The Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by Ignatius Loyola and six of his fellow students in Paris. The formal approval of the order by Pope Paul III was the culmination of a pledge of companionship taken by the students in chapel in 1534. And that experience, itself, was the result of a conversion process begun in 1521 when the 30-year-old Inigo Lopez de Loyola was wounded on the battlefield. During his convalescence, Inigo had access to very limited reading material - a few religious books. Turning his mind toward the things of God, he began to pray, fast, and do penance. In time, he decided to become a priest, and thus took up studies in Paris where the "company" was born.
One of the distinguishing aspects of the Jesuits throughout history, and all followers of Ignatian spirituality, is the unique spiritual preparation and discipline developed by Ignatius Loyola. Out of his own conversion experience, Ignatius began to write a manual of "exercises" to deepen one's relationship with the Lord. Most likely started in 1522, the work was continuously adapted and developed until its initial publication in 1548. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola is a classic of Christian Spirituality and the hallmark of Jesuit preparation. Today people in all walks of life are discovering its rich treasures and making it their own resource to spiritual growth.
Throughout the world today, over 21,000 men live and work as Jesuit priests, brothers, novices, and scholastics. The Society of Jesus is the largest religious order in the Catholic Church. Organized world-wide in 85 administrative units called provinces, the order is led by a Superior General in Rome. In the United States, there are 9 provinces. These make up what is known as the American Assistancy, headquartered at the Jesuit Conference in Washington, DC. http://www.jesuit.org
The Jesuit General
An interview with Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, conducted on March 7, 2008, two days after the close of the 35th General Congregation.
A Jesuit "without imagination and creativity would be a disaster."
Part One: What do you ask of the Jesuits?
Part Two: Has spirituality been replaced by ideology?
Part Three: Is there too much diversity in the Society, in the Church?
[Published on Thinking Faith, the online journal of the British Jesuits.]