On July 31st, we join in celebration with our Jesuit Brothers on the Feast of Saint Ignatius, their patron and founder.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) was a priest, theologian, and spiritual director who is best remembered and celebrated for two primary gifts to the world – the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the Spiritual Exercises.
The Jesuits are a religious order of priests and brothers whose motto is Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (for the greater glory of God). Saint Ignatius directed his followers to abandon some of the traditional forms of the religious life in favor of greater adaptability and mobility. The Society of Jesus was to be an order of men ready to live in any part of the world where there was hope of God’s greater glory and the good of souls. They are primarily educators and the Order sponsors a worldwide system of colleges.
The Spiritual Exercises was first published in 1548. It is a system of spirituality with exercises designed to be carried out over a retreat of 28–30 days. Ignatian discernment is still the foundation of most spiritual direction programs.
We acknowledge and thank the Jesuits for their critical ministry today. The Jesuit colleges and universities, and high schools as well as middle schools and Cristo Rey schools for children at risk are educating young global citizens who value diversity, who respect the poor, who are dedicated to service, and who care for all creation. They are leaders in justice work and systematically address spirituality at a time when there is less engagement with the institutional churches.