemies of the Church.” In fact, the suppression was urged by thirty-four Spanish bishops, virtually the whole French hierarchy, not to mention the Catholic sovereigns of France, Spain, Portugal and the Two Sicilies, as a measure essential to the peace of Church and State.

  6. Esther M Ferencz wrote, “they have endured much persecution and suffering.”

    So they would have us believe; others would suggest that, more often than not, they have only received the just reward of their deeds.

    Any fair-minded study of Jesuit history shows the belief of St Ignatius and his successors, amounting at times to obsession, that the Society was God’s chosen instrument to fulfil His Will on earth. This leads them to attribute to the devil every difficulty that the Society encounters, and they seem to have thought that the devil’s chief occupation was to thwart the work of the Society.

    Hence, Jesuits are fond of quoting St Ambrose, “He in truth is impugned in vain who is accused of impiety by the impious and faithless, even though he is a teacher of the faith,” ; anyone who opposes them is by definition, “impious and faithless.”

    In this context, it is perhaps, worth recalling the maxim of Caramuel (whom St Alphonus dubbed “the prince of the Laxists), quoted by Pascal in the 15th of the Provinciales, “There can be no doubt,” says Caramuel, “that it is a probable opinion that we contract no mortal sin by calumniating another, in order to preserve our own reputation. For it is maintained by more than twenty grave doctors, by Gaspard Hurtado, and Dicastille, Jesuits, &c.; so that, were this doctrine not probable, it would be difficult to find any one such in the whole compass of theology.”

    As Pascal says, “Self-love is always ready enough to whisper in our ear, when we are attacked, that we suffer wrongfully; and more particularly in your case, fathers, whom vanity has blinded so egregiously as to make you believe that to wound the honour of your Society is to wound that of the Church. There would have been good ground to look on it as something miraculous, if you had not reduced this maxim to practice.”
    No body of men have been so fertile in maxims calculated to make good people bad and bad people worse.

  7. “No body of men have been so fertile in maxims calculated to make good people bad and bad people worse.”

    Don’t hold back, now. Let us know how you feel.

    Bravo!

    That is a well stated summation.

    I call it, “infallible insolence.”

  8. Well, Esther, I can’t really be enthralled by PF’s florid words noted here on the Jesuits’ long-distant history: having some acquaintance, especially at the university level, with the present-day least Society of Jesus, I am much more on the same note as Michael P-S: (1) “They have endured much persecution and suffering.” So they would have us believe..” and even one better, (2) “The Holy Father’s speech is a confirmation, if such were needed, of the Society’s perennial self-image.”
    ….
    Having sat through many of these self-congratulatory perorations that I find embarassing, as meanwhile the Catholic Church in the USA and around the world is disintegrating in belief and practice, in a state best called “free fall”, yet still many a Jesuit U. president will stand up and self-laud the storied Jesuit history…a dead history of the long-distant past, oblivious to the darkness encroaching all around.
    …..
    We also must make an exception for those wonderful individual Jesuits, here and there who, candidly, will tell you how distraught they are at the Society of Jesus’ contemporary collapse, capitulating on contemporary morality, doctrine, and fundamental dogma (these are the many “fringe” Jesuits who continue to labor on, providing the sacraments in hospitals, schools, and parishes). However, the present-day Jesuits I encounter are often shockingly secular-atheist and utterly irrelevant to whatever marginal future the Catholic Church may eke out of the years to come.

  9. I am impressed w/the knowledge base the commentators after me have posted.
    I think that on the WHOLE…The JESUITS’. operative word on the ‘WHOLE’..are good and holy men…All of the various Societies seem to have had flaws…look at the Salatian’s, look at the the many priests from all walks of the various orders. They are made up of men, nothing more. Men who are weak. Men who are capable of error and sin. I have found that since the election of Pope Francis there has been a massive flood of all that he says and does being ripped apart, negated, made fun of, called shameful names by some…this is not only sin as to the church and papal love and respect…it is insulting as to Catholics to do this.

  10. ” The Society, restored by my predecessor Pius VII, was made up of men, who were brave and humble in their witness of hope, love and apostolic creativity, that of the Spirit. Pius VII wrote of wanting to restore the Society to “support himself in an adequate way for the spiritual needs of the Christian world, without the difference of peoples and nations” (ibid). For this, he gave permission to the Jesuits, which still existed here and there, thanks to a Lutheran monarch and an Orthodox monarch, “to remain united in one body.” That the Society may remain united in one body! ”
    .
    Spiritual needs
    .
    ” And the Society was immediately missionary and made itself ​​available to the Apostolic See, committing generously “under the banner of the cross for the Lord and His Vicar on earth” (Formula of the Institute, 1). The Society resumed its apostolic activity of preaching and teaching, spiritual ministries, scientific research and social action, the missions and care for the poor, the suffering and the marginalized. ”
    .
    Ministries
    .
    ” Today, the Society also deals with the tragic problem of refugees and displaced persons with intelligence and industriousness; and it strives with discernment to integrate service to faith and the promotion of justice in conformity with the Gospel.” (Government?) ” I confirm today what Paul VI told us at our 32nd General Congregation and which I heard with my own ears: “Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme situations, in the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, where there has been and there is confrontation between the deepest desires of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, there you have been and there are Jesuits.” “
    .
    Time for addressing spiritual needs in those crossroads of confusion over the message of the Gospel and the other situations will resolve themselves. People are dying of spiritual poverty and disease .

  11. Esther M Ferencz wrote, “.All of the various Societies seem to have had flaws…look at the Salatian’s, look at the the [sic] many priests from all walks of the various orders. They are made up of men, nothing more. Men who are weak. Men who are capable of error and sin…”

    Scandals prove nothing, unless they can be shown to result from the principles according to which the Society is governed. This, of course, cuts both ways, for neither can the Society claim credit for the goodness and holiness of many of its members, unless this, too, can be shown to be the result of its methods.

    Now, the whole case of the Society’s critics (and they are numerous) is that its faults lie, not with individuals, but with its principles and its methods. The whole world is convinced of it: look up the word “Jesuitical” in an English dictionary or, if you suspect an Angl-Saxon Protestant bias, try « jésuitique » in a French one.

    Hence, Pascal’s charge in the 5th of Les Provinciales: “Know then that their object is not the corruption of manners- that is not their design. But as little is it their sole aim to reform them-that would be bad policy. Their idea is briefly this: They have such a good opinion of themselves as to believe that it is useful, and in some sort essentially necessary to the good of religion, that their influence should extend everywhere, and that they should govern all consciences. And the Evangelical or severe maxims being best fitted for managing some sorts of people, they avail themselves of these when they find them favourable to their purpose. But as these maxims do not suit the views of the great bulk of the people, they waive them in the case of such persons, in order to keep on good terms with all the world.” His complaint is not that some Jesuit confessors are lax, but that it is a principle of the Society that these confessors should be lax.

  12. I just wish to respond by saying Jesus was a simple man on this earth….You are going on and on, I guess impressing me possibly…but not really, as to your knowledge base…. I will HANG with Jesus’ words…. and His simplicity… That is the key you know… Simplicity in Belief, Trust and Faith . Love, Jesus is God’s Son. I wonder what He would respond to your incessant chatter on downing the Jesuits…you are doing that and as well downing Pope Francis, I do not have a desire to carry on about Pascal…not necessary.

  13. Esther Ferencz’ comments seem to miss the point entirely: if she, as so many today seem to wish to see themselves, is also a Pope-Francis-ite, so much like those wrapping themselves in the trappings of a much higher spiritual understanding (much higher than us questioning trogolodytes), vesting themselves in a new “simplicity” and a true Franciscan humility, I would then think a fair amount of thoughtfulness would be due on their part regarding the endlessly self-congratulatory perorations of Jesuits about their now quite distant history and dead accomplishments. (We get these self-adoring paeans of praise over and over at the universities here in the Bay Area: the new Jesuit hymn, “How Great We Art”) Would not this display of proud paleo-history and chest-thumping exhibit an un-Francis-like, unworthy, and un-Christlike, pridefulness? No? I guess, “no.”
    ….
    And pardon me for becoming increasingly amused by the Pope-Francis-ites, perhaps like E. Ferencz here, who on the one hand embrace their almost Gnostic higher spirituality, and “simplicity in belief, trust, and faith”, while getting in their jabs and smacks at us “shallow chatterer:” Oh, why, for the crime of “downing PF”? PF has exhibited (for a humble “Franciscan”) rather shockingly a significant amount of downing of others of the Faith (calling nuns “spinsters”, priests “unfruitful bachelors”, and [my personal favorite] smash-mouthing traditional Catholics as “Promethean self-absorbed neo-Pelagianists”—now that’s a mouthful of Jesuit humility right there! 🙂 Let ‘er rip, Papa!
    ….
    But you are right, E. Ferencz, we do diverge on Faith practice:( ” I just wish to respond by saying Jesus was a simple man on this earth.” – E. Ferencz) Just a “simple man”, no more. You are right: I believe something quite different from you.

  14. You, Sir, have just trashed any respect I had for you… How dare you make an out ass u me[assume] to KNOW Me, Let alone my relationship with JESUS…. the more you write the more the ‘hatred of Pope Francis’ seeps from you.. God will forgive you, IF you but repent… Your a smart ass know it all, Pope Francis and Jesuit Basher… And, I might add have an obsession w/belittleing the Pope and the Jesuits… GOOD LUCK..chat with yourself ALL you u want.. It is rather high minded of you to post such hate to a total stranger…me… ‘Yes, Jesus was a simple man, unlike you’. and Pope Francis itis..HUH? What an ignorant comment..

  15. Dear Esther,
    /.

    Quick question, Who are the Salatians? I tried a google search and nothing.
    .

    Anthow, I really don’t know why, but I am not a fan of the Jesuits. Maybe b/c I went to de la Salle Christian Brothers schools and we were all working class. Fordham was our sports rival.
    .

    BTW: Two of my three sons went to Fordham U. One was ROTC commisssioned US Army 2LT in the beautiful Chapel. Thank God my father was still alive to see it. As is his habit, one Jesuit Priest read Kipling’s “Recessional” during the ecremony. And, the Father President made a good speech. So, Jesuits are not all bad.
    .

    In conclusion, if Christ can bear to hear the Truth he’s spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, . . . (see Kipling: “If”) so can I.
    .
    I need to get to Confession, and not just for that.
    .
    Maintain a low profile, boys! The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

  16. The ardent Pope Francis defenders remind me of leftists and how they treat tolerance. Leftists preach much about tolerance, and yet are virulently intolerant of people who disagree with them. The Pope Francis defenders drone on about charity and being pastoral, and yet seem to lack those virtues when dealing with others

  17. No real Offense… indeed the female species is more deadly.. I love and admire Pope Francis and would if he were a Franciscan… the comments that someone posted as to not imitating Christ as to works and just words is just plain mean, with a touch of evil… someone up top said that one..Good on the education for you and your boys…blessed are you… God is GOOD. God Loves all… God does not care about anything spare we love HIM, and end up with Him in paradise…and He as well wants us to do as his SON said to get there..which is to love the Father, and love thy neighbor as ourselves.. pretty much sums up my thoughts.. God Bless You, and Mary Keep You as well.

  18. “More deadly” is a compliment.

    Our wonderful mothers faced torture and death to bring each of us into this World. The magnificent woman who gave you life is the closest to God’s love you will know in this vale of tears.

  19. I am currently reading the book, Such a Vision of the Street-Mother Teresa-The Spirit and the Work, by Eileen Egan. Mrs. Egan is writing her book from her first hand knowledge and experience with Mother Teresa and the work in and around Calcutta, India. Many Jesuits supported and assisted Mother Teresa with the founding of and her ministry in and through the Missionairies of Charity. In one chapter alone the godly life and work of several Jesuits are mentioned including but not limited to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier.

    I recommend this book highly to anyone who is interested in missions and ministry. Praise God for his faithfulness.

Comments are closed.