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Though the path is not always perfect, there is always a joy in the journey. William J. Byron, SJ, has been a Jesuit for more than fifty-five years. While readily admitting that there have been some difficult, even painful, days during this period, Fr. Byron is quick to add that he has never experienced a “fundamentally unhappy” day as a Jesuit. In this revised edition of Jesuit Saturdays, Byron shares with great joy and openness the stories and experiences of his more than five decades of Jesuit ministry, ...
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Though the path is not always perfect, there is always a joy in the journey. William J. Byron, SJ, has been a Jesuit for more than fifty-five years. While readily admitting that there have been some difficult, even painful, days during this period, Fr. Byron is quick to add that he has never experienced a “fundamentally unhappy” day as a Jesuit. In this revised edition of Jesuit Saturdays, Byron shares with great joy and openness the stories and experiences of his more than five decades of Jesuit ministry, offering us the chance to see what it really is that inspires and motivates Jesuits to do what they do.
Through Fr. Byron’s reflections, you’ll learn why Jesuits are so heavily involved in education; what it truly means to “live a life for others”; what life qualities define and differentiate Jesuits; and much more. This warmly written work is ideal for anyone who desires a better understanding of the Jesuit way of thinking and living.
General Congregations for Jesuits are both important—they are the highest legislative body—and infrequent; since 1540 there have been only thirty-four of them. There is an obvious need for one when the superior general dies and a new one has to be elected. Such was the case for twenty-six of these congregations. On only eight occasions was the congregation summoned for “matters of greater moment.” This was true of the Thirty-Fourth General Congregation GC 34 in 1995, which reflected carefully and prayerfully on the life of the Society from 1965 to 1995, a truly momentous period in the life of the Church and of society in general. The main thrust, however, was to the future and to setting out those orientations needed by all Jesuits as they enter a new century.
A key document of GC 34 entitled “Cooperation with the Laity in Mission” went to the heart of the Society’s apostolic action: “Cooperation with the laity is both a constitutive element of our way of proceeding and a grace calling for individual, communal, and institutional renewal. It invites us to service of the ministry of lay people, partnership with them in mission, and openness to creative ways of future cooperation” decree 13, no. 26. Such a document, written for a worldwide group, had to be broad enough to cover widely divergent situations. This created a pressing need for someone to spell out the implications of this document for the local scene. What does “partnership with the laity in mission” mean in the United States? It is precisely to this felt need that Father Bill Byron responds in his engaging and delightful book, which will be of great use to lay colleagues who are associated with Jesuits in so many different endeavors.
I am thinking particularly of our Jesuit educational institutions so caught up in discussions of Jesuit mission and identity, and how this book will be of great help to trustees, faculty, administrators, and staff, as well as to students and alumni. We Jesuits have been negligent in communicating to the many laypeople associated with us in a host of activities in schools, parishes, retreat houses, social centers, publishing houses, research centers, etc., who we are, what we do, and what people can expect of us. We need to explain what we mean by our expression our way of proceeding if we expect others to enter into a partnership with us.
In a style that is personal and enlightening as well as inviting to discussion and conversation, Father Byron shares with us a vision of Jesuit life today as seen and lived by a man of uncommonly rich experience. This book will appeal to a large and varied audience, but the two chapters on higher and secondary education will have a special appeal for those involved in educational institutions. This is the type of book that administrators, especially those concerned with the vital topic of Jesuit mission and identity, will want to make available to many people in their institutions. It will provide a natural basis for discussion and conversation. Jesuits will enjoy it and will want to share it with their colleagues as they work toward a partnership in mission. I would find it an excellent reference for young men interested in learning more about Jesuit life.
The publication of this volume will be a fitting way for Father Bill Byron to celebrate his golden jubilee as a member of the Society of Jesus during the great Jubilee Year of the Church. Vincent T. O’Keefe, SJ Superior of the Jesuit Community at America House in New York City General Assistant to Superior General Pedro Arrupe, SJ, 1965–83
Fifty years a Jesuit. July 31, 2000, is the marker for me. Fifty years a Jesuit and, as I’ve found myself remarking in recent years, I’ve never had a really unhappy day in the Jesuit order, the Company that was founded by the grace of God and the genius of Ignatius of Loyola in 1540. I’ve had difficult, even painful, days in the Society of Jesus, but I’ve never had a fundamentally unhappy one.
Now, with the publication of this paperback edition, it is almost sixty years a Jesuit for me. I wouldn’t change anything in that opening paragraph, taken from the first edition, except to identify the pain I, along with all Jesuits and so many colleagues and friends, experienced when news of the clergy sex abuse scandal broke in America in 2002. I would also add the discouraging fact that additional Jesuits have left “the Company” since the year 2000 and fewer have joined. So I was both impressed and encouraged to note that when Spanish-born Father Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, was elected superior general of the Society of Jesus in January 2008, the Catholic News Service in the U.S. lifted the following words from an interview appearing in the newsletter of the Australian Jesuits that Father Nicolas had given the month before. Father Nicolas asked:The question for us is: Is it enough that we are happy with our life and are improving our service and ministry? Isn’t there also an important factor in the perception of people ‘vox populi’ that should drive us to some deeper reflection on religious life today? How come we elicit so much admiration and so little following?
This is a book of personal reflections similar to those I published as Quadrangle Considerations and the commencement-address chapters in Take Your Diploma and Run: Speaking to the Next Generation.1 The present book is not an autobiography, although personal experience is part of the story. It is simply one Jesuit’s perspective on aspects of Jesuit life that appear to be of growing interest to others, particularly lay colleagues and friends. The primary audience I have in mind is the group of committed laypeople I’ve met worldwide who serve as trustees, faculty, staff, and support personnel in Jesuit educational institutions, parishes, research and retreat centers, publishing operations, and other ministries. I speak to students, alumni, parishioners, retreatants, benefactors, and friends—all those people who cast their lot in one way or another with Jesuits. I hope that this book will also be helpful to young men who are in the process of discerning whether God is calling them to Jesuit life.
So many people in various partnering or associative relationships with Jesuits want to know what it is that makes us tick; they are curious about who we are and what we do. They are quite open these days in asking us to tell them more about ourselves. My students often heard me say, “You are the world’s leading expert on your own opinion” when I invited expressions of opinion in the classroom or in written assignments. The only area of expertise I can claim is related to my own opinions and experiences, so I offer them here simply for what they are worth, to lay friends who want to better understand the Jesuit way, style, approach, and tradition.
Why the title Jesuit Saturdays? Because Saturdays every one, in the Jesuit tradition, a day of special devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus have always been an important part of my Jesuit life. On Saturday afternoons during my novitiate “boot camp” or “basic training” from 1950 to 1952 at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues, Wernersville, Pennsylvania, other novices and I would go off on missions to the Berks County Jail or to what was then known as the “Negro section” of the nearby city of Reading the fictional Brewer in John Updike’s Rabbit novels to teach catechism and engage in some form of social ministry. Seeds planted within me then grew into subsequent academic degrees in economics, a lifelong interest in social ethics, and an abiding concern for interracial and social justice.
At every stage of my Jesuit life, Saturdays have allowed some extra time and freedom for writing and reflection that the weekday press of study, teaching, or administrivia did not permit. From 1953 to 1956, as a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Saint Louis University, I walked through a lot of poor neighborhoods on Saturday afternoons and often made hospital visits with, I must confess, the mixed motivation of seeing sick patients and watching with them the televised sporting events not available for viewing on Saturday afternoons in the somber scholasticate of that era.
Once ordained in 1961, after three years of theological studies at Woodstock College in Maryland, my classmates and I stayed on as “fourth-year fathers” for a final year of weekday study and weekend ministry in hospitals and parishes in the nearby Baltimore-Washington area. That initiation into ordained pastoral ministry, especially hearing confessions on Saturdays and preaching to large congregations of practicing Catholics on Sundays, was, for all of us, the realization of a deep and genuine vocational desire. And being able to catch an occasional Baltimore Colts or Orioles game before making the photo-finish return trip to rural Woodstock in time for Sunday vespers was, for us young priests, all part of the hundredfold.
Saturdays became regular writing days for me in 1973 when, well after graduate study for a degree in economics and several years of teaching economics at Loyola in Maryland and social ethics at Woodstock, I became dean of arts and sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans. I got into the habit of doing what I enjoy, namely, sitting down at the keyboard after breakfast on Saturday mornings ranging over the years from manual to electric typewriter, to word processor, to personal computer and writing until an early afternoon lunch break followed by a long walk occasionally interrupted by a good movie. These Jesuit Saturdays produced a few books and a lot of essays over the years. The memory of those days is special to me, and the eventually published products of that reflection have been helpful to others.
The idea for writing this book came to me during an extraordinary three-day meeting of business education professionals on the campus of Seattle University in July 1998. They gathered at the invitation of Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, then professor of philosophy at Seattle University and now president of Gonzaga University in Spokane, and his Seattle faculty colleague Dr. Karen Brown, chair of the department of management. Well aware that modern Jesuits are committed to educating men and women for others, this impressive array of fifty or so deans and faculty members from Jesuit business schools across the country came together to share their views on planning curriculum, teaching business ethics, organizing service learning, and integrating spirituality into business practice. They gathered to reflect together not only on the relevance of all this to the Jesuit spirit of the institutions they serve but also on the expected impact of the Jesuit character of those institutions on their teaching and research.
It seems to have worked. The first edition of Jesuit Saturdays found its way into orientation packets for new faculty at Jesuit prep schools and colleges, into the boardrooms of Jesuit institutions, onto the bookshelves of retreat house and parish libraries, and into the hands of young men trying to discern whether God might be calling them to join the order.
It was my hope in writing this book—and that same hope remains strong as this revised edition goes to press—that these pages will present an honest portrait of Jesuit life along with an introduction to Ignatian spirituality.
I also want to convey here my admiration and gratitude to those generous and dedicated lay colleagues who energize our Jesuit works today. In them the Ignatian spirit is evident; without them the Jesuit institutions, so well known and loved by so many for so long, could not survive. Chapter 1
The Man Who Was Loyola
I’ve seen the Loyola name all over the world—on businesses like banks and restaurants, on streets, and, most frequently, on schools at every level of education. The name St. Ignatius is similarly attached to schools and parish churches everywhere.
From the proper noun Ignatius comes the adjective Ignatian, which identifies a spirituality and spirit that reflect the soul of the founder of the Jesuits. Many lay colleagues who work with Jesuits, especially those not of the Catholic faith, are naturally curious about the man behind the name of the institutions where they work. Something is usually said to address that curiosity during orientation sessions for newcomers to faculty and staff positions at Jesuit institutions.
Students, too, occasionally wonder about the person behind the name on their diplomas if they went to one of the many Loyolas or behind the “spirit” often mentioned as a special characteristic of Jesuit schools. In an address to the midyear graduating class at Loyola University of Chicago, I decided to speak about the man who was Loyola—St. Ignatius of Loyola—after whom every Loyola college or university is named. Even if the school bears another name, Loyola will always be connected to the lives and careers of every Jesuit-school graduate once the degree is conferred. So, I thought, why not take a few moments at a Loyola commencement to say something about the man who was Loyola? And why not do that now in these pages to introduce lay associates to the person who started the whole Jesuit enterprise?
Iñigo Lopez de Loyola was born in 1491; Loyola was the name of his ancestors’ manor house and farmland in northern Spain, the Basque country. The surnames of the Basques derived from the house or estate to which they belonged. Iñigo was his given name; he later changed it to Ignatius, probably out of admiration for the great Christian martyr Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius is not, as many suppose, a translation of the name Iñigo to another language.
His family was large and wealthy. Iñigo and his brothers were, in various capacities, in service to the kings of Castile. The young Iñigo might best be described as a courtier; some writers refer to him as a knight. His earliest biographer, Ribandeneira, describes him as “a lively and trim young man, very fond of court dress and good living.”1
Breaking with the Past
Iñigo, although never a full-time professional soldier, is often referred to as the Soldier Saint. He was seriously wounded by the French at Pamplona in May of 1521 when a cannonball shattered his right leg and wounded his left. Immediate medical attention was crude, hasty, and obviously ineffective; he was sent home on a litter to the castle of his ancestors. The bones, Iñigo writes in his third-person Autobiography, “either because they had been badly set or because the jogging of the journey had displaced them, would not heal. Again he went through this butchery [a reference to the repeat surgery] in which, as in all the others that he suffered before or after, he uttered not a word nor showed any sign of pain other than the tight clenching of fists.”2 During a long recuperation, the future saint had what he describes as his first reasoning, his first reflective experience, on the things of God. You will read more about this experience in chapter 6.
Upon recovery from his wounds and related illness, Iñigo resolved to follow Christ. He made his way to the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat in Spain, sought out a confessor, and unburdened his soul in a three-day general confession. Then he hung up his sword and dagger—emblems of a swashbuckling past—at the famous Montserrat Marian Shrine of the Black Virgin stained black from years of candle smoke rising from below. His intention, according to a recent historical account, was “to clothe himself there with the arms of his new spiritual warfare, in the fashion of young knights who entered upon the service of earthly warfare.”3
He left Montserrat intending to go directly to Barcelona to board a ship for the Holy Land to visit—as he had resolved to do during his recuperation—the places made holy by the footprints and eventually the blood of Jesus. But he delayed for eleven months in the village of Manresa another famous place-name in Jesuit history, about twenty miles from Montserrat, where he experienced interior trials as well as divine illuminations. At Manresa, he underwent a spiritual transformation, an experience he would later draw upon in producing his Spiritual Exercises, a handbook intended to serve as an outline for a monthlong retreat. He would later invite Francis Xavier and other individuals of “magnanimity and generosity” to make the Exercises, which were designed to help them, by God’s grace, become even more generous. In the introduction to this handbook, Ignatius writes, “We call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul” SpEx, 1.4 The salvation of others—what Ignatius constantly refers to in later apostolic planning as the “help of souls,” or service—was never far from his thoughts. But the beginning experience of the Exercises focuses on the cultivation, by God’s action in the soul, of a fuller freedom and closer union with God on the part of the one who would be, in the Ignatian mode, a follower of Christ. Ignatius had a vision, a commitment, and a pattern of living that eventually became known worldwide as the Jesuit way of life. Every Jesuit school, college, and university has been touched by that influence.
Several short paragraphs at the beginning of the book constitute what Ignatius calls the “First Principle and Foundation” of the Spiritual Exercises. These words have been pondered often and deeply by every Jesuit throughout his Jesuit life. They help to explain why Jesuits do what they do, including establishing the institutions that bear the name Loyola. These words can serve as a personal mission statement for those who see life and faith from a Jesuit perspective. Here is what Ignatius would say to a young graduate or anyone associating him- or herself with a Jesuit work:
You are created to praise, reverence, and serve God your Lord, and by this means to save your soul.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for you to help you in attaining the end for which you are created.
Hence, you are to make use of them in as far as they help you in the attainment of your end, and you must rid yourself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to you.
Therefore, you must make yourself indifferent to all created things, as far as you are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as you are concerned, you should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Your one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which you are created. SpEx, 23
It takes spiritual maturity to catch the Ignatian vision, to see the “First Principle and Foundation” as a basis for living, as a focus that helps you find God and God’s love in all things. It takes additional spiritual maturity to be willing to make your own the famous Ignatian prayer for generosity: “Dear Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve to be served; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that I am doing your will, O God.”5
Contemplatives in Action
The man who was Loyola had a tendency to see life as a struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. He was a mystic who saw the world from God’s point of view. He founded his religious order—the Jesuits—for like-minded men called, as he was, to be contemplatives in action. Ignatius and his first companions committed themselves “to travel anywhere in the world where there is hope of God’s greater glory and the good of souls.” The phrase God’s greater glory appears on the logo, the coat of arms, of many Jesuit institutions and organizations: ad majorem Dei gloriam. Ignatius understood that the greater glory of God involves a greater, more generous, and selfless service to others. For Ignatius, the help of souls meant the help of bodies too. Just as Mother Teresa of Calcutta did in the late twentieth century, he always sent his men to minister in hospitals, care for the poor, protect prostitutes and marginated people, and instruct unsophisticated children in religion.
Graduates leaving Jesuit campuses today are encouraged not to leave that spirit behind. In fact, they are often urged to take it upon themselves to learn more about the man and his vision. There are good biographies to be read. There are the Spiritual Exercises to be made experienced, not read at a Jesuit retreat house. And there is a daily opportunity to pray to the man who was Loyola for a share of his vision, generosity, and high-hearted love of God. If that prayer is answered, the person who makes it, young or old, will be off to a great start, a genuine commencement of the unique service to a human community in need of the help that only faith-committed and generous persons can bring. Moreover, if a person catches the Ignatian vision, the spirit of the man who was Loyola, he or she may be moved to pray from time to time as Ignatius prayed at the commencement of his apostolic life:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given it all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. All of it is yours; dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and that will be enough for me. Amen. H. O. Evennett refers to the Spiritual Exercises as “the systematized, demysticized quintessence of the process of Ignatius’s own conversion and purposeful change of life.”6 The process was reduced to handbook form so that it would be available, generation after generation, to facilitate the same change in others. As an appendix to this chapter, I want to reproduce here—with the permission of Father James L. Connor, SJ, the author—a brief description of the Spiritual Exercises together with an explanation of the Ignatian examen, a form of prayer considered essential for those who would follow the spirituality Ignatius introduced to the life of the Church. Father Connor, when director of the Woodstock Center for Theological Reflection at Georgetown University, prepared this summary for those who attended a special Woodstock forum, “St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises: Woodstock’s Way of Promoting Justice,” in Washington, D.C., on November 12, 1998.
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: What They Are
The Spiritual Exercises are a retreat of thirty days with various adaptations in length and style to assist people to understand how to discover, in the context of their daily life and worldly affairs, God’s desires and will for them, and to be given the freedom to do it. Ideally, these exercises become, with practice and over time, an habitual modus operandi.
1. The Spiritual Exercises open with a consideration of God’s loving design for our world and our role in its achievement. We are then invited to an initial evaluation of our stewardship: our successes and failures in collaborating with God to realize his desires for us and our world.
2. For the most part the Exercises are a series of meditations on select Scripture passages which the retreatant reads, ponders, and prays over, in order to be informed, impressed, moved, and affected by them. The aim is to come a to understand Christ’s mission: what it is for and what it fights against “to know him more clearly”, b to admire him “to love him more dearly”, and c to feel drawn to join with him in his struggle and to follow him on his mission “to follow him more nearly”. These scriptural meditations move from Christ’s birth and childhood, through his public ministry, to his passion, death, and resurrection. This is not just a chronology; there is, we discover, an unfolding “logic.”
3. Interspersed throughout this series of scriptural meditations are special exercises which Ignatius has developed in order to clarify, illustrate, and dramatize through use of imagination and affections this struggle between the contending forces of good and evil, God and Satan, Jesus and the “world” in St. John’s sense of that word. We come to experience that this struggle is going on both “out there” in the world and “in here” in our own hearts and minds. Some of these special exercises are: viewing our world through the eyes of the Trinity; considering Christ’s call to us as that of a warrior seeking companionship in battle the young Ignatius was a soldier!; understanding the forces of good and evil as two sets of “campaign strategies”; and discovering, experiencing, and appreciating Christ as a “laborer” working here and now in history with and for us.
4. Also interspersed throughout the scriptural meditations are special exercises for testing, refining, and building up our freedom to choose the good. For instance, putting ourselves on our death bed and looking back on the options we “faced”; giving advice to our best friend; grading ourselves on the level or degree of our honesty and generosity; etc. There is instruction about and exercises for getting in touch with our feelings—which both energize us and reveal our motivations to us as either worthy or unworthy, freeing us or binding us.
5. Instruction and guidance in discernment of “spirits” i.e., the sources of feelings that are trying to motivate us to action and decision making, i.e., in choosing the good to which God calls us. This process includes getting the relevant data, understanding and affirming it accurately, weighing or discerning the relative merits and value of the various possible courses of action in response to the needs or opportunity revealed in this concrete situation, making the decision which “seems best in the Lord,” and carrying it into action. There are instructions about “Making an Election or a Choice of a State of Life,” “Rules for the Discernment of Spirits,” and doing the “Examen of Consciousness.”
The Ignatian Examen
Some Presuppositions in Doing the Examen
1. God’s creating is a continuing sharing of Trinitarian life with all creation “that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us” John 17:21.
2. Thus present in creation and human history, God guides us toward the full attainment of this life with God and one another in unity and peace, justice and love.
3. We humans can discern the direction of God’s active guidance in our own daily history, and can collaborate with God to promote its realization in action.
4. The sign of God’s guidance is: what produces unity and peace among people and what instills feelings of peace, love, and integrity in us. By contrast, what produces dissension and hostility in society and selfishness and vengeance in us is a sign of the presence and activity of evil. See Galatians 5:13–26.
Steps in Making the Ignatian Examen
1. We begin by quieting ourselves. Become aware of God’s goodness, the gifts of life and love. Be thankful. Recall that without faith, the eye of love, the human world seems too evil for God to be good, for a good God to exist.
2. Pray for the grace to see clearly, to understand accurately, and to respond generously to the guidance God is giving us in our daily history.
3. Review in memory the history of the day week, month, etc. in order to be shown concrete instances of the presence and guidance of God and, perhaps, of the activity and influence of evil. These can be detected by paying attention to strong feelings we experienced that may have accompanied or arisen from situations and encounters.
4. Evaluate these instances in which we have either collaborated with God or yielded to the influence of evil in some way. Express gratitude and regret.
5. Plan and decide how to collaborate more effectively with God and how, with God’s assistance, to avoid or overcome the influence of evil in the future.
6. Conclude with an Our Father. Chapter 2
Why We Are in Higher Education
Central to any Jesuit work is the development of human potential. The positive side of human potential, when you stop to think about it, stretches into eternity—toward union with the Creator. The negative side points to the possibility of eternal alienation—to permanent frustration of that potential. Ignatius was well aware of evil in the world, of the presence of “an enemy of human nature” intent on deflecting unsuspecting men and women from their path toward God.
Formal education’s interests are coextensive with the entire range of positive possibilities for human development. Throughout their well more than 450-year history, Jesuits have recognized this and have, almost from the beginning, chosen formal education—beginning at what we would call the secondary level—as an extraordinarily valuable instrument for their work in the development of human potential. Higher education touches that range of positive possibilities in a privileged way. Skills and maturity acquired in primary and secondary stages of educational growth make possible the conscious pursuit of wisdom. Not information only, nor technique, nor accumulated experience, but wisdom is a real possibility at the stage of human development associated with higher education. At this level it is the privilege of educators to group themselves into communities of inquiry that may in fact become or beget wisdom communities. At the level of higher education, it is the responsibility of educators to work for the formation of wise and reflective human beings.
The Complementary Norms from the Society’s 34th General Congregation express the official Jesuit answer to the question, Why are we in higher education?Universities and institutions of higher learning play an increasingly important role in the formation of the whole human community, for in them our culture is shaped by debates about ethics, future directions for economics and politics, and the very meaning of human existence. Accordingly, we must see to it that the Society is present in such institutions, whether directed by itself or by others, insofar as we are able to do so. It is crucial for the Church, therefore, that dedicated Jesuits continue to engage in University work. CN, 2891
Higher education is a medium, not just a means; it has intrinsic value. Involving, as it does, the pursuit of wisdom, higher education is worth much in purely human terms and is thus worthy of dedicated human effort. But the worth of higher education, as both means and medium, transcends the human and touches the divine. That is why, it seems to me, a completely secular university is not really a university. If closed to a faith dimension, to an exploration of the transcendent and an examination of revelation, a university is hardly universal in its interests and thus holds questionable claim to that name. Moving Hearts and Minds
The Jesuit purpose in higher education is to move the minds and hearts of developing humans. The direction of this movement, in the Jesuit view, is Godward which is why Jesuits think that theology is an essential part of a college education. The norm is truth which is the rationale for including philosophy. The outcome, it is to be hoped, is wisdom hence the importance of the humanities in Jesuit education. And wisdom, in the Jesuit understanding, is a gift from God that enables the recipient to understand what is really important in events past or present the humanities help a student get into all of that. Although no one can predict the future, the wise man or woman, having experience in sorting out the truly significant in past and present events, is well positioned to make wise choices en route to an unknown future.
The Jesuit way in higher education is one of method and motivation. In the Jesuit view, learning is directed by a motivator-organizer and assimilated by an active participant in the learning process. Viewed in this way, learning is a self-propelled activity. The Jesuit educator tries, therefore, to move the minds and hearts of those who want to learn. Content is important, but it is secondary to knowing how to learn and wanting to learn more. Father James P. M. Walsh, SJ, longtime member of the theology department at Georgetown University, offered these useful reflections about students and teaching: Students are in process, developing. They can be encouraged and brought along in that process, and this should be done with kindness. This direction should be methodical, step-by-step guidance; students should not be left to tutor themselves. In this process students should be taken where they are, not where they “should” be; all education is remedial. Resistance to learning, when it shows up, is a precious opportunity for a teaching and learning moment. Savor and explore those occasions—that’s where work needs to be done and progress can be made. But never be manipulative or have a hidden agenda, except for the agenda of helping the student develop those budding faculties of memory, imagination, reason, and self-knowledge, to the full flowering of the human being, created in the image of God.
Part of that work is the invitation to detect and poke at idols, without however giving students the sense that they have everything figured out or that they are somehow already in possession of the truth—that would indeed merit the millstone. It is uncomfortable always being a beginner, but that is the presupposition of being a learner, and Jesuit educational philosophy, as I understand it, tends to savor that “nescience,” that sense of being at a loss but also having whole new worlds to explore: dismaying but exciting. And exploration of a focused, serious sort: students have to be taught how to engage complexity, how to follow a sustained argument, how to be led—and then discern.The student is at the center of everything the Jesuit college or university wants to do.
As the Jesuit is a faith-committed person, so Jesuit education is intended to be a faith-committed activity. In all things, the Jesuit understands that the immediate task is his but the ultimate power to achieve that task belongs to God. This applies in matters practical and theoretical, in undertakings spiritual and physical, in efforts by individuals and groups. If, as faith directs, everything depends on God, then wisdom would suggest that everything must be entrusted to God. Such wisdom lies at the beginning and end of Jesuit education. And wisdom, it must be remembered, is a gift from God. Two verses from the book of Proverbs explain this characteristically Jesuit attitude: “Entrust your works to the Lord, / and your plans will succeed” 16:3 and “In his mind a man plans his course, / but the Lord / directs his steps” 16:9.
Father Raymond Baumhart, SJ, when president of Loyola University of Chicago, often remarked, “Loyola is certainly church-related, but since I spend a lot more time in Springfield [the state capital] than I do with the cardinal, I’m beginning to believe that for all practical purposes we’re a lot more government-related than church-related.” In any case, every Jesuit university, regardless of its degree of tilt toward church or state, is or should be clearly faith-committed.
Efficient and Effective
In education, as in all else, the Jesuit is not content with simple efficiency—doing something right. Rather, he wants to be effective, which means doing the right thing. Accordingly, in all things the Jesuit way involves a search for God’s will. This search, in the Jesuit vocabulary, goes by the name of discernment. One Jesuit I knew, the late Tom Savage, a professor of English at Xavier University in Cincinnati, taught his students a lot about discernment by means of a simple message posted on his office door: “The fool collects, the wise person chooses.” Discernment, it should be noted, is a wisdom characteristic that prepares a person to choose wisely. Chapter 6 will develop that theme in more detail.
Jesuits in higher education will, upon reflection, notice that their method, their style, their way of doing what they do, is radically influenced by the spirit of their founder, Ignatius of Loyola. At least it should be. As I’ve noted in chapter 1, his wisdom lies hidden in several documents—in his spiritual journal, or Autobiography; in the Constitutions he wrote for his followers; and in the retreat outline written from personal experience and known as the Spiritual Exercises, which should not be separated from the Directory he intended for the use of the experienced guide who assists the person making the Exercises.
Discernment and the search for God’s will are the warp and woof of Ignatian spirituality, but the Ignatian way of discernment cannot be learned from books. It can only be experienced under the direction of a sensitive guide. Such guides are available on Jesuit university campuses, typically through retreat programs, to work with people interested in making the Spiritual Exercises. A special task, a privileged opportunity, for Jesuits in higher education is to open the book of the Spiritual Exercises to those who want to grow spiritually. In this context, as in the classroom, learning is directed by a motivator-organizer and assimilated by an active participant in the process. In the retreat experience, one learns how to pray. In the classroom experience, one learns how to learn. As classroom educator or spiritual guide, the Jesuit tries, as an instrument of God’s grace, to assist the Spirit in moving the minds and hearts of those who want to grow.
In the domain of higher education, there are many students, faculty, and staff alike with the potential for wisdom. That is why Jesuits gather at colleges and universities to work. Their task is not only to teach and search for truth in all its forms but also to share their founder’s special grace with those who want to grow in the Ignatian way. Often on Jesuit campuses there can be found a Jesuit whose assignment is to explain the Ignatian heritage and to bring interested members of faculty, staff, or student body into closer experiential contact with this spiritual tradition.
Christian wisdom is to “know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” John 17:3. There is an Ignatian way toward this wisdom. It is Ignatian, not Jesuit in any proprietary sense; hence it is there to be shared with others.
The Jesuit is expected to have internalized this way. His educational methods will, not surprisingly, reflect it. His normal desire will be to live and work in companionship with others who know this way, so he lives in community with other Jesuits. And his hope will be to share this way or see it shared with others. This is all part of the Jesuit purpose in higher education or in any other work.
The Jesuit, by vocation, is trained “to seek God in all things,” even in quite secular and esoteric things and in academically rarefied surroundings. Seeking and finding God in all things is a bedrock Jesuit principle. And on this bedrock rests the traditional Jesuit commitment, in theory and in practice, to a Catholic Christian humanism. God is in all things human.
Not all Jesuits are skilled in sharing their Ignatian spirituality with lay colleagues. But few would not attach high importance to the sharing. And all support the various mechanisms in place within or around Jesuit institutions to facilitate this sharing. The realization of all these ideals, the translation of this theory into practice, is a personal challenge to Jesuit fidelity. The Society of Jesus lives on the trust it places in each of its members to appropriate the essentials of its spiritual heritage, to sustain them in himself by God’s grace, and to pass them on to others who want to grow in this way.
A brochure inviting prospective students—the kind who want to grow—to consider enrolling at the Jesuit-run University of Scranton states the matter simply and well:College is an integral part of life’s journey. Over the next four years, you’ll gain knowledge, acquire skills and forge relationships that will last a lifetime. At the University of Scranton, we offer a liberal arts education in the dual Jesuit traditions of cura personalis—care for the whole person—and the magis—a restless pursuit of excellence. In this remarkable community of inquiry, as scholars and learners together, you’ll develop healthy habits of the mind and heart that will serve you well in any endeavor you choose.That’s another way of explaining why Jesuits are in higher education.
Learn, Lead, and Serve
At Loyola College in Maryland, the educational mission is specified as enabling students to “learn, lead, and serve in a diverse and challenging world.” This is a traditional and characteristically Jesuit ambition. It is reasonable to assume that maturing persons are attracted to higher education communities as students precisely because they want to grow. True, when they arrive as freshmen, they are only four years out of the eighth grade. But they will mature a lot over their four years with us. It is no less reasonable to assume that Jesuits and their like-minded lay colleagues will want to meet them there in order to assist, in the Ignatian way, in the development of such great human potential.
Time will test the reasonableness of both assumptions that those interested in growth will come and that Jesuits and lay colleagues interested in facilitating that growth will be there to meet them. Faith will enable the Jesuits now in higher education to face up to the test of time, for only time can tell whether their ranks will increase, be depleted, or remain just about the same. Meanwhile, college- and university-based Jesuits have before them the twin challenge of excelling in the discovery and communication of truth while sharing their spiritual heritage with those, especially lay colleagues, who want it. The task is theirs the Jesuits’, but the power to realize the hoped-for outcome is the Lord’s.
In recent decades, as we shall see in subsequent chapters, Jesuits have come to see their role in education as forming men and women for others. Education for justice is a central concern. The service of faith and the promotion of justice now constitute the twin goals of any authentic Jesuit work. This is what we do. This is our reason for existence in the contemporary world. And this, to make the point explicit, is the aim of the Jesuit effort in educating young men and women for careers in business and other secular pursuits.
It is natural and most appropriate, in the Jesuit way of proceeding, to indicate that there is a connection, a genuine relevance, between religious faith and the world of work. It is not our purpose to convert students or colleagues to the Catholic faith, although we want them all to know we believe that a genuine faith commitment is important for a full human life and that anyone’s faith commitment is worthy of respect. This point of view is one of the distinctive strengths that sets our professional schools apart.
The familiar Jesuit motto—ad majorem Dei gloriam, “For the greater glory of God”—imbues Jesuits and their works with a restlessness, a drive, a proper ambition. It is no admission of illness to declare a hope to get better; it is no sign of weakness to admit that there is room for improvement. Education, by definition, invites participants on both sides of the teaching-learning transaction to get better, to improve, to move forward. Jesuit business education today, along with the broader Jesuit educational effort, is moving forward in a great tradition, a tradition that helps explain the purpose of the entire enterprise.
Reason and Spirit
Some would describe this tradition in one word: the magis. Let me close with a reflection on why I think spirituality is getting a lot of attention these days. There is a lot of searching going on in the hearts of men and women who are concerned about the relevance of their religious faith to their workplace responsibilities. I think something has been troubling the American psyche for the past sixty years that is prompting us now to focus on spirituality, and I think Jesuit schools are meeting this need across the board in all our departments, majors, and centers. I have to go back to the end of World War II to identify what I think is happening in the American mind and in our broader culture. In doing this, I find it helpful to point the reader to the opening of my book on workplace spirituality, Answers from Within: Spiritual Guidelines for Managing Setbacks in Work and Life.2 Let me summarize those remarks here.
More than six decades ago, Time magazine ran a cover story about an event that shook the world, an event that wounded us so profoundly that it has remained to trouble us, mind and soul, ever since. The incident, which was reported in the August 20, 1945, issue of the magazine, marked both an end and a beginning.
This report was published, as were all Time stories in those days, without attribution of authorship. I learned years later that a young and then relatively unknown Time staffer by the name of James Agee wrote the piece under a very tight deadline. The overarching headline was “Victory.” The first subhead was “The Peace.” The second subhead was “The Bomb.”
Time was covering a big story that week, perhaps the biggest of our century. Agee saw the “controlled splitting of the atom,” which produced the bomb used to attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki and thus brought to an end the greatest conflict in human history, as an event so enormous that in comparison “the war itself shrank to minor significance.” To Agee’s eye, “Humanity, already profoundly perplexed and disunified, was brought inescapably into a new age in which all thoughts and things were split—and far from controlled.”
Time’s readers, still dizzy with the thrill of victory, could hardly have seen, as Agee did, the potential for both good and evil that the atomic bomb represented. That potential bordered, he said, “on the infinite—with this further, terrible split in the fact: that upon a people already so nearly drowned in materialism even in peacetime, the good uses of this power might easily bring disaster as prodigious as the evil.” Then Agee made a shattering observation that rings every bit as true today as it did that memorable August. Here are the words he wrote—words that were available to any reader of the nation’s most popular newsmagazine in 1945 and that have gone largely unheeded these many years since: “Man’s fate has forever been shaped between the hands of reason and spirit, now in collaboration, again in conflict. Now reason and spirit meet on final ground. If either or anything is to survive, they must find a way to create an indissoluble partnership.”
These powerful words were perceptive and prophetic. They appeared just before the so-called baby boomers were born. They explain, I think, the cause of the split that has been troubling us for so long. We have not yet forged the “indissoluble partnership” between reason and spirit; we are even more adrift now than we were then on a sea of materialism. We may, however, be beginning to notice what Agee saw when the bomb split open the universe, namely, that each of us is responsible for his or her own soul.
Men and women in the world of work who are restless and wondering about the relevance of their Sunday faith to their Monday responsibilities are, I believe, being nudged now by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to begin an exploration into God. Working this theme into what we Jesuits and our lay colleagues do in the classroom is yet another indication that we have something distinctive, something to offer that clearly sets us apart from other schools and other educators. If you are curious enough to inquire about who is going to do this in the future, you find all the tea leaves predicting that, if it is to be done at all, it can only be done by laymen and laywomen.
In the fall of 1998, Loyola College in Maryland produced a document that includes this memorable statement about Jesuit education:
In 1599, the Spanish Jesuit Diego Ledesma listed four reasons why the Society of Jesus involved itself in education: 1 to give students “advantages for practical living”; 2 to “contribute to the right government of public affairs”; 3 to “give ornament, splendor, and perfection to the rational nature” of humanity; 4 to be a “bulwark of religion and guide man most surely and easily to the achievement of his last end.” Ledesma’s definition focuses clearly on what Jesuit education hopes for in its students, and any mission statement faithful to the Jesuit spirit must keep students and our responsibility to them at its center. With a bit of “translation” into late twentieth-century American terms, Ledesma’s words still point clearly to key distinguishing characteristics of a Jesuit education: 1 it is eminently practical, focused on providing students with the knowledge and skills to excel in whatever field they choose; 2 it is not merely practical, but concerns itself also with questions of values, with educating men and women to be good citizens and good leaders, concerned with the common good, and able to use their education for the service of faith and promotion of justice; 3 it celebrates the full range of human intellectual power and achievement, confidently affirming reason, not as antithetical to faith, but as its necessary complement; 4 it places all that it does firmly within a Christian understanding of the human person as a creature of God whose ultimate destiny is beyond the human. To put these goals in the words of the Decrees of the 34th General Congregation, Jesuit education encourages students and their teachers alike not only to seek knowledge for its own sake, but also to ask continually the key question, “Knowledge for what?” It also insists that answers to that question be formed in the context of vigorous intellectual activity that excludes no evidence from the investigation, including the evidence of the deposit of Christian faith.
Just as Willie Sutton once explained that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is,” Jesuits and their lay colleagues in colleges and universities might say that they are in higher education because that is where ambitious goals can be both set and met for the discovery of truth and the development of human potential. It is more to them than just a career. It is a call to reach new heights for the glory of God and the service of their fellows in the human community.
Chapter 1 The Man Who Was Loyola 1
Chapter 2 Why We Are in Higher Education 11
Chapter 3 Why We Are in Secondary Education 23
Chapter 4 Education for Social Justice 35
Chapter 5 The Enduring Evidence of a Jesuit Education 47
Chapter 6 Discernment: A Spirituality of Choice 59
Chapter 7 Living Generously in the Service of Others 77
Chapter 8 The Celibate: A Crowd of One 91
Chapter 9 Individuarians 103
Chapter 10 Stewardship: The Jesuit Approach to the Use of Wealth, Power, and Talent 117
Chapter 11 The Standard of Christ 129
Chapter 12 The Harvest Is Ready 141
About the Author 169