loren Eric Swanson: Spiritual Life of Jesuits

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Spiritual Life of Jesuits

Jesuits, unlike other monastic orders, were not known for their isolated spiritual disciplines. Each initiate went through an initial 30 days of "spiritual exercises"--four or five one-hour meditations and reflections on one's life and call. This so shaped the Jesuits that often they referred to themselves as "Men of the Exercises" as they felt bound to one another like men going through boot camp together. The Spiritual Exercises were “actions to be done, not rules to be read or studied.” Loyola wrote of the exercises, “For just as taking a walk, traveling on foot, and running are physical exercises, so is the name of spiritual exercises given to any means of preparation and disposing our soul to rid itself of all it disordered affections.” One of the purposes of the Exercises was "to make ourselves indifferent," what the author of Heroic Leadership calls the foundation to ingenuity. He writes, “Only by becoming indifferent—free of prejudices and attachments and therefore free to choose any course of action—do recruits become strategically flexible. The indifferent Jesuit liberates himself to choose strategies driven by one motive only: achieving his long-term goal of serving God by helping souls.”

Loyola also instituted "The Examen." Unlike other order the Jesuits learned to pray on the run.
They used the phrase, "Simuli en actione contemplativus"--Contemplative even in action. “Loyola used to say, "A truly mortified man needs only a quarter of an hour to be united with God in prayer.” The Examen consisted of prayer upon rising where one would give thanks and set goals for the day. After the noonday meal came more thanksgiving and an hour by hour review of the events thus far and a similar exercise after supper before retiring. Jesuits were encouraged to "find God in all things…in conversation with someone, in walking, looking, tasting, hearing, thinking, and in everything that they do.”

In mid career Jesuits were called back for a year of self-reflection and professional development. This was referred to as "The School of the Heart."


At Wednesday, August 03, 2005 1:07:00 PM, Blogger chris said...

Another important quality of the Jesuits -- they were highly educated (graduate level). Perhaps we should take that into account when we think of what they accomplished.

At Saturday, November 26, 2005 11:48:00 AM, Blogger Jeff Pioquinto,SJ said...

just passing by. nice article and nice blog too. thanks


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