Jesuit Terms E
Jesuits urged to pray, think, act to promote ecological responsibility
Article by Cindy Wooden, 9/27/11
Note from Superior General Adolfo Nicolas, SJ
to the Society regarding the commitment to nature and the environment, 9/16/11
Healing a Broken World
Task Force on Ecology
The Place of Sustainability and the Environment within Roman Catholic Thought
Remarks by Michael J. Graham, S.J., President of Xavier University, Sustainability Day, November 7, 2011
Back to top
From the Greek word meaning "world-wide."
With the new emphasis on relations between Christian and non-Christian* religions and the emergence of its own term "interreligious dialogue," the word ecumenism is now used only for relations among different Christian bodies. Since the Second Vatican Council, groups of theologians--Lutheran-Catholic, Anglican-Roman Catholic, Orthodox-Catholic and others--have engaged in dialogue to identify doctrinal differences and, where possible, resolve them. Such, for instance, was the accord reached by the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue on "justification."
Ecumenial activity is not limited to dialogue among theologians, however. An important part of the ecumenism practiced in today's world is the shared experience of married couples from different Christian denominations.
Toward the end of his life, the distinguished 20th-century Catholic theologian Karl Rahner claimed that nothing significant stood in the way of main-stream Protestant and Catholic bodies coming together. They would simply have to make a start by recognizing the validity of one another's ministries and, while each would maintain its own rites and theologies and laws, gradually move toward further integration and collaboration. That recognition and move toward unification has not happened.
Among the main issues that still separate Protestants and Orthodox from Roman Catholics is the current form of papal governance. The question arises, Is Catholic church governance with the pope as an absolute ruler and almost all power concentrated at the top an essential part of the church's constitution? Perhaps Roman Catholic absolutism owes more to the Roman Empire than to the essence of the church, and the church could re-introduce governmental reforms that give a significant voice to the bishops' conferences, the presbyterate (the body of priests), and the laity. Thus the church could more surely embrace the "collegiality" and representative government endorsed by Vatican II.
This seems to be the intent of Pope Francis (2013- ) with his appointment of a "cabinet" of nine representative cardinals from around the world to advise him. Similarly, the Synods on the Family (October 2014 and October 2015), while dealing with family-related issues, in effect became an exercise in free and genuine dialogue among the bishops.
Back to top
Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions, who founded the Society of Jesus in 1540, did not originally intend to establish schools. But before long they were led to start colleges for the education of the young men who flocked to join their religious order. And in 1547 Ignatius was asked to open a school for young lay men.
By the time of his death (1556), there were 35 such colleges (comprising today's secondary school and the first year or two of college). By the time the order was suppressed in 1773, the number had grown to more than 800, all part of a system of integrated humanistic education that was international and brought together in a common enterprise men from various languages and cultures. These Jesuits were distinguished mathematicians, astronomers and physicists; linguists and dramatists; painters and architects; philosophers and theologians; even what today would be called cultural anthropologists.
These developments are not surprising; the order's founders were all University of Paris graduates, and Ignatius' spirituality taught Jesuits to search for God "in all things." After the order was restored (1814), however, Jesuit schools and scholars in Europe never regained the prominence they previously had. Besides, they were largely involved in the resistance to modern thought and culture that characterized Catholic intellectual life through the 19th century and beyond.
In other parts of the world, especially in the United States, the 19th century saw a new birth of Jesuit education. Twenty-one of today's 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities were founded during that century. These schools served the needs of an immigrant people, enabling them to move up in the world while maintaining their Catholic belief and practice in a frequently hostile Protestant environment.
After World War II, U.S. Jesuit higher education (as American higher education generally) experienced enormous growth and democratization under the G.I. Bill. Significantly, this growth entailed a shift from a largely Jesuit faculty to one made up increasingly of lay men (and more recently women). Further, Vatican Council II (1962-1965) released a great burst of energy in the Catholic church and Jesuit order for engagement with the modern world, including its intellectual life. Finally, Jesuit schools in the 1970s and 1980s moved to professionalize through the hiring of new faculty with highly specialized training and terminal degrees from the best graduate schools.
These sweeping changes of the last 50 years have brought U.S. Jesuit schools to the present situation where they face crucial questions. Will so-called Jesuit institutions of higher education simply merge with mainstream American academe and thereby lose any distinctiveness and reason for existing, or will they have the creativity to become more distinctive? While taking the best from American education and culture, will they still offer an alternative in the spirit of their Jesuit heritage? Will they foster the integration of knowledge or will specialization reign alone and the fragmentation of knowledge continue? Will they relate learning to the Transcendent, to God, or will spiritual experience be allowed to disappear from consideration except in isolated departments of theology? While developing the mind, surely, will they also develop a global, cross-cultural imagination and a compassionate heart to recognize and work for the common good, especially for bettering the lot of the poor and voiceless [see "Men and Women for Others"/"Whole Persons of Solidarity" and "The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice"], or will the dominant values present in them be self-interest and the "bottom line"?Characteristics of Jesuit Education
Back to top
Ellacuria, Ignacio (1930-1989)
Basque/Salvadoran Jesuit; writer, speaker, "Martyr of the University."
A native of the Basque territory of NE Spain, he went to teach and write in El Salvador from 1955-58 and returned there permanently in 1967 after studies in Europe--theology under Karl Rahner and philosophy with the Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri, but he moved beyond his mentors, precisely by grounding his philosophical and theological work in a specific historical reality, that of Latin America" (Robert Lassalle-Klein).
He soon became the guiding intellect for the reform of the Society of Jesus in Central America in the aftermath of the Latin American bishops' turn toward the poor (Medellin, 1968). Crucial here was a retreat that he and his former novice director Miguel Elizondo led their brothers through at Christmas time 1969. He was instrumental, too, together with and after his layman predecessor as president of the University of Central America, in re-directing the University into what a Christian university in the Third World ought to be, a clear and rational voice against the social and economic evils oppressing the vast majority of the people.
He argued for a negotiated settlement to the 10-year-long Civil War, but the military thought it could win the war and did not want it and its funding by the U.S. to end. The extremist wing of the ruling party called for Ellacuria's death on the radio; and on November 16, 1989, soldiers of an elite battalion, many of them trained at the School of the Americas in the U.S., broke into the Jesuit residence, took him and his companions out into the yard, and one by one shot them to death at close range, blowing out their brains. Their cook and her teenage daughter were murdered with them so as to leave no witnesses.
In a special academic convocation the following March, Xavier University conferred on him and his companions posthumous honorary doctorates.
Back to top
(Latin for "Perfect Eloquence")
A goal of Jesuit education enshrined in the Ratio Studiorum (Plan of Studies) of 1599. In popular discourse today, it is said to mean "writing and speaking effectively," but that is only part of its meaning.
The Ratio drew heavily on the work of the Roman rhetorician and philosopher Quintilian (c. 35-c. 100 CE) and his fuller view of eloquence. It included the art of persuasion, of course, but also insisted on stylus (facility in Latin) and eruditio (humanistic learning), the study of literature that included law, history and philosophy and had as a goal moral and not just intellectual and practical education. It aimed to produce good human beings, good citizens. In his treatise on education, Quintilian wrote what we can take as a measure of his humanism: "Study depends on the good will of the student, a quality that cannot be secured by compulsion."
On a related Jesuit education topic, see Judith Rock,
Back to top
Back to top
Espinal, Luis (1932-1980)
Spanish/Bolivian Jesuit; Teacher of journalism; pastor; martyr
Luis Espinal was born in Manresa, the town where Ignatius of Loyola had the signal experiences that led to his famous Spiritual Exercises.
His university education prepared him for a career in journalism. He entered the Jesuits and soon went to Bolivia, where he did further studies and was ordained. His teaching and pastoral ministry took up the call of the Medellin Conference of Latin American bishops for the church to side with the poor and oppressed.
He was beaten, tortured, and machine-gunned by para-military forces in LaPaz, on March 22,1980 (two days before the assassination in El Salvador of Archbishop Oscar Romero).
Sometime before his death, he composed a poem celebrating the triumph of resurrection over death, somewhat in the genre of Edmund Campion's "Brag."
Back to top
The Woodstock Theological Center
an independent nonprofit institute at Georgetown University
Back to top
also Consciousness Examen
A method of prayer that Ignatius of Loyola* taught in his Spiritual Exercises.* He considered it the most important thing a person could do each day. It takes only a few minutes. A contemporary adaptation of Ignatius broadens the traditional “Examination of Conscience” (preparation for confession) into the “Examination of Consciousness.” As presented by Dennis Hamm, this prayer has five steps: (1) Pray for light to understand and appreciate the past day. (2) Review the day in thanksgiving. (3) Review the feelings in the replay of the day. (4) Choose one of those feelings (positive or negative) and pray from it. (5) Look toward tomorrow.
Back to top
In the context of Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises, the exercitant is "the one who exercises herself/himself" spiritually to keep spiritually fit, just as a person exercises physically to keep physically fit (SpExs ##1,9). The term exercitant is not Ignatius' but it retains the root meaning of exercising while being succinct and less cumbersome when repeated often than "the one who exercises himself/herself." The term retreatant is another equivalent, but loses the idea of exercising.
Ex Corde Ecclesiae
(Latin meaning "From the Heart of the Church")
An Apostolic Constitution regarding Catholic colleges and universities. Issued by Pope John Paul II on August 15, 1990, its aim was to define and refine the catholicism of Catholic institutions of higher education. Ex Corde Ecclesiae describes the identity and mission of Catholic colleges and universities.
On November 17, 1999, the Catholic Bishops of the United States, meeting in Plenary Session of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, approved The Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States implementing the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, according to the norm of law.
Back to top
God's deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The story is told in the second book of the Hebrew scriptures titled "Exodus."