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 The art of reading scripture according to the mind of the Church has been replaced by reading it according to the mind of 19th century philosophers like Marx or Engels.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.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake