CHAPTER III: THE SOCIETY OF JESUS AND THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
CHAPTER IV: THE SOCIETY OF JESUS AND WORK
CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION
The members of the Religious Order who are commonly called Jesuits are known familiarly to most Catholics, just as are the Dominicans, Benedictines, Franciscans, in the everyday rounds of parish, classroom or missionary work. Those who are not Catholics rarely picture the Jesuit as a mere member of a clerical body in the Church like the others. Many centuries of propaganda and controversy have engendered two contradictory ideas, each wide of the facts: either that there are no Jesuits any more, or that every other Catholic one meets is one in disguise.
The series in which this book appears will by itself have contributed much to the defense of the Church. It will show how many-sided is that following of Christ which is actually going on, as it has since the beginning, and which has been denounced so often as impossible. The Spirit of God working in His Church has assured that literal living of the Gospel so often pronounced impossible, or at least non-existent. The life of evangelical perfection as taught by Benedict, Francis, Dominic, Ignatius, or a hundred others is one and the same following of Christ through His counsels in the Sermon on the Mount. The Religious Orders, differing so brilliantly in "spirit," are led by the same Spirit along the commonplace paths of asceticism and prayer, their members pledged by profession and vow to such a life.
Archbishop Goodier has been well advised to begin his exposition of the Jesuit "spirit" by the well-known phrase, "For the Greater Glory of God." He knows that all Orders are vowed to this same end, but he knows also that these Orders differ rather by the individual emphasis they place on one or other of Christ's teachings than by any exclusive possession of some special part of His ideals. How great a human and personal divergence this emphasis may produce is clear. But it is another evidence of the all embracing human appeal of the Catholic Church, by which it offers the world a unifying conception of existence.
In his desire to set aside the non-essential concepts of the Jesuit, His Grace had need of much simplification. While it may be true that St. Ignatius' first idea had little to do with the Protestant Reformation, it is just as true that the kind of Order he founded was, in the designs of Providence, the kind of body to cope most efficiently with it. Similarly, though education in the classroom was not the primary end of the Society of Jesus, it is just as true that its whole vocation was educational; the knowledge of Christ's Revelation and of its place in modern society was its primary message. Learning was never an ultimate end in life; viewed from that angle it must ever be only a means to an end. That truth does not, however, exclude the duty of the individual Jesuit in St. Ignatius' idea from making himself the most perfect human instrument possible in mind as well as in heart. The immediate end of the Society's schools is to turn out the well-rounded Christian citizen of the State.
The whole duty of the Jesuit is to save his own soul and to do so by laboring for the salvation of others. Archbishop Goodier well says that the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are not a mere manual of prayer, they are a course in life. It is only in them that the student of Church history will find the real meaning of the Society of Jesus.
Wilfrid Parsons, S. J. Editor of America.
It is a commonplace of history to speak of the opening of the sixteenth century as the period in which the union of Christendom definitely came to an end. Apart from the Protestant Reformation, which was immediately to follow, and which in fact was no more than the resultant of all that had preceded, the temporal supremacy of the Papacy was doomed, while its spiritual supremacy was being subjected to a new ordeal. New forces had sprung up in Europe, creating new and more divided ambitions; new ideas had begun to prevail, giving the individual a new significance; a new manner of life had taken hold of civilization itself, separating it from the rougher ways which had sufficed for the Middle Ages. Though at the time men in general did not recognize it, least of all, it would seem, the men who moved in satisfied and careless ease about the papacy, we now looking back can see the terrible havoc that had been wrought on Christendom by the German capture of the papal throne, by the Black Death, by the Avignon Captivity, the Great Schism and the Italian intrigues for the possession of the tiara that followed. Europe had not lost its faith; nowhere was there a sign of that. But it had lost confidence and belief in its own ideal; men no longer looked for political union under the spiritual mantle of the pope, which had been the dream of statesmen and poets of two centuries before.
To this general attitude of disillusionment. and yet awakening hope there was one great exception. Shut off from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees, more effectually than Britain by its belt of sea, the peninsula containing Portugal and Spain had for centuries developed its own life apart, and had met its own troubles single-handed. Though a kind of feudal system, inherited from the early conquests, had given the people a unity and consciousness of themselves as a whole, still even more, the same system had led to incessant wars and divisions from within, till at length the lords of the land were virtually, its interdependent kings. The Moors had entered from the south and still held half the country. The Jews, then perhaps more than at any other time the financiers of the world, held the rest of Spain well within their grasp. They were its physicians, they were the treasures of the State, they were the link between Christians and Moors; some there were who rose to the rank of royal favorites, and virtually ruled the nation.
Suddenly all this was changed. The Princess Isabella of Castile had married the Prince Ferdinand of Aragon; by a providential dispensation, after their marriage, they found themselves heirs to their respective kingdoms. Thus were Castile and Aragon effectively and peacefully united, and at once a new era for Spain began. The power of the nobles was broken, and the nation became conscious of itself as a single, whole. The Moors of Granada were crushed and driven out of the country. The war was more than a fight for re-conquest, it was a crusade; it gave to Spain a yet, greater sense of unity, founded now on the double basis of nationalism, and faith. Thus while on these two grounds the rest of Europe was falling asunder, Spain was using them to make herself all the more one. Isabella died in 1504, Ferdinand in 1516. The years of their reign are the most glorious, if the sternest in the history of Spain; they are the years in which the soul of modern Spain was formed.
On the death of Ferdinand, by another strange providence, the two, northern Europe and Spain, came into one hand. The right of succession to the Spanish throne fell, through his mother, to Charles of Burgundy, of the Hapsburg house. He was only a boy of seventeen years of age, and at first the pride of Spain was touched by the intrusion of this foreigner. But soon enough she was reconciled. The energy of the young monarch, his powers of conciliation, his wisdom in choosing and trusting Spanish ministers, his very youthfulness, won everything to his side, and only increased the romance of monarchy, and pride of race, which had grown up round the names of Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1520, when Charles was still only twenty years of age, he was duly elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and he passed to Germany to receive his crown. As King of Aragon he was heir to the Kingdom of Naples; as Emperor he had a sound title to Milan; as successor to the house of Hapsburg he was master of Austria. From the Netherlands to Vienna, from the Baltic to Milan and beyond, across the Spanish Peninsula excepting Portugal, the King was undisputed monarch by simple right of succession and election. Two little claims alone were challenged by the King of France, that of Burgundy on one side, and that of Navarre on the other. But these two in time were fought for and won; and before 1529 the empire of Charles was acknowledged by king, and pope, and vassal.
Meanwhile abroad his American possessions continued to grow, and what they might signify who could say? As they grew, more systematically than Ferdinand, Charles V took their management in hand, prepared, if need be, to rule the whole of the New World by the same method as the old. He had his Bureau of Commerce in Seville, his Council of the Indies in Madrid. He sent out his viceroys and governors, established archbishoprics and bishoprics, discussed economic problems which the new conditions raised, perhaps especially was exercised concerning the condition of the native peoples overseas, and the right he had to make them obey him. But above all, as monarch, his chief aim was the establishment of Christianity and the furtherance of civilization as Spain knew it; on that basis, and on that alone, did he foresee and hope for permanent future unity. To foster this, he sent out missionaries in abundance; from these in return he soon found that the best information could be gained. He encouraged intermarriage between European settlers and the people of the soil; he offered to those who would listen to his teachers places in his service; to be a Christian opened out, to the otherwise down-trodden natives, prospects of promotion and protection under the mighty and mysterious Catholic King-Emperor who lived far away.
Meanwhile within the Church herself, the only remaining bond of union, matters had sunk very low. The weakened papacy had tended to become the victim of the bishops, the bishops became the victims of their priests, the priests in their turn were at the mercy of the laity. The temporal authority more and more claimed the right to rule religion; religion itself was fast losing its hold, not only on the political world, but on morality itself. Ignorance of the truths of the faith grew at an appalling rate; in their place was substituted a love of independence and revolution, flattered by the new learning, and by the new inventions and discoveries that turned the minds of men to themselves. Heresy, not of one kind only, was lifting its head as it had never done before; and under whatever pretext of reform worked everywhere towards upheaval and destruction. Not that all this was evil in its origin; it was simply that Europe had long grown restless, and the guiding powers did not recognize it. Europe was in search of a new ideal and a new adjustment, and its leaders were standing still. Response to that craving might have saved and reunited Christendom; instead the Protestant Reformation came and tore all asunder.
Still it is not to be supposed that nothing at all was being done. There are good men at all times in the world, who see evil and fight it; and during all this period of transition there were good men in abundance. But especially was this manifest in the religious orders; in the reform of those that existed and in the foundation of more. The Capuchin reform by Matteo da Bascio (1525); the reform of the Camaldolese by Blessed Paul de Guistiniani (1520-1522); the new congregation of St. Jerome Aemiliani (C.1520); the Theatines of St. Cajetan (1524); the Barnabites under St. Antonio Maria Zaccaria (1520); the Oratorians of St. Philip (1574); and the Oblates of St. Charles Borromeo (1578); all these, within fifty years, shew the movement that was going forward. Even among women it was vigorous. In 15 35 St. Angela Merici founded the Ursulines, the first Order of teaching women in the Church. In Spain and Portugal these reforms found particular welcome; Spain added to them among others the Brothers of Mercy, founded by St. John of God (1540), the Piarists, of St. Joseph of Calasanza, most memorable of all the Carmelite Reform of St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross.
In the midst of this age of transition and adventure, in 1491, was born Inigo Loyola, the youngest son of a noble family of Guipuzcoa, in the Basque provinces of the kingdom of Castile. His father, Don Bertran Yafiez de Ofiez y Loyola, was like other nobles of his time, a master in his own domain; as he was within striking distance of Navarre, the quarrels connected with that province could not but have affected him. There was a large family of thirteen children; the brothers of Inigo, eight in number, all followed the career of arms. At first it seems to have been thought that the youngest, according to a custom not too uncommon, might find for himself a career in the Church. But he soon rebelled; and instead was entrusted to the care of Juan Velasquez de Cuellar, a friend of the Loyola family, and an official of the Royal Treasury under Ferdinand and Isabella. This friend had undertaken to make a career for the boy; obviously therefore it was not for military affairs but affairs of state that from the first he was destined and trained.
Inigo lived with this patron, partly at Arevalo, partly at court, until he was twenty-six years of age. During all this time we are expressly told that there was nothing to distinguish him from other young nobles of his age; that being so, we may guess, and not without evidence, the kind of life he lived. There was chivalry in abundance; he seems to have worshipped at the shrine of a lady far above him, the thought of whom seems to have had upon him an effect not unlike that of Beatrice on Dante. There was much talk of the ever-growing splendor of Ferdinand and Isabella, pride in the conquests of Spain at home and abroad, ambition beyond limit of greatness; alongside, a moral that hung loose in word and deed, with a literature to correspond. Such was the fashion of the times, and Inigo was nothing if not a man of fashion. In the well-known Autobiography the whole of this period of his life is summed up in the single sentence: "Until he was twenty-six years of age he was given up to the vanities of his age; he took special delight in the use of arms, urged on as he was by a great and vain craving for worldly renown."
In 1518, two years after the death of Ferdinand, when the boy Charles was now secure on the throne, Inigo's patron died, and the young man was left to make for himself a career of his own. It would almost seem, from his own account, that he was nothing loth to be freed from the desk and the counting-house; now at last he was able to follow his own inclination. He took service under the viceroy of Navarre, Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Najera, and remained with him as a soldier for three years. In 1521 a rebellion in Castile called out all the forces of Navarre, except a few to guard the fortresses. Francis I of France seized the occasion to attempt a conquest of the province, to which he had some claim; he knew, besides, that there were nobles in the country who would welcome and assist him. Loyola was with the troops in Pampeluna, the capital of Navarre, when the French army of ten thousand men appeared before its walls. The governor of the castle, having only a handful of men, saw the futility of attempting to resist and offered to surrender. Loyola, by what authority is by no means clear, intervened; persuaded the defenders, it would seem by his mere personality, to resist; in the resistance he fell, wounded in both legs by a cannon-ball, and the French took the place. But they honored the bravery of the man who had resisted them. In accordance with the chivalry of the time they set him free, and sent him home to Loyola. Here Don Garcia, his eldest brother, received him; and here, after cruel operations, Inigo remained during the period of his convalescence. He was thirty years of age. It will help our historical imagination to remember that it was in the year that our own Henry VIII appealed to the Emperor and the Elector Palatine to exterminate Luther, and his doctrines from their dominions, wrote his Defense of the Seven Sacraments, and earned from the Pope, Leo X, the title of "Defender of the Faith."
Naturally the weeks passed slowly for the cavalier while his wounds were healing; the man, no longer young, who had hitherto lived his life much as he wished, found the time hang heavy on his hands. He asked for books of romance and adventure; there were none to be found in the house. Instead he was given what there was at hand; a volume of stories of the saints, and Ludolph the Carthusian's Life of Christ. The latter, as we may see from his own later work, Inigo learnt to know well; the former set him thinking, making him compare his own wasted and aimless life with lives at once of heroism and profit. He had taken it for granted, because it was the fashion to do so, that the life he had hitherto led, was the life most worthy of a nobleman, and therefore of a man; yet how much more noble, and how much more manly, were the lives he discovered! He had prided himself on his uprightness of character, his chivalry, his personal bravery; yet what was this compared with the selfless truth, the romantic innocence, the bravery of these men! He had been inspired by, and devoted to, the service of a monarch who had set his country free, of another whose kingdom spread across the greater part of Europe; yet what was this kingdom compared with that for which these men had endured so much! As to the good that was to come of his living, he had scarcely given it a thought; these men, what untold good they had done! Civilization itself had been made by them; without them what would Europe have been!
Greatness, genius, and talent do not always go together; but if greatness is the capacity to see a great goal and to make for it through every obstacle, and at whatever cost, then whether genius or not, Inigo Loyola was great. Hitherto he had been devoted to a kingdom that included half Europe, but even that had not been enough to awaken the whole man within him. Now he saw a kingdom that embraced all the world, and come what might he would take service in it. Hitherto he had been content to take life as he found it, winning reputation when opportunity came in his way, but making little enough of the fruit of his life on those around him. Now he saw that there was a greater honor than any he had so far known; not in the mere ruling of them, but in the making of them according to this new ideal. Hitherto he had fashioned himself on the standard of men about him; now he knew that there was a nobler standard than that, in the making himself to be and to do whatever might best serve the new ideal. And to see was to determine. Hitherto he had lived for nothing; now he had something to live for. Where this determination was to lead him he did not know; but he rose from his bed another man, with a definite goal before him, to make himself and to make others like himself champions of the King of the Universal Kingdom, and he pursued that goal unflinching to the end. The end was the foundation of the Society of Jesus.
At the beginning of 1522 he set out on his adventure. Two definite plans he had first in mind; to do penance for the past, and to begin again where his new Master had begun, even on the very spot in the Holy Land. These two primary resolutions mark at once two characteristics of the man which are to be found in everything he did or wrote; an extreme thoroughness of purpose and an extreme simplicity, the mind of a child with the will of an unconquerable man. Constantly when one reads the later letters of the saint one is brought up against illustrations of the former; simple solutions of all kinds of problems by keeping his eye on the one end in view, simple repetition of phrases, and even of whole passages, once he has found what he wished to say; lessons and instructions on better ways of life which appall one by their simplicity; while for the will to do, his whole life bears eloquent witness.
He set out in 1522. For a year we find him at Manresa, beating himself into subjection. In 1523 he is on his way to the Holy Land, in spite of the danger from the Turks at sea. He is back in Venice in 1524, and thence once more to Spain. But not to his home at Loyola; since to do the good he would do he must make up for the time he has lost, we find him pursuing his studies for four years, a man of from thirty-three to thirty-seven, in the schools of Barcelona, Alcala and Salamanca. In 1528 he is in the University of Paris; and he does not leave it till 1535, when he is forty-four years of age. Fourteen years he had thus filled with these beginnings and preparations; fourteen years, with nothing external to shew for them, and those the best years of his life.
During this period, it is true, he had tried to gather men around him who would accept and follow him in his ideals. Twice he failed; his followers deserted him and, for the most part, vanished from his sight altogether. Only at the last he succeeded. In Paris he won to him seven men, all brilliant students of the University; when these men in the chapel of St. Denys on Montmartre, on August 15, 1534, vowed with him that they would lead lives of poverty and chastity, that they would go as pilgrims to the Holy Land, and that the rest of their days should be spent in apostolic labor, the Society of Jesus, as yet without a name, was born. To what that decision might lead none of them clearly knew, but that was of little moment. They had taken service under the King of kings, and He should use them as He would; in that whole-hearted, uncalculating surrender we see again the simplicity of the Founder, caught now and made their own by all the rest.
It has often been repeated that St. Ignatius Loyola was raised up by God to counteract the influence of Luther. In some general, accidental way, or shall we say in the way of Providence, this may be true. Nevertheless, from what has been already said, it is clear that this was not the first object in the saint's mind. It may even be questioned whether, until long after he had founded the Society of Jesus, Ignatius Loyola had ever so much as heard of Luther's name, at least with all its significance, or knew anything of the upheaval in Germany. During his years of preparation he never once set foot in Lutheran territory; once it is said he came to England, but that was to beg alms from the merchants there to enable him to pursue his studies.
It is likewise said that the Society of Jesus was the great bulwark of the Church against the Reformation in the sixteenth century. In the order of Providence, again, this may have been. Nevertheless, one may doubt whether, to the end of his life, the German Reformation as such had any predominant significance to its Founder. Certainly his first aims did not seem to consider it at all. First of all he had it in his mind to serve his chosen King and Master, Jesus Christ, wherever that might lead; and to do this, he would model himself entirely upon Him. Next he would draw others to do likewise, whoever they might be, whatever might be their station in life. Lastly he would imitate Him, so far as it was possible, even in the smallest details. For that purpose, not unlike that kindred and simple soul, St. Francis of Assisi, before him he proposed to himself and his first companions that they should go, not into Germany against the Lutherans, but to live and labor in the East.
Nor, when this first object of his ambition was frustrated, did he turn at once to protestantising Europe. He offered himself and his followers to the pope, to do whatever the pope might appoint; when the Holy Father shewed him the fields nearer home that were in need of laborers he sent out his men, not to countries fast becoming Protestant, but to the Italian towns and villages which have always remained, in name at least, Catholic. Of his first companions, only one worked directly among the Reformers; and he was sent at the pope's express request, and only for a limited time. It was not till Canisius appeared on the scene that the counter-reformation began in real earnest; and that was a decade after the death of St. Ignatius. The first Jesuits, for the most part, confined themselves to Catholic countries; there they preached reform of life, and the truths of the faith, to those who were always proud to call themselves the children of the Church. When at last Ignatius sent the greatest of them all far afield, he sent him, not to Lutheran Germany, but to the pagan East.
The same may be said of another estimate, which makes of the Society of Jesus mainly a body of schoolmasters. That colleges and schools to-day engage a vast number, perhaps the majority of its members, may be true; if it is true it is again an historical development and no more. It is a discovery which time has revealed of the special need of the Church and of mankind during the last centuries. Of his own accord, St. Ignatius Loyola never opened a single school, in the common meaning of the word; indeed at first he seemed to fear them, as he feared chaplaincies to convents, lest they should confine his men and tie them down. As time went on he accepted schools that were offered to him, but only on fixed conditions; one of which was that they should be so endowed as to be free. But even then he seemed to hesitate. When after years of experience he wrote his Constitutions, at first he made no mention of schools. Later, when their need was forced upon him, he added a further chapter concerning them, but not without an apology for so doing. He felt the need of justifying the insertion, in his own eyes as well as in the eyes of others; and his justification was, not the need of education, nor the duty of training youth, but that vocations might be fostered among young candidates. Not one of his first followers was engaged in a class-room, nor even, strictly, in a lecture hall; and that though all, but two in particular, might have been considered eminently suited and trained for the purpose.
It was not till the Ratio Studiorum was drawn up that the education of youth was accepted as of equivalently first importance in the Society of Jesus. That was forty years after the saintly Founder's death; and even then, during the whole of the century that followed and beyond, it is striking to notice how, in the spirit of Ignatius, professors and teachers of the first rank were continually taken from their chairs to spend themselves on the mission fields. Blessed Charles Spinola, the Provincial and most conspicuous of the martyrs of Japan, had first distinguished himself as a mathematical professor in the schools of Italy. Ricci and others, who opened up China to the faith, were among the first astronomers of Europe. France and Spain sacrificed many of their best schoolmasters to send them among the American Indians. Campion was a born teacher and professor; yet he was sent to die for his faith and his country at Tyburn.
Again much has been made of the military spirit of the "soldier saint" and his Order; and this is illustrated by the extraordinary place which the virtue of obedience occupies in his Institute. We do not wish to deny that there is some resemblance between the Society of Jesus and an army; at the same time it is well to remember that Ignatius Loyola was strictly a soldier only during the last three years of the thirty he lived in the world. That he was a soldier in the spirit of his time and country is true; it is also true that he was full of the spirit of chivalry; but chivalry is a very different thing from soldiering, as soldiering is understood to-day. He may have been an Arthur in the midst of his Knights of the Round Table; he was certainly not a Napoleon, with his marshals and legions around him. And as for his obedience, the first companions took no vow of obedience in the chapel of Montmartre in 1534; not until five years later, when they had so far grown in numbers as to need better organization, was it agreed to by an unanimous vote among themselves that they should live under obedience to one of their own election.
Moreover, their obedience, in practice, was altogether unlike the obedience of the barracks. For instance, at first, and indeed for many years, Ignatius when elected General would write no rules or regulations which should bind all the members of his Order. He said, not that obedience, but that "the internal law of charity and love," was better than all rules. When he sent two men together on a journey, he would have them practice obedience; but it was to be alternate, each in turn acting as superior for a week at a time. This is anything but army discipline. St. Francis Xavier went to the East and recruited his men out there, before any rule was written or any Constitution framed. When he described in a letter the spirit of his Order, he said not a word about the bond of obedience, much as he cherished and insisted on the practice of that virtue. He said that "the Society of Jesus is nothing more than a Society of love"; and he addressed his master Ignatius not as General, not even as Superior, but as his "Father in the Heart of Jesus Christ." When we speak of St. Ignatius as a soldier, and of his Society as an army, we need to keep all this in mind.
In matter of fact, in the mind of its Founder, the idea of the Society of Jesus went far beyond and far deeper down than any or all of these objects; one may say that it included and went beyond any material object, however good, or noble, or holy. St. Ignatius was a man of a single ideal; this in a true sense may be said to mark the limitation of his greatness, if indeed it be a limitation. To the pursuit of that ideal everything else was bent; that is the secret of his astonishing simplicity, the simplicity, very often, of a very little child. So simple in mind was St. Ignatius Loyola that many have assumed that he could not be sincere, and have accused him of cunning or duplicity. But if we read his Constitutions, the one book, if we except the Exercises, that he wrote, and seek in them for the expression of the man who wrote them, one dominating note we cannot fail to notice. It is the often repeated "Greater Glory of God."
We do not say this was anything very new. In various forms it has been, of course, the motto of all the saints; the very form of words that he used, Ignatius had borrowed from elsewhere. But with him, as a student of the saint has put it, this one idea had become an obsession. It had taken hold of him and possessed him, almost blinding him to every other light. To that single end all else was bent, work, word, prayer, life, even sanctity itself; by its single standard everything in life was measured, and rigidly allotted its value and place. For it, and for it alone, this world and man in it were fashioned; so long as it was promoted, it mattered little what else was done or how man fared. A student has reckoned the number of times direct allusion is made to this measure of judgment in the Book of the Constitutions; he has counted 259 practically one on every page.
In his unflinching and uncompromising application of this motto to whatever came before him it is not difficult to understand the working of the mind of St. Ignatius. The enthusiastic convert cavalier--who confessed to a romantic worship of ideals from his earlier days, and who for the same would readily risk his life--when once captured by this new loyalty and love, could only understand it, interpret it, apply it, pursue it, in his former way. Love to him was a devotion, not a simple joy in which to revel. As he understood it, even in its most human form, it demanded a total surrender, a sacrifice of all he had and was, that the object of his love might prosper. It was not so much a satisfaction as a call to action; it was an affair of "deeds more than of words," as he himself described it; a warfare, if warfare were needed, very much more than a crown to be enjoyed. More than that, for that, after all, is nothing very singular in men who are born to heroism, with Ignatius love of this kind became an all- consuming fire. It burnt up everything in his own life; what would not burn he threw away. Then, having surrendered himself entirely to it, he could not be content till he had made all who came under his influence do likewise. He would compass all the world, and all the people in it, and every occupation and pursuit, that all might be subdued by this devouring fire. He would use every means that came to his hand, or that was in the power of man to apply; he would leap every barrier, push aside every obstacle, that all might serve this one and only end, this only object of his love, the Greater Glory of God.
Whither this pursuit would lead him, to what it would make him devote himself and his followers, at first he scarcely knew, nor did he seem greatly to care. All he sought was "the greater service of God and the universal good"; so long as these were attained he was prepared for any labor, any sacrifice. The almost merciless way in which at times he made his decisions strikingly illustrates this single, independent mind. At a moment's notice he is called upon to send a pioneer to the East; without hesitation he sends the man whom naturally he most loved, and whom at the time he can least spare. Later this same beloved son appeals for others to be sent out to help him. He is told he cannot have them; that for the moment God's greater service required their presence elsewhere. Before his time a religious Order that did not sing the Office was unknown; Ignatius considered that for the purpose of God's greater service his religious should be free, and at the risk of the frustration of all his plans he secured it. In his day the profession of religious life implied the wearing of a special religious habit; for Ignatius a fixed habit would impede the greater service which he ambitioned, and it was set aside. Hitherto religious life had carried with it corporal penance prescribed by rule. Ignatius would have no such rule; he would have his men adapt their penance, sometimes more, sometimes less, strictly according to the life they had to live, and the work they had to do, "for God's greater glory and the universal good."
As he judged of work to be done, so did he deal with the training of men. Always he kept before them the ideal, not merely how they might make themselves more holy,-but how they might become more fitted for the service of God and the benefit of men; the one was interpreted in terms of the other. He would put no limit to their possibilities, no boundaries to their scope; though he would have them subject to obedience, yet that obedience was only that their energies might be directed better than they themselves might be able to direct them. At first, as we have seen, he would have no rules; the individuality of each must be given liberty to make the best use of itself that it could. For his men, when trained, and rightly orientated, one only law would suffice; "the internal law of charity and love which the Holy Spirit is wont to inscribe in the human heart." When later he found it expedient, or, as he said, necessary to write something, he wrote no Rules properly so called, but Constitutions; no regulations, but rather principles and ideals; not so much orders for subjects to obey, as directions for the guidance of superiors. In a true sense it may be said that the Society of Jesus has no rule to this day; what stands for its rule is a "Summary of the Constitutions," sentences chosen here and there from the book of the Founder.
Even when he spoke of Obedience, and emphasized that virtue as the crowning characteristic of his whole Society, it was not the obedience of discipline of which he spoke; it was the obedience, the willingness to serve and to give, which follows upon mutual love and affection, the obedience of right order, the outward expression of that love of God and of others which leads to the sacrifice of self. The word "obey" may come often in his Constitutions, but the word "love" comes very much more often. When he puts the last touch to his Spiritual Exercises he gives a "Contemplation to obtain" not obedience but "love"; and that love he leads to the completest surrender of self in the service of His Divine Majesty, as he never tires of calling his God and Lord.
With this definite ideal and goal in view, and laying aside every other, Ignatius set himself to forge a means by which he might bring men to see as he saw, and to give themselves to this greatest of all great adventures, even as he had done himself. Long before the idea of the Society of Jesus was so much as proposed to any- one, he had drawn up his "Spiritual Exercises" and put them into practice. In these Spiritual Exercises, whose title has become permanently fixed to his name, he reveals that attitude to- wards the spiritual life which may be said to be peculiarly his own, if indeed there is anything in St. Ignatius which is peculiarly his own. He will teach men to see as he sees, but that he may do so he must first unteach them; the hindrance for most men is not lack of understanding, but a blindness and short-sightedness which limits the horizon, shutting off the greater goal beyond by the lesser things around them. This must first be corrected; a man must first be lifted out of his surroundings. He must be taught to get outside himself, to look upon himself as a thing apart; to set his life in the perspective of the greater whole, not in that of his own advantage or concern, so putting a new value on himself and on all that his life contains. Thus he defines the object of the Exercises. They are "to conquer oneself and regulate one's life, and to avoid coming to a determination through any inordinate affection"; or, as he puts it in another place, they are "any method of preparing and disposing the soul to free itself from all inordinate affections, and after it has freed itself from them, to seek and find the will of God concerning the ordering of life for the salvation of one's soul."
Freedom to act, truth of vision and of action; in these two phrases are contained the essence of the spiritual life according to the mind of St. Ignatius. The first implies self-conquest; the freedom of a man from himself, and the bonds that bind him from within, keeping him from being and doing that which in his heart he knows to be best. Of ourselves, it is true, we can do nothing; we can only live and grow by the growing of the life of God within us. But, with His grace, we can prepare ourselves. We can do what lies in our sphere, and He will do the rest; we can put away ourselves that He may be allowed to enter. So far as I yield to myself, so far for myself I live; and so far, therefore, God cannot come in. This is the first condition on our part of growth in the spiritual life, and by constant repetition he reminds us that the effort for freedom from oneself must never cease.
Thus, before a man begins to go through the Exercises he is asked "to enter upon them with a large heart and with liberality towards his Creator and Lord, offering all his desires and liberty to Him, in order that His Divine Majesty may make use of his person, and of all he possesses, according to His most holy will." Scarcely has he begun than his first conclusion is: "It is therefore necessary that we should make ourselves independent of all created things." When he speaks of the beginning of sin in the world, the evil of it lies in the heart of those who were "not willing to help themselves by means of their liberty in the work of paying reverence and obedience to their Creator and Lord." When he becomes more positive, and begins to build upon the ground that has been cleared, those who wish "to signalize themselves in every kind of service of their Eternal King and Universal Lord," will do so expressly, "by acting against their own sensuality, and their carnal and worldly love." Aim at the highest freedom; evil is slavery, the unwillingness to use one's freedom; the greatest freedom is freedom from oneself, one's own bondage to the meannesses of life. This is chivalry, not military discipline; it is service looked on as a glory, not as a burden to be borne; the man who fails to rise to it, in the mind of St. Ignatius, is not a sinner, he is an "unworthy knight," a phrase which at once reveals to us the nature of the man.
"The Eternal King and Universal Lord." The foundations laid as we have just seen, he seems then to make the limit of man's self-surrender the gauge of all else; a man is worth precisely what he is willing to give in the service and no more. To stimulate this surrender, to test its value, he puts Jesus Christ before "His friends and servants," exhorting them not merely to poverty, but to a "desire" of it; not to endure, but "to a desire of reproaches and contempt." The ideal is the service of the King; there is no better service than imitation, following, resemblance; the true knight will be as like to his Prince as possible. Hence that ideal is described in these terms:
"The better to imitate Christ, and to become actually more like Him, I desire and choose rather poverty with Christ poor, than riches; contempt with Christ contemned, than honors; and I desire to be esteemed as useless and foolish for Christ's sake, who was first held to be such, than to be counted wise and prudent in this world."
The prospect is clear; it may give one pause; but precisely on that account it is a test of the worth of a man's devotion to the cause. So sure is he of his ground, and so confident in man's ultimate victory if he will try, that should human nature flinch he encourages it by saying:
"It will help much . . . to ask in our prayer, even though it be against the flesh, that Our Lord should choose us to actual poverty, protesting that we desire, petition, and ask for it, provided it be to the service and praise of His Divine Goodness."
Then, having given the ideal, having given the encouragement, he closes with the summary warning:
"Wherefore let each be convinced that he will make progress in all spiritual matters in proportion as he shall have divested himself of his own self-love, his own will, and self-interest."
Other things may be of service, and in their way may serve as signs-- prayer, penance, mortification, zeal for souls and the rest. But to him they are mainly external; the only sure sign of real greatness is the extent to which a man is willing to surrender himself, all he has and all he is.
Having clearly laid down the method for the making of a "Worthy Knight" in the service of the "Universal Lord," the second care of the Saint is that there shall be no self-deception, no substitution of sham for truth, not even of convention for reality. He has known in his lifetime how much of this there is, precisely among the knighthood of the world; when on his sickbed after Pampeluna he had his leg broken that it might be set again, men admired his bravery, but he himself knew that his motive was pride. In his new knighthood this self-deception must not be; the man as far as possible must ring true, above all within his own soul. A favorite word with St. Ignatius is "internal." It occurs in most unexpected places; and when we ask ourselves what he means by it we can find no better synonym than "real," "genuine." At the outset he warns the aspirant to great things that "it is not abundance of knowledge that satisfies the soul, but to feel and relish it internally." He bids the sinner pray for "an interior knowledge of his sins" that he may be shamed into repentance; as a deterrent from future relapse he would have him acquire "an interior sense of the pains which the lost suffer" in hell. Should a man "desire to have an interior sorrow for his sins," one way to gain it is by doing penance. When he puts up Jesus as the model before him, he bids him pray again and again for "an interior knowledge of Our Lord," not one only of books and commentaries; when he speaks of the Passion he asks for "tears and interior pain, for the great pain that Christ has suffered for me." Lastly, as though to make quite sure that his knight has not been self-deceived in the making, and to leave him no loophole of escape, he gives a whole meditation on three types of men, two of whom are not wholly genuine while the third spares himself in nothing.
The man, then, utterly genuine and sincere, who is prepared to spare himself in nothing for "the service of God and the universal good," this is the perfect man as St. Ignatius understands perfection; on that foundation he proceeds to build. And like a knight of the days of chivalry, he builds with one material, love. Constantly he repeats the word "desire"; and what is desire but the crying out of love, as St. Leo said long before him? "To pray for that which I desire"; so he opens every meditation. He assumes every time that it is there. He who has no desire, he says, may be sent away with just a clean conscience; he is not the kind of man of whom much can be made. But, on the other hand, with one who has desires, with one who is keen and generous, let the giver of the Exercises be careful not to interfere too much. "It is better and more fitting that its Creator and Lord Himself communicate with such a soul, inflaming it to love and praise Him, and disposing it for that way of life by which it will best serve Him in the future."
Already from the beginning this weapon of love has been at work. When he brings the soul to think of its own evil-doing, he assumes that "desire," through love, will overflow "in great and intense grief and tears for my sins"; the soul will "wonder with intense affection" that it has not long since been destroyed. When he comes to speak of hell, his motive is, not fear for its own sake, but lest "through my faults I forget the love of the Eternal Lord." All the time that he excites contrition and amendment he dwells upon thanksgiving, that one has not been lost, that one has had a Redeemer such as Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, that one still has time in which to make all things new; and thanksgiving, as he teaches us elsewhere, is the sure stepping-stone to love.
But when he has passed this stage his love is more daring. "That which I desire" becomes a fixed thing, and never again changes. To know his Leader, Jesus Christ, to love Jesus Christ, to follow Jesus Christ, to become like to Jesus Christ, in spirit and even in detail, this is the St. Ignatius we have already seen, unconsciously revealing himself as he draws an ideal for others. In this spirit he meditates, "in order to follow and imitate better Our Lord"; in this spirit he prays "The colloquy is made properly by speaking as one friend speaks to another, or as a servant to his master; at one time asking for some favor, at another blaming oneself for some evil committed, now informing him of one's affairs, and seeking counsel in them." When he comes to the crib at Bethlehem he is "tending Our Lady and St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus in their necessities, as though I were present there"; St. Bonaventure could not be more simple. When he sets before himself his Master as a Leader, it is "in a lowly place, in aspect fair and winning." When he bids a man decide on his state of life: "The first rule is that the love, which urges and causes me to seek such or such a thing, descend from on high, from the love of God; so that he who chooses feel first in himself that the love which he has more or less for the thing he chooses, is solely for the sake of his Creator and Lord."
Thus from the love of desire St. Ignatius has risen to the love of friendship. And as love is measured by the capacity of its power to suffer, as the love of desire is more intense according to the hunger of the longing, so the love of friendship is gauged by the greatness of its compassion. When a friend is in sorrow, his friend sorrows with him; and the closer the friendship the deeper will that sorrow be. So is it in this case. No sooner has Ignatius established, and brought to the degree of devoted service the love of friendship between the man and Jesus Christ, than he tests it by sorrow. Jesus Christ is not only my Leader. He has suffered; He is my friend; then the sight of His suffering will make me suffer, too. "To feel sorrow, affliction, and confusion, because for my sins Our Lord is going to His Passion." "To begin with great effort to strive to grieve, and bewail, and lament"; "to consider that He suffers all these things for my sins, and what I ought to do and to suffer for Him"; "sorrow with Christ who is full of sorrow, anguish with Christ in anguish, tears and interior (i.e. as we have seen, real, genuine,) pain for the great pain that Christ has suffered for me"; "sorrow, pain and anguish recalling frequently to mind the troubles, labors and sorrows of Christ Our Lord, which He has endured from the moment He was born up to the mystery of the Passion on which I am now engaged"; "the solitude of Our Lady in such great grief and affliction of spirit";--thus by constant repetition does he bring home to the mind of his disciple the real thing that love of friendship means. And during all the time he proposes nothing else.
Then he makes another step. Great as is the love of friendship, there is a greater love still, and he will not stop till he has opened the way to it. It is the love of union; when the lover is lost in the beloved, so that the joys and sorrows of the one, his successes and failures, his very being, absorb altogether the whole soul of the other. This is the full consummation of a man, the whole burnt-offering of himself on the fire of love; and this consummation Ignatius held out as the final height to which he would draw his disciples. "To be intensely affected and to rejoice in the exceeding great joy and gladness of Christ Our Lord"; "to be affected and to rejoice in the exceeding great joy and gladness of Christ Our Lord"; in this he bids a man to reap the fruits of love, and realize the joy of living. Such a joy, sinking down into the very marrow of his bones, makes him prepared for anything. Nothing now can separate him from the love of God, which he has in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
Last of all, as if he would enforce the truth that the one all-absorbing motive power of his life is love, and absolutely nothing else, he concludes with an "Exercise" for its acquisition. But first he makes two statements. "Love," he says, "is an affair of deeds rather than of words." He still has his eye on the tendency of human nature to deceive itself, to think that it loves because it can use love's phrases, to think it forgives because it merely says it. And secondly, "Love consists in mutual interchange on either side . . . in giving, communicating, sharing . . . so that the one share all with the other," and vice versa. Given these axioms then he proves his point. What has God not given to me? What more would He not give if He could? "Himself so far as He is able." God the Giver; God living in me, "making me His temple, to the likeness and image of His Divine Majesty"; God as it were in creation working for me, laboring for me; God from whom "all good things and all good gifts descend . . . as the rays descend from the sun, as waters from the spring"; this is the God who loves me, who wants me, who is my friend, who asks me for my love in return. Then what can I give Him? Can there be any limit? All my liberty, all that I am, all that I possess; whatever He may ask He shall have; nothing shall be too great or too small to give for the greater glory of my God.
This is the secret of the Society of Jesus as St. Ignatius understands and interprets it; in this way he would lead his followers to see the goal of life as he sees it, and to bend themselves to its attainment. Has man discovered anything more inspiring? Has any other ideal produced more striking results, even in the way of human life? We do not wonder that St. Francis Xavier, to take but one example, fashioned as he was in this mold, with no rules to guide him and no constitutions to keep before him his master's ideal, could call the Society of Jesus "nothing more than a Society of love," and under that inspiration alone could bring himself, apparently with such ease, to accomplish all that he accomplished.
The account just given of the Book of the Spiritual Exercises should make it immediately clear that it is anything but a book on prayer. It is a course of training, in which prayer must take its part, and as such it is proposed and used; but to measure its author's mind or the mind of the Society of Jesus on prayer merely by what the book contains is to misunderstand St. Ignatius and his "school" altogether. St. Ignatius never wrote a book on prayer. With regard to his own prayer he was always reticent; with regard to the experiences of others, there was no subject about which he spoke with greater caution. We must remember that in his time the air was full of mysticism, true and false, and especially in his native country; while it was preparing the way for saints like Theresa and John of the Cross, it was also producing its Clarissa Magdalena and others. Clarissa deceived bishops, theologians, and all around her for close on forty years; and we have already seen how keenly the saint dreaded sham of any kind, but, far above all, sham love and sham devotion.
Still we are not without means of learning what he really held concerning prayer; we have at least five sources, of which the Book of the Exercises is only one. We learn more from the Constitutions, from his spiritual leaders, from the few notes on his own prayer that have survived, from the teaching of those who lived with him, and knew him well. From all these we discover much; especially of that great liberty of soul which in all things else was so characteristic of the man, and which could look on the practice of prayer in no other light. In matter of fact prayer to him was at the root of everything. By means of prayer he solved his own problems, in it he sought his consolation and strength; so great an attraction had it for him that he had to use violence to himself to keep himself away when duty called.
So was it in regard to others. As we have seen it was by means of prayer, and meditation, and contemplation that he sought to develop in the man he formed, the three essentials, self-conquest, interior sincerity, love. When he had completed his formation, and the fully-trained man was sent out to do his work, it was assumed that the spirit of prayer would be so alive in him that he would need no further instruction. When he speaks of such as these in his Constitutions he simply says that "he assumes for certain that they will be spiritual men, and that they will have made such progress in the way of Christ Our Lord that they may run along it"; hence that "in what concerns prayer and meditation . . . no rule need be prescribed to them except what discretion and charity may prescribe to each."
But even with those who are not yet fully formed, in other words with every soul that strives after perfection, the saint is wonderfully free. He insists, it is true, on mortification; without it he makes little of prayer. He insists on obedience to one who has knowledge of spiritual things and has the right guide; from the experience of his own soul, and from the experience of controlling others, he has learnt too much to allow a beginner too easily to follow his own bent. But after that is liberty; the liberty of the children of God. Life to him was prayer, and every thing in life was to be turned into prayer; this attitude of mind was the first thing he looked for when he turned his young candidates into the channel of everyday affairs. Thus we read, in a letter of his secretary, Polanco, answering enquiries on behalf of his master:
"Students cannot give themselves to long meditations. But they can practice seeking the presence of God in all things, in conversation, walking, sight, taste, hearing, understanding, in everything they do. And this method of prayer, which finds God in everything, is easier than that which compels us to rise to more abstract ideas concerning Him, when we strain to make them present to us. This excellent exercise, i£ we are careful to make it with due preparation, will win for us from our Lord visitations of deep moment; even though our time of prayer be not long."
Again to another:
"Our Father prefers that we should strive to rise to God in all things rather than give to prayer overmuch time in succession. . . .Let members of the Society, if they are able, find no less devotion in a work of charity or obedience than in prayer or meditation, seeing that everything they do is done for the love and service of God Our Lord."
In a further letter he sums up all in a sentence:
"If everything is directed towards God, everything is prayer."
So much for the place of prayer in life, as St. Ignatius understood it. As for its kind, he is no less open-minded. When speaking of the training of others, he has special words of warning against any effort to lead all souls by the same way or method. There is no more dangerous mistake. Even in the Exercises he warns the priest against undue interference with the intercourse of the soul with God; elsewhere his teaching is of the same kind. Let every soul find out for itself what is best for it. Let it submit these experiences to its guide. If they are good, and free from delusion, let it continue in them. This is well expressed by a Jesuit spiritual writer, Gagliardi, than whom none more accurately represents the earliest tradition of his order. Thus he writes:
"Our special method of prayer is to be bound by no fixed rule; a fixed rule may be well enough for the training of beginners. Each one must discover for himself what suits him best. If need be let him make alterations, lessen or increase his prayer, pass from vocal prayer to mental," and so on.
In confirmation of this, there is the well-known passage, taken from the letters of St. Francis Borgia. He had been specially trained by St. Ignatius.
"Give free admittance to all thoughts of God; open wide to them every door of your soul," the latter had written to him. Given as he was himself to contemplation, able to spend long hours in prayer without interruption, inclined to lengthen prayer for others rather than decrease it, nevertheless, when he in turn became General of the Order, he wrote thus to a Provincial:
"I hear it said that your Reverence imposes on your subjects the duty of always making acts of love in their prayer, and wishes to lead them all by this one way. I praise your Reverence's zeal and good desires, and certainly the method you encourage is the best and highest form of spiritual exercise. Nevertheless, I warn you, my dear Father, that not all souls are suited to it. Not all understand it or can reach it. Our Lord has given us a guide, the Exercises of the Society. Therefore some continue to follow this method, others adopt other forms of prayer: alius quidam sic, alius vero sic; and since all are good, they must be left alone. The movements of the Holy Spirit are many and different; different also are the talents and understandings of men."
Lastly, we may quote the statement of Acquaviva, the General of the Order who, more than any other, may be considered the official spokesman of the matured Society. He writes:
"Religious who frequently practice meditation, and who, by long experience, have acquired facility in prayer, have no need that there should be assigned to them either fixed matter on which to meditate, or any special method.
The Spirit of the Lord moves on its course with very loose reins (laxissimis habenis). To enlighten souls, and to draw them closely to it, it has methods without number. Hence, let us not confine it within any boundary, let us keep it to no fixed groove. Let us bear in mind the holy and wise counsel of Fr. Nadal of happy memory: 'It is for us to follow our Divine Instructor, not to go before him.'"
At the same time, Acquaviva lets us plainly see what an important place he considers prayer to hold in the life and work of the Society of Jesus. With it as with every other religious Order it is a first essential; if the Society has been relieved from the chanting of the daily office, it has by no means been relieved of the practice of daily prayer. If, he writes, there is one thing more certain than another
"It is that true and perfect contemplation is more powerful and efficacious than any other method of prayer to break the pride of man and to extirpate it, to rouse the indolent to obey their superiors and the lukewarm to labor with greater zeal for the salvation of souls."
This last remark brings us back to what has already been said. However far St. Ignatius may encourage his disciples to advance in prayer, even to the farthest heights of mysticism, nevertheless prayer to him, like all things else, is a means and not an end. Jesuits are not contemplatives. Many writers on the spiritual life have risen up among them; many have written specifically on prayer; probably the largest volume that has ever been elaborated upon it is by one of them, Alvarez de Paz. St. Francis Borgia, even when loaded with the burden of the Generalship, could find time, and could set an example to his subjects, of long hours of prayer, sometimes as much as ten hours a day. Nevertheless even he had a practical end in view. If he could be so absorbed in contemplation, he could at the same time deserve the reputation of being the one who, more than any other, extended the foreign missions of the Order. So it is with the rest. They are familiar with the purgative, the illuminative, the contemplative ways. Saints of prayer may seek their counsel, witness St. Theresa, St. Francis de Sales, St. Margaret Mary. But always they have in mind the further end, the perfection and use of the instrument for the greater glory of God and the greater good of men. If in any way the prayer of the Society of Jesus differs from any other, it is simply in this, subordination of its practice to what it conceives to be the greater end in view Says Gagliardi:
"Our prayer is essentially an active prayer, practical, applied to the acquisition of virtue. In a certain sense it is Martha more than Mary; or rather it is contemplation made efficacious, that through it a man may grow in spiritual strength. It is active in so far as it stimulates a man to acquire virtues, not only by asking for them but by encouraging him to their practice."
St. Ignatius himself gives the spirit of this interpretation in his constantly repeated phrase, "ut aliquem fructum capiam," "that I may reap some fruit"; and in proof of the fact that the same has persisted through all the Society's history, we may quote one of the most modern writers on prayer, de Maumigny. This writer does not hesitate to ally himself with St. Theresa, St. John of the Cross, Louis of Granada, and others. He is bold in inculcating the principle that every soul must pray, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, according to the method which it finds most suited to its nature. There is no degree of contemplation of union which he does not know, and towards which, given due safeguards, he is not ready to guide the soul of prayer. Still he comes back to the same standard and measure; that prayer as understood by the Society of Jesus is that which renders the man of prayer a more perfect instrument in the hands of God, and according to this end he would have it regulated both in quantity and in degree.
From what has been said we may easily infer the attitude of St. Ignatius and his disciples in regard to work. If prayer, after all, is no more than a means to an end, and as such to be taken up or laid aside, much more, from its very nature, is work. Work for its own sake did not much interest Loyola; the nearest he approaches to that is when he bids his men be always occupied, for "idleness is the source of every evil." Whatever place work holds in his life and teaching, however important and absorbing on other accounts it may be, in itself it can never be more than a means to the end, and as such only must it be estimated. Practical in effect, as we have seen his prayer to be, and leading up to a life of labor, nevertheless work does not hold a more important place. On the contrary, in a true sense all its importance lies in this, not that it gets something done, but that it is itself the fruit and the life of prayer. The issue seems to him to matter little. So long as a man does what God wants him to do, so long as he does his best, so long as he himself puts no hindrance in the way--mulla tamen ad id per eos data occasione--he seems often supremely indifferent whether work succeeds or fails. More than that, as if to forestall any possible misunderstanding, he bids his followers find matter of rejoicing rather in what is called failure than in success.
Nowhere is this more manifest than in the Spiritual Exercises. In them he is mainly engaged in molding the apostle; it is therefore all-important that the latter should have from the beginning a right estimate of labor and its fruits. Hence when he begins to build up his ideal, the man of labor must be introduced; yet he puts him deliberately in the second place. In answer to the call of Christ the King, inviting men to labor with Him, he says:
"All who have the use of judgment and reason will offer themselves wholly to labor."
But for those who would do more than merely follow common sense, who are led by the nobler dictates of love and affection to respond in every way they can, he goes on:
"Those who would wish to shew a greater affection, and to signalize themselves in every kind of service of their Eternal King and Universal Lord, will not only offer themselves wholly to labor, but also by acting against their own sensuality, and their carnal and worldly love, will make offers of greater worth and moment."
"Offers of greater worth, offers of greater moment," than merely to give themselves wholly to labor! And these offers are immediately defined in his own characteristic way. They are "to imitate Thee," not in labor, which is no longer mentioned, but in "bearing all insults and reproaches, and all poverty, actual poverty as well as poverty of spirit."
Thus he seems to say, in the very first stroke of the pen when he begins to draw his ideal: "Labor is good, but labor that fails is better"; at least that fails so far as the laborer himself is concerned. For labor that succeeds may well be our own; to labor and to fail makes us like to the King, and that is glory. And this is the whole of the matter. Work for its own sake, of whatever kind, was of little worth to St. Ignatius; he would as soon hide in a cave doing what might be called nothing as labor among men, so far as mere occupation was concerned. Work for success was worth little more; he who could so work as to earn a prison and a scourge for his reward was not enamored of success. But work for Christ his King, whatever was to be the issue; work because He worked, and because He asked him for it, and because to work made him like his Master; work which his Master did, in the way He did it, with the same end in view and the same result; work in this light was a very different thing. It was no longer work, it was likeness to Jesus Christ; no longer labor, but His life that was being lived. Success and failure had now new definitions; they did not depend on results, they depended only on likeness or unlikeness to the King. He had thrown in his lot with Jesus Christ, and was willing to take all the consequences. "Socius Jesu," a Companion of Jesus; he had known Him, he had loved Him, and there was now nothing else but this love any more to be considered; the love of desire, the love of friendship, the love that draws to perfect union. To live with Him, to be like Him, to wear oneself out in His service, this was the meaning to St. Ignatius of the life of action. Hence when the Master asked him not to pray but to labor, there could be only one answer. It was the "ecstasy of labor," as St. Francis de Sales so excellently calls it; giving its all and not counting the cost, because He gave and asked him to give; fighting and not heeding the wounds, because He fought, and was wounded, and fought on, and asked him to do the same; toiling and not seeking for rest, because He toiled, and had not where to lay His head, and He offered him the same pillow; laboring and looking for no reward, because He was ill-requited. Let Him only say what is His will; to accomplish it he will labor to the death, to be allowed to do it is reward enough.
Hence in the making of his men, as instruments for the greater glory of God and the greater good of mankind, the merely material training was put by him in the second place. It was important; no one would accuse St. Ignatius of making it of little account. But it was not the most important. He asked for the keenest intellects; but, when he got them, he submitted these intellects to two fallow years, "wasting their time" as men might say, sweeping corridors and washing dishes. He would have them go through the finest training the best universities could provide, but when they were trained again he would send them back to menial labor, to teach the catechism and tend the sick. He would make them the keenest instruments our civilization could produce, and he would send them out to Indian pariahs, or to have their fingers bitten off by Iroquois babies, or to be confined for years in a Japanese cage, and then to be burnt alive. More important than all else was it that his men should "put on Jesus Christ"; if they would do that the rest would follow, whatever they might be called upon to do, wherever they might be sent to do it. Thus we find him writing in the Constitutions:
"To preserve and increase not only the body of the Society, that is its external well-being, but also its spirit, and to attain the end which it proposes to itself, which is the assistance of men that they may attain their last and supernatural end, it is clear that the means which unite and adapt the instrument with God so that the hand of God may guide it, are of more effect than those which adapt it to men. Such are uprightness and virtue, and above all charity, and a pure intention of serving God, and familiarity with God in exercises of devotion, and a sincere zeal for souls for the sake of Him who has created and redeemed them, without consideration of any other reward whatsoever. Consequently it may be laid down as a universal instruction, that all who join the Society should devote themselves to the study of solid and perfect virtue, and of spiritual things; and should consider that these are of greater moment than learning or any other natural endowments. For they are the interior force from which all efficacy must flow to any exterior operations for the end the Society has in view."
Only when he has laid down this first principle does he come to speak of work in general; but then, when he has laid it down, he will have his men labor with all their might and main.
The same refrain is caught up from the Founder, and repeated again and again by all Jesuit spiritual writers. On the one hand there are those, like Lallemant, who warn their disciples against the evil of putting mere labor first; on the other hand there are those who encourage to labor because it is the truest following of Christ. Let us take one instance out of many.
"How noble, how attractive," writes Nouet, "are all the virtues when they are studied in this Model! Therefore at the beginning of every action? lift up your hearts in spirit to Jesus Christ, and with a simple look of love behold how He did in life that which you are to do, and in what manner He would do it now were He in your place. Enliven this vision with a keen desire to please Him, to satisfy Him, to do Him honor. Unite your heart to His, your deed to His, that you may draw thence the power to do it even as He would have done."
This is the definition, and spirit, and significance of work as St. Ignatius understands it. The perfect act, whatever it may be and whatever may be its results; the perfect placing of it in the hands of God, as a free gift, for Him to do with it what He pleases; the perfect surrender of all personal reward, the likeness to Christ being more than reward enough; these are his ingredients. As to its results, Ribadeneira sums up his Master's teaching in another way:
"The great law of labor is this: To trust in God, but to labor as if all depended on ourselves; to labor with all our might, but to know that all depends on God, that we do nothing."
But when this attitude to labor has been well-secured, then the saint does not hesitate to define more exactly to what kind of labor his Society should be most inclined.
"The purpose of this Society is, not only to labor for the salvation and perfection of our own souls with the grace of God, but with the help of the same divine grace to strive intensely for the salvation and perfection of our neighbor" (Ex. Gen. i, 2).
"The charity and zeal for souls, which this Society practices according to the purpose of its Institute, embraces every degree of mankind, to serve them for their spiritual advantage, and to help them to attain happiness in the Lord" (Const. i. 3, 1).
"The goal at which the Society directly aims is to help the souls of its members and those of others to attain the last end for which they were created" (Const. iv. Proem.).
"The goal of the Society and of its courses of studies is to help its neighbor to a knowledge and love of God and to the salvation of his soul (Const. iv. 12, 1).
"The whole principle of our profession requires that we should be ready and prepared for anything whatsoever, which may at any time be required of us in the Lord, without asking or expecting any reward in this present fleeting life" (Ex. Gen. iv. 27).
"It belongs to our profession to move about to various places, and to spend our lives in any part of the world, wherever there is hope of the greater service of God or greater help of souls" (Const. iii. 2, 6, G).
"Members of this Society ought always to be ready to go abroad to any corner of the world to which they may be sent, either by the Holy Father or by their Superior" (Const. vi., 3, 5) Passages such as these, taken from the Constitutions, may be easily multiplied. From them alone we may at once infer the particular means to the end which St. Ignatius had in view in ultimately founding the Society. Nevertheless, from what has been said in the preceding chapter, it is no less clear that in his mind no one state of life is in itself better than another, no one work is to be preferred before another. To him, thus far at least, it is a question only of the good pleasure of God, His greater glory and the greater benefit of men; for the rest, for the particular use to which a man's life is put, it is for God Himself to decide, and for the man, so far as he is able, to discover and follow that decision. Even for himself, in his early days, when the Spiritual Exercises were gradually assuming shape, it would seem to have been by no means clear where he would end. He would be a hermit, he would be a Carthusian, he would be a pilgrim and apostle in the Holy Land. Only after years of experiment, and of after-enlightenment, did he at last take his life definitely into his own hands and go to school again to learn Latin, and thence to Paris to begin the great work to which, by this time, he knew himself to be called. And even then it was not clear what the nature of his work would be. He proposed to take his disciples to the Holy Land; Providence and the Pope, not he, decided that his first field of labor should be Italy.
Nor, at first, was it different with the others. The first effect of the Exercises on St. Francis Xavier was to induce him to take up a life of dangerous mortification, and to long for the seclusion of the cloister; only by submitting to the wiser judgment of Ignatius was he saved for the apostolic life. Whether Peter Faber underwent the same experience is not certain, but it seems very likely; it is at all events clear that, to the end of his life, he carried his cloister about with him, living with the angels while he labored among men. In Rome, when at length the Order had been founded, and had settled in a home, almost the first problem with which the Founder was faced was the propensity of his subjects to a life exclusively of prayer. Everything was made to yield to it. Fathers would spend in it hours together, would eat very little, and would sleep, if they could, not at all; some without a doubt shortened their lives by these spiritual excesses. So much, at first sight, did the teaching of the saint induce rather to the life of prayer than to that of work; it is not altogether without reason that he has been described as a Carthusian let loose.
Nevertheless we know that this was not in any way his object. That a contemplative might, no less than anyone else, discover his vocation by means of the exercises was quite possible, and indeed very many have done so both in his time and since. Still it cannot be doubted that the saint had chiefly in mind those who would leave themselves free, to be devoted to prayer, or to labor, or to anything at all which would be for the greater glory of God and the greater good of men. We have seen how, with this object in view, he turned his teaching on prayer to a practical issue, never quite allowing his exercitant merely to rest in the Lord. We have seen how, when his Order was at length established, he would have it freed from every bondage, even every spiritual bondage, such as the chanting of the Office, which would in any way tie it down. Though work of itself was of no more moment than prayer, indeed was only prayer in another form, still he looked for men who, if they did not prefer, would at least accept when called upon, this form of prayer before another.
Of course, we must repeat, as a principle this was nothing new. One may say that there was little new in anything that St. Ignatius Loyola taught or did; by nature he was the most conservative of saints. St. Benedict had said long before him that to labor was to pray; nevertheless, in the spirit of the true contemplative, he allowed to labor a place in his communities rather as a first cousin to prayer than as a sister. St. Dominic went much further. Driven by the dangers of the day he put into practice the words of St. Bernard who in his cloister had already felt the need.
"Noli nimis insistere osculis contemplationis, quia meliora sunt ubera praedicationis," the latter had said: "Insist not too much on the sweets of contemplation, for the fruitful joys of preaching are better."
Dominic had taken these words to heart, had made preaching equal to prayer, had ordained that prayer, when occasion required it, should give way to preaching, and to the study that preaching demanded. St. Dominic pointed the way to the new function of religious orders; St. Ignatius only completed what St. Dominic began.
"Already at the beginning of the thirteenth century," writes the Dominican historian Denifle, "because of the special aim of the Dominican Order, i.e., the salvation of one's neighbor, the defense of the faith against infidels and heretics, and lastly the propagation of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Founder of this Order and his successors decided that, in individual cases, dispensation could sometimes be given to students, professors and preachers from the strict observance of the rule and even, in certain cases, from attendance at choir. In other words it was understood that the general regulations of the Order might and should be adapted to its own particular end. St. Ignatius and his successors in the Generalte were in like manner guided by an accurate impression of their times when, because of their special end in view, an end not unlike that of the Dominicans, and because of the new requirements and therefore new duties of the age, they suppressed altogether prayer in choir, whether in the day time or at night. But on the other hand, this only made them insist all the more on the interior life, the spirit of prayer, the vigorous ascetic training of each individual member, great singleness of mind and purity of heart."
Thus was the principle that lay beneath the Society of Jesus at once old and new; old in its faithful adherence to the Church's tradition, new, a little, in its application to the needs of mankind as St. Ignatius and his followers understood them. There had been a time when men needed, above all things else, the example of abiding prayer, and of independence, aloofness from the world for its own sake. It would need that example still; there would always be room for the contemplative. Once, in the age when Europe was all Catholic, but was increasingly careless of the truth it had inherited, there was need of men who would make their prayer a means of preaching the word in all its stark simplicity. It would need that still, and always would. But now there was need of a further expansion. Not only was heresy rampant; civilization itself was taking on a new role. Natural life was being filled with many things which threatened to destroy the life supernatural at its very roots. There was need of men who would deliberately go counter to all this; who would choose as their standard of life the very opposite of that which "the world loved and embraced"; who would endeavor, first, to conquer this corruption in themselves, and then would go out to conquer the same in others, anywhere, at any time, in whatever way the Spirit of God might direct them.
This was the Apostolate as St. Ignatius understood it. Once upon a time the present writer was talking with a highly educated Hindu. The latter was a Senior Wrangler of Cambridge; at the time he was a Principal of a great Indian College; he was a leading figure in an Indian University. For years he had worked side by side with the fathers of a Jesuit College in his neighborhood. We were speaking together on University affairs, and in particular of the profession of teaching. Suddenly the Hindu turned and said:
"No, the fathers of the Society of Jesus are not educators. They may have the best schools; they may attract greater numbers by giving the best lectures; they may record the greatest successes; they may discourse better than others on education itself. But for all that they are not educators, as we of the profession understand the word. Their object is, not to educate, but to do something else. Education to them is not an end; it is not, as it is to us, something to live for; to them it is only a means to an end, a means to win people to their Christ."
And the Hindu scholar was right. The son of St. Ignatius has no choice but to acknowledge the charge made against him. He may be seemingly absorbed, and indeed pre-eminent in many things. He may be a leading astronomer, a mathematician, a man of science. He may preach or teach, he may be a writer of books, he may be prominent in art or literature. He may explore new countries, he may make new discoveries, or he may be engrossed in the problems of the old. But in none of these is the whole man engaged. At any moment, should the greater glory of God, or the greater good of mankind demand it, he will leave any one of these, on which hitherto his whole life has been expended, and take at once to something else. However lost he may be in any branch of learning, however eminent he may become, nevertheless, if he rightly represents the mind of his master St. Ignatius, a specialist in the world's sense he is not. He will never make any one pursuit absorb him to the exclusion of all else; he will always put it in the second place. However skilled the man may become, in the last resort his skill is only an instrument to reach to something further; and in his devotion to that further end all other conquests are a means and no more.
But, as history and experience have sufficiently proved, this subordination of the work to be done to another purpose has not made it any the less perfect. On the contrary, if with due humility it may be said, it has lifted that work to degrees that have never been surpassed; of whatever else the Society of Jesus may have been accused, she has seldom been accused of want of thoroughness. And at this we need not wonder; for the end being so great, so inspiring, and the man being so inspired, the means to that end have become inspired also. God being so much, Jesus Christ being so lovable and so beloved, the spreading of His Kingdom being a thing in itself so noble, then not only is nothing too good to further this object, but whatever can help to its attainment should be of the very best. The instrument itself, that is the man who is devoted to its service, can never be too perfect in himself, in things of the spirit or in things of this world, for the end he has in view. The work he undertakes, be it the abstrusest scientific problem or only the washing of a dish, can never be too perfectly done. Love will make a man do what nothing else will; love will demand perfection when any other motive will be satisfied with mediocrity. So is it in this case. Whatever the son of St. Ignatius is given to do, it is all for the Kingdom and the King; and the love of these will produce a greater fruit even than the love of the thing itself.
This, if man will have it so, is the abiding paradox of the Society of Jesus. Though the Society makes much of the vow of obedience, yet this very obedience is imposed that its members may be the more free. A soldier who joins the service is no slave; he is a free man and a champion of freedom. Though the Society has cut down the ordinary obligations of prayer, yet it has insisted, perhaps more than any other Order, on the entrance of prayer into every sphere of life. Though it sends its sons away, to every corner of the world and to every degree of life, yet does it insist that they should carry with them the cloister and the hermitage. Though they are ordered to mix with men, and to live like other men, yet must there be in their hearts that independence which, at any moment, and under any circumstances, can allow them to be moved from one place to another, tied to nothing and to no occupation, and to no one person in particular.
For there is a higher bondage that binds them. They are bound to the greater glory of God, and the greater good of mankind; they are irrevocably bound to nothing else. The vow of obedience, which tells them how they may best devote their powers to this end in the eyes of those who know better than themselves is their Great Charter of liberty from every other trammel. The Jesuit vows obedience, first, to him who sees best of all the needs of man and the interests of God on earth. Next he vows obedience to those who see further than himself in his own particular sphere. Last of all he obeys his own judgment, which tells him how he may best prepare himself, in spirit and in mind, for whatever the future may ask of him.
This last, to a very great extent, is his own special business. What he may be called upon to do, to the end of his life he may not know. He may be given a fixed task, and he may do it; yet his real work for the Kingdom may be something else, of which to the end of his days he will be unaware. He may be called upon for one thing to-day another to-morrow; there are few lives in the world liable to be so varied as is the life of the normal Jesuit. He may live in plenty or in poverty to-day, and to-morrow these may be reversed. He may be given a task which cannot but succeed, or one which will inevitably fail. He may be settled in a home of comparative comfort, or he may be thrown where misery and sickness will be his certain lot. He may be appointed to that which, normally, will give him a prospect of long years or he may be sent where life will certainly be short. To him, if he follows the mind of his Master, Ignatius, it is all one. These things are the means and no more; provided the end is attained, they count for very little. He is trained to keep in view a more distant horizon, to which all else must be turned, the greater glory of God and the universal good.
There is one passage in the Constitutions which seems to us admirably to illustrate not only the mind of the saint with regard to work, but also the whole of his way of making a decision. With this passage we may close this chapter. He is discussing the use to be made of subjects by a superior, and the kinds of work which may be considered peculiarly suited to a Jesuit. In the middle of the discussion he adds this note:
"That the work which a superior commits to his subjects may be the better and more securely chosen, one and the same rule is to be kept before his eyes, namely, the greater honor of God and the greater good of all men. This consideration may most rightly decide him to send him to one place rather than to another. There may be other considerations which may incline the decision to either side. For instance, first of all, a member of the Society may use his exertions to secure spiritual good, or he may work for corporal benefit, where mercy and charity are called into play. Again some may be engaged in occupations which make for their own greater or less perfection, or which in themselves are better or less good. In all such cases, if a choice is to be made, obviously, other things being equal, the former are to be preferred to the latter."
In the same way the saint goes through a list of similar alternatives, and always with the same conclusion. Then he sums up:
"All these decisions are made simply and solely because in each case it is the better course with a view to the greater glory of God and the greater good, of our fellowmen."
It would be difficult for anyone to be more clear, or decided, or emphatic.
Let us now sum up what has here been said. The first decades of the sixteenth century saw the dawning of a new era for Europe and the world. It was a period of change, for good and for evil, such as Christian Europe had not seen before; if Europe was to be kept together, and subject to right order, it stood in need of new forces to direct it. By a strange turn of fortune, the temporal supremacy was in the hands of a single man, whose kingdom, fallen to him by lawful succession and without need of any war or conquest, extended beyond that of any monarch of Europe before him. Now when it was too late temporal unity seemed naturally feasible. On the other hand the allegiance paid to him was very far from that which had been paid to his predecessors in the centuries before. Feudalism, by this time, was well nigh dead, nationalism was fast taking its place. Despotism, under whatever guise or name, was dying; the voice of the people was everywhere being heard.
Along with this change in the outlook on authority, went of necessity a change in the outlook on religion and the Church. In name, indeed, the supremacy of the pope was unaltered; but, thanks to evils within and misfortunes without, much of its hold upon the nations had been lost. Among the people of Europe the faith was still alive; at the opening of the century, in politics as well as in its spiritual sphere men acknowledged the authority of the Church; on the other hand the knowledge of its teaching and its practice had waned to a degree almost beyond belief. It is striking that the new historians of the Society of Jesus, Astrain for Spain, Duhr for Germany, Tacchi-Venturi for Italy, all feel themselves compelled to begin their respective works with a grim tale of the state of Catholic Europe at this time. She was indeed at the cross-roads. In spite of the appearance of authority and unity, spiritual as well as temporal, in realty she was being driven by forces the very opposite from within. Already the ground was well prepared for the disruption that was soon to come; the wonder is, not that it did so much, but that it did not do more.
In the midst of this age of transformation and spiritual apathy, there awakened a man, of no striking talent as it would seem, certainly not learned, but endowed with an extraordinary clearness and simplicity of vision, of a definite goal to be attained, and with a power of will within himself to enable him to attain it. Along one single line he solved the problem of his own life for himself, and then set himself to teach the same to others. To most men his goal might seem fantastic; it might seem too far away to affect the trend of everyday affairs; in any case it could but affect the lives of individual men, it could not affect the world at large. Ignatius Loyola made nothing of such arguments. That he had the world at large in view is clear; but he also saw that the world is made up of individual men, and with these all reform must begin. He was content to live for one great truth and, so far as he was able, to induce all other men to live for the same; the result he left to be worked out as it would, confident that it could only be for the benefit of mankind.
Of one thing he was certain, so certain that no man who called himself a Christian could doubt it. The end of all being, of all creation, was, and could only be for the greater glory of Him who created it. The specific end of man, the one creature on this earth endowed with reason, and reflexion and free-will, was, whatever else he made of his life, to recognize, to manifest, to extend that glory; in doing that he would inevitably secure both his own and universal good. This greater glory, this universal good, he envisaged in a Kingdom, the universal Kingdom of God, of Jesus Christ, God and man. He had seen his own country, Spain, benefited beyond all expectation by unity under one lawful monarch. He had accepted and fought for the supremacy of another, in whose lawful right he saw the hope of united Europe revived. Now he beheld another Empire, and another Monarch, far transcending in might and in power and majesty either of these, in whom the peace, and union, and prosperity of all the world was still more assured. And for one like Loyola, once he had seen it there was but one conclusion. To take service under that King, to fight for the extending of that Kingdom, this was an ambition that went far beyond any he had hitherto cherished; to labor and to die for Christ and His claim was a far greater glory than to risk his life for Charles the Fifth and Navarre.
It was a simple solution, obviously coming from a very simple mind; it was romantic, seeming to border on the fanciful. Yet to Ignatius it was a solemn, fundamental truth; so fundamental that upon it he could build the rest of his career. In his simplicity, in his romanticism, in his whole- hearted surrender to a single idea, Ignatius Loyola was close akin to Francis of Assisi, the soldier of Pampeluna to the soldier of Perugia, the convert of Manresa to the convert of the Porziuncula, the leader of Christ's army to him who called himself "the herald of the King." Like Francis he was a troubadour following a gleam, throwing all aside in its pursuit, gladly content to lose all that he might gain all.
But single-handed he knew well that he could not do much. That all the world might be won to Christ,--so broadly did this knight-errant dream--he must fill others with the same ideal of life, the same romance. And once they had caught the gleam, then he must train them. He must make them, first of all, utterly selfless; independent of all that this world might set before them as a goal in itself to be desired, "health or sickness, wealth or poverty, honor or dishonor, long life or short"; masters of themselves, masters of every fascination about them. Next he must make them ring utterly true; utterly genuine, transparent and sincere, deceived by nothing, deceiving none, seduced by no false ideals or false values, under whatever form they might appeal; thus would they come to rely upon themselves and to be relied upon by others. When these foundations were secured, then he would urge them, would build them up into new men, by one single force, the force of love. Love of the King, love of the Kingdom, love of every man in it, and of every man that might be won to it, "universalis amor," universal love, as he himself expressly called it; the love of St. Ignatius was patriotism carried to its furthest limits, leaping beyond the artificial boundaries of nations, including all men in its embrace.
These three were all that he deemed necessary for his purpose. Given these three, utter selflessness, with its corresponding generosity, utter truth, with its corresponding singleness of purpose, and the love of Jesus Christ driving all, this single-minded man was confident that he could make an army which would conquer all the world, for the greatest of all kings, with the greatest good to follow for all mankind. But that men might learn to love the King they must know Him, intimately, familiarly, even as He was in Himself. They must live with Him in His tent, share His thoughts and words, follow Him in His marches, imitate Him in His deeds and ways; so love would make them "put on Jesus Christ," that they in their turn might go and do likewise. And to take the means to love Him, to grow like Him, this, for the end he had in view, was the spiritual life to St. Ignatius. This was the bent of his prayer, and the kind of prayer he most encouraged in those he set himself to train. He would have them concentrate in prayer their whole selves upon this ideal; soul and body, memory, understanding, will and all their senses, times of prayer and times of labor. Thus would they lose themselves in Him, and when they came among men, whatever might be their occupation, consciously or unconsciously, they would give Him to everyone around them.
Not that he excluded other forms of prayer; to have done so would have frustrated the first object of all his teaching. For if he would have his followers do all things like their Master, then so far as was possible he would have them pray like Him, who was above all things else the Man of Prayer; and whither that might lead, who but the Master Himself could presume to say? To the trained disciple there should be no limit, no restriction; the Master alone should be their guide, calling them to higher things or not as He would. This only the saint would keep before them all; that out of prayer they should learn, ever more and more, even to the very end, how to bring themselves under that they might become the more like Him, how to put away their own ambitions that they might whole-heartedly serve Him, how to rise in sanctity, not so much for the sake of sanctity, as that they might become better instruments in the work of spreading the Kingdom.
Then he came to consider the work itself. What it might be for any individual and indeed for his whole Society, in itself mattered very little. But it mattered very much that whatever it might be, it should tend to, and be worthy of the end in view. That the Kingdom might be better spread, that the glory of God might be made the greater, that the universal good of men might be the more secured, nothing was too trivial, no stone could be left unturned; for choice there was one only rule, what would more help to these ends. So also with the manner of the deed; whatever a man did, from the cleaning of boots to the ruling of a province, let him always give of his best; nothing but the very best was worthy of an end so noble. What he did, once he had laid himself aside, concerned him little; on a battlefield a cook is at least as important as a gunner. Therefore let him not be too eager to choose for himself. Let those who know better, who survey the whole field, who know the greater needs and his own possibilities, choose for him; a man is seldom the best judge in his own case, many there are who cannot judge at all. In making that surrender he would lay down his life that he might find it and that was the greatest gift of love. In doing so he would but imitate the better his King and Model, who came not to do His own will but the will of Him that sent Him; who in doing that will was obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross; and who in the end could say: "Father, I have finished the work thou gavest Me to do"--without a word about its results, whether He had succeeded or failed.
This, in brief, would seem to be the spirit and meaning of the Society of Jesus as St. Ignatius Loyola understood it. All through his Constitutions, as we have said, the reflexion is constantly recurring: what is for the greater glory of God, and what is for the greater good of mankind, and the two are joined together as if the one could not be without the other. The interests of the Society itself, or of the members composing it? are scarcely considered; when they are, it is only that they may be made the better instruments for the two great ends he has in view. And the same, repeatedly, he insists upon for the guidance of those who come after him. He makes much of obedience, yet seldom do we find him giving an order; instead he is for ever advising superiors and subjects to decide for themselves, guided by the one great principle he has laid down. Shall they give themselves to prayer, or shall they preach? They shall do that which, at that time and in that place, shall be most for God's glory and the universal good. Shall they open schools? If God and men are, there and then, best served by them, yes; if not, no. Shall they work in hospitals and for the sick? The same answer is given. Even where he ventures to lay down a regulation, he foresees the possibility of another order being at some time more for the glory of God and of the good of men, and he warns his subjects accordingly. Thus they must live as poor men; but there might come occasions when this would not serve the great cause. They must seek to live lowly lives; but sometimes the glory of God and the good of men may demand that they should appear. The answer is almost monotonous; one comes to know beforehand what answer he will give to any question.
Since his time, during four centuries, the Society of Jesus has developed many sides; founded on such a broad basis, it could scarcely have been otherwise. She has made many friends and many enemies; she has been honored and has been crushed; she has been put to death and has risen again. But always, please God, whatever her fate her aim has been one and the same. To be sure she is only a human institution. Let a man be as perfect as he may be, he remains but a man; limited in outlook, weak in mind and limb, with a will for the most part unable to rise to the height even of his own ambitions. Let an institution be as noble in its aim and foundation as it may be, let it bear on it the mark of the finger of God Himself, it remains but a human institution; sometimes hampered by its own machinery, often narrowed down by its own regulations and laws, from time to time injured by a less worthy member, or wounded by a blow from without; never quite attaining the ideal for which it was made. So does the Society of Jesus readily acknowledge her own limitations, her weaknesses, her failures; nay, her inability to do anything except in Him who gives her strength. Nevertheless, she has tried; and the world is strewn with the bones of her sons, and watered with their blood, poured out for God and man with not a hope or desire of reward or recognition. She is content that history should speak for her; she trusts that she has not failed her well-beloved Founder.
And it is this new orientation, if indeed it may be called new, which is Ignatius Loyola's contribution to the solution of the problem of the modern world. In a day of wealth and the worship of wealth St. Francis of Assisi eschewed all riches, even the very means by which he might live. In a day of worldly glamour, when East and West dazzled men's eyes on every side, when at home false ambition threatened to destroy all trust and union, St. Ignatius went counter to all the common standards of man and sought their very opposites. St. Francis brought men back to a right estimate of values, and for the lesson he taught he is justly honored to this day. St. Ignatius strove to bring men back to a right sense of order, a rationable obsequium, a service subject to reason; may we not say that in the learning of that lesson civilization itself depends?
Copyright, 1930 By The Macmillan Company Published, January, 1930
Printed in the United States of America by The Stratford Press, Inc. New York
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