In continuing from last week, let’s now look to the Rules of the Society of Jesus. The Societas Jesu can be traced back to a meeting of seven students from the University of Paris in 1534, which included three future saints—Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, and Peter Faber. Those seven were ordained as priests in 1537 with papal approval, and the new Society of Jesus was officially confirmed by Pope Paul III in 1540. The new order was limited to just 60 members until Pope Julius III lifted that restriction in 1550, which allowed the Jesuits to become an army for the faith. Importantly, the same Papal bull that allowed the Jesuits to expand also tasked them with combating Protestantism, which would come to define the order during the Counter-Reformation. Indeed, Jesuits are still at the heart of many Protestants’ anti-Catholic conspiracy theories.
The Form of the Simple Vows
“Almighty everlasting God, I, N.N., though altogether most unworthy of Thy Divine sight, yet trusting in Thy Goodness and Infinite Mercy, and moved with a desire of serving Thee, vow before the most sacred Virgin Mary, and the whole court of Heaven, to Thy Divine Majesty, perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience, in the Society of Jesus, and promise that I will enter into the same Society, for ever to lead my life therein, understanding all things according to the Constitutions of the same Society. Therefore I most humbly beseech Thee, by Thy Infinite Goodness and Mercy, by the Blood of Jesus Christ, that Thou wilt vouchsafe to admit this holocaust in an odour of sweetness, and that as Thou hast already given me grace to desire and offer it, so Thou wilt also bestow plentiful grace on my to fulfil it. Amen.”
The Common Rules
1. Let every one, with all diligence in our Lord, spend the time prescribed him in examining his conscience twice every day, in prayer, meditation, and reading.
28. Let all talk in a low voice as becomes Religious men; and let no one contend with another; but if there by any difference of opinion, and it seem good to let it appear, let the reasons by put forward with modesty and charity, with intent to establish the truth, and not that they may seem to have the upper hand.
30. Let all beware of the feeling which commonly leads those of one nation to think or speak unfavourably of others; rather, they must both think well of, and cherish in our Lord peculiar affection for those of other countries; and therefore, let no one introduce into conversation wars or strifes between Christian princes.
34. To the end that such gravity and modesty as beseems Religious men may be kept, let no one touch another, even in jest, except when they embrace in token of charity, upon going from home or returning.
42. Let all, according to their degree when they find suitable opportunity, endeavour by pious conversation to draw their neighbour to a better life, and to stir him up by counsel and exhortation to good works…
The Rules of Modesty
2. The head should not be turned this way and that way lightly, but with gravity, when there is need; and, if there be no need, it should be kept straight, with a little inclination forward, without leaning on either side.
3. For the most part, they should keep their eyes down, neither immoderately lifting them up, nor looking about in every direction.
4. During conversation, especially with men of authority, they should not stare them in the face, but rather look a little below the eyes.
5. Wrinkles on the forehead, and still more on the nose, are to be avoided; that that outward calmness may be seen which is a token of interior peace.
7. The whole countenance should show cheerfulness rather than sadness or any other less moderate affection.
13. When they have to speak, they must be mindful of modesty and edification, as well in their words, as in the style and manner of speaking.
What these excerpts make clear is that the Jesuits are meant to be obedient servants who carry the one truth faith to others. They are to be modest and humble in all things. From the beginning, the mission of the Society of Jesus included building schools and providing teachers, and Pope Julius III saw the value in the Jesuits teaching proper theology to counter the Protestants.
Why then has the Society of Jesus rather become known as a bastion of progressivism? Why is the term “Jesuit” not associated with Catholic orthodoxy but rather heterodoxy? Why has a Jesuit institution like Marquette University defended “gay rights” against any debate (Source)? Why would the Jesuits allow an open homosexual to enter the order en route to the priesthood (Source) when they know that he encourages acceptance of unrepentant homosexuals as just being “who they are” (Source)?
The lesson here is not that the Society of Jesus is inherently wicked or wrong, but it is rather that even the most holy of institutions can easily be led astray. It is commonly held that Jesuits are liberal progressives pushing modern political ideology over tradition and values, which is largely true today in much of the world, but that has not always been the case. The Jesuits were founded to carry the one true faith to people, and, in the past, they were seen as the Vatican’s elite soldiers on the front lines of the spiritual war against heresy. Pray that the Holy Spirit moves the Society, as a whole, back to its roots and away from espousing modern hedonism and degeneracy. May conservative Jesuits find the strength and authority to remove the “gay Jesuits,” the “urban activist Jesuits,” the “feminist Jesuits,” and all others who have tainted the name of Jesus.