Friday, August 21, 2009

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience, keep what follows in mind.

He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures, and any other ministration whatsoever of the word of God, and further by means of the Spiritual Exercises, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, and the spiritual consolation of Christ's faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments.

Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons and hospitals, and indeed to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good. Furthermore, he should carry out all these works altogether free of charge and without accepting any salary for the labor expended in all the aforementioned activities.

Still further, let any such person take care, as long as he lives, first of all to keep before his eyes God and then the nature of this Institute which is, so to speak, a pathway to God; and then let him strive with all his effort to achieve this end set before him by God - each one, however, according to the grace which the Holy Spirit has given to him and according to the particular grade of his own vocation.

- From the Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus, as confirmed by Pope Julius III in the apostolic letter Exposcit debitum, July 21, 1550.

The end of this Society is to devote itself with God's grace not only to the salvation and perfection of the members' own souls, but also with that same grace to labor strenuously in giving aid toward the salvation and perfection of the souls of their neighbors.

- From Saint Ignatius' General Examen, "which should be proposed to all who ask for admission into the Society of Jesus," Chapter 1, Section [3].

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the date on which I entered the Society of Jesus. Five years isn't much in the grand scheme of things: many Jesuits live to celebrate the fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries of their entrance into the novitiate, and one Jesuit I know is currently marking his seventy-fifth year in the Society. Nonetheless, this anniversary seems an opportune time for me to give thanks for the special gift of this vocation. Reflecting back on the last five years also reminds me of the odd nature of human memory: I recall some events of my Jesuit life as vividly as if they had just occurred, while others have taken on the same sort of hazy, dream-like quality that I generally associate with memories of early childhood.

Anniversaries aside, this has been a fairly ordinary day. I did some prayer and personal reading in the morning, had an unexceptional lunch with other Jesuits in the community dining room, then spent much of the afternoon revising the syllabi for the courses I'll start teaching in just a few days. In a few minutes, I'll be going back to the community for Mass and dinner. In other words, this day hasn't unfolded any differently for me because it happens to be the anniversary of my entrance into the novitiate.

The ordinariness of this day is quite appropriate, I suppose, as it reminds me that the mission of the Society so heroically described in the Formula of the Institute and the General Examen is most often accomplished in apparently ordinary ways. In joining other Jesuits at table and in preparing to begin teaching, I am making my own humble contribution to the mission for which the Society was founded: working out my own salvation, and giving aid toward the salvation of others. As I give thanks to God for having been given a part in this mission, I give thanks too for the abundant joy and consolation that I have received and continue to receive as I serve beneath the banner of the cross. AMDG.


At 8/21/2009 7:37 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Happy anniversary! And good luck with the start of the semester...

At 8/22/2009 5:54 AM, Blogger Laura Brown said...

Congratulations on five years! I hope there are many more happy years ahead.


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