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Jesuit Terms G

Gaudium et Spes

Gaudium et Spes ("Joy and Hope"), a pastoral constitution issued at the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, that speaks about the Catholic Church in contemporary culture.

For more information:

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General Congregation

The supreme legislative body of the Society of Jesus consisting of major ("provincial") superiors and locally elected representatives. It is called to elect a new superior general when the previous one dies or resigns and/or to address major issues confronting Jesuit works and Jesuit life. There have been 36 such congregations in the 450+ years of the order. The most recent one met in 2016 to accept Adolfo Nicolás's resignation at age 80 and to elect his successor, Arturo Sosa.

GC 36 - Election of Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, 2016

GC 35 - 2008 Election of Fr. Adolfo Nicolás as the new Superior General of the Society

GC 34 - 1995

GC 33 - 1983 Election of Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach as the new Superior General of the Society

GC 32 - 1974-1975

  • Decree 4
  • See "Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice"

GC 31 - 1965-1966 Election of Fr. Pedro Arrupe as the new Superior General of the Society

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George, Margaret Farrell (1787-1868)

Founder of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Margaret Farrell George was a close associate of Elizabeth Seton in founding the American Sisters of Charity (not affiliated with the French Daughters of Charity in their Rule but only in overall spirit).

Margaret and several other Sisters of Charity on mission in Cincinnati in 1850 refused to accept the Emmitsburg, MD, SC leadership decision to join the American Sisters of Charity with the French Daughters of Charity. They knew that Elizabeth Seton wanted an American community serving the American church within American culture. In response to an invitation from Bishop John Baptist Purcell, they formed a new community, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

To read Margaret Farrel George's whole story, click here.

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Gifts of the Ignatian Heritage

Coining and use of the phrase began in 2007 at Xavier University as a result of a campus “discernment group” which took the opportunity to promote a culture in which everyone would come to understand and contribute to the core mission in ways that are authentic and intentional. The group concluded that the essence of Ignatian spirituality manifests itself through an invitation to stakeholdersstudents, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, trustees and friendsto embrace expressions or "gifts" of the Ignatian heritage; they are:  Mission, Reflection, DiscernmentSolidarity and Kinship, Service Rooted in Justice and Love, Cura Personalis and Magis.

Available for purchase: Gift posters and fliers.
Podcast on Gifts of the Ignatian Heritage

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St. Francis Xavier's remains in a casket at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in GoaDuring his missionary travels, St. Francis Xavier reached the Portuguese colony of Goa along the southwest coast of India in 1541. After baptizing thousands there, he left for East Asia in 1545 and returned to Goa in 1551. During his second trip to East Asia, he fell sick and died at age 46 on China's Sancian Island, Dec. 3, 1552. Xavier's remains are kept in a casket at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa. Once every ten years since 1782 they are put on display, at which time thousands of Catholic pilgrims converge on the city to venerate the mortal body and proclaim their faith.

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Various titles or names are given to the mystery underlying all that existse.g., the Divine, Supreme Being, the Absolute, the Transcendent, the All-Holybut all of these are only "pointers" to a reality beyond human naming and beyond our limited human comprehension. Still, some conceptions are taken to be less inadequate than others within a given tradition founded in revelation. Thus, Jews reverence "the Lord" (the name of God, YHWH, is holy and its vocalization unknown); and Muslims worship "Allah" (the [only] God).

Christians conceive of the one God as "Trinity," as having three "ways of being"(1) Creator and covenant partner (from Hebrew tradition) or "Father" (the "Abba" of Jesus' experience;) (2) incarnate (enfleshed) in Jesusthe "Son"; and (3) present everywhere in the world through the "Spirit." (The terms are put in quotation marks to indicate that they are not to be taken literally; there is no gender in God.) Ignatius Loyola had a strong Trinitarian sense of God, but he was especially fond of the expression "the divine Majesty," stressing the greatness or "godness" of God; and the 20th-century Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner could talk of "the incomprehensible Mystery of self-giving Love."

The reluctance of some of our contemporaries to use the word God may be seen as a potential corrective to the tendency of some believers to speak of God all too easily, as if they fully understood God and God's ways. All words for God and images of God are inadequate, so it is important to use a variety of them, making it clear that no one is definitive.

See "Ultimate Reality, Human Knowledge of."

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God's Will

The phrase "doing God's will" occurs often in speaking and writing about spirituality. It is important, therefore, not to misunderstand what the phrase means and implies. God does not have a detailed master plan that each human being has to discover and follow and not deviate from. Rather God hopes that a person will respect and love herself/himself and others (not always easy) and grow toward greater responsibility in carrying on a life of such respect and care. Thus, if a person, after mature and probably difficult discernment, decides to change some earlier major life choice (for example, divorce an abusive spouse or leave a religious community that thwarts his/her responsible living), that change is not necessarily "going against God's will"; it may in fact be "doing God's will."

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Gonzaga, Aloysius (1568-1591)

Italian Jesuit; martyr of care for the plague-stricken, saint

Illustration of St. Aloysius GonzagaAloysius [Luigi in Italian] Gonzaga's family heritage was appalling. His ancestors included despots who condoned assassination, debauchery, and extortion. They bled their subjects by taxation. Aloysius had a remarkable toughness of character; his innocence was founded on neither ignorance nor prudery. As a young Jesuit, he had hoped to be sent to work on the foreign missions, but while caring for victims of the plague in Rome, he contracted the illness himself and died at the age of 23 (Joseph MacDonnell, Jesuit Family Album).

This reconciler of people who hated each other, catechist of Roman ragamuffins, consoler of the imprisoned, and martyr of charity for the plague-stricken was chosen by American Jesuit Terry Charlton as the patron of the school for AIDS orphans that he co-founded in 2004 in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya (East Africa). St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School for AIDS Orphans is the first school of its kind in the world. (Visit www.sagnairobi.org)

The name Gonzaga is attached to many Jesuit secondary schools and to the university in Spokane, WA.

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Gonzalez, Tirso (1624-1705)

Spanish Jesuit; preacher of "missions"; superior general

As a young Jesuit, Tirso Gonzalez wrote to the superior general several times asking to be sent to the foreign missions. But he never was. Instead he became involved in the ministry of preaching "missions." A mission is a week-long series of talks given in a parish with the aim of teaching Christian faith in a way that ordinary people could receive it and also of stirring devotion for living a good Christian life.

In the process, he became an advocate for offering these missions to the Muslims who remained in Spain as servants and slaves after most of their co-religionists had been expelled from the country. In keeping with the convictions of the times, he believed that Catholic Christianity was the one true religion with no salvation apart from it. But in his practice and in the handbook he wrote on how to approach Muslims, he made a crucial distinction between the teachings of Islam and the people who practice it, whom he grew to respect and love.

Later in life, Tirso Gonzalez was elected superior general of the Jesuits; he served for 18 stormy years.

Emanuele Colombo, "Even among Turks": Tirso Gonzalez de Santalla (1624-1705) and Islam, Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits (2012).

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Literally "good news"

The good news or glad tidings about Jesus. Plural: the first four works of the Christian scriptures (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) that tell the story of Jesus, each with its own particular theological emphasis, and thus invite a response of faith and hope in him.

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Gospels, Relations among the

Although each of the gospels has its own particular theological emphasis, three of the gospels, Mark, Luke, and Matthew, are quite similar in narrative structure and content. Thus they are called "synoptic" (see together). John is quite different.

Scholars agree that Mark was the first gospel written (c. 70 CE, 40 years after the events narrated). The author took some of the oral stories circulating about Jesus and put them together in one continuous narrative leading up to the account of Jesus' suffering and death. Luke and Matthew (perhaps c. 80-90) had Mark to draw on and also a collection of Jesus' sayings referred to as Q (first letter of Quelle, the German word for "source").

It is not clear whether John had any of the synoptics when he was writing the fourth gospel (c. 100-120)., but its Jesus is quite different. Instead of preaching the coming "Kingdom" or "Reign" or "Dominion" of God, John's Jesus preaches himself (e.g., "I am the way, the truth, and the life"). Scholars are agreed that the long discourses in John are the author's construct. The community of John believed that Jesus was speaking to them through the inspiration of the Spirit. The literary quality of its "short stories"the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Man Blind from Birth, the Samaritan Woman at the Well, etc.is very high. They are much longer than the little pieces of narrative in the synoptics. There is also a wealth of drama and symbolic detail.

Some scholars rank a fifth gospel, "Coptic Thomas," as worthy of study equally with Mark, Luke, and Matthew (see "The Jesus Seminar"). It is a collection of Jesus' sayings without a story line. Several of the sayings, it is claimed, go back in time closer to Jesus himself than the "canonical" (church approved) gospels. Many of the sayings are "Gnostic" in form and content; they hint of special knowledge available only to insiders.

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There has been a tendency in post-Reformation Catholic spirituality and practice (in order to counter Lutheran "errors") to overemphasize the need for human effort ("Pelagianism") at the expense of grace. To regain a balance, Lutherans need to make a place for human effort and Catholics need to embrace grace.

For Catholics, then, living the Christian life is less a question of avoiding sin by avoiding the "near occasions of sin" (especially sexual sin) and more a question of being aware of and living from the myriad opportunities that might be called "near occasions of grace."

For a fuller treatment of this subject, click here

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Grande, Rutilio (1928-1977)

Salvadoran Jesuit; martyr, blessed

Black and white photo of Father Rutilio Grande

A tortured, self-doubting priest who in the last decade of his life became fearless and a martyr.

Of mixed Indian and Spanish heritage, he was bright and gifted and yet tortured with self-doubt at every stage of his Jesuit formation. He wound up being a seminary professor of theology.

Called forth to speak against the atrocities committed by military and paramilitary forces, he suddenly lost all his doubts and preached so powerfully that he became a severe embarrassment to the government. He resigned from the seminary and went to work among the landless peasants of his home territory, teaching them to read and to claim their own human dignity and rights.

On the envening of March 12, 1977, he was riding from the town of Aguilares, where he had done pastoral work, to El Paisnal, roughly three miles away. With him were the 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and the 16-year-old Nelson Lemus. Along the duisty road a pick-up truck followed them. Then, at one point they were attacked front and back by gunfire, which killed the three travelers. Grande's martyrdom was the turning point in the life of his friend, Archbishop Oscar Romero. Instead of trying to please all sides, Romero started to speak out loud and clear and often against the military's violent repression of the poor. Soon he too was killed (March 24, 1980).

In Febuary 2020 the Vatican announced that Pope Francis approved the beatification of Father Grande and his two fellow martyrs. On January 22, 2022, Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez of San Salvador presided at the ceremony beatifying the three martyrs. (in the same ceremony, Franciscan Fr. Cosme Spessotto was also beatified; he had not been martyred in the same incident as the others.)

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Gray, Howard (1930-2018 )

American Jesuit; internationally recognized interpreter of Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit education

Photo of Father Howard Gray, S.J.For a decade (2007-17) Howard Gray served as special assistant to the president of Georgetown University. Previously, he was founding director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Boston College and rector of the Jesuit community at John Carroll University, where he was also assistant to the president for mission and identity.

Within the Jesuit order, Gray filled a number of leadership positions including that of provincial superior of the Detroit Province, rector of the Jesuit community at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology (Cambridge, MA), and tertianship director.

Gray had a deep love of Christ and helped others encounter Jesus through both the Eucharist and the Spiritual Exercises. He was known nationally and internationally for his scholarship and teaching on Ignatian spirituality. Early in his Jesuit life, he was one of a group of Jesuits and lay people who helped bring back the one-on-one personally directed retreat. Throughout his Jesuit life, he gave retreats (both preached and directed) and spiritual direction, lectured, and wrote about Ignatian spirituality. His lectures, talks, and retreats took him all over the USA and throughout the worldEast Africa, East Asia, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Throughout his seven decades as a Jesuit, he received six honorary doctorates, lectured extensively, and authored more than 60 articles and essays on Ignatian Spirituality, ministry, and the apostolic mission of Jesuit high schools and universities.

An avid reader, he was able to incorporate themes, references, and quotes from great novels, poems, and spiritual books into his lectures, talks, and retreats. His love of the English language and his familiarity with English literaturehis favorite books being Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevskyhelped him to be an amazing teacher, lecturer, and homilist.

Four of his best essays on Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit education are reprinted in An Ignatian Spirituality Reader and A Jesuit Education Reader (both 2008).

Howard Gray died of complications following a serous auto accident in early May 2018.

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Guerin, Mother Theodore [born Anne Therese] (1798-1856)

Founder of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, INArtistic representation of Mother Theodore Guerin

As a child, Anne Therese Guerin "climbed the lofty granite rocks near the shore [of the Atlantic] and walked along the beach . . . pondering the mysteries revealed in her mother's belief that the ocean was a symbol of eternity" (Mitchell). When first one and then the other of her brothers died at an early age, her family grieved their losses. But when her father was murdered by bandits, her mother simply could not carry on. Anne Therese was 15 at the time, and for the next ten years she cared for and supported her mother and her sister, postponing her desire to enter a religious community. Finally, in August of 1823, she was able to join the Sisters of Providence at Ruille in Brittany (northwestern France).

This Providence community was only a few years old. During a mission in 1816, Pere de la Chapelle of the "Fathers of the Faith" (a name used by former Jesuits after their order was suppressed) had directed a Mlle. du Roscoat to the small community of Pere Dujarie, a diocesan priest. This little group became the Sisters of Providence of Ruille with Mlle.
du Roscoat--now Sister Marie Madeleine--as its head and foundress.

As a Sister of Providence, Anne-Therese "Sister St. Theodore" spent 17 years educating children ("First love them, then teach them") and caring for the sick poor in her native Brittany. But in 1840, in response to a request from the bishop of Vincennes, IN, she led a group of five sisters to the U.S. to establish a motherhouse and novitiate, to educate children of pioneer families and to care for the sick poor. The place was the remote forest wilderness (now five miles NW of Terre Haute) that she grew to love and that nourished her.

In the remaining 16 years of her life, she and her sisters opened an Academy now known as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and schools throughout Indiana and eastern Illinois as well as orphanages and free pharmacies.

Today's Sisters of Providence and those who partner with them carry on ministries here and abroad in the spirit of St. Mother Theodore:

You will see many things in new light if you give the Holy Spirit free access to your minds and your hearts.

Try then, today, to deliver into the hands of our sweet Jesus all the care of the future, as well as all anxiety about the past.

Love all in God and for God, and all will be well.

What will heaven be if our poor Earth is at times so beautiful?

Mitchell, Mother Theodore Guerin,Saint of God (2006)

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JESUIT A TO Z: An expanded version of the publication "Do You Speak Ignatian?"