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Jesuit Terms P

Pacem in terris (Latin for "Peace on earth")

Landmark encyclical letter on peace-building by Pope John XXIII (1963).

It invited all people of good will (not only Catholics and Christians) to work together to build peace, and it said peace must be based on the protection and promotion of human rights and dignity, including religious freedom for all. Taking aim at apartheid, "Jim Crow" racial segregation, communism, fascism, military dictatorships, corporatism, and the excesses of capitalism, the pope said "working for the common good is the sole reason for the existence of civil authorities." The common good is so important that the term appears 46 times in 59 pages. (Love, Pacem in terris at 50: Catholic Peacebuilding in 2013, Common Good Forum [4-17-13], Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good).

In spite of the horrors and violence of our time, it would be fair to say that Pope John's call to build peace founded on a recognition of human rights and human dignity has borne much fruit. It has provided a new and sound focus for various initiativesgreat and smallundertaken by individuals, organizations, and even governments and government agenciespeople of good will around the world.

See Common Good.

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Padberg, John W. (1930-2021)

American Jesuit; historian and publisher

John W. Padberg photoJohn Padberg, a native of St. Louis, entered the Jesuits in 1944. In addition to the regular Jesuit course of studies, he did doctoral studies in the history of ideas at Harvard. His magisterial study Colleges in Conflict: The Jesuit Schools in France from Revival to Suppression, 1815-1890 (1969) remains the standard work on that subject (Lucas, Spirit, Style, Story [2002]). Among the administrative positions he has filled with distinction, his ten years as president of Weston Jesuit School of Theology (Cambridge, MA) stand out. He has dealt in print with Jesuit general congregations and contributed a number of essays to the series Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits, 80 issues of which he published as editor. And as director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources, he has overseen the production of more than 40 books. Indeed, it is in this capacity of publisher and mentor of other Jesuit scholars that he may have made his finest contribution. Colleagues, Jesuit and lay, have honored him with a Festschrift (Spirit, Style, Story: Essays Honoring John W. Padberg, SJ, ed. Thomas M. Lucas [2002]).

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See Pope / Papacy.

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Papal Infallibility

See Infallibility, Papal.

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Papal Primacy/Supremacy

See "Council of Constance and Vatican Council I"

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Papal Schism

See "Council of Constance and Vatican Council I"

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Paschal Mystery, The

Mystery here means not a problem to be solved but a reality of human existence that can only be accepted and lived through because it is too big for our limited minds to grasp. Such a reality is human incompleteness ("in this life all symphonies are incomplete"Karl Rahner), suffering and diminishment, death. Specifically, then, in Christian theology and spirituality, the Paschal Mystery is the mystery of dying (like Jesus) in order to receive new and resurrected life (like Jesus). And this happens, not just once, but again and again through the course of life, even though there may well be one or more major instances of it over a lifetime. (The term Paschal comes from the Hebrew word for Passover and in Christian theology signifies Jesus' passage from death to new life.)

If my marriage after 20 years is no longer a honeymoon (and it won't be), I have to grieve the loss and let it go or become angry and unhappy. If as a young person I had dreams of accomplishing great things in my life and now I'm middle-aged and my accomplishments are at best middling, I need to let go of them and move on or become bitter and disillusioned. If I am a 70-year old, I cannot live life as I did at 20 or 40 or 60. I must grieve the loss of my earlier life and let it go. Doing so opens the way to transformation, to receiving new and better life, resurrected life.

See Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality (1999).

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Passover (in Hebrew "Pesach")

The story goes as follows: The Israelites were subjected to slave labor for decades in Egypt until God sent Moses to confront the king (pharaoh) and demand release. But pharaoh was obstinate, and God visited ten plagues on him and his people. The tenth and last was a killing of all the Egyptian firstborn. The Israelite children were spared, however, because families had been instructed to slaughter a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their homes as a sign for the angel of death to "pass over" them. In haste, then, the Israelites left Egypt, passing through the Red Sea on dry land by the power of God and making their way to Sinai and the sealing of a covenant that made them God's chosen people.

Ever since then, their deliverance by God is commemorated and celebrated in the great festival of Passover (eight days long), especially with the seder meal and its unleavened bread, bitter herbs, four glasses of wine, and a liturgical recitation that tells the story and thus fulfills the obligation to share it with the children.

See Old Testament.

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Pastoral Ministry

Despite its heavy commitment to schools and education, the early Society of Jesus (as John O'Malley has shown) had a fundamentally pastoral and apostolic* approach to all its works. And in many a city the school was attached to and supported by a Jesuit parish where preaching and liturgy and the sacraments (especially penance) thrived. While schools now operate independently, many students and alumni continue to find a home in a Jesuit parish enabling them to remain connected to the Jesuits and Ignatian spirituality. After Vatican II Jesuit parish ministry, which had suffered neglect, often became exemplary.

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Pedagogy, Ignatian/Jesuit

Having to do with Ignatian/Jesuit teaching style or methods

In one formulation (Robert Newton's Reflections on the Educational Principles of the Spiritual Exercises [1977]), Jesuit education is instrumental (not an end in itself, but a means to the service of God and others); student centered (adapted to the individual as much as possible so as to develop an independent and responsible learner); characterized by structure (with systematic organization of successive objectives and systematic procedures for evaluation and accountability) and flexibility (freedom encouraged and personal response and self-direction expected, with the teacher an experienced guide, not primarily a deliverer of ready-made knowledge); eclectic (drawing on a variety of the best methods and techniques available); and personal (whole person affected, with goal of personal appropriation, attitudinal and behavioral change).

See Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm for a second formulation.

Both these approaches were developed in the context of secondary education, but could be adapted for higher education.

"Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy: a desktop primer" compiled by Debra Mooney (Xavier Center for Mission and Identity)

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Pieris, Aloysius (1934- )

Sri Lankan Jesuit; Asian liberation theologian

Aloysius Pieris photo

Although he was originally slated to teach theology in Rome, Aloysius Pieris, in dialogue and discernment with his provincial superior, decided to remain and work in his native land. Two themes remain central to his theology: the path of interior liberation from greed and the path of social liberation from poverty.

The British Jesuit theologian Philip Endean, in a Festschrift essay for Pieris, sees his re-reading of the Ignatian tradition in the light of Christian-Buddhist dialogue as advocating a "symbiosis" which enables Christians to grow within their own tradition, sharpening their awareness of inauthenticities in what they have previously taken for granted ("The Same Spirit Is in Everything," Encounters with the Word, ed. Robert Crusz et al. [2004]).

See Hinsdale, "Jesuit Theological Discourse since Vatican II," The Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits (2008). Among Pieris's best-known works is An Asian Theology of Liberation (1988).

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Polanco, Juan de (1517-15??)

Spanish Jesuit; secretary to Ignatius and successors

Collaborated with Ignatius in the writing of the Jesuit Constitutions and of many of the nearly 7,000 letters of Ignatius.

Considered by historian John O'Malley to be one of the three absolutely central figures (along with Jerome Nadal and Ignatius himself) in the foundation and early development of the Society of Jesus (The First Jesuits [Harvard, 1993]).

Polanco was a "new Christian" (having Jewish ancestry) and as such was not elected fourth superior general even though he was the logical choice; the bias of some Spanish Jesuits was reinforced by Pope Gregory XIII, who intervened in the election.

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The pope is the bishop of Rome and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church of some 1.2 billion members. The title comes from the Latin papa, which means "daddy." The pope is often referred to as "Holy Father."

He is considered the "Successor of Peter" the apostle whom many scholars, confirming church tradition, believe to have been martyred at Rome in the persecution of Nero (60s CE). Some would also call him the "Vicar of Christ," but the title in early centuries was given to any bishop, and only with Innocent III (1198-1216) did it commonly assume exclusive reference to the pope.

According to Matthew's gospel, in a passage whose meaning is disputed, Jesus gives Simon a new identity: "You are Peter [the name means "Rock"] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (16:18)." In the resurrection story of John, Jesus confirms Peter's role: "Feed my lambs; feed my sheep" (21:16-17).

The office of the papacy has developed and changed over the centuries. There were often no clear lines between what we would call secular or civil government and church leadership. The Emperor Constantine called the first great doctrinal ecumenical (worldwide) council, held at Nicaea in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) in 325; the pope did send delegates. But by a hundred years later, Pope Celestine I was heavily involved with personalities and events leading up to the Council of Ephesus (and of course he sent delegates to the council itself). From 1054, the year of the Great Schism, the church split into Roman, led by the pope (the western patriarch), and Eastern Orthodox, led by the patriarch of Constantinople. The eastern patriarch did not recognize the "primacy" of the pope. In the high Middle Ages the papacy amassed power and much wider control. But with that power waning in the 14th century and as a result of conflict between the French crown and the papacy, seven successive popes (all French) lived, not in Rome, but in southern France (Avignon). Late in this century and early in the next, there were several claimants to the papacy, and a dispute arose as to whether a council had authority over the pope and could depose him ("conciliarism"). Since the 16th century, the Protestant churches, having broken with Rome, obviously do not recognize the pope's "primacy."

That primacy and how it is exercised, as well as the 1870 declaration of papal "infallibility" (Vatican Council I), remain to this day major issues dividing the Roman Catholic church from other Christian denominations.

See Ecumenism.
See Infallibility, Papal.

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Pope Francis (1936- )

Pope Francis photo

On March 13, 2013, Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, son of Italian immigrant parents, was elected the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church with its 1.2 billion members. He took the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226), who lived in poverty and simplicity and was a champion of the poor. His election was historic—the first non-European pope in 1200 years and the first from the Society of Jesus.

The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises* invite people to know themselves as loved and forgiven sinners. That is how Francis presents himself. At the age of 36, he was thrust into the leadership of the Argentine Jesuit province.* He admits that he made many bad decisions at that time because of his authoritarian way of operating. In contrast today, he regularly convenes a group of nine cardinals from around the world to advise him. As a result of his ability to stand in the truth about his own limitations, he is not haunted by his past. He has an inner freedom, the goal of the Exercises. He learns from his mistakes, from his experience. He listens to people and is slow to judge them. He sees the church (and the world) as a field hospital after battle, calling for compassionate care and healing.

There is a boldness to the man. Ignatian spirituality begins with prayer but ends in action. Francis can act. He chose not to live in the papal palace. He told the cardinals and bishops who run the Vatican offices not to behave like princes in power, but as servants. He reformed the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank. He appoints as bishops not office climbers but wise pastors. Having walked the alleyways of the slums to be with the people, he habitually sees the world with the eyes of the poor and suffering. He challenged the U.S. Congress to come together and act on their behalf.

In "The Joy of the Gospel" (Evangelii Gaudium - 2013), the pope lays out his program for a missionary church that recovers the original freshness of the Gospel. "This Economy Kills" (2015) censures unregulated capitalism. "On Care for the Earth as Our Common Home" (Laudato Si' - 2015) shows how we have abused the Earth for short-term profit and what must be done to restore and care for it. In his follow-up to two experimental gatherings ("synods") for open dialogue on family life as actually lived"The Joy of Love in the Family" (Amoris Laetitia - 2016)he recommends responsible discernment, not just abstract rules, as the deciding method for spouses to follow.

Francis maintains his opposition to contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage and adoption, and the ordination of women. Still, he would not want traditional doctrine or moral teaching to override the priority of pastoral care for people or be taken as so absolute that the message of God's love and mercy revealed in Jesus is obscured:

The thing that the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle.

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person. We must always consider the person.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The Church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing.

The view of the Church's teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.

Also, see our resource page on Pope Francis

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Pozzo, Andrea (1642-1709)

Italian Jesuit brother; painter, pioneer of perspective painting

Andrea Pozzo photoAndrea Pozzo wrote a book on perspective geometry to aid artists and architects. Later, when the money ran out in the construction of St. Ignatius Church in Rome and the planned dome had to be abandoned, he created his greatest work. He turned the flat ceiling of the church into a magnificent virtual world of cupola and columns depicting the missionary spirit of the Society of Jesus. In it, light passes from God the Father to the Son who transmits it to Ignatius and he sends it in four rays to the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In grand baroque style, the awesome ceiling celebrates nearly two centuries of venturesome Jesuit activity.

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Prayer is a dialogue with the divine. It is an opportunity for a deeper experience with God and a connection with what is true and real.

Daily online prayers and reflections:

See spiritual exercises and Ignatian examen

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Principle and Foundation, First

See First Principle and Foundation

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Prophets (The) / Prophecy

The books of the Hebrew Bible that present the lives and messages of men and women
inspired to speak in the name of God. Among the best known are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Miriam, and Deborah. Fundamental themes are that God, not human beings, brings salvation and God wants not ritual sacrifices but just behavior among people.

The popular notion that prophecy is primarily concerned with predicting the future is not entirely accurate; it has rather to do with interpreting God's will and desire/demand for justice. Some of the most powerful and enigmatic passages of prophecy, howeverthe servant songs of Isaiahhelped the early Christians to understand Jesus and what happened to him at the end of his life.

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Provinces are geographic regions created for the purpose of governance within the Society of Jesus. The major administrator of each province is the provincial, appointed by the Superior General for a period usually of six years. In a process of reconfiguration completed in 2020, ten U.S. provinces were combined into four: Central and Southern, East, Midwest, and West.

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Songs/prayers of praise or petition addressed to God running the gamut of human emotions, none of which need to be avoided in speaking to God, not even negative ones like anger, hate, fear, doubt.

Together the 150 psalms make up a treasury that can be drawn on for communal prayer or prayer by an individual.

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