Thursday, July 31, 2014

Francis is the first Jesuit Pope... but St. Ignatius of Loyola was the first Jesuit

Pope Francis is the most popular Jesuit in the world, but what exactly characterizes his religious Order? The charism needs to be traced back to the founder of the Society of Jesus: St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Author: Why the Pope Leads the Way He Leads
"So the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius, created a series of spiritual exercises, a series of meditations that help people to think how they might follow Jesus in the circumstances of their own life.”

The spiritual exercises are a series of meditations and prayers that were developed by St. Ignatius. Since the motto of the Order is to do things for 'God's Greater Glory,' it's no wonder that the exercises were developed to strengthen one's relationship with God: Through self awareness and reflection, for example, doing away with inner restraints.

Author: Why the Pope Leads the Way He Leads
"Maybe I’m greedy and so I want to make choices that have to do with accumulating money for myself and so on or maybe I’m attached to my own fears. Like maybe the right or best thing to do now, would be to try a new career, or to take a little more risks in terms of how I talk to people about my values or religious beliefs, but because I’m attached to my own fears of making a mistake or looking foolish, I’m not free enough to do what I should be doing.”

We see the Pope reflect on these very teachings. From embracing a missionary spirit, to letting go of self imposed limitations based on fear. He has often says it's better to make mistakes than to have a closed off Church.

(September 2013)
"I'll say it one thousand times. I'd rather have a wounded Church than a sick Church.”

When he speaks of going to the frontier and reaching out to others, that too, can be traced back to the Jesuit mindset. They're known for being educators. As missionaries, Jesuits were the first to evangelize in parts of Latin America, India, Africa and the far East. But it's not just about being a missionary in far away countries. One can be a missionary at home.

Author: Why the Pope Leads the Way He Leads
"We have people who are alienated from the Church, who really haven’t had much exposure to religion. They don’t care about religion. Whatever it might be. So I think the way his frontier spirit manifests is that kind of focus.”

So when the Pope says he thinks like a Jesuit, more than likely, it's this type of formation he's referring to. On the Feast Day of St. Ignatius, Jesuits will celebrate their founder's legacy, which gave way to the first Jesuit Pope.

Related Posts:

St. Ignatius of Loyola: Knight for Christ

The legacy and spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola

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