The Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is one of the most popular religious orders ever created. All over the world, we can see the work of this order, an order dedicated in rendering good quality education, preaching the word of God and helping needy people. In order to fully understand the topic the creation of the Jesuit this paper will tackle a brief summary of St. Ignatius’ life, a background of the Jesuit order.
LIFE OF ST. IGNATIUS- THE FOUNDER
Inigo de Loyola or St. Ignatius was born in 1491 in Northen Spain in Azpeitia in the province of Guipuzcoa. At the tender age of sixteen, he began working to Juan Velasquez, the treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. In his younger days, he became fascinated with women, addicted to gambling and also has the fascination of dressing like a fighting man carrying a sword and other weapons. At the age of thirty, he was an officer defending the town of Pamplona from French forces.
In one of the battles in Pamplona, a cannon ball St. Ignatius. It wounded his one leg and breaking the. But with the respect of the French army with his courage, instead of making him a prisoner of war, they send him back to his home to recover. The wound was severe and people thought that he would die but in an unexpected turn of events, the wound healed but it left him one leg shorter than the other.
In the stage of his recovery, St. Ignatius was bored and asked for romantic novels but there were nothing available. Only a book of the life of Jesus and other saints were available. He began reading it. The more he read, the more he became interested with the life of a saint and he find it worth imitating. He also felt peace after reading the life of Christ and other saints. He then discovered that his past life was an empty life and the true meaning of life is something with God. He began his spiritual exercise. He then left home and traveled with an objective of living in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ lived his life. In his time of travel, he visited different places and began meditating. As a result of his meditation, he began to see God in all things. This is the start of everything.
The Society of Jesus is classified as a body of priests organized for apostolic work, following a religious rule, and relying on alms, or donations, for support. They practice a form of spirituality which is called Ignatian Spirituality that banners the idea, “to conquer oneself and to regulate one’s life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment”.
Jesuits also banners the idea of working for the greater glory of god, examining one’s self always and asking for spiritual guidance. They also banner the idea of giving love to God whole-heartedly and giving love to other people. Detachment from the material world is also their principle and that each member must vow for simplicity and humility. Every decision they make is always a product of discernment and prayers because they knew that God’s way will always be the best way in living their lives.
OBSTACLES IN CREATING THE JESUIT ORDER
On August 15, 1534, Ignatius, a Basque, and six other students at the University of Paris (Francisco Xavier, Alfonso Salmerón, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla, Peter Faber and Simon Rodrigues) met. They met in Montmartre outside of Paris. A simple ceremony took place and the group bound themselves with the vow of poverty and chastity. Their mission was to render missionary work in Jerusalem and to go wherever the pope will direct them. They name their group as the “Company of Jesus”. The word company came from the Latin cum + pane which means bread with or a group that shares meals. These acts then gave way to the founding of an order in 1540 called the “Society of Jesus”.
The first obstacle that St. Ignatius faced in creating the order was the fight for acceptance and approval of the higher leaders of the church. St. Ignatius made the first “Formula Instituti” in five sections which was submitted to the pope. The pope gave an approval on September 3, 1539 but Cardinal Guidiccioni, the head of the commission appointed to report on the “formula”, viewed that a new order must not be admitted. The chance for approval of the order seems to evaporate. This was a big obstacle to overcome in a process like that. But St. Ignatius and his companion’s courage and determination were unshaken. What they deed was they offered four thousand masses just to achieve their objective. They prayed that their desired end will be met. Unexpectedly, the Cardinal changed his mind and on September 27, 1540, the “formula” was approved but with the condition that the members will not exceed sixty. But after two years, the condition was lifted. In April, 1541, Ignatius became the first general of the order despite his reluctance and the order was fully constituted.
The distribution of Jesuits throughout the world was also one of the obstacles of growth, apostolate and unity of the Society. The order grew and expanded its mission around the world. They conquered Europe and other continents. The separation then became a problem because distance and communication was hard to overcome. This is due to the fact that in that time, they don’t enjoy yet the technology we have today. Letters back then are sent by boats and boats before take months to arrive in their destination. The order is in danger of an organizational collapse. But St. Ignatius was not shaken by the problem. Instead, he spend time writing to the leaders of the order assigned in particular places. He also had a secretary to write in his behalf.
Another problem that was encountered by St. Ignatius was Fr. James Lainez, one of Ignatius’ original companions, the provincial in northern Italy. He had done things that put Ignatius on the spot. He made commitments that Ignatius could not fulfill. In addition, he expressed disagreement to others about a change of personnel which St. Ignatius had made. St. Ignatius wrote a letter to Lainez, encouraging him to take time to pray and examine his mistakes. Then Lainez, with humility, ask St. Ignatius for severe and harsh punishments and asked to be assigned in the most difficult place and have the most difficult job of the society but St. Ignatius still encourage him to continue with what he started.
A bishop whom they called “Bishop Cilicio” had a great animosity to the society. He refused the new order in his diocese. He even excommunicated everyone who made “Spiritual Exercise”, a practice executed and bannered by the members of the order. St. Ignaytius response to such obstacle was a relax manner. He even encourages the Jesuits to also relax because the bishop was an old man. He told the Jesuits that the order is still young and that the bishop is old and time will come that there will be no one to block the order’s growth.
His last battle was against sickness. He is constantly battling stomach pain. The pain always persists and is weakening him. There’s a time that he is in severe illness that he was finding a hard time leading the order.
St. Ignatius life was a paragon to all. From being an ordinary man with a lot of vices, he became a follower of Christ and his devotion became one of the most admired in the history of the church. He displayed great courage, determination, patience and great faith in God. Only few people can do this and hew is one of them.
Pertaining to the organization, the Jesuit order has an unparalleled record of serving other people and of giving great education. Until now, the order grows bigger and bigger. Even with the obstacles that faced the growth of the order in its younger days, the order remained unshaken by the people who tried to hamper and destroy its growth. This is a remarkable display of character that only few organizations can match of perhaps no organization can ever match.
May this tale of the obstacles that tried to stop the growth of a great religious order be an inspiration to all organizations who will try to establish their names. May the life of St. Ignatius be a model to each and everyone of us. Let’s make it as a challenge to all of us who went astray that the only meaningful life is the life that serves other people and the life that is with God. Let us start a brand new day with the loving presence of God and that our lives be changed for the better and therefore fulfilling the true essence of our existence- a life serving God and a life that is in constant service with other people.
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