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Jesuit Terms S

Sabbath (in Hebrew "Shabbat")

In Judaism, a weekly day of rest and worship starting at sundown on Friday. It is usually celebrated by the family in the home with the lighting of candles, prayer, and singing of hymns/songs. The foundation for this Sabbath comes from the Hebrew biblical creation story in which God, having labored to create the world in six days, rested on the seventh.

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A ritual that puts human beings in contact with God and God's grace. Each sacrament involves some visible/tangible/audible symbol that announces the character of the grace: for instance, water and its cleansing/giving of life in the case of baptism, and bread and wine, food and drink, that nourishes with the Eucharist.

The Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican branches of Christianity recognize seven sacraments; in addition to those listed above, confirmation ([young] adult commitment to living the faith); matrimony (word of commitment of wife and husband to each other and total sharing of body-spirit and life in marriage); holy orders (ordination to public ministry); reconciliation (confession of sin and the sure word of forgiveness); and anointing (healing of illness with word and oil). Many Protestant denominations recognize only two sacraments, baptism and Holy Communion or Eucharist; and some downplay Holy Communion and emphasize the Wordreading of scripture and preachingas the usual form of communal worship. These Protestants gave almost exclusive place to the Word at the expense of the Eucharist; Catholics before Vatican II did the opposite.

In Catholic practice, sacramentals are lesser forms of sacrament. But there is growing awareness now of the broader sacramental principle: anything of God's creation (or human creation) can put one in touch with the Divine.

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Salvation in Christ

What Does It Mean to Say "Jesus Died for Our Sins"? How Does Jesus Save Us?

Over the course of Christian history, various theories of how human beings are saved in Christ have been put forward. Most draw at least in part on the New Testamentthe gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and letters. Taken together, these sources do not present a single, unambiguous account. Possibly the most frequently used theologies of salvation/redemption in Christian tradition are those that started with the "satisfactory theory" of Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) and devolved over the centuries into something like this:

Sin is an offense against the infinite God. Only a divine agent, therefore, can "make up" to God for what sin has done, that is, pay God back for the offense. Since human beings are responsible for the offense, a human being must pay the price. On the analogy of sacrifice to God in the Hebrew tradition, God wills God's son, Jesus the God-man, to die for and thereby pay the price for human sin.

Contemporary Christian theologians are raising questions about theories in this tradition. What kind of God wants to punish his son for sin? Why does God have to be placated in the first place? God is not like human beings. What does it really mean for Jesus "to die for our sins"?

How, then, does Jesus save us? Here are two viable theologies of redemption that complement each other:

The first comes from the American theologian of religious life and Scripture scholar Sandra Schneiders, IHM. Drawing on the German theologian and exegete Eugen Drewermann, who is also a depth psychologist, Schneiders presents Jesus' salvific acthis death on the crossas an act of supreme faith and trust in God. Human sin (Genesis 3) arises out of fearfear of being creaturely and therefore fundamentally unable to keep oneself in existence. From this existential vulnerability, human beings cannot trust God's love for them and so resort to all kinds of violence and domination trying to secure their own safety-salvation. Jesus' ministry of word and work proclaimed that "Humans would have by gift what they had tried to take by force, a life that could not die, could not be destroyed, even by the fearsome passage through the gates of human mortality." And the way he let go of his life into the hands of the one he called "Abba" in dying on the cross ratified this way of trust, which was then ratified by God in the Resurrection.

The second theology of redemptionthat in dying on the cross Jesus performed "a human act of infinite love"comes from the Canadian Jesuit philosopher-theologian Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984). Lonergan, in keeping with other contemporary theologians, insists that Christ's acceptance of his suffering and death was in no way to placate God. God needs no placating, needs no blood. Nor did God punish Christ for our sins. Rather Christ performed "a human act of infinite love and sorrow and submission to God" because of human sin. "He performed an act of perfect love [that] we could never have done for ourselves."

Lonergan sums up his understanding of redemption as follows:

The Son of God became man, suffered, died, and was raised from the dead because in his wisdom God ordained and in his goodness willed, not to remove the evils afflicting the human race by an act of power, but, in accordance with a just and mysterious law of the cross, to transform those evils into a supreme good. . . . The fundamental theorem . . . is transforming evil into good, absorbing the evil in the world by putting up with it, not perpetuating it as rigid justice would demand. . . And that putting up with it acts as a blotter, transforms the [evil] situation and creates a situation in which good flourishes.

The law of the cross is the method that is best designed to move us away from evil and toward what is good.

Schneiders, Buying the Field (2013), pp. 303-307
The Dynamism of Desire: Bernard J. F. Lonergan, SJ.,. on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola
(2006), pp. 407-410.

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Sanchez, Matteo

Pseudonym used by Jesuit leaders for Juana, daughter of Emperor Charles V and Regent of Spain, in considering her application to become a Jesuit.


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Santuc, Vincent ( - )

French Jesuit; missioner to Peru; incultured scholar

Originally from a peasant family in the countryside of southeast France (Maylis) Vincent Santuc had to perform his military service during the "Battle of Algiers," an experience which prompted him to trust fully in God and to develop his desire to contribute to the humanization of society. As a philosopher and social scientist, Vincent Santuc recognized that profound changes were affecting the history of humanity. However, he did not limit himself to recognizing these changes. He endeavored to give them meaning, based on the human realities, which nourished his thought and the faith which animated his heart. His thinking was nourished by his proximity to people, the peasants of Piura, the inhabitants of the urban districts, the students and professors of the universities, and the Jesuit brothers of the universal body of the Society. He knew the importance of political action and thought, in relation to ethics, as a dimension of the humanization of history and the meaning of human life with others.

Santuc founded the University of Antonio Ruiz de Montoya and was its first rector. He was aware that intellectual word does not begin or end within the walls or programs of the university. He began his academic work after 20 years devoted to the social apostolate, action, and social advancement at the CIPCA (Centro de Investigación y Promoción del Campesinado) of Piura. There he began his intellectual work. His first writings were pamphlets to teach the poor peasants of Piura how to read and write. Popular education as a theoretical proposition would become part of his writings of those years. Almost naturally, he would continue to reflect on rural development by addressing new challenges. Faced with the dilapidation of political structures, he reflected and wrote about the link between ethics and politics. All this would become part of his lectures and publications on language, meaning, and possible freedom. The universal human condition, based on the concrete situation of Peru and Latin America, was the object of his reflection and the inspiration of his action.

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A Jesuit with first vows, in the process of formation leading eventually to ordination as a priest.

See Formation, Stages of Jesuit (Early).

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Science and Religion Debate

See "Religion and Science Debate".

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Image of the sunburst logo of the Seal of the Society of Jesus

Seal of the Society of Jesus

The Seal of the Society of Jesus is the IHS monogram, including the cross centered above it, the three converging nails below, and the "Jesuit Sun" consisting of 32 alternating rays, 16 straight and 16 wavy. The IHS are the first three (capital) letters, in Greek, of the name Jesus

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Segundo, Juan Luis (1925-1996)

Uruguayan Jesuit; liberation theologian

Juan Luis SegundoJuan Luis Segundo has been called "the most original and the most profound of Latin American theologians." After theological studies at Louvain in Belgium (where the Dominican priest-theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, often said to be the father of Latin American liberation theology, was his classmate), he returned to Montevideo and worked for ten years at the Peter Faber theological and social center, which he had founded in 1965. Out of this experience came his first major theological work in five volumes called (in Spanish) "An Open Theology for an Adult Laity" (English translation titled A Theology for Artisans of a New Humanity [1973-74]).

Segundo established the fundamental method of liberation theology as operating with "the hermeneutical circle," the circular relationship between a theologian's social context and her or his interpretation of doctrines or texts. Since all ideas are always encountered in and within a social context, one cannot know God's self-revelation except as that revelation is embodied in a social context or lived experience. Failure to take account of the historical character of Christian faith "condemns the Christian faith to irrelevance" (Goizueta, "Juan Luis Segundo," in A New Handbook of Christian Theologians [1996].

See Hinsdale, "Jesuit Theological Discourse after Vatican II," The Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits [2008]).

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Service Learning

To be fully prepared to find one's place in a rapidly changing global society, experience in the world, including the local community, is an integral part of Ignatian pedagogy. As the former Superior General, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, stated, "Solidarity is learned through 'contact' rather than through 'concepts' . . . .  When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change . . . .  All American universities, ours [Jesuit] included, are under tremendous pressure to opt entirely for success in this sense [acquiring professional and technical skills]. But what our students want, and deserve, includes but transcends this 'worldly success' based on marketable skills. The real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who our students become. Service experiences challenge people to use their talents and abilities to make this a better world, to become 'agents of change' and become people of competence and compassion."

Service learning offices and officers at Jesuit universities
from the Service Learning Office at LMU

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The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice

In 1975, Jesuits from around the world met in solemn assembly (General Congregation 32) to assess their present state and to sketch plans for the future. Following the lead of a recent international assembly ("synod") of Catholic bishops, they came to see that the hallmark of any ministry deserving of the name Jesuit would be its "service of faith" of which the "promotion of justice" is an absolute requirement. In other words, Jesuit education should be noteworthy for the way it helps studentsand for that matter, faculty, staff, and administratorsto move, in freedom, toward a mature and intellectually adult faith. This includes enabling them to develop a disciplined sensitivity toward the suffering of our world and a will to act for the transformation of unjust social structures that cause that suffering. The enormous challenge, to which none are entirely equal, nevertheless falls on all, not just on campus ministry and members of theology and philosophy departments.

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Seton, Elizabeth Bayley (1774-1821)

Founder of the Sisters of Charity, first community of women religious founded in the U.S.; first native-born U.S. saint

Elizabeth Bayley SetonElizabeth Ann Bayley Seton began the Sisters of Charity, the first religious community of women founded in the United States. She was born into a prominent Episcopalian family in New York City, August 28, 1774. Her father, Dr. Richard Bayley, was a physician, professor of medicine, and one of the first health officers of New York City. Her mother, Catherine Charlton Bayley, daughter of a Protestant Episcopal minister, died when Elizabeth was only three years old.

Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, scion of a wealthy New York mercantile family with international connections, January 25, 1794, at the home of her sister, Mary Bayley Post. Five children were born between 1795 and 1802, Anna Maria, William, Richard, Catherine, and Rebecca. As a young society matron, Elizabeth enjoyed a full life of loving service to her family, care for the indigent poor, and religious development in her Episcopal faith, nurtured by the preaching and guidance of Rev. John Henry Hobart, an assistant at Trinity Church.

As the eighteenth century drew to a close, a double tragedy visited Elizabeth. Political and economic turmoil took a severe toll on William Seton's business and on his health. He became increasingly debilitated by the family affliction, tuberculosis. Hoping to arrest the disease, Elizabeth, William, and Anna Maria embarked on a voyage to Italy. On their arrival in Leghorn (Livorno), they were placed in quarantine; soon after, December 27, 1803, William died. Waiting to return to their family, Elizabeth and Anna Maria spent several months with the Filicchi brothers of Leghorn, business associates of her husband.

For the first time Elizabeth experienced Roman Catholic piety in her social equals. She was deeply impressed, especially by the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. She returned to New York in June 1804, full of religious turmoil. After almost a year of searching, she made her profession of faith as a Roman Catholic in March 1805, a choice which triggered three years of financial struggle and social discrimination. At the invitation of several priests, she moved with her family to Baltimore in June 1808 to open a school for girls.

Catholic women from around the country came to join her work. Gradually, the dream of a religious congregation became a reality. The women soon moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where they formally began their religious life as Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's on July 31, 1809. Elizabeth Seton was named first superior and served in that capacity for the next twelve years.

As the community took shape, Elizabeth directed its vision. A rule was adapted from that of the French Daughters of Charity, a novitiate was conducted, and the first group, including Elizabeth, made religious vows on July 19, 1813. In 1814 the community accepted its first mission outside Emmitsburg, an orphanage in Philadelphia. By 1817 sisters had been sent to staff a similar work in New York.

During her years in Emmitsburg, Elizabeth suffered the loss of two of her daughters to tuberculosis, Anna Maria in 1812 and Rebecca in 1816. By that time she herself was weak from the effects of the disease. She spent the last years of her life directing St. Joseph's Academy and her growing community. She died January 4, 1821, not yet forty-seven years old.

Elizabeth Seton was canonized September 14, 1975, by Pope Paul VI as the first native-born saint of the United States.

From Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, 4 vols. (New City Press, 2000-2006).

RB and JM

For developments in the American Sisters of Charity after Elizabeth Seton's death, see "George, Margaret Farrell."

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Sisters of Loreto

Popular name of the women's religious congregation "Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary" (IBVM).

 See Ward, Mary, and Ball, Frances.

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Sisters of St. Joseph

 "See "Congregation of St. Joseph" and "Fontbonne, Mother St. John"

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Situation of Women in Church and Civil Society

See "Women, The Situation of in Church and Civil Society""

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The abbreviation "S.J." (or "SJ") after a person's name means that he is a member of the Society of Jesus.

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Social Justice

Christian social justice is a community of people characterized by love, mercy, equality, and equity. Members of the Ignatian family are called to work for social justice by advocating for the marginalized, the poor, and those whose dignity has been violated. See Service of Faith and Promotion of Social Justice, above, and Universal Apostolic Preference. (DM)

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Society of Jesus, The ("The Jesuits")

Catholic religious order of men founded in 1540 by Ignatius Loyola and a small group of his multinational "friends in the Lord," fellow students from the University of Paris. They saw their mission as one of being available to go anywhere and do anything to "help souls," especially where the need was greatest (e.g., where certain people or a certain kind of work were neglected).

Today numbering just under 17,000 priests, brothers, and scholastics, they are spread out in almost every country of the world ("more branch offices," said Pedro Arrupe, "than Coca-Cola")increasing slightly in Africa and Asia, declining in Europe and North America, but holding fairly steady elsewhere. The largest group is from India, where Christians are a tiny and sometimes persecuted minority. India has more than one quarter of the whole membership and about one third of the Society's novices and scholastics (those in early formation, the first ten to twelve years). The U.S. has 16% of the total and Latin America 14%.

See also: Religious Order/Religious Life

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The Society of Jesus in the United States

The Jesuit Conference

Provinces in 2017

Provinces in a reorganization taking place by 2020

  • California-Oregon ("Western")
  • Chicago-Detroit-Wisconsin ("Midwest")
  • Maryland-New England-New York ("Eastern")
  • Missouri-New Orleans ("Central-Southern")

The number of Jesuits in the United States in 2015: 2610

  • 2142 Priests
  • 145 Brothers (full-fledged members, but not ordained)
  • 257 Scholastics (in early formation, from the third year to year ten or twelve)
  • 66 Novices (the first two years of early formation)

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The Society of Jesus Around the World

Jesuit communities and ministries (apostolic works) are organized by "provinces" which belong to one of nine "assistancies" around the world. By clicking on the link below, you can access a map of the world color-coded by assistancy. Click on a given color and access all the provinces (and their websites) in that assistancy.

The number of Jesuits worldwide in 2015: 16,740

  • 1583 Africa
  • 1629 Asia Pacific (The Philippines, Australia, Japan, China, Indonesia [including Malaysia and Thailand], Korea [including Cambodia and Vietnam])
  • 4580 Europe (three assistancies: western, southern, and central/eastern)
  • 2320 Latin America (two assistancies: northern and southern)
  • 4018 South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka)
  • 2610 United States

The average age of Jesuits world-wide is about 57, with those from Africa and South Asia averaging under 50 and those from Europe and the USA over 65.

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Latin for "companion." In the governance of the Society of Jesus, the provincial's key assistant and confidant.

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Solidarity deals with the "unity that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards."

"Solidarity" is a term dear to the Polish Pope John Paul II. He used it often in his writings, especially in social encyclical letters like "The Social Concern of the Church" (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1988) and "On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum" (Centesimus Annus, 1991), and thus it passed into the vocabulary of Catholic Church teaching.

The then president of Xavier University, Michael J. Graham, SJ, elucidated the term as follows: "It denotes a habit of being, if you will, a way that people are and stand with one another as they take on each other's cares and concerns as if they were their own. People who stand in solidarity with one another act upon their vocations as sons and daughters of the one God and share the circumstances of their lives; they take the advantages that they have been given and place them at the service of others who have not been similarly blessed."

Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits from 1983 to 2008, stated that solidarity is learned through "contact" rather than through "concepts." He continued to say that personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity, which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection.

Read more on the term "Solidarity" 

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Sosa Abascal, Arturo (1948- )

Venezuelan Jesuit: 31st superior general of the Society of Jesus

A Venezuelan Jesuit, Father Sosa was elected the 31st superior general of the Society of Jesus* by General Congregation 36 in October 2016. He comes from an academic background, having devoted much of his life to research and teaching in his field of political science. In 2004 he was visiting professor in the Latin American Studies Center of Georgetown University. He has served as a major Jesuit superior in Venezuela and in Rome, where he was also a counsellor to the former superior general, Adolfo Nicolás.*

Sosa - Making the Impossible Possible (Address on Women)
Sosa - Intellectual Apostolate

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Spee von Langenfeld, Friedrich (1591-1635)

German Jesuit; writer, defender of women "convicted" of being "witches"

Friedrich Spee Von Langenfeld

Scholar, writer, composer of hymns used by both Catholics and Lutherans, and fighter with his every gift of intellect and rhetoric to expose the scapegoating of women as "witches" and to prevent their executionburning at the stake.

In the midst of plague, famine, and war, a more terrible evil arose in Germany: a widespread mania for witch-hunting carried out by both church and civil authorities. Spee listened to women accused and "convicted" with confessions of guilt obtained under torture. And he accompanied them to their execution, convinced of their innocence. He was identified as the author of the anonymous Latin tome Caution in Criminal Proceedings (1631). An attempt was made on his life; it left him with constant pain. Eventually his bold and incisive moves halted the madness by exposing it for what it was, an amalgam of superstition, fear, malice, and injustice (Bangert, A History of the Society of Jesus). He died young caring for victims of the plague.

The biographical essay on Spee in Ronald Modras, Ignatian Humanism (Loyola, 2004) is the best account available in English.

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Spiritual Exercises

Any of a variety of methods or activities for opening oneself to God's spirit and allowing one's whole being, not just the mind, to be affected. The methodssome of them more "active" and others more "passive"might include vocal prayer (e.g., the Lord's Prayer), meditation or contemplation, journaling or other kind of writing, reading of scripture or other great works of verbal art, drawing, painting or molding with clay, looking at works of visual art, playing or listening to music, working or walking in the midst of nature. All of these activities have the same goal in minddiscontinuing one's usual productive activities and thus allowing God to "speak," listening to what God may be "saying" through the medium employed.

 Resource page on Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Exercises

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Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life

 See "Nineteenth Annotation Retreat"

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The Spiritual Exercises

An organized series of spiritual exercises put together by Ignatius Loyola out of his personal spiritual experience and that of others to whom he listened. They invite the "retreatant" or "exercitant" to "meditate" on central aspects of Christian faith (e.g., creation, sin and forgiveness, calling and ministry) and especially to "contemplate" (i.e. imaginatively enter into) the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Ignatius set all of this down in the book of the Spiritual Exercises as a handbook to help the guide who coaches a person engaged in "making the Exercises." After listening to that person and getting a sense for where he/she is, the guide selects from material and methods in the book of the Exercises and offers them in a way adapted to that unique individual. The goal of all this is the attainment of a kind of spiritual freedom, the power to actnot out of social pressure or personal compulsion and fearbut out of the promptings of God's spirit in the deepest, truest core of one's beingto act ultimately out of love.

As originally designed, the "full" Spiritual Exercises would occupy a person for four weeks fulltime, but Ignatius realized that some people could not (today most people cannot) disengage from work and home obligations for that long a time, and so it is possible to make the "full" Exercises parttime over a period of six to nine or ten months, the "Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life." In that case, the "exercitant," without withdrawing from home or work, devotes about an hour a day to prayer (but this, like nearly everything in the Exercises, is adaptable) and sees a guide every week or two to process what has been happening in prayer and in the rest of his/her life.

Most of the time people make not the "full" Spiritual Exercises but a retreat in the Ignatian spirit that might last anywhere from a weekend to a week. Such a retreat usually includes either a daily individual conversation with a guide or several daily presentations to a group as preparation for prayer/spiritual exercises. These retreats are available at Jesuit retreat houses throughout North America and sometimes in Jesuit parishes as well.

Ignatius had composed and revised his little book over a period of 25 or more years before it was finally published in 1548. Subsequent editions and translationsaccording to a plausible estimatenumbered some 4,500 in 1948 or about one a month over four centuries, the total number of copies printed being around 4.5 million. It is largely on his Exerciseswith their implications for teaching and learning in a holistic waythat Ignatius' reputation as a major figure in the history of Western education rests.

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Spiritual Guidance/Direction

People are often helped to integrate their faith and their life by talking on a regular basis (e.g., monthly) with someone they can trust. This person acts as a guide (sometimes also called a spiritual friend, companion, or director) for the journey, helping them to find the presence and call of God in the people and circumstances of their everyday lives.

The assumption is that God is already present there, and that another person, a guide, can help them to notice God's presence and also to find words for talking about that presence, because they are not used to doing so. The guide is often a specially trained listener skilled in discernment and therefore able to help them sort out the various voices within and around them. While he/she may suggest various kinds of spiritual exercises/ways of praying, the focus is much broader than that; it is upon the whole of a person's life experience as the place to meet God.

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The "spiritual" is often defined as that which is "non-material," but this definition runs into problems when applied to human beings, who are traditionally considered "body-spirits," both bodily and spiritual. In some modern philosophies and psychologies, however, the spiritual dimension of the human is denied or disregarded. And many aspects of our contemporary American culture (e.g., the hurried sense of time and need to produce, produce) make it difficult to pay attention to this dimension.

Fundamentally, the spiritual dimension of human beings can be recognized in the orientation of our minds and hearts toward ever more than we have already reached (the "never-satisfied human mind" and the "never-satisfied human heart"). We are drawn inevitably toward the "Absolute" or the "Fullness of Being" [see "God"]. Consequently, there are depths to our being that we can only just begin to fathom.

If every human being has this spiritual dimension and hunger, then even in a culture like ours, everyone will haveat least at timessome awareness of it, even if that awareness is not explicit and not put into words. When people talk of a "spirituality," however, they usually mean, not the spirituality that human beings have by nature, but rather a set of attitudes and practices (spiritual exercises) that are designed to foster a greater consciousness of this spiritual dimension and (in the case of those who can affirm belief in God) a more explicit seeking of its objectthe Divine or God.

Ignatian spirituality with its Spiritual Exercises is one such path among many within Christianity, to say nothing of the spiritualities within other religious traditions or those more or less outside a religious tradition. ("Peoples' spiritual lives [today] have not died; they are simply taking place outside the church [Jesuit General Congregation 34, "Our Mission and Culture"].)

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Starkloff, Carl (1933-2008)

American Jesuit; Native American dialogue partner, missiologist

Carl StarkloffCarl Starkloff worked with Native Americans in Canada and the U.S. for some 30 years. His rich experience yielded important and enlightening testimony from this cross-cultural dialogue. He describes his early experience of this ministry as a "tensive interaction." Only when a fundamental equality of all partners was assumed did such conversations become true engagements of interfaith dialogue. "[F]or the first time [Native leaders] were being listened to as representatives of an authentic religious tradition." (Starkloff, [After September 11, 2001: Whither Mission] In All Things (publication of U.S. Jesuit Social Ministries Office) [Fall/Winter 2001]. See also Hinsdale, "Jesuit Theological Discourse since Vatican II", Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits [2008]).

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Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits

Recent issues can be viewed online by the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality in their archive.

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Superior General

The Superior General and Pope Francis embracingSuperior General is the title given to the world leader of the Society of Jesus.* There have been 31 since the formation of the order, beginning with Ignatius Loyola in 1541. Superiors General are elected for life (although the previous two have resigned at the age of 80) by Jesuit delegates from around the world, gathered in a general congregation. (See Arrupe, Kolvenbach, Nicolás, Sosa. It should be noted that the term "general" in the title means "overall" superior in contrast to a local or regional superior; it has no military connotation.)

Superior General Adolfo Nicolás greets Pope Francis

Go forth and set the world on fire.
Ignatius Loyola, SJ - First Superior General


Today our prime educational objective must be to form men-and-women-for-others... people who cannot even conveive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; people convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for human beings is a farce.... All of us would like to be good to others, and most of us would be relatively good in a good world. What is difficult is to be good in an evil world, where the egoism of others and the egoism built into the institutions of society attack us.... Evil is overcome only by good, egoism by generosity. It is thus that we must sow justice in our world, substituting love for self-interest as the driving force of society.
Pedro Arrupe, SJ - 28th Superior General

Solidarity is learned through contact rather than through concepts. When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change.
Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ - 29th Superior General

And then [living in a world as different as the Far East] has taught me to smile at the difficulties, at human imperfection, the human reality. In Spain I was a little intolerant, thinking in terms of order, of commands, because I thought of religion as fidelity to religious practices, and in Japan I learned that true religiosity is more profound, that one must go to the heart of things, to the depths of our humanity, whether we are speaking of God or we are speaking of ourselves and of human life.
Adolfo Nicolás, SJ - 30th Superior General

Intellectual work is an apostolate if it keeps alive the link between deep reflection, concern for people's lives and the building of a more human and Christian world. Our intellectual work is an apostolate if it is carried out with depth, openness to the world and an orientation towards social justice and reconciliation between people and creation, always in dialogue with other believers and non-believers, by accepting with joy the richness of cultural diversity. We are thus responsible for what we propose. We also know what we owe to a community of people in society and to a community of researchers and thinkers. We act by looking at people in a particular space, but also by looking at the world: this work is both universal and local. Because of this, it is intercultural: inculturated, in dialogue and universal.
Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, 31st Superior General

Superiors General (from Ignatius Loyola to Arturo Sosa)

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Suppression of the Society of Jesus (1773-1814)

Various theories have been put forward to explain the suppression of the Jesuits: the Enlightenment critiques of Diderot and Voltaire, the process of secularization that culminated in the French Revolution, the Society's own supposed misdemeanorsalleged laxity in moral teaching, erroneously supposed enormous wealth from the missions in South America, missionary work in the non-European world that made too many concessions to local cultures, the order's supranational character in a Europe made up of increasingly national churches. Yet, as Jonathan Wright, a reputable independent scholar, puts it, "striving for some over-riding explanation of the Jesuits' destruction is a mistake. No single explanation fits the facts of the various national suppressions [Portugal in 1759, France in 1764, Spain in 1767]. . . . [E]ach of the national suppressions has to be explained as a discrete political event, governed by particular grudges and aspirations.] Finally, under extreme pressure from the Bourbon monarchs, the new pope, Clement XIV, signed the papal "brief" of suppression in the summer of 1773. It seemed, said the pope, as if "I have cut off my right hand."

Many of the former Jesuits suffered not just the loss of their school buildings and other properties but exile and worse, though some thrived as members of new orders or as diocesan priests (in the U.S., John Carroll became the first bishop and the founder of Georgetown Collegenow University). In Prussia [temporarily] and in Russia [through all the years of suppression] the corporate Society lived on because the rulers refused to promulgate the pope's brief of suppression. The Russian Society of Jesus was given official papal recognition in 1804. And when in 1814 the worldwide order was restored, various national and local communities of Jesuits began their existence by affiliating with the Society there.

During the 40 to 50 years of suppression, the upheaval of the French Revolution took place and in its aftermath the turn of Europe back to the stability of conservative politics and religion. And the Society itself, in spite of operating in a very cautious manner, unknowingly lost some of its understanding and practices of the living spiritual tradition going back to the founder Ignatius (1491-1556). They would not be recovered until well into the 20th century.

See Wright, "The Suppression and Restoration," Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits (2008).
See related information on the "Restoration of the Society of Jesus"
See brief videos on the Suppression and Restoration

 Resource page for the Suppression and Restoration of the Society of Jesus

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Sustainability logo with "One with the Earth" as mottoSustainability is "meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs" (from The Brundtland ReportA United Nations sponsored study of the relationship between economic development and the environment published as "Our Common Future" in 1987).

At the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference in October 2006, 12 presidents agreed to launch the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Since then, a number of Jesuit university presidents have signed the commitment, including Michael J. Graham, SJ, who stated, "As a Catholic, Jesuit University, it is Xavier's responsibility to undertake issues which have an impact not only on our campus, but on all of today's society."

See the work of the AJCU Ecology Educators

Initiatives at Jesuit universities:

"Sustainability and the Jesuit Mission" July 2012 by Kathleen R. Smythe, Ph.D.
Adapted from a presentation made to AJCU Leadership Seminar, 20 June.
"The Place of Sustainability and the Environment within Roman Catholic Thought," a speech by Michael J. Graham, SJ, President of Xavier University, given on Sustainability Day, November 7, 2011.
Ignatian Spirituality and Sustainability by Annette Marksberry, 2011.
Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration, which is published by eight national Catholic organizations, including the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
See 2-minute video clips on Sustainability issues
See ecology
See XU Sustainability and Mission Seminar
See resource page on Ecology and Sustainability

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