Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Feast of Ignatius of Loyola



Today is the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. St Ignatius taught his followers to pray in a way that brought them into contact with the person of Jesus. It was this personal relationship with Jesus that caused his followers to live their faith on a grand scale, like Francis Xavier going to the east to convert hundreds of thousands, men or Edmund Campion and Ralph Sherwin and many others who died for the faith in England and elsewhere. The contribution of the Society of Jesus to post reformation European and American culture is immense especially in their contribution to the sciences and to education. The recent Chinese exhibition at the Royal Academy showed the influence that a small group of these extra-ordinary men had on that society. The unique fourth vow of the Society, of obedience to Holy Father, meant that they were the Church's shock troops.

For the most part all seemed well until the 20th century, when the Jesuits rather than leading men and women deeper into communion with the Church led them further and further away. Today "Jesuit" is synonymous with disobedience, rebellion, even heresy. The order that once proclaimed devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Spiritual Exercises is more likely to be using the enneagram, or putting on “pray with clay days”. Therapy seems to have replaced Spiritual Direction. The art of reading scripture according to the mind of the Church has been replaced by reading it according to the mind of 19th century philosophers like Marx or Engels. Those who led non-Christians to Christ are more likely to be themselves taking on the spirituality of the ashram. Once Orthodox bishops welcomed them into them dioceses, now they seek to get rid of them. Once their schools had a reputation for excellence and producing leaders of society, now if they are not embroiled in cases of sexual abuse, their products lapse and turn against the Church, with little notion of the teaching of that Church they reject.

Hindu dancing Jesuits, Jesuits who promote lifestyles which in the past would be considered sinful, Jesuits making up their own liturgies, Jesuits taking part in non-Christian worship, in public disagreement with the Pope all remind us of the importance of praying for the poor things.

15 comments:

greatgable said...

A very good post, that sums up the mess the Jesuits are in at the moment. They way things are going they will be extinct in England and Wales within a generation. This is what happens when an order departs radically from its founders intentions.

To think - a generation ago they were such an intellectual power house in this country!

fr paul harrison

Anonymous said...

Yes, I had a liturgical abuse experience in a mass celebrated by a young Jesuit not long ago. Nevertheless, I know two excellent Jesuits - Fr John Edwards and Fr Anthony Meredith - which makes it all the more of a tragedy that one can no longer trust members of the Order as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I know how the traditional Jesuits have suffered, seeing something the cherish torn apart, defaced, destroyed, pray for them.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you think about the Jesuits they still run the Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Observatory, the Holy Father's press secretary is one and they have over 900 novices world wide. There are many good Jesuits in Britain, including Fr Hugh Thwaites, Fr Michael O'Halloran and Fr Anthony Symondson, to name three notable traditionalists in addition to Fr Edwards and Fr Meredith. During Pope John Paul II's reign 11 were made cardinals. Heythrop College gets the highest ratings by the London University assessors and the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy is soon to be run by two young ones. Given the responsibilities the Church continues to give them, they can't all be bad. The major Jesuit parishes in England and Scotland have been offering sung Sunday Masses in Latin ever since the Novus Ordo came into being, which is more than can be said for the majority of diocesan parishes.

Anonymous said...

Heythrop: isn't it known by many as the London School of Heresy, has it still got the witch on its staff?
When I was there mass could be anything from sitting round individual tables with wine and bread on each, or concelebration with non-Catholics.
Heythrop is not a glittering jewel in the Jesuit crown, one of the reasons it does so well is because it has sold its soul.

Anonymous said...

Another great Catholic institution still run by the Jesuits is the Bollandists in Belgium and devotion to the Sacred Heart is promoted by the Apostleship of Prayer. Fr Meredith has been teaching at Heythrop for years.

Anthony Johns said...

The Jesuits throughout the world haven't completely gone down the pan, but in England that can't be said.
It should be interesting to see what the Jesuit appointees of Bishop Crispin Hollis do at Oxford.
They didn't do too well with their parish in Oxford did they?

Anonymous said...

"The major Jesuit parishes in England and Scotland have been offering sung Sunday Masses in Latin ever since the Novus Ordo came into being, which is more than can be said for the majority of diocesan parishes."

Father,
Jesuits do tend to be in well healed parishes where people demand these things and are willing to pay for them. I mean Wimbledon and Farm Street, is hardly city centre Brighton. What would happen to all those society weddings at Farm Street if it didn't have the choir from the Latin Mass.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6 brings up an interesting point about the Jesuits. If they are as bizarre as your post suggests do you suppose that people who attend churches like Farm Street and Wimbledon would tolerate them? Why are 'society weddings' still held at Farm Street? Wouldn't they be better conducted at the Oratory? The answer is that these, and other Jesuit parishes in the UK, are run on orthodox lines and many people choose to worship there. I am told that the Mass attendance at Wimbledon is close on 3000 every week-end and their Latin choir is voluntary. St Aloysius, Glasgow, also has high musical standards. What this comes down to is that you will find Jesuits who sing out of every hymn book and who provide a wide variety of ministries. The same applies to many other orders. Their decline is no different from the general decline of the Church in the West. Historically they have never been afraid of taking risks and this remains one of their characteristics. Like the chameleon they take different colours at different periods of history. That's part of their interest and also part of their controversial character and success. If they die, that's the will of God but, let's face it, as far as religious orders are concerned, their death will only be one of many. But, for the time being, the Church can't do without them.

gemoftheocean said...

Well, Lord knows the Jesuits of today have their share of nutbags - but they've also produced many a fine priest, including many of the younger ones. Fr. Mitch Pacwa, who often has appeared on EWTN and has written extensively against such new age practices such as the enneagram, is an SJ. And special thanks to the Jesuits for producing my Junior Year American History Teacher, Fr. Earl LaRiviere, who went to his final reward some years ago. A wonderful man, and a credit to any order. Eminently sensible and pious in a straightforward practical way.

Karen H. -- San Diego, Ca.

Anonymous said...

Jesuits have brains. That's another reason why many can't cope with them.

Jesuit Alumnus said...

A.M.D.G
I attended a Jesuit run school throughout the 1980's and witnessed at first hand both the changes to the order and the resulting collapse in its effectiveness. The "revolution" in the Jesuit Order can be traced to their General Congress in the early 70's when the then General Fr.Arrupe decided that the order were to embrace the "Social Justice" agenda in the form of "The Preferential Option for the Poor". As with so many problems in the Church this agenda sounded a good idea in principle but in practice was a Trojan Horse for the spread of a form of Marxism combined with a religous and cultural relativism which quickly overwhelmed them. I believe this was so because the Jesuits were peculiarly susceptible to these influences because of their experience at bringing the faith to other cultures. The very skills which they had developed to defend the faith- their intellectualism, their ability to disguise themselves as laymen in penal times, their cultural sophistication and reputation for "unclericalism" became the instruments of their downfall because they began to embrace secular ideologies to go with their secular style. In my school there were a succession of these men whose vocations seemed to be turning to dust in front of our eyes via influences such as Marxism and Zen Buddhism and who, as Catholic priests made some extraordinary changes in the life of the school such as banning RE as an academic subject, making Mass optional and forbadding kneeling at school masses during the Canon.

Now that Marxism has effectively died out they even lack a hook to hang their ideology on which is why they expend most of their energies now on interfaith initiatives. The tragedy is that of all the orders in the Church they should be the best placed to engage the secular world in a language it can understand. The reality is that they have been thoroughly infected by its values. To listen to a modern Jesuit now is rather like listening to a Cabinet Minister-it all sounds very impressive and dynamic but it's a lot of hot air. What a tragedy! Perhaps someone in the USA could start a "Jesuits of the Renewal" and get back to the Ignatian basics.
L.D.S

Anonymous said...

What would Fr Fessio and Cardinal Avery Dulles make of this penetrating criticism? The Jesuits are due to have another General Congregation soon to elect a new General. If the ideology set out by Jesuit Alumnus continues it will sound the death knell of the Order. I was talking to a solid Jesuit recently and he said that the young men who are interested in joining are orthodox and he also let slip that the retiring General is worried because so few young Jesuits are interested in faith and justice issues. Faith and justice offices are closing or weakening all over the world. This is not necessarily a phenomenon to crow about as bodies like the Jesuit Refugee Service are unmatched and have helped thousands in hopeless situations onto a better life. His concern was that the next General Congregation might be a last blow for ideology, given the delegates. But it is a universal Order and there may well be surprises. Time will tell but, in the meanwhile, there remain many Jesuits who are as sound as a rock and not all of them are old men like those identified in some of the comments. The young English Jesuit, Fr Dominic Robinson, for instance, is solid to the point of fogeyism and he has many years of life ahead.

Jesuit Alumnus said...

I'm grateful to anonymous for pointing out the work of the JRS and indeed what Jesuits continue to achieve in the life of the Church. As the largest religious order in the history of the Church you would still expect some dividend from them. My posting was a commentary on the overall decline of the Jesuit Order since the 1970's not a suggestion that they are incapable of still doing any good. Neither am I suggesting that there are no "doctrinally sound" Jesuit priests any more, rather that if someone such as Fr.Fessio or Cardinal Dulles were to present themselves as postulants to the British province now, their only way in would be to ask that their religious views be dismissed as harmless intellectual eccentricity. I have known Jesuit priests personally who were ordained since the Council who have had to use every bit as much cunning and wit as St.Edmund Campion ever did to disguise their religious views even from their own superiors until the relative freedom of ordination (which for a Jesuit can be a long time undercover!) My regret is that this is so and for the discouragement this must be to countless other aspirants who want to live the life as it is not the life as they would have it. My suspicion is that if more orthodox applicants are finding their way in it is probably more in a relativist free- for-all spirit than one which is faithful to the Magisterium. Their prevailing spirit in my experience (which I must admit is not one based on having lived their life) is that they are stuck in a kind of fossilised existentialist and still casuistical mindset. This allows the radical differences between what St.Ignatius actually said and did and what they do in his name to be reconciled by them under the mantra "what that means for us today".

Anonymous said...

One of the current problems of the Jesuits is that the 1968 generation and their immediate successors hold the strings of power in the Society. Their ideological mentality is impossible to change because they believe they are living 'discerned' lives. But the 40- generation of Jesuits, the children of John Paul II, resent this generation because they have seen what harm it has done to the Church and the Order. They realize that to be a Catholic and a Jesuit is hard in some provinces but they seem willing to remain until the time comes for them to assume major responsibilities. Through history the Jesuits have always been different from other Orders and have attracted suspicion, resentment and envy from their foundation, hence the rise of the black legend. If the Church continues the policies started by JPII and continued by BXVI the irrelevance of recent Jesuit policies will become manifest and they are likely to be severely reuduced in numbers and influence. Who or what will replace them is uncertain because none of the new Orders and Institutes are capable of doing the academic work at which the excel. The Dominicans and Benedictines are academic orders but they don't have the freedom to work as widely as the Jesuits. They are bound to get smaller, that's certain (the average age is 60), but they might get purer as time passes. It is doubtful if they will ever regain their numerical status and influence unless they abandon their current ideology. Rumour has it that ecology might take over from faith and justice during the next General Congregation and if that happens the writing on the wall will become more visible. One of the oddest aspects of their power is that they still provoke comment and interest, good and bad, sometimes to the point of obsession. Does any other other have the same propensity?